Leo Hetzel lived a nomadic life in the 1960s and took some incredibly good 35mm film images, before taking a 'real job' at a newspaper.
In his own words below,
The picture of me below with the backpack is 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.