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Classic Viral Photo: Burning Volcano Photographer

Classic Viral Photo: Burning Volcano Photographer

An image shows a photographer whose shoes and tripod are on fire as he takes a photo on an active volcano. Is the image real or fake?

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The image is real, but was staged.

Although many were convinced that the photo was likely a product of Photoshop when it went viral in 2013, one of our readers helped us discover the true identity of the photographer and the story behind this photo.

The photographer is Kawika Singson of Hawaii. Despite what many viewers inferred from the photo, Singson didn’t spontaneously ignite while taking a picture on the volcano, but conjured up the idea to pose for this photo. As he explained:

Always trying to be creative, I thought it would be pretty cool(hot!) to take a lava pic with my shoes and tripod on fire while photographing lava so that’s what I did that’s real lava real flames and it was really hot! I could stand the heat only for a few seconds.

Ironically, the photo made it to the “What’s Hot” section on Google Plus that year.

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After this article was posted, the photographer and the photo were featured in First To Know. You can read the story, and see an additional photo from this occasion here. In the interview, Singson states that purpose of the photo wasn’t to mislead, but to have a cool Facebook cover photo, and that he was holding his breath while the photo was taken.

Bottom Line

The photo of a “burning photographer” on a volcano is real, but it was quickly staged by photographer Kawika Singson of Hawaii and went viral back in 2013.

Updated November 28, 2015
Originally published July 2013

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