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 family and wedding photographer based on the Big Island of Hawaii, available from Kona to Hilo, Oahu, Maui and beyond!

    I'm really just a kid at heart. Inspired by my own journey through fatherhood, I enjoy creating photos with a genuine sense of love, playfulness and warmth. Rich colors and candid moments set my creative soul aflame, and I would love to capture you 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 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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I’ve always been a sensitive, sentimental person, having felt deeply sad as a child when I found my favorite foam football chewed to pieces by my dog. Staring at the bright orange chunks on the ground, I remembered all of the good times I had with that ball, and ruminated over the games of catch we would never have after its destruction.

Funny enough, and I think I’ve said this somewhere on this site a couple times, but I still am that same sentimental kid at heart — a prime example being that there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t wistfully thought about what I wrote in this post, over a year ago, about me quitting weddings.

I reflect on it often. I remember the intensity of each wedding, the challenge and the beauty. I remember the feeling of being a part of such an important, happy day. I remember having a really hard time wiping away the tears, unleashed by my sensitive eyes, that welled up in my camera’s viewfinder. But more than anything, these days I keep wondering if I should start photographing them again. I stopped because I wanted to devote my time and attention to personal projects, and to focus on family work, which has worked out pretty well.

But I guess I just miss making the photos. These photos.

I also think it’s because back in January I asked my Syreeta, the most amazing girl I’ve ever met, if she would marry me, and she said yes in a flurry of tears. Since then I feel so much more in-tune and connected with not just weddings and love in general, but also with my past wedding work… including this incredibly serene honeymoon session with Dottie and Tim, at the Four Seasons Hualalai.

It’s a wonderful thing rediscovering the past and finding new ways to appreciate it. I’m proud of the wedding work I did before — even more so now, because I have a deeper emotional connection with it through my own relationship.

The truth is that I am really excited to get married, and likewise, I am really excited to see others get married too, and capture it in a way that is hopefully beautiful, honest and vibrant! So, from this post forward, I am open for weddings once again. I will be pretty selective about which ones I take on, but If you’re interested, get in touch and we’ll see what we can do. No power in the ‘verse can stop us!

– Jim

PS. I eventually got a new football. It was green. Like this flash. 🙂

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Here’s an awesome afternoon I spent with two families, the Browns and the Blews — friends back home, vacationing on the Big Island together. Mr and Mrs Brown had a beautiful wedding vow renewal mid-session; so beautiful that it made it obvious to me that I would love to shoot more vow renewals, and thankfully I have since.

If a wedding feels like the arrival of a summer swell, forming pristine waves across a beach, a vow renewal would be the calm rise of an evening tide, gentle, knowing and patient. Very touching to capture!

Funny, I’m sure you can guess which family is which based on their outfits! 🙂


I really should blog more; just looking at these photos brings back a ton of good memories, and reminds me that I am very lucky. Thanks so much for reading and viewing!

– Jim

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