Ron Church: Surf’s Up

The Lensman’s Early Work Chronicles the 60s California Waveriding Scene

San Diego beach boys scan the waves and sun-kissed babes hold court in Ron Church’s immortal images of 60s West Coast surf culture. The late photographer’s lesser-known work is collected in Ron Church CA/HI 60 to 65, a new tome co-published by editor Tom Adler and The Surfer’s Journal, and comprised of scenes snapped up and down the coast of Southern California and Hawaii at a time when the sport was seeping into the zeitgeist. “It was just on the cusp of becoming less of an outsider bohemian thing, and Ron was there,” says Church’s former darkroom assistant Brad Barrett. “He had that thing, he had it early, and because of that it became iconic.” Already a highly decorated underwater photographer and record-holding spearfisherman when he set his sights on surfing, Church was unique in capturing the burgeoning movement from the water, paddling out with his square-format camera, and framing his shots with an artful composition that set him apart. “A person on a big wave is great,” says Church’s widow, Shirley Richards. “But as time goes by, it was the fact that he devoted so much of it to the culture, the clothes, the hairstyles, the bathing suits, the everything. Taking those pictures is what made the difference.”

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Conversations (1)

  • Greybeard
    Superb, beautiful images - very much like those found in a book called The End Montauk NY by Michael Dweck. Same subject matter.
    • Posted By Greybeard
    • June 13, 2012 at 9:23AM
    • Share Comment:

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