Hawaii Family Photographer – Jim Dierking // Big Island Family Photography, Hilo, Kona »

Hawaii Family Photographer – Jim Dierking // Big Island Family Photography, Hilo, Kona bio picture
  • Hi!

    I'm a Hawaii family photographer, based on the Big Island, available from Kona to Hilo, Oahu, Maui and beyond!

    I'm really just a kid at heart. I love to create photos with a genuine sense of love, playfulness and warmth. Rich colors and candid moments make me happy, and I would love to capture your family through my perspective!

    Please let me know if there's anything I can do for you -- I'd be happy to hear from you!

    With thanks,
    Jim Dierking

I don’t know why, but I really thought I knew enough about soy sauce.

And then comes my wife, with her amazing ability to open my eyes, heart and taste buds to new and wonderful things. With only a single spoon, she destroyed my previous notions of what soy sauce was, is and can be!

In the past, I’d use soy sauce in cooking (not that I can cook very well), but I mostly had it when eating sushi or sashimi. Japanese food is huge here in Hawaii — I myself am part Japanese — so soy sauce is an important part of the local cuisine. Despite that, I never really tasted it. I never tried it by itself to thoughtfully examine the flavor.

One day while shopping in Target, my wife claimed that we needed to get a bottle of Kikkoman brand soy sauce; a claim that I almost immediately questioned, since we already had a big gallon sized jug of soy sauce at home. “But that’s Aloha brand shoyu” she said, “and Kikkoman is way better”. I paused for a moment and I didn’t really know what to think. Just as quickly as I had questioned her claim, I realized that I didn’t know anything about soy sauce, despite the fact that I’ve tasted it thousands of times.

You know nothing, Jon Snow.

So we returned home, bottle of Kikkoman in hand. I decided then and there to examine both brands, side by side, so I took out a spoon and first tried a sip of the Aloha brand.

Sweet, slightly tangy, quite salty, pretty ordinary and basically what I’ve had for decades. I’ve always felt it was rather flat, like salty-sweet water, but definitely goes good with raw fish or tofu.

I then tried the Kikkoman brand. A small sip from the spoon.


A rush of fermented soy flavor! I never knew soy sauce could have such tones. I could taste the aging process, I could feel it. It was salty, oh yes, and slightly sweet, oh yes. It had most of what the Aloha brand had. But it also had a rich authenticity to it. I’m not even exaggerating when I tell you that it tasted like ancient Japanese history.

Aloha, on the other hand, tastes good, but not… soulful. Kikkoman is soulful.

I am now quite happy to share in the Kikkoman goodness with my wife, dousing our rice with it anytime we’re eating something even remotely “local”. I love that she teaches me new things like this. They aren’t huge things on their own… more like doors that she opens for me — doors that lead to paths I wouldn’t have taken without her. Paths I wouldn’t want to take without her, actually. And while there’s nothing wrong with taking the Aloha brand path of shoyu, we’re taking the Kikkoman path together, and it’s pretty great.:-D

This sort of thing always reminds me of the rest of life, and the paths we take. The choices we make. The good and the bad, the triumphs and mistakes. Life is really all just a bunch of soy sauce — salty, sweet, pungent, perhaps too much at times. But in the end it’s delicious, no matter your choice of brands. A good recipe doesn’t hurt — neither do quality ingredients. But an open mind and a thankful heart is enough to make any meal, and life itself, satisfying enough.

And with that, lets jump into some photos from a session I did with the Smith family, who are from Oklahoma, USA! It was a very relaxed session that was quite easy to shoot, thanks not only to excellent lighting conditions, but also to how laid-back the three of them were. A perfect Big Island afternoon.:-)

– Jim

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The trail was all downhill and very slippery, the early morning’s dew sticking into every crevice, rock and fallen leaf. Each step was cautious, hurried, brisk. Looking up, we saw the canopy, a hundred or more feet above, and I imagined myself to be living in an old pulp comic book, swinging on the vines that hung low, maybe on my way to rescue my wife, or collect drinking water from the rivers that created this little ravine eons ago. Surviving in this jungle wouldn’t be easy, I told myself, and with that thought I became inspired for this session with the awesome Crim family, with whom I worked with back in 2012, grateful still to have met up with them again in this amazing, verdant place in Hilo, Hawaii.

We weren’t really surviving or anything, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great little adventure!
The session was not without its challenges, though! As the sun rose, the air became incredibly hot, but more than that, extremely humid as well. It was so humid that my lenses would repeatedly fog up as soon as I mounted them on the camera! We took a few minutes for it to pass, which it did, mostly, and the remaining fog lent some of the photos a really nice dreamy quality which I’d actually like to have occassionally –Sadly (but also happily), the lens fog lifted as we ventured further.
Thanks so much for having me again on this awesome morning, Crim family!

– Jim

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I’m about to post some wedding photos! It’s funny, though —

I am not a wedding photographer. Truth be told I am not all that interested in things like expensive wedding dresses, centerpieces, bouquets larger than a watermelon, vintage chic, rhinestone I-do’s, or resort dining halls lit to look like you’re underwater on a pink and purple planet.

Just not into the whole thing, I guess, at least not as a photographer.

Which is why I was happy to learn that neither Melissa nor Martin were into it either, and that their wedding aimed to be simple and small. That immediately checked two boxes in my inner “should I take this job” checklist, and the more I corresponded with Melissa about what she was looking for from her wedding photography, the more I knew that it was going to be a wonderful afternoon to shoot, explore and hang out with one of the funnest, kindest and thoughtful couples I’ve ever met.

If I had to describe them combined, it’d probably be a mishmash of opposing words — quiet, dramatic, moody, relaxed, grounded, goofy, together — and it was my hope to capture every one of those words in their wedding photos.

A hearty congratulations to Melissa and Martin, and a sincere thank you for choosing me as your photographer!

Also, if you’re getting married, and you feel my work might match your wedding, do get in touch. I don’t take many weddings per year but I quite enjoy capturing the ones that I do.:-)

– Jim

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  • July 29, 2015 - 4:04 PM

    Katy - Where is this location? My fiancé and I are looking to elope on the big island in a similar fashion and love everything about the feel, location, and photography of this shoot.ReplyCancel

    • August 5, 2015 - 9:14 PM

      Jim Dierking - Hi Katy — this is in the Volcanoes National Park. Cliffs are down near the end of Chain of Craters road, steam vents are, well, at the steam vents. :-) Send me an email if you need any help. Thanks!ReplyCancel

The Big Island is a vast little place; a stunning land thousands of miles large, containing more variety than the Hilton Waikoloa breakfast buffet, which is also the best breakfast buffet I’ve ever tried.

Another favorite of mine on this incredible island of ours is the district of Ka’u, home to such sights as the Green Sand Beach, the southern-most point in the USA, and the ever-popular black sands of Punalu’u. But the district is also home to many great memories for me — it’s the district where my family and I most often pitch our tents and camp for the weekend, down on quiet, remote beaches accessible only by 4×4, local knowledge, or both. Ka’u is a place of family, history, beauty, country and tradition. The coast is a wild one, unforgiving, but full of life and nearly pristine of major development. Upland, up mauka, is a wonderland of dense jungle, secret waterfalls and small, old towns. There’s a quiet power to this place, like the tail end of a thunderstorm, reverberating its history off the slopes of Mauna Loa.

So when the Braun family, who live in Hilo, wondered if we could do a session down that side of the island, I instantly said yes.

Of course, I wasn’t enthused just because of the prospect of shooting in Ka’u. It was also because the Braun fam are such nice, easy-going and adventurous people! We had a great time back in 2012, and this session was even better.

And just like last time, we busted out the bow for a few minutes and got some epic shots. Monsieur Braun is actually a pretty accomplished competitive archer, and it was great to see him in his personal element. It reminds me of my own little dream to someday shoot a family who loves Star Wars, all dressed up as Star Wars characters.

Thanks so much to the Braun family for an awesome session! And thank  you to you for reading.:-)

– Jim

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Volcano is a special place.

All of Hawaii is special, of course, and the Big Island in particular. But there isn’t anywhere I’ve been that strikes just the right balance of being out in the sticks while still having just enough “civilization” to get you by. It’s in the country, but doesn’t feel backward or underdeveloped. It’s a beautiful, private little nook of an area, but not in a “gated community” sort of way. Where I live, out in edges of Volcano, where the lot sizes are larger, there’s a DIY and get-it-done attitude, and a personal stewardship of one’s own jungled heaven. It’s a place of seclusion, quiet and relaxation, and by extension it’s also a place of independence; a practical creativity of how best to tend the land to supplement life.

And life, come to think of it, is one thing that completely surrounds us here. There is an almost mind boggling amount of it, everywhere, in every direction. Countless Hapu’u ferns grow high and wide, while native ‘Ohia trees tower higher still, their canopies heavy with red Lehua blossoms. Rolling slopes covered in moss and grass are dotted with all manner of shrub and bush, held down by the occasional Koa and cherry blossom tree that my grandparents planted long ago.

I feel so very lucky to have grown up here, and to live here still. To look out the window and see literally nothing but nature is a true blessing, and it’s something I hoped to convey from this session with the Deguara family, from California. I worked with them a few years ago and it was great to see them again, and I it was super fun to hang out with their two boys, who’ve grown into a couple of strong, rambunctious and charming young fellas. The jungles of Volcano were the perfect place for them to explore and be themselves!

Huge thank you to the Deguara family for an awesome session, and a big thanks to you as well for being here, reading!:-)

– Jim

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