Author(s): Adler Tom
From sepia-toned shots of old Hawaii to sharp focused close-ups of Kelly Slater, "Surf Life" juxtaposes, pastes, and cuts together a scrapbook of the surfer lifestyle throughout the 20th century. But as even the greatest surfer riding the biggest waves leaves nothing permanent in his or her wake, "Surf Life" provides much more than one man's stroll down an always sunny, taned, water flooded memory lane. "Surf Life" captures the fleeting, ephemeral moments that together add up to a visual history of surfing: pre-WWII and post-Gulf War beach boys, winsome surfer girls on long boards, Hawaiian aunties in parasols, and lone surfers on empty beaches. Prize-winning men and women ride waves taller than most of us have ever even seen, including 60s champ Joey Cabell and 90s star Kelly Slater, Kauai waterman Titus Kinimaka and four-time world champion Lisa Andersen, the late rebel Miki Dora and Hawaiian stylist Paul Strauch. Photographs from the last 70 years of surfers in the waves, on the beach, riding around in cars, and just lounging around are shot by the likes of Ron Stoner, Don King, Frank Quirarte, Jeff Hornbaker, Art Brewer, Jeff Devine, Jim Russi, LeRoy Grannis, Dewey Nicks, Don James, Carlos Serrao, Hank, Doc Ball, Aaron Chang, Mark Oblow, Craig Stecyk, Ted Granbeau, David Tsay, Steve Bissel, Dan Merkel, Leo Hetzel, Taki, Eric Aeder, Harold Ward, Eric Baseman, John Severson, Andrew Kidman, and Audrey Adler. From California to Hawaii, Tahiti to Indonesia, Australia to the Maldives, "Surf Life" follows the endless summer of the surfer's life.
Surfers may leave no trace of their tracks across the face of the wave, but in their wake is a rich photographic history, a visual timeline, made all the more poignant by the fact that it cannot be repeated or recreated.