Shooting South Seas Surfboards

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - February 24, 2010
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Photographer Karl Meinhardt

To Karl Meinhardt, hunting for the just right shot to capture the essence of classic surfboards is what makes his business stand out.

“I look for the uniqueness of each board,” says Meinhardt, owner of South Seas Photography. “Some of the older boards that have been through the rigors of life - even boards that have been under people’s houses - those tend to have the most character because they have dirt, sand, grit and wax ingrained into the board. It brings out the character of the board. And I’ll do photos of old, classic boards that are so pristine and beautiful.”

The Kailua resident says his lens focuses on the best shots when he uses a combination of access to some of the top surfboard collectors with finding a board lying on the side of the road.

“The images sometimes come up unexpectedly,” he says. “If I see a board just lying there on the grass or in the dirt, that will be the shot. It is a combination of using a nice collection and the hunt to look for the boards in the unknown. That goes for the perfect beach shot, too.”


Meinhardt’s clients include homeowners and interior designers who want to to decorate with a framed photo of several brightly colored surfboards.

“When a client decides, they know the colors and the images they want,” he says.

Meinhardt gives clients several images to chose from at first, and provides additional options until one is chosen.

“They pick an image that means something to them personally,” he says.

Meinhardt grew up in Northern California, surfed Steamer’s Lane in Santa Cruz, traveled to many places and moved to Hawaii in 1995. His background includes working in advertising and interior design.

He shot photos and wrote articles about surfing for various publications for about a year before deciding to plunge into the fine arts aspect of surf photography in 2006.

“I just felt that the people of Polynesia have enriched my life so much, I decided to focus on their beach and the surf culture of Polynesia,” he explains. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. It’s the people of Polynesia who influenced me the most - their lifestyle and their family life.”

He gushes about his gratitude for the support of his clients, collectors, collaborators, friends and family, especially his wife Gina, who does the books, and their 5-year-old daughter Monroe.

Meinhardt notes that, at the start, getting the word out about his business was a challenge, but he found displaying his artwork at galleries helpful.

“If we work together as artists, we will do pretty good,” he says, noting that things are a little easier these days. In addition to his surf-board photos, Meinhardt has a large selection of pictures of Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji and the Cook Islands to complement his stock photography of waves and coastlines. He does personalized family portraits on the beach as well as photo sessions to capture the spirit of the surfer in action. When he’s not busy working on his upcoming coffee table book, titled Pure Polynesia - Lifestyle of Surfing, Paddling and Beach Culture of Polynesia, he is the go-to guy on the radio airwaves giving his expert opinion as travel consultant on what to do in the South Seas as a guest on McCoy Travel Radio with show host Melissa McCoy on Fridays at 1 p.m. on KAOI 1110 AM on Maui, and KUMU 1500 AM on Oahu.

For more information, call 383-9770 and


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