J. Stephen Hicks Memorial Set for Feb. 23

LOS ANGELES—A celebration of the life of legendary erotic photographer J. Stephen Hicks is set for Saturday, Feb. 23 in Malibu. Hicks passed away Feb. 6 at the age of 58 at his Malibu home on Point Dume after dealing with health issues for the last few years.

Hicks' family released the following obituary:

Stephen was a force of life -- adventurous, inquisitive, passionate, inexhaustible, kind, loving, empathetic, and most importantly, a true and lifelong companion to all those lucky enough to cross his path. His wit, insight, compassion, and boundless love will never be forgotten.

Stephen was an acclaimed photographer, an avid traveler, surfer and mountain biker, who called his beloved Malibu home for 19 years. He was a loving husband and a committed father, whose happiest, most contented moments were spent with his family, wife Lani, son Ryder, 18, and daughter Kailee, 15, who survive him. But Stephen came most alive bobbing in the early morning surf in Malibu and Mexico, mountain biking in the coastal trails above his home, photographing nature in all its glory, power and mystery.

Stephen was a model friend. He listened, advised, aided and was always there when anyone needed him. His character was strong, unwavering, unimpeachable. He never judged but he always loved.

Stephen had a restless soul and an ever-growing curiosity about the world. From Bhutan to Africa, South America to Asia, Europe to Mexico, he sought new cultures, new experiences, new canvases for his unequaled nature photography. His passing has left an immeasurable void in those who loved him. But all our lives are richer and more complete for having been touched by his life and love.

The son of the late Joseph Wendall Hicks and Fletta June Stroud, Stephen was born in Denver, Colo. He was a 1972 graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School and attended the University of Colorado. In the late 1970s, he found his way to Santa Barbara, where he attended and was graduated from the Brooks Institute, with a degree in photography.

In the wake of her husband's passing, Hicks' wife Lani vows to continue her husband's website, DigitalDesire.com.

"Digital Desire will continue to operate business as usual under the guidance of Lani Hicks and the watchful lens of Mr. Hicks’ protégés extraordinaire and photographers Mark Lit and Charles Lightfoot," according to a post on the site. "Mrs. Hicks has been involved in all phases of the company since the beginning while Mark has been Digital Desire’s lead photographer and production point man since 2005. All the key components are firmly in place to keep J. Stephen’s vision alive and well moving into the future."

Erotic photographer Holly Randall remembers what made Hicks' work stand out among his competitors.

"You could always pick a Hicks photo out from the crowd—he was a master at harnessing natural light," Randall wrote on her Tumblr page. "While I sometimes feel like I’m at war with the sun, Stephen manipulated and seduced it to a point where it seemed to bend to his will. There were many times I’d look at his photos and think, 'How on earth did he light it like that?' And then I’d see a BTS photo of the setup and I’d think, 'How on earth did he light it with what appears to be such a simple set-up?' It was obvious that Stephen was a master of his craft."

Randall called Hicks her biggest competitor and a true erotic artist.

"When people ask me who my biggest competitor is, without hesitation it has always been Stephen Hicks," she said. "There’s no denying that we competed over models, over magazine layouts, over jobs and over website members. But I say that with the utmost respect—and I’m not ashamed to say that Hicks beat me at the game many, many times. He had a knack for discovering unknown beauties first, and his work is extremely marketable. He kept his sets and outfits simple, his lighting sometimes moody, sometimes light and airy, but it was always beautiful. His attention to detail was impeccable—if a girl had a thick waist, or a bad boob job, you’d never know if you saw her photos on Digital Desire. There were a few times I booked a model off of photos that Hicks had taken of her, only to have her walk in and look nothing like the bombshell in her photos. Those were the times that I secretly cursed his talent."

The celebration of Hicks' life will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Sunset Restaurant located at 6800 Westward Beach Road in Malibu, Calif.

In lieu of flowers the family is requesting donations be made to either the Surfrider Foundation or Heal the Bay or The John Wayne Cancer Foundation.