The Tom King Legacy

Birth Year:  1958

Citizenship: USA

Known as: photographer


Tom King has been active at the highest levels of watersports photography for more than 30 years. As a staff photographer for WaterSki magazine King snapped classic cover shots of Tony Finn on his Skurfer (1986) and Eric Perez on the original Hyperlite (1991). King was active in the earliest days of the sport, capturing iconic images with many of the world’s best riders, including Scott Byerly and Parks Bonifay.


When WakeBoarding magazine launched in 1993, King was hired to shoot the planned cover for the premier issue. Darin Shapiro took center stage with his signature move, extending a huge Air Raley while soaring directly over the top of a flipping kneeboarder. This groundbreaking cover signaled a coming of age of wakeboarding, and the new magazine put Wake on the fast track to mainstream acceptance.


Though the years King’s skills with a camera have landed him steady work with dozens of publications and manufacturers from American Photographer and Alliance to HO/Hyperlite and MasterCraft. He’s worked with almost every major industry company, and many of his working relationships are now passing the two-decade mark.


Tom King was still working on a college degree in Photography when he started with WaterSki magazine for their premier issue in the fall of 1978 (It was the first magazine published by World Publications, now known as the giant Bonnier Publishing.) When World Pubs released WakeBoarding magazine in 1993, King was in the perfect place to capture all the action. His backyard studio was on the Butler Chain of Lakes in Orlando, Florida. Wakeboarders from around the world made the journey to central Florida, the long-time Mecca for towed watersports. A good photo shoot with King got riders print publicity, an important commodity in the days before widespread social media. The world’s best came to King, but he also hit the road, capturing images of riders on their home waters or adventuring in far-flung places around the globe.


Few if any have had such a longstanding and meaningful portfolio; not just in Wake, but in towed watersports and beyond. If you follow Wake in print, then you have certainly seen some of it through the eye of Tom King, who has stood the test of time as one of the all-time great watersports photographers.

Influential Images
Top Accomplishments
  • Magazine Covers: 100+ on WaterSki, WakeBoarding, Launch, Alliance, Boating, MotorBoating, Windsurfing, Women’s Sports and Fitness, Yachting, Sailing, Sport Fishing, National Geographic World, Boy’s Life, Boat, and Boating Lifemagazines
  • Cover shot on the Premier Issue of WakeBoarding magazine: the photo that launched a sport.
  • Pioneer: Rear View Tube ShotFrom the first ride with Dean Lavelle to multiple cover shots, this new way to shoot had a scary start.
  • Captured countless firsts in the sport from legends like: Eric Perez, Darin Shapiro, Scott Byerly, Randall Harris, Andrea Gaytan, Parks Bonifay, Zane Schwenk, Shaun Murray, Brian Grubb and many more.
  • Longstanding work with industry leading companies such as Skurfer, HO / Hyperlite, O’Neill, Wake Tech, MasterCraft, Malibu, Tige, Indmar and most of the rest.
  • One of the first 6 inductees to the Wakeboarding Hall of Fame in 2015