Creative Spotlight: Surf Photographer / Author Kirk Lee Aeder

I was lucky enough to live in Hawaii from early 2008 to mid-2011. I worked with many creative people in my brief tenure there including the gracious and totally inspired surf photographer Kirk Lee Aeder.


Kirk grew up in La Jolla, California in the 1970s where he became an avid wave rider. It was there that he also discovered his talent behind the lens. He moved to Hawaii in 1985, chasing ever-bigger swells. Since then, his photos have appeared in Sports Illustrated, Outside and Islands magazines, to name a few. Here are a couple of his favorite images of his iconic island home:

Honu, Makena Beach, Maui


“Growing up in Southern California, we didn’t have sea turtles in the ocean. Upon moving to the Hawaiian Islands, however, I immediately became captivated by them. It’s hard not to! The Hawaiians refer to them as ‘Honu.’ Over the years, it’s become a regular occurrence for me to come across the graceful creatures every time I go shoot underwater photos.”

Snow on Mauna Kea from Kuhio Beach, Big Island

“Snow is one of those sights that people who aren’t familiar with Hawaii have a hard time getting used to. No matter where you are in the world however, if there is a volcanic mountain peak rising over 13,600 feet, the white stuff is bound to happen, even in the tropics. This photo is of Kukio Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii, with dramatic Mauna Kea mountain in the background.”

HawaiiSnow1 Tropical Snow on Mauna Kea Mountain, Big Island

In addition to his photographic work, Kirk has authored two books, including his most recent, “Child of the Storm,” a story recounting the tumultuous life and brilliant, though short-lived career of championship surfer Chris O’Rourke, who succumbed to cancer at 22.


“If you had been there, it would have been easy to understand why it took the last ten years of my life to write this book,” he says. “Longtime reputable observers of surfing will say, with unwavering confidence, that Chris could have been a world champion at a time when the sport was just beginning its professional emergence.”

But it’s not just about surfing. “It centers on several themes including family relations, turmoil, greatness, friendship, tragedy and inspiration,” he continues “It’s a true story of someone who never gave up on life.”

Find the book at Honolulu-based and at Signed copies are available at

And, if you’re in the Oceanside area, meet Kirk in person at his book signing at the California Surf Museum on Sat. Apr. 13 from 4-6 p.m.

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