Shaking off powerful surf, world renowned wave photographer Clark Little knows what it takes to capture the perfect wave from the inside the beast.
"It looks about 4-6 ft plus. You know, maybe 10-15 foot faces," said Clark Little with excitement as he eyed the perfect spot to enter the shore break at Ke Iki beach on Oahu's North Shore. "Down here on the left side looks a little larger the sand is sucking up. It actually looks really juicy in a good way. It'll definitely get the heart pumping and I'm excited to jump in. Hopefully I'll get something cool."
Award winning wave photographer Clark Little has captured some of Mother Nature's most specatular images, from the inside of waves inside the dangerous shorebreak that he loves. He's still amazed by his success which started seven years, all by chance.
"You know my wife actually brought a picture home of a wave, and I told her, don't t buy a picture, I'm gonna go out and shoot it," Little recalled. "So it was kind of a challenge slash, can I do it thing and I just started doing it. No one was doing it at that time," chuckled Little.
Then family and friends encouraged his talents.
"I would show my brother and my family and they'd say that's 'rad' and I put out on the little Surf News Network pictures, Surfline, and it started going to a couple of little galleries and people would say, 'wow', and another person would say, 'I want you in my show' and it just escalated to the point where 'boom', there I was on Good Morning America. Holy macarel, they're calling me on the phone! Are you kidding me, the Today Show, Good Morning America? So it was radical, and it just happened so fast and still, like I said,today, I'm like what's next?"
Besides his body boarding fins, which he won't shoot in the surf without, his camera is key.
"So, this is my camera right here. Its a NIKON D4 with a Water Housing Hawaii casing with a fish eye lens that kind of gives you a broad picture. You know you want to capture everything, trees, like I said, the barrel. So, the wide angle lens lets you see the top of the barrel and everything."
But Little said its not easy to get the perfect shot admist the brutal surf and it takes a lot of patience.
"Its about passion. Its about loving what you do, you know. I go out 6 hours at a time and sometimes its cloudy for five of those six, but that one time the sun comes out and that perfect wave comes, and then, 'bingo'."
Clark's wave images are breath taking, but when you watch him work inside the waves, you hold your breathe for his safety.
"If you dont know what you're doing you can get hurt, or killed," Little stressed. "So there's the fear factor there more and more, and I've got kids. I think about it a lot more, I admit. I'll watch a little bit longer before I just go out because it can be dangerous and it's a risk. And there's a reward too! So, you're right in there...stuck in the middle and I still love it.
So what's it take to capture the perfect wave?
"You just want the quality of the waves to be perfect where its barreling," said Little. "No chandeliers. No splashing, just clean tubes with sometimes the sun in the middle where it's reflecting. So, there's a lot more than just going out and shooting. I mean, you have to check like all the different conditions out."
And luck is just part of the equation, said Little.
"I've been fortunate to kind of get in the right spots and like I said, some is luck and some is skill but a lot of it is timing as this wave is jacking up 10-15 feet. You have to kind of commit yourself to stay there as it's breaking over to get the perfect shot."
We head to his Haleiwa gallery where Little showcases some of his impressive work and his latest.
"So, you can see the sun is shining here about 8:30 a.m...that's the shadow line.." he described of one giant work of art.
Little is releasing a new photo book, "Shore Break," this December 2013 featuring some of his most favorite spots, just in time for Christmas.
During out conversation, he described some of more of the large mounted wave images in his gallery which appear to engulf you while you stand and gaze upon the their beauty that's been captured in a split-second of time.
"The clarity is so crisp," I said to Little about one of his photos, "It looks like glass," I added.
He responded. "You know you have a high shutter speed and it kind of freezes the wave as its breaking over and it helps with a glossy and aluminum print," he responded.
And Little is a humble man who's grateful for his success and thankful people to his fans around the world who love his work.
"There's always a variation in waves and I'm always looking for something new and different," he said. "But the waves and mother nature deliver! You never know what you're gonna get."
"So I'm stoked that people appreciate the waves and the shorebreak and the power and the dedication it takes to go out there and get it," he said of his success.
And in a modest voice he added, "To be passionate about something and a career, it's a dream come true for me."
For more information on wave photographer, Clark Little, or to visit his gallery or pre-order prints or books, just visit his website at www.ClarkLittlePhotography.com.
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