Kirk Shorte – Fine Art Photographer

Creating is Living

Some lives develop on a creative foundation. Mine did, although I did not always think of it that way. Art, music, product development, building new markets. They were all a part of it. I feel joy when I can capture an experience as creative output, especially when that means I can enrich the lives of other people. This vein spans my life; it has enhanced triumphs and soothed tragedies. And it is especially evident in my fine art photography. I’d like to share my journey with you – to tell you how I ended up at this place at this time, creating my art.

Bitten by the Photo Bug

Imagine a young boy rummaging around in his grandfather’s attic. I was up there just seeing what I could find when I discovered a still-working discarded Brownie camera. What a treasure! I could hardly wait to buy film, and I picked the perfect spot to nestle on my back in the cool summer night grass of my grandfather’s backyard. With the camera’s lens aimed at the twinkling stars, I snapped away. I don’t think that Brownie ever captured any stars, but I was hooked. A life’s fascination with photography was born.

As a teenager, I worked in a neighborhood camera shop in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The store manager taught me to develop film and basic darkroom techniques. I loved the transformative process of converting film to prints.

Guitar Hero

However, photography was only one of my budding talents then. As a young child, I was a major Elvis Presley fan, sporting a child-size pair of blue suede shoes that I badgered my mother into buying. My brother and I would sing ourselves to sleep at night and, as a little boy, I fantasized about a music career. At 14, I began learning to play guitar, dedicated myself to developing as a musician, and joined a band. By 17, my weekend income from gigs equaled my week-long factory job pay.

Technology Career Begins

Being practical and seeking a “fall back” career path, I was hired by Bell Labs as a trainee in their drafting group. I continued to play music on weekends, growing an encouraging fan base among Bell Labs employees and Jersey Shore friends.

Uncle Sam Interrupts

Then my aspirations as a draftsman, guitar player and photographer were interrupted by Uncle Sam’s draft. It was 1969, the Viet Nam war was at a fever pitch. On March 17, St Patrick’s Day, I joined the Navy.

Gigs Go On

Post-Navy, I returned to Bell Labs and joined forces with a former 1910 Fruitgum Company band member to assemble a new band.

I liked the feeling of connecting with an audience, knowing they appreciated music that was masterfully delivered. We recorded a demo album and were seeking a label deal, while opening for Richie Havens and Stevie Wonder. My music future looked sparkly bright . . . until the band’s lead member suffered a severe breakdown, which dissolved the band. This time my usual bounce-back did not happen. Music doors did not open or they ended in dead-end tunnels. I put away my guitar and redirected my energy toward a technology career.

Silicon Valley

I decided to use my 9 ½ years of experience at Bell Labs as a springboard to a larger career in technology. In 1979, I joined Calma Interactive Graphics in Silicon Valley, one of the world’s first computer-aided design companies. While I thought of myself as a “snapshot” photographer with good gear in those days, I worked for a company that introduced the first 1024 x 1280 monitor, with 256,000 colors, in 1980. Throughout my technology career, holding increasingly responsible management positions with HP, Apple Computer and Sun Microsystems, I was enmeshed in extraordinary visual technology. That experience fueled my development as an artist-on-film.

Evaluating Life’s Path

Some of us find one professional focus in life, a personal niche that we pursue on a clearly defined career path throughout our lives. And some of us have a theme thread (creative ideas transformed into product in my case) that runs through our lives as we explore seemingly diverse career paths. I am a multi-dimensional path-exploring adventurer. New paths entice me as I happily adapt to changes. Sometimes those changes have been dramatic surprises. After 22 years as a technology marketer, the Internet bubble burst. While the tech industry has a history of boom/bust cycles, this bust was far more devastating than the norm. Finding a new tech position proved impossible. I sought a fresh path.

Hawaii – Home and Art

I had this back-of-my-mind plan for eventually retiring in Hawaii. Although I was a long way from retirement, I wondered if my moving timeframe was accelerating. On an exploratory trip, I ended up with a job offer, which I accepted. That position led me to Jack’s Dive Locker, the state’s largest diving operation, where I became the marketing director in 2004.

There, I could merge my breadth and depth of business expertise to add value to a thriving business. And there I grew serious about creating quality photography as art. I participated in dozens of workshops, had some excellent mentoring by accomplished masters, and formed my photography business in 2010.

There is something mesmerizing about sunlight dancing off an object or discovering the almost magical scenes that surround us in Hawaii – to feel the rush that comes just before I’m able to capture that perfect shot. Exhilaration happens when what I’ve visualized can be shared with the world so you can participate in discovering the gems I see and transform into my art.

Some of my accomplishments:

2015 National Geographic Bioblitz. Photo included in National Geographic’s Voices Bioblitz

Artwork currently on display at Rumley Art and Frame Gallery in Kailua-Kona

Photos used as the cover art for three books

Freelance Photographer,
West Hawaii Today

Now I live among fascinating people, cultures, and events set amidst some of the world’s most spectacular vistas. While I remember aiming my grandfather’s Brownie camera for the stars as a boy, now I’m able to create fine art in a place that twinkles with mystical allure and ever-changing wonderment.

Kirk’s portfolio can be viewed at

To contact Kirk: Email –

Phone – 808 895-1426

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