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

From the very beginning, every family session I do ends up feeling like it’s an impervious bubble of perfection — an hour or two of harmony, separate from the bustling vacuum of the real world.

I get sad when the bubble bursts. Because I know what I’m doing in this bubble. Somehow everything works out, and everything feels right. I’m not sure how it happens, and I don’t really care how, but I figured it would be interesting to look at how a family session actually happens.

The first thing I do is take photos right from the get-go, right after I introduce myself. I must! It’s exciting to be there! I can’t help it. And it seems to get everyone in the mindset that this Jim Dierking character is high-energy and will be taking candids throughout the session. Here’s one such “get-go” photo. Not totally awesome but it sets the scene.

I tend to tackle the first big set-piece photo or two immediately after that. The correct pacing during a session is vital. It should feel like we’re taking our time, when in reality my brain is in overdrive and I’m thinking a dozen photos ahead. I want my sessions to feel dynamic; a journey of discovery, where any moment can become an “I have an awesome idea!” sort of moment. We simply must be patient, take our time, and let those moments come. They always do!The Kwokas nearly posed themselves! They were awesome. And they aren’t alone — most of my clients pose themselves. I simply give them the general idea of what I want from the photo and let them interpret it. I then refine and make adjustments, like moving Mr. Kwoka to the left side of the tree, to better balance things out. In the process I got the kind of photo that made me want to do family sessions in the first place — “the posed-candid that captures the character of everyone at that moment” photo!:-D

20 or 30 years from now, I imagine that these “imperfect” candids will be just as important as the posed photos. I love that they show a real moment in time… a rare occasion when a family gets together on vacation to be together. Even if they are looking in different directions. It’s all good. It’s family.“Alright, lets go over there! We might see a sea-turtle! Oh, bring your footwear, we’ll be walking on rocks for a bit.”I ran ahead to get some “reaction” shots. Thankfully there actually was a turtle!Pacing. Always pacing. I figured it would be good to have them relax for a couple minutes and enjoy themselves, breathe the air and feel the sand without a camera snapping away. Hurried people do not make for good photos. Walking in the sand can be tiring anyway. Good to take a moment to rest while I take a look around for cool ideas.:-)

For the Kwoka ohana, I knew I wanted to continue down the beach to look for a nice place to do individual family portraits, so I ran far ahead to look around. Also a good opportunity to get a quick walking-on-the-beach shot!

The light was great for the individual family groups!!

And that was it! With the group photos done I told them to head down to the water and just hang out, have fun and “talk story”. And whoooaaa did the Kwoka family talk story!:-)There was this awesome, awesome moment where one of the Dads and his two kids were standing on that rock, looking epic, and someone laughed and yelled to the Mom to “OH WOW get up on that rock with your family! Go go go!”.By that time it was starting to get dark. It was so cloudy that we couldn’t even see the sunset, but those same clouds were situated in a way that made the light ridiculously nice for portraits. I had always wanted to do individual photos of each family member and this was the perfect chance to do it!

What is mystifying to me is that all of this stuff — the pacing, the “set-pieces”, the candids; everything — it doesn’t enter my mind out there. It all just happens. I just arrive and be myself. It all seems to work out. I have no idea how. I only know that I love it, and that I want to continue doing it.

I guess that is why I get sad when the bubble bursts.

– Jim


PS. One more thing. I feel bad when I do this but I love the photos that come out of it. I tell people to look at non-existent airplanes just to get a shot of them looking up in wonderment.  :-DHuge thank you to the Kwoka family for leaving me in wonderment for an entire hour!

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  • December 19, 2012 - 8:30 AM

    Laura Gubala - Gorgeous! I love how the “imperfect” moments are captured!! Those are the moments that define us and our families. These pictures are a treasure. I smile and…(yes! I admit it!) get a bit teary when I see what you have captured with the families. It is beyond measure…LIFE! Thank you for sharing. :-)ReplyCancel

The best moments in life are spent together.The best moments in life span generations.The best moments in life are spontaneous.The best moments in life teach us new things.

The best moments in life are these.:-)

Huge, huge thank you to the Crim Family for joining me at Kukio Bay on this beautiful day!


– Jim

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It has always been a dream of mine to do sessions that have a story to them.

The term “story” tends to get kicked around a lot these days by photographers, and rightly so, since wedding and family photos really can be about telling the story of a wedding day, or the bond a family has.

This just might be me with my head in the clouds (where it belongs as far as I’m concerned:-D), but when I say that I dream of telling a story, sometimes I literally want to tell a story of fiction, with every photo being a “panel” from a comic book or still-frame from a romantic comedy, and the characters are you and your loved ones. A story with a moral or a theme — maybe one that is important to you. Or something that’ll just make everyone laugh!

So when the Braun family contacted me about doing a family session, and I found out that Monsieur Braun is an avid hunter and he wanted a few photos to feature his self-made bows, my brain went into overdrive coming up with the context of why a family would need to carry a bow and a quiver of arrows in the first place.

My immediate conclusion was that the world had been turned upside down and that this awesome family had to brave the wilds of the post-apocalyptic wasteland.:-)

That hits me on every level. I mean, it’s a post-apocalyptic family session! May the inner geek triumph with clenched fists and a skyward gaze!

Oh. But I also felt it most important to get the more “standard” family photos, and to get them well. Our location, at about 6,000 ft on Saddle Road, made for a great atmosphere.

He also wanted a couple shots of his bow at full draw, like above, and I was stoked about this because bows are insanely cool, and they make me think of Rambo, 300, Gladiator, Troy, Lord of the Rings, and manly thoughts overall. So I told him to pretend that he was hunting, which he does as a hobby, and I had a geek moment like I’ve never had during a session.In the end, I didn’t get to do a full-on epic tale of survival, mostly because I didn’t have enough time to really think it through, but I got a taste of my dream and I’m hungry for more. I love family photography; I love what it can mean and how important it is. But I’d also love to see how far we can take it. Let me know if you’re interested and we’ll come up with some awesome ideas!:-D

And of course, big thanks to the Braun family for an amazing session!

– Jim

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Being a family photographer definitely has its perks.

Having the landscapes of the Big Island as an office. Meeting wonderful families from around the world. Challenging me to improve in practically every way.

But one of the more interesting perks is that it seems to have given me a unique perspective on my own family.

I come from a big, very close and very fun family. The kind of family that spontaneously declares, “Hey, we all have the weekend off! I got plenty beer and fresh fish. Party, my house!”. And before you know it, there’s 30 of us yelling at a football game, the kids are going crazy, and we’re eating Poke, Opihi, and Aku Bone. Zapp and Roger blasts into the night, three families are sleeping in the living room, the families with babies get the bedrooms, and the next morning we wake up and it starts all over again.

It’s pretty amazing, and I’m beyond grateful to have them.

I’m also grateful for the families I work with, because I can sense their own way of love and closeness, similar to that of my own family. Unique, but the same. For me, the simple act of meeting all of my awesome clients, getting to know them a bit and becoming friends with them, reminds me that I have a lot of people who support me and think I’m great. Doing this work constantly brings me greater insight into who I am, insight into how to understand others, and sometimes bops me in the head so I don’t take anything for granted.

That too is pretty amazing, and I am thankful.


Lomio’s, you are awesome!! (Just had to add that in):-)


One more perk of family photography — witnessing and capturing moments like these. Thank you, Lomio’s, for creating them so perfectly!

– Jim


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