story by Catharine Lo
portrait by Dana Edmunds
Two years ago, Clark Little’s wife, Sandy, wanted to buy a picture to fill the empty wall space above their bed. Something that honors the life they’re building together … a photo of a wave would be fitting, she thought.
“You know, honey, I could do that for you,” Little told his wife. After all, as a former pro surfer—locally famous as the daredevil waterman who charges the shorebreak at Waimea Bay—he could swim into the thundering waves of O‘ahu’s North Shore with the best of them.
Armed with a garden-variety digital camera and a simple waterproof housing he bought on Amazon.com, Little dived boldly into the monster winter surf to capture the drama of a breaking wave. He survived and captured images of breathtaking intensity: waves exploding with raw, turbulent energy but also delicately and sublimely beautiful. He e-mailed his favorites to his extended family; they all felt that Clark had stumbled upon his inner artist.
Encouraged, Little invested in “a real camera”—a Nikon D200. Together with the housing and a fisheye lens, it was a $4,000 investment. Clark’s friend, professional water photographer Brian Bielmann, taught him the basics. And, with the enthusiasm of a kid on the first day of summer vacation, Little paddled out into what would become his dream career.