John Pennings – in his own words
My interest in surfing began in 1956 after watching a display of board riding by US lifeguards at Avalon Beach. I purchased my first board from Roger Keiran, a ‘pig’ shape – heavy balsa, absolutely fantastic a completely new experience – this was around 1959. My interest in surf photography began a year later when a good friend of mine, Bob Commys, started taking photos with a small telephoto lens and getting good results. With the launch of Australian Surfer magazine in 1961 I saw a good spread of Bob’s surfing photos published – this certainly sparked my interest.
I used to run into Bob Evans on the beach quite regularly after a surf. Bob had just started Surfing World magazine and stated to me that he may find it difficult to gather enough material to print 12 issues a year. That meeting with Bob prompted me to purchase camera equipment. This was in the late months of 1962. My camera consisted of a 35 mm SLR Pentax, with a 400 mm Novaflex lens and came with a 200m m extension screw fitting lens – I guess very basic equipment certainly by today’s standards – however, I was absolutely stoked. So, my association with Surfing World commenced. I was fortunate enough the following year to be on hand to photograph a classic North Narrabeen day in April of 1963. One wave with local surfer Jim Fordham in the slot gained a lot of recognition, and I was commissioned to have a 6 foot by 4 foot framed mural to hang in the Narrabeen surf club hall for the Saturday ‘stomp’ nights. My passion for surf photography definitely increased. Of course there was very little money paid for surf photos – the meagre amount paid by the magazines covered the cost of film and printing – not too much over. However, the self satisfaction I got out of photography more than compensated for that.
Besides Surfing World, I contributed regularly to South African Surfer magazine, had several articles published in American Surfer magazine and International Surfing. My photo of Wayne Lynch’s cutback during the 1968 Australian surfing championships was used on a poster to advertise Paul Witzig’s movie, ‘Evolution’.
The early 60s were memorable – everybody knew everyone, surfing was fun … little did we realise then how big it would be 40 years later. Memorable times for me were setting up my tripod on an unspoilt north coast beach when wind and wave conditions were right, the friendships made, all with a love of the ocean.
Leo Hetzel – in his own words
That picture is me in 1968 in the mountains of Peru. The leather tube I made in Lima to hold my tripod while travelling. The bag with the little horses on it I bought in Guatemala on my way south to Peru. I hitchhiked most of the way from California to Peru because I had very little money and I liked the adventure … it was the 60s and it was pretty wild. I wanted to get to the out-of-the-way places to take pictures of the local people and how they lived. I had two Nikon F’s and several lenses. One camera for colour slides and one for Tri-X black and white. When I got to Lima I met some Peruvian surfers and they adopted me and I stayed with them for a while. I lived almost two years in Peru and met my wife Marija (Yugoslavian) there.
There was no money in selling surf pictures – still isn’t much money in it – you have to do it for fun. When they had the Peruvian International surf contest outside Lima I took pictures of it for International Surfing Magazine, which became Surfing Magazine and an east coast magazine called Competition Surf.
Steve Pezman and I went to college together, I think it was 1959 or 60. Back then there weren’t very many surfers so all the surfers in the college met up pretty quickly. When Steve left Surfer Magazine and started The Surfer’s Journal he asked me to put together all my old surf pictures because he wanted to do an article with the pictures and a story. All my old negatives and slides had been stored at my parents house so I got them out and Steve and I went through the contacts and slides and picked a bunch to be printed. I started staying late at the newspaper (where I worked as a photographer) and working in the dark room after work and printing all the old surf stuff that Steve and I liked.
I had been selling the photos to International Surfing Magazine in the early 60’s … It turned into Surfing Magazine. The amount they were paying for photographs didn’t even pay for the film and developing, but I loved taking surf pictures. I had one used Nikon F and a cheap 400 mm lens and a 50 mm lens. No motor drives. If you were quick you might get a two- or three-shot sequence on one wave. The black and white I would buy 100 foot rolls of film and load it into cassettes myself – much cheaper that way. When I went to the Islands I think I took about 20 rolls of black and white and 6 or 8 rolls of colour – that was all I could afford.
Born 1945 in Coventry, England, Peter Green did not go on to be one of the greatest blues guitarists of all time, but he sure took some lovely photographs in the early 1970s. His work has previously not been published in any hardcover surfing books or magazines. I was lucky enough to see some of his photos in Bob McTavish’s second book ‘More Stoked’ and as it turned out, Peter Green is a lovely man who lives locally near Byron Bay and very much enjoyed my previous two surfing books. From age 3 Green grew up in California and developed a love affair with the sea that eventually led him to move to Australia. I was in love with the surf and always wanted to come to Australia, like most Californians do. A good friend came back from Australia and was raving about Kirra in 1971 that convinced us to buy tickets and come out late 1972. Coming from Southern California to Coolangatta and in 1972 felt like we stepped back in time. There were very few high rises, great waves, pretty girls on the beach, warm water; it was like arriving in surfing fantasyland. Lets just say, we were convinced to stay. I applied for residence and eventually became a naturalised citizen. A good reference from Warren Cornish surfboards was the key to me staying. I have only been back to California twice to visit. I always went out of my way to get photos of empty lineups …they were so different to what I was used to surfing in Southern California. You could go down to Lennox Head on a weekday and there might be five guys out. The clean warm water, empty waves, fresh and new, sand bottom point breaks, you could see the bottom, fish swimming, I couldn’t buy enough film. The only camera gear I had was a Nikonos 1 with an interchangeable 80mm lens to go with the standard 35mm lens.’
Bob Weeks starting taking photographs, developing and printing them when he was 10 years old, way back in 1950s Sydney. The images in this book are from his 1960s surfing images, simply part of his photographic collection. Bob’s works are some of the finest in Australian surfing history. Bob moved on from ‘surfing photography’ around ’66 outlining that ‘things changed’. Bob Weeks has an award-winning collection that traverses many genres and six decades of passion, the sort of passion that keeps you awake at night tinkering with the possibilities.
Growing up in Sydney and surfing with his mates on the south side, in a time of plank riding and surfing innocence, Bob and his mates lived for the surf. Bob says that ‘the mood changed’, not just with surfing becoming popular, but also all his mates started getting married and surfing became more just for fun and real life took over. Bob Weeks moved from Sydney to Woolgoolga, Northern NSW, in 1971 as soon as his first daughter was born, naturally seeking the country lifestyle for his children.
Today, Bob is just as stoked about photography and knows his way around the modern equipment and post production techniques like he was born in the technological age … from the early 1950s to today, the passion still burns. Bob’s commitment to high quality photographic restoration and archival quality prints is a testament to his old school way of life … take your time and build things that will stand the test of time.
Versatile California-born photographer, heralded in the 1970s for his tight-angle water shots taken mostly on the North Shore of Oahu. Wilkings was born (1946) in Hollywood, California, raised in Hermosa Beach, began surfing in 1958 and taking photographs in 1964. Original surf photographer LeRoy Grannis, also from Hermosa, was Wilkings' informal mentor. He became a Surfer staff photographer in 1971, after receiving a B.F.A. in photography from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and moving to Hawaii.
Wilkings' mission was to bring the viewer closer than ever before to the powerful North Shore surf—Pipeline was a favorite haunt—doing so at times by floating up the wave just as the tube poured overhead. In 1976 Wilkings bolted a waterproof camera to the tail section of a surfboard, and by following the action from the beach and releasing the shutter with a remote control unit as the rider disappeared into the tube, he captured the first behind-the-surfer view of a tuberide.
Wilkings was a senior staff photographer at Surfer until 1980; he continued living in Hawaii, working for the most part as a freelance watersports photographer. His photographs have appeared in Time, Life, People, Playboy, Sports Illustrated, and Rolling Stone; he's also contributed to more than a half-dozen illustrated surfing books, including The History of Surfing (1983), Surfing: The Ultimate Pleasure (1984), SurfRiders (1997), and The Perfect Day (2001).
Since 2007, Wilkings has been the photo editor at the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center in San Clemente, California, putting him charge of the word's largest collection of historical surf images. In 2012, Wilkings was inducted to the Hermosa Beach Surfers Walk of Fame. His website www.stevewilkings.com is a valuable resource for surfing enthusiasts.
Written by Matt Warshaw (Encyclopedia of Surfing)
Dave Milnes – in his own words
I’ve been a keen photographer since about the age of eight when I messed around with my parents’ Kodak Brownie box camera. I started surfing in 1957 on the old ‘toothpick’ surf club boards until mals appeared on the market. The first mal I rode belonged to one of the ‘clubbies’ and was a hollow ply mal made by Barry Bennett. We now call these okanui boards. Then came balsa and the new foam boards.
In 1959 I was 17 and started taking photos in the water. I bought a Mako Shark underwater camera. Basically it was a waterproof version of a Brownie box camera – fixed aperture and a 60th of a second shutter speed and 620 film. Needless to say the shots I took were pretty crappy as waves and surfers were usually blurred. I still have the camera and several strips of negatives from that time.
In 1963 my brother was interested in using a telephoto lens to take wildlife photos and he put a Tamron 400 mm fixed telephoto lens on layby, then I finished paying it off and bought a Praktica IVB SLR camera. After trials and some practice I was getting good action shots and was doing my own processing and enlargements. Towards the end of 1963 Bob Evans of Surfing World ran a photo competition. I submitted a few photos and was awarded a ‘Highly Commended’ prize and my photo was published. Bob Evans then asked me to submit photos and stories from my area and I became his South Coast Correspondent. Around the same time I bumped into Jack Eden at Port Kembla. Jack had started Surfabout magazine and was interested in my work and as a result asked me to submit articles to Surfabout. So I was South Coast Correspondent to two magazines at the one time. I had stories published until 1968 and then to Canada where I worked in ski resorts.
I came back to Australia in the 1970s and was informed that longboards were gone and would never come back, as the newer short boards that had come out while I was away had taken over. I tried these silly little short things and gave them up as a dead loss. I did surf my longboards a few times but was heckled every time. Eventually I started sailing – 16 ft Skiffs, Lazy E, Maricats, sailboards, Trailer Sailers and offshore yachts. 30 years later I was bit bored with sailing and one of the local (Port Kembla) surfers wrote a story on surfing in the sixties for Pacific Longboard magazine but had no photos to go with it. He was put in touch with me and it resulted in an eight-page spread in that magazine. I started taking surf photos again, as well as surfing, as there were now longboard clubs appearing up and down the coast. I specialised in longboard events and began covering the major events nearer to my area. I had further articles published in Australian Longboard magazine and still have items published from time to time with them. I also contributed to Murray Walding’s book titled Blue Heaven where most of the photos for the early 60s were mine.
Both ‘Morning Of The Earth’ and the early Tracks magazines are testament to an era in surfing that seems forever lost, but never forgotten ... an era that held a counter-culture statement to the mainstream ... it was a simple message of love and simplicity, and truth is, nothing has really changed. Albe is still living on the farm, caring for animals, surfing as much as possible, creating new films/books, but more importantly giving back to nature with his animal reserve, and most importantly enjoying surfing with a big smile on his face. Albe spent years standing on the beach capturing photographs that are now iconic – these days he spends his time in the water.
Albe was there in the golden era, right in the middle documenting it through Tracks magazine and it is no wonder he has such a treasure chest of surfing style and natural lines that the early 1970s seemed to nurture. One thing not to forget in all of this – Albe Falzon is an outstanding photographer of both still and moving pictures from the old school of film and pre auto-focus.
We hope anyone who is interested in Albe Falzon will look beyond the surfing bubble into the real World life of this once Sydney kid, turned country kid who has travelled the World documenting all kinds of interesting material, and is still creating books and documentaries to this day.
Dick Hoole has worked in and around surfing for his entire working life since he started at San Juan surfboards in Byron Bay in the early days. Guys like Nat Young, George Greenough, Ken Adler, Chris Brock and Michael Cundith were in town and surfing was on the agenda and by all reports it still is.
Dick is a successful filmmaker as well as a magazine producer with the low run collectors classics, Backdoor magazine. Dick’s first film ‘Tubular Swells’ was made with Jack McCoy and together they were ‘Hoole/McCoy films’ which later became ‘the classic surf company’ for Dick Hoole. Jack McCoy has gone on to make numerous successful films and is one of the premier surfing film-makers. Dick’s first film ‘Tubular Swells’ was very successful in a time and era where road-showing surf films was a social bonanza as it brought all the latest surfing footage to your local town, rolled out on film projectors. In these early days of road showing, filmmakers would often tour fifty stops and make a legitimate living from it, whereas today this does not really happen. From the success of their first film, Dick and Jack got funding for the second film, which became the early 80s hit ‘Storm Riders’ and both films are available today on DVD.
Dick Hoole has travelled the World with his camera, often spending months at a time filming Indonesian perfection, Hawaii big waves, jobs in Japan, Australia and the USA. Dick is a major contributor to the switchfoot publication and all of his images are available through the switchfootsurf website.
Ron Perrott 1935–1991
Ron was born in 1935 and it wasn’t until the late 50s and early 60s that his passion for photography melded with his love of surfing. The majority of this early time was spent on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, where he grew up. Many of his images of the Bower, Dee Why Point, Narrabeen and Manly appeared in most major international and local surfing magazines of the time.
In the late 60s Ron travelled to Europe and later settled in South Africa where he continued his love of surf photography. Ron was one of the first surf photographers to visit the Seychelles. In 1967 word had gone out in Durban that there might be waves there so Ron negotiated an article for American Surfer and signed on as crew on a trimaran to get there. Some surf was ultimately found and a story published.
Two of Ron’s best known photos are of Dave Jackman and Midget. His photo of Jackman riding the Queenscliff bombora made big news and gave surfing a positive public profile in Australia. His photo of Midget doing the cutback that pretty much clinched for him the 64 World Championship has appeared in just about every surfing journal.
He was respected by all the great surfers as a genuine, quiet guy with a terrific eye for a good picture.
In his later life he spent time in New Zealand as a commercial photographer, later returning to Australia where he settled on the north coast until, sadly, he died in 1991. Rest in peace.
Grew up in Panama and later went on to study photography at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. You will note the George Greenough photos. Steve kindly said this about the images…
‘Those two shots (the moon-tan chapter 8 and the sunset chapter 3) were taken on the same late afternoon in Panama at a surfspot called Santa Catalina, where I took George for two weeks for a Surfing Magazine article. They were taken just about an hour apart. There is a unique time of year in Panama called the “Equinox”, where the moon is rising and the sun is setting at exactly the same time and after I shot the sunset I noticed the moon rising right over a bohio on the same beach. So I asked George to plant himself under the bohio and to look back at the spot where the sun had just set, so he got very mystical which is easy for him and I was lucky to get the shot and kill two birds with one stone.’
‘George was visiting Panama because I asked him if he would be interested in seeing and surfing there, the place I had been born in. I was born there because my American parents worked for the ‘Panama Canal Company’ and because of that I became the happy camper that we all love today. Seriously though, I’ve known the ‘manthing’ (Greenough) for many years, ever since I left Panama to go to Brooks Institue of Photography here in Santa Barbara in 1967. I chose to go to Brooks because I knew that Rincon was there, and because it was a good school. A fun decision it was. It wasn’t long before through mutual friends I met George (whom I had never heard of before) right during the time he was making his now classic film “Innermost Limits of Pure Fun”, which I think would have been a better title for a porno film, but that’s George.’
‘After years of a growing friendship, I really admired the man and I wanted for him to see and surf my home breaks back in Panama. He had seen many slideshows of Panama that I shared with everyone and he was interested. So, I asked Surfing Mag if they would pay for some airplane tickets and off we were. That’s how he came to surf in Panama, which he really enjoyed.’
Born in the early 1940s, George Greenough is a surfing legend, acknowledged the world over as the man who changed the way we ride surfboards, with his very own designs. Designs that were not a rip off of someone else’s ideas, but moreso, just a practical reality that turned into a revelation at the time when people were riding heavy DFin longboards built for nose riding. George Greenough was riding in the tube, with a camera on his back in 1969 and filming it, in the dark. People didn’t really start riding in the tube until years later, let alone film their tube rides! Greenough was riding lightweight boards (spoons) under 5 foot long, weighing less than a modern shortboard, when the most high performance surfers were riding boards that weighed 30 pounds and were over 9 feet long. It doesn’t stop. Greenough doesn’t stop. He is still making waves and adding more interesting ideas to surfing, photography, boat designs and anything else that he is interested in. If we talk the history of surfing, I think most people would have Greenough in their top 5 contributors and possibly the most influential surfer alive today.
Barrie began surfing in the 1950s at Torquay in the state of Victoria, Australia. He was inspired in 1956 when the Californians, Greg Noll, Mike Bright, Tom Zahn and Bobby Burnside visited Torquay for the Melbourne Olympics exhibition surf carnival. When they paddled out and rode malibus for the first time at Torquay Point, Barrie was captivated for life, he wanted to surf like they did.
Barrie's work is noted for its strong tonal quality and exquisite composition, reflecting the quality of surf produced by the power-laden ground swells of the Southern Ocean. Throughout the 1960s, Barrie worked with the major Australian surfing magazines of the time. His coverage of the Bells Easter contest is renowned for its historical significance, capturing a special time and place in the evolution of Australian surfing. Easter Sunday 1965 was the biggest, most dangerous and heaviest swell ever experienced in an Australian Surfing contest. Barrie Sutherland’s collection houses some of the only quality shots of Victorian pioneer Peter Troy and as testified by the opening shot in this book, some vintage Wayne Lynch images.
Today, Barrie Sutherland still surfs and shoots film, he also has his own Gallery space in Torquay, called ‘Watermarks.’ These images are a selection from an archive that contains thousands and to this day more images are being uncovered, repaired and scanned. Barrie still chases the light.
Peter Crawford 1951 - 1999
Peter Crawford was a renowned surf photographer and some would say one of the world’s best lens man the industry has seen.
Having grown up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches he was also an avid surfer. His body of work spanned over 3 decades and in this time he captured some of the most influential riders in surfing’s history including Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew and Michael Peterson.
The true status of Peter Crawford and his legacy is still being realised both in Australia’s surfing history and around the world. With his sudden passing in Bali, from an apparent spider bite, this colourful flower bloomed short and sweet. Being a major surfing photographer for both Australian surfing publications and the big US surfing magazines, PC has a library up there with the best in surfing’s archives. His body of work was magnanimous, photographing over one million images in his lifetime. (Surfer Magazine)
Peter Crawford is a legend of surfing, a great surfer who was also an extremely talented and passionate photographer with an immense body of work that is still being retrieved, after his life was cut short in 1999 Indonesia. To this day, Peter Crawford is still regarded as one of the World’s finest kneeboarders alongside names like George Greenough and Wayne Parkes.
Peter was always in the water and often with a camera housing capturing a unique perspective on film.
Crawford lived the surfing lifestyle, based in Dee Why and scoring some heavy waves at his home break, Crawford later found his heart taking him to Indonesia and Bali, and this is where he passed to the other side from a snake bite.
There is mystery and folklore surrounding his mammoth body of photography work and where it all ended up, but we are fortunate that some of it lives on through his son, Justin Crawford. Justin has the talent in his blood and he is one of the younger photographers featured in this book. Justin and his mates around Dee Why (Sydney) keep the tradition alive, they ride and glide on all sorts of boards and the fin systems that Peter Crawford pioneered are being further developed by this niche crew who still live in the old house in Dee Why.
Peter Crawford’s archives are maintained by Justin Crawford and anyone wishing to help support what Justin is doing should simply drop us a line and buy a signed print, to help keep the legacy alive.
Mal Sutherland was featured in the first Switch-foot book, and we are stoked to have more images from Mal, who is one the pioneers of the Queensland Surfing Association with eight of his friends back in 1964…shortly after this, Mal also helped start the Kirra board riders club and became the Queensland correspondent to the Sydney based magazines of the time, SurfAbout magazine started by Jack Eden. Mal bought his first camera in 1959, took many photos for the magazines and also started road showing films as an agent of Paul Witzig and later Bob Evans. Today, Mal still takes photos and presents exhibitions of his surfing images along the East coast of Australia, contributes to magazines and even shapes the odd balsa replica for a wall hanger. Good friends with Australian surfboard making legend, Joe Larkin, and a keen body surfer, Mal will tell you that back in the 60’s they used to judge who was the best waterman by how well the individual body surfed.
‘Christmas 1959/1960 I got my first camera. Once I got to know the guys from Sydney that were doing the magazines, they asked me if I wanted to take photos for their magazine and be a Queensland correspondent and I said too right, why not. Jack Eden was the first guy, I think SurfAbout Vol one number 3 was my first photo and story that got published. I felt loyalty towards Jack, but was showing Bob Evans movies around the Gold Coast and Queensland. Evo would come up here and ask to see the photos, them take them and print them in Surfing World, but he didn’t put my name on them (laughs). There are quite a few of my photos in the early SW magazines that are un-named.’
Bruce Usher grew up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. In the summer of 1959 / 60 he started surfing and his father built a dark room under the house, showed him how to process and print black and white film.
Bruce graduated from a Box Brownie to borrowing his father’s 35mm Miranda SLR with no metering and a Tamron Twin Tele lens. February 1964, Bruce bought a Komura 400 mm telephoto lens with his first few months’ pay. Six months later he had five black and white photos and 250 words published in the August 1964 issue of Surfing World. Subsequent feature articles and photos were published in Surfing World until the end of the decade.
In 1969 Influenced by the bent English humour of the Monty Python team, Bruce wrote Number Seventeen Honeysuckle Street, Avoca Beach that John Witzig published in Surf International and that included his first published portrait. Then followed, Beware of Large Moulded Plastic Imitations, published in the October 1970 issue of Surfing World.
Photographically Bruce was beginning to look beyond surfing action and took a few portraits although only several stand out. Technically his negatives were either over or under developed. Bruce used the occasional colour negative film and dabbled with an old twin lens Mamiya and later started taking more abstract black and white images.
1971, along with Russel and Phil Sheppard started 16mm filming for: Our Day in The Sun, narrated by Midget Farrelly. That was cut into a 25 Minute short that premiered at a Surf Film Festival at Sydney. Early 1972, Russell, Phil and Bruce commenced work on the feature length film: A Winters Tale, shot in New Zealand, South Africa, Hawaii and Australia that premiered in February 1974.
October 1974, again contributed to Surfing World Magazine for several years but this time Bruce Channon who Bruce had written about a decade earlier was the editor.
Towards the end of the seventies Bruce was using a Leicaflex, handheld with a 180mm lens to shoot black and white surfing action and was establishing himself as a commercial photographer.
Bruce Channon started editing Australian Long Boarding in 2002 and Bruce again continued his relationship with him. Contributing photography occasionally but predominately writing profiles of surfing community characters.
Bruce has been a commercial photographer since the mid seventies and also writes for two photography magazines. Currently working on several personal projects including one on the ocean.
To contact Bruce Usher email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Martin Tullemans delivered some of the finest Queensland surfing images for Tracks Magazine in the 1970’s focusing on the golden tanned ‘coolie’ kids of that generation who later went on to be superstars and even surf industry executives. Unfortunately many of Martins’s classic images ended up in surf magazine archives during a period when they were not adequately treasured and consequently many of Martin’s images are tough to find, if at all.
In Martin Tullemans own words...
"When your life force is tucked into the pulse and palm of nature’s hand in a tube or time capsule, both entities throbbing, fully alive on all that cosmic synchronicity jive you are briefly suspended and merged in timelessness. What is happening within is mirrored without…Before you can flow you have to learn to let go. We are pilgrims of the endless summer journey."
"Doing the dance for dollars as opposed to doing the dance simply for the LOVE is as different as listening to heavy metal versus reggae music. The true goal of the surf journey is that it is a magic road to the endless summer where buried treasure lies."
Martin Tullemans on Michael Peterson...
"Michael Peterson was surfing’s ‘dark knight’ and a positive came out of the negative of him holding back the marketing and progress of professional surfing becoming commercially viable. MP’s invite to the Hawaiian surf contest of the era, the Smirnoff Invitational, arrived the day the contest started. MP requested Martin Tullemans to take this photo, it appeared shortly after it was taken in Tracks Magazine. Surfings ‘dark knight’ raised the bar of surfing high performance that high, the other guys played catch up tennis. Michael busted down the door of surfing high performance and the other guys busted down the door of economic marketability." Martin Tullemans 2008
Frank Pithers - In his own words
During the five years I spent on the road shooting pictures for Tracks Magazine I was privileged to witness really fantastic surfing by some of the worlds greatest surfers. Most of my time was spent travelling the Australian coastline and living out of a VW Kombi in the company of top surfers, our only mission was to get the best waves we could find, surf the shit out of them and get as many shots as possible for the next issue of the magazine.
In the late 1960’s early 1970’s most of the time we would find the point breaks almost deserted. As a photographer to get great waves with a few of Australia’s best surfers in the water, was a real treat… It made my job pretty easy, I didn’t have to look hard to find great moves in the water, the blokes were pulling off amazing stuff. When you have great surfers in the water riding beautiful waves, the rhythm of the surfing tends to build in intensity, the guys seem to feed off each other and what they are doing on the waves. At the peak of these sessions some truly amazing surfing would take place. It was great fun and a real privilege to be able to catch some of those sessions on film.
I remember one trip to Angourie, I was travelling with the great John Otton and the equally amazing Simon Anderson, we stayed at David ‘baddy’ Treloar and Brad Maye’s house-come factory. They were living at Angourie and making Wilderness surfboards at the time. During the next four days we had fantastic surf every day with virtually no one else in the water, the level of surfing was just mind blowing. All the guys had very different styles but all were extremely creative, such a joy to shoot. As a surf photographer, I don’t think it gets any better.
There were a lot of real characters around in the 1970’s, loads of experimentation in board design and some very different approaches to riding waves. It was the beginning of the pro-era, but surfing hadn’t been formalised yet, it was still a little wild and crazy.
I spent a week enjoying the hospitality of the Brothers Neilsen in 1972. Everyday involved and early rise and straight to Burleigh where the boys would surf all morning, home for lunch and the mid day movie. If the waves were still good they would go back to the beach, if not, into the factory to make boards. They lived the total surfing lifestyle.
It was a great job for a young guy and I had some of the best times of my life working at Tracks and Surfing World magazines. I hope you enjoy this little blast from the past.