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Hawaii photographer catches waves on camera

OAHU, Hawaii -- On the North Shore of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Clark Little used to head into the water on a surfboard. Now he conquers the big surf with nothing more than flippers and a camera.

"I like the power, I like the thunder, the sound, the feeling of that wave coming over and crunching, and just being right in the heart of it," he says. "It's not just taking the shot. You need to know where to be. Your timing has to be right, so that barrel breaks perfectly over you."

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Clark Little freezes time, capturing stunning images of waves.
Clark Little
 The result is an inside look at the stunning beauty of waves.

"I love it," Little says. "It's exciting. I get my adrenaline pumping, and at the same time, it's scary."

Little says taking the photos can be dangerous.

"People die out here," he says. "Mother nature can sometimes look calm and nice. You go out there and boom: eight-to-ten-foot sets come and break on your head."

 His favorite photos fill the pages of his new book, "Shorebreak," and cover the walls of his gallery in the beach town of Haleiwa.

On the North Shore beaches, he's become a celebrity.

"I think shorebreak shooting is a new sport," Little says. "It's unbelievable. The parents are excited about it -- 'Hey, Clark, my son -- can you take a picture with him? He wants to take a picture.'"

Little did not plan it this way; he spent 17 years working at a botanical garden when his life took a sudden change.

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Little says shooting the photos can be dangerous.
Aaron Lloyd
 "My wife brought a picture home of a wave," he says. "I told her, 'Honey, don't buy that picture, I can go out and shoot one. I'll get a camera, and I'll do it.'"

He's now been shooting waves full time for seven years, always looking for that perfect shot.

"I am very lucky, fortunate, blessed," he says. "This is a special thing. It's something that I can't believe I do for a living."

A living that gives Clark Little a chance every day to strike gold.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.