Adventurer Erin Kunkel recently scaled a 10,000-foot volcano in Maui, braving wind, rain, and freezing temps to get the perfect shot. Undeterred by an unpredictable itinerary and a mule wrangler that warned her not to whine, the California photographer packed her bags and called on her Colorado rodeo past as she hiked her way up the technically still active shield volcano, Haleakala.
While Erin spends a lot of her time photographing advertising jobs, she still loves to stay involved with the editorial world, where the assignments often allow her to take a looser, more personal approach to the work. Erin has a great working relationship with the director of photography at Sunset Magazine Yvonne Stender, who knew Erin would be the perfect fit for the demanding project.
To prep for the project, Erin got in touch with the writer of the story, who had been to Haleakala several times. Erin was able to read a rough draft of her story and speak with her before the shoot to talk about the best, most visually dynamic aspects of the story. The writer also warned Erin about the cold, windy, unpredictable weather, but nothing could prepare her for the harsh reality of the volcano.
Coming from the beaches of Maui, where I’d been shooting the week before, my assistant and I were freezing cold. It’s absurd–you see tourists up on the volcano wrapped in their hotel robes and towels to keep warm.
Erin hiked with her crew alongside a string of mules to cabins, and wound along steep mountain trails. The hike was delayed several times due to gale-force winds and bad visibility, so their trip was extended. Eventually, Erin’s assistant had to head home, but Erin was able to coerce a friend that happened to be vacationing in Maui to assist her, which kept everything running smoothly.
The sheer beauty and unique landscape of Haleakala were amazing, and I’m always happy to be able to shoot outside, hike and explore.
With happy clients and a great public reaction, braving the elements was well worth it to get a striking series of images. While Erin doesn’t have any plans to continue this specific project, she’ll continue to shoot in Hawaii as much as possible.
To view more of Erin’s work, visit erinkunkel.com.