on 27 December 2008
Leroy Grannis was the universally acknowledged God of surfing photography for decades. Still surfing himself well into his 80s, he had a surfer's eye for what makes a great picture. A recent exhibition in Camden was a revelation to me and it has been a wonderful experience to revisit many of those fabulous pictures in this large-format book. There is a brief introductory essay by Steve Barilotti, which gives a workmanlike biography (and is repeated in German and French translation). I would have loved a little more about Grannis and his working methods as well as background to the provenance of the individual photos. (Hence four stars).
So... the photos are the main point. If you saw the wonderful film documentary "Riding with Giants" then you will find many familiar faces and images from the first half of that film. It's easy to dismiss these as cliches, without realising that they are only cliches now because Grannis's original photographs were iconic. These wonderful photographs are technically marvellous in themselves but they also open a window into a lost age. (Perhaps it is the feeling of revisiting my own childhood West-country holidays that gives these images such a powerful emotional cast?) This book is a time machine in which Grannis captured an era that has long since disappeared and whose innocence and simple hedonism are long vanished. This book was bought for my son, a keen surfer, and he loves it for the obvious reasons. For us oldies there is a nostalgic overlay to the whole experience but in either case the pictures are just fabulous.
on 14 February 2012
Been there, was that, enjoyed the view, remembered the names, surfed the same waves, wore the clothes, had the long-boards, shot the curl, hung ten, faded.