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The Half-Century Files

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Fifty years ago, TSJ’s photo editor Jeff Divine picked up a Pentax H1a and began shooting the surf landscape and its denizens, creating images that in many cases have now become iconic. In this semi-regular series, we’ll blow the dust off a half-century’s worth of slide-sheets and dig around for the under-seen shots, always with an eye for compositions that offer riffs on time, place, and the backstory to his body of work.

“Lower Trestles walk-in, 1972. No logos, no backpacks, no sunglasses, no hats, no leashes, no sandals, no watches, no surf report, no water bottles, no sunscreen (I’m paying for that now). When you heard about good surf it was over the phone as a friend babbled about it. You saw pictures in the mags a month later. Surf movies were seen in the theatre. Your surf heroes were from the neighborhood. Minimal if any cute/hot surfer girls were seen in the water. Petacalco, Mexico was whispered about, a mythological place. Secret surf spots and regions still existed. The left at Pipes broke perfectly for years. K-38 and Chasms were our secret getaways when the White House Rights were big. The only drug was weed. Hawaii was the mountaintop. Etcetera, etcetera.” —Jeff Divine