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

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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If there’s anything that photography has taught me, it’s that I’m more of a “why” kind of guy than a “how” or “what” kind of guy — in essence I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about why I’m a photographer rather than thinking about how to be one, or what I am getting out of it in a practical sense. I think the biggest quest in my life is and will always be to find my purpose, not just over the course of my entire life, but even just day to day. What purpose will I fulfill today?

This quest applies to everything, including writing in this blog. I take these words more seriously than I probably should. I mull over my writing for weeks, despite the fact that from a business standpoint, it’s the photos that matter. But that doesn’t matter. I am not in this for the business of it, although it often feels like I should be. I revert to my old way of thought, questioning why I’m writing and why I’m doing family photography in the first place.

It’s so easy to lose sight of the “why” when faced with an overwhelming “how” and “what”. Sometimes, when things get busy, I almost feel like I’m running an assembly line, email after email, photo after photo; you know how it goes, because we all must make a living and work in this world. It’s funny because I never in a million years thought I’d become a small business owner. I always thought you had to be smart for such things, and I’m definitely not nearly as organized as I probably should be. But I do love photography, and I love my own family so much that they make me intensely interested in other families. These are the why. Everything else is secondary for me.

Because I believe with all my heart the power a family can hold. The incredible effect, for better or worse, that one’s family life can have on their lives, for the rest of their lives, and in turn, the lives of their children and their children’s children. This cycle of generations is a thing to behold. A thing to respect, a thing to work for, a thing to love. I am so thankful to have my parents, who have taught me sincerity, honor and kindness. I am grateful for their parents, for teaching me as a child things like joy, warmth and wonder. I love my brother and my cousins for showing me amazing friendship. And with a full heart, side by side with my wife, I look forward to teaching our future children all of these things, and having them teach me new things as well.

What I wish to capture is some small sliver of this in action. A moment in time that transcends the moment in time. I wish to capture it as it happened, but with vibrancy, organically, better than memory. It’s an obvious, elusive little thing, like standing out in the rain trying to catch a drop in your mouth while the rest of you gets soaked. I feel like I’m getting closer and closer with every year. Almost there.


And when I think of this quest of mine, when I think about the “why” of it, I am simply reminded of the “who”. And they are people like the Torres family here, hailing from California, all happiness and sunshine. I’m incredibly thankful for them, not just for a great session, but also just for their company! I thought it was super cool, too, but Dad Nick Torres is a rad artist who has worked in the videogames industry (something I wanted to do when I was younger), and has even made a children’s book about Dinosaurs (something I wouldn’t mind doing now)!

I suppose I didn’t come anywhere near the videogames industry because I didn’t know why or how to do so. A different story with photography. Let the quest continue!


– Jim

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Visited an uninhabited island. Waves so big had to jump off the boat and swim the cargo in. What an experience. Got engaged!! Wedding planning. Ate a Jack in the Box Muchie Meal. Fiance moved to the Big Island! Haven’t had a Munchie Meal since. 14 sessions over the Summer. Too much for me. Stressed myself out. Wedding planning continued! Went to the beach a zillion times but swam only a few. Bought an underwater housing for my camera. Camped on Oahu with the family. Stand-up paddled for 5 seconds. Went to South Korea, Japan and Okinawa!! Workation at the Hilton with fiance. Wedding planning went full-speed. Wedding was so near. Fiance got a new job!! Goodbye Oahu. Gigi, our dog, became mysteriously ill and passed away. Tears in the rain. THE WEDDING!! Tears in the sun. Married my soulmate!! Family was there. Beach house all weekend. Amazing. Came home. Christmas, filled with family, videogames, and a Game of Thrones viewing. Built a fort and cooked pork ‘n beans over the fire w/ the kids. Wrote this post. The end is here. Hello 2015!


One heck of a year, for sure. Here’s a recap; some of the better photos I created with my clients — every one of whom I am grateful for. Enjoy!

The end of one thing means the beginning of another; a fresh start, a second chance. Teetering on the edge of something great, and 2015 will be great. I can feel it in my heart. I know it in my soul. This coming year will be full of flourish, full of building things and full of pure creation. I have a few ideas for my family photography that should prove to be awesome, and will hopefully take this entire thing to a higher summit. I plan on releasing an LP of original music that I’ve been working on — a dream of mine for over a decade. I will finish off documenting the journey across India my wife and I went on, and I’ll show some of it here. And most importantly, we’ll create the beginnings of our long term future together.

I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands into all of this! Hope you’ll all join me in the coming year, whether it’s simply on this blog or during a family photo session. Happy New Year, and see you soon!

– Jim

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I was recently asked by a friend if travel has been “my greatest teacher”.

In my own life, I’d say that my biggest teachers have been my own mistakes and my family. My mistakes have left me in the pouring rain without an umbrella, so to speak, and my family has been there with the roof, time and time again, literally. For both of these teachers I am grateful.

Travel, however, has been a wonderful teacher as well — especially the difficult kind. Last year — a year ago to this day, in fact — Syreeta and I were in the grand, incredible country of India. It is a place that, if you seek it or require it, will challenge you and test you to your limits. Being lied to and ripped off on an almost daily basis for 9 weeks eventually took its toll; because we were on a budget, we had to haggle for everything, constantly, and that unpleasant bit of interaction wore very thin after the first couple of weeks — especially when we lost the haggle and ended up paying his too-high asking price anyway. Frustration I have never felt came forth there, but from that, eventually, wonderful revelations about why I was frustrated as well.

In the heat of the moment, it was mostly about the price. About the money. 30 rupees for a 10 rupee samosa is a big difference — that could have bought us 3 samosas! But in the end, it was really the equivalent of 30 cents or so. A tiny amount of cash.

In the end, we were more upset that they were lying and ripping us off in the first place, and that they often did it with a smile on their face, as if they were actually helping us. It was the principle of it. It happens so often that it can make you cynical about everyone you meet, which is a bit unfair.

But in a weird way, they actually were helping us.

I came back from India with a sense of inner calm. It was an acknowledgement of “the small stuff” — getting ripped off for 30 cents, figuratively, in my day to day life back home. In India, it just happens. It’s unavoidable. You’ll get ripped off and touted on, you’ll be hot and sweaty all day and night, you’ll step in cow dung and you’ll be threatened by street dogs, the public toilet will be a maggot filled hole and you’ll bribe train conductors and young men will say things like, “Hey friend! Remember me? We chatted the other day at the temple!” when you absolutely did no such thing. And then you realize that much of this is their every day life. And that we have it ridiculously lucky back home. And that even with all of our riches, we still have unfair things and annoying things. Little things. Before India I was a pretty patient person, but after it I became nearly zen-like with things. Happiness, or at least an easy-going mindfulness, is just so much easier and better, and it is a conscious choice I try to make every day.  Life slows down when you don’t sweat the little things, you learn more, and things take on a better meaning.

And whenever Syreeta and I slowed down and simply allowed ourselves to be sweaty, stinky, lied to, ripped off and otherwise frustrated — just allowed ourselves to be, just be — India revealed its relentless, powerful beauty to us. It was an eon of great memories packed into 2 months.

Of course, there are still days when Syreeta and I forget all of this. I mean, when I don’t get enough sleep it is really easy to forget, and really easy to get grumpy about every little thing. But hey — that just tells me that I should attempt a reasonable sleep schedule and find a better balance in life. There’s something good to be found even in grumpiness. And stepping in cow dung.

Here’s a session I did earlier this year with the Crain family. They were up for a more adventurous, difficult session, so we decided to make the hike down into Pololu Valley — one of the many valleys this island holds, but one of the nicest. They were so much fun to hang out with, and despite the looming threat of rain and the rather tiring hike back out, it was a great session that will hang in my memory for quite a while!

Thanks so much for reading, and a huge thank you to the Crain family for being open to an adventure!

– Jim

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Back on the Big Island after an awesome family reunion on Oahu! We were camping on the beach and it was great fun — still feeling tired from it all, in fact.

Now I’m back to work — emails, editing, emails, editing — and the cycle continues. But then I thought, “HEY. I should post more pictures on my blog,” so here’s a wonderful session from earlier in the year with the Chao family, hailing from Saskatchewan, Canada. The sun was very bright on this afternoon, giving me some challenges photographically, but it was made up for by the brightness of their smiles.

And that could very well be one of the cheesiest things I’ve ever written. But it’s the cheesy things that are often true. So without further ado —

I wish my tired brain could form better words right now — words to express how thankful I am for everything. For my huge extended family, whom I got to spend the weekend with, and for the families I get to photograph, who share a bit of themselves with me and my camera. And of course, my fiancee, who is wonderfully supportive, kind, and brings stability to my life through laughter and happiness. Thank you so very much!

– Jim

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