by KELLEY GUSICH | photos by aaronchang.com

Waves of Inspiration

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When he was 12 years old, Aaron Chang started surfing on a nine-foot South Coast long board his father had purchased for $20. He then became interested in photography during his high school years on the yearbook staff, and while making Super 8 surf movies. “I fell in love with the process of shooting on film and not knowing what you had until you processed the film,” Aaron shared. “Imagine that!” His two passions combined as a senior photographer at Surfing Magazine. “I was able to surf all over the globe,” he said.


Name: Aaron Chang
Profession: Artist
Community: Carlsbad
Hobbies & Interests: Photography and surfing
Favorite Local Spot: The ocean


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At 18, he was shooting pictures of tourists in Waikiki for work. “That winter, when the surf was breaking on the north shore of Oahu, I started shooting surfers and selling them prints.” As this enterprise grew, he realized he could make a living shooting in the surf. “The best part about my job is seeing the joy that those who view the images experience. Nothing beats this part of the work.” Throughout Aaron’s long career, he’s focused on exotic travel, visiting over 50 countries from Peru to Russia to Rwanda to Japan. His favorite memory is being surrounded by a herd of hundreds of elephants in Botswana, although they were too close for him to actually photograph.

One of the hardest challenges facing Aaron is staying abreast of the technology, which evolves at a ferocious pace. To be competitive, he must spend over six figures on equipment, computers, and software and be prepared to cycle through this expenditure every 12 to 18 months. “This is a tough pace to maintain,” he confirmed. “Every day there are new things to learn.”

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The immense beauty of nature is Aaron’s inspiration. His decades of photographic skills, coupled with a deep and studied appreciation for fine art photography, utilizing breakthrough technology, stirs in him the desire to make constant new images. “Sharing these observations is my motivation.” His galleries are a philanthropic force in the Carlsbad community and around the world, hosting fundraising events and working with local schools and national and international organizations like Salvation Army, Plant With Purpose, and World Vision.

When asked about his advice to budding artists, Aaron said, “Once you have identified your passion, you need to make a plan for success.” Visit Aaron’s two galleries on Cedros Ave. in Solana Beach and downtown San Diego in the Seaport district.