King, Don


Aquatic Hawaii-born cameraman from Kailua, Oahu; Surfing magazine staff photographer through the 1980s and early '90s; best known for his tight-angle action water photography. King was born (1960) in Honolulu, raised in Kailua, and began surfing in 1969 in Waikiki. He took his first water shots at age 14, swimming into the lineup at Pipeline with a waterproof Kodak Instamatic—the equivalent, as Surfing magazine later phrased it, "to learning how to drive at the Indy 500."

Two years later King got his first real camera, and within months was publishing in both Surfer and Surfing magazines; in 1980 he was put on the Surfing masthead, and in 1984 he became one of the magazine's elite senior staff photographers. Water photographers throughout the '70s had moved steadily closer to both the surfer and the falling curl, but King redefined the art in the early '80s, using a wide-angle lens and frequently shooting from inside the tube looking out, just inches from the passing rider. His photography was featured in Sports Illustrated and National Geographic, as well as a number of illustrated surfing books, including The Next Wave (1991), Aloha Blue (1997), and History of Surfing (2010).

The 6'2", 165-pound King played water polo for Stanford University's national championship teams in 1980 and 1981—in high school he'd broken the state speed swimming record—and in 1983 he graduated with a B.A. in psychology.
King worked on surf movies and videos, including Shock Waves (1987) and The Hole (1997). His camera work on Surfer Girl, a documentary, won him a Best Cinematography Award in the 1995 Chicago Film Festival; No Destination earned King and fellow cameraman Jeff Hornbaker Best Cinematography honors in the 1998 Surfer Magazine Video Awards. King was hired by NBC Sports to shoot the 1982 World Cup of Surfing; he later contributed to Hollywood-made movies, surf-themed and otherwise, including North Shore (1987), In God's Hands (1998), Blue Crush (2002), Riding Giants (2004), Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), and The Descendants (2011).

In 1992, King won the Pipeline Bodysurfing Classic, the world's most prestigious bodysurfing event.