Capturing the perfect wave

Collector’s edition limited to 1,000 copies worldwide, numbered and signed by LeRoy Grannis

At a time when surfing is more popular than ever, it`s fitting to look back at the years that brought the sport into the mainstream. Developed by Hawaiian islanders over five centuries ago, surfing began to peak on the mainland in the 1950s, taking America—and the world—by storm. Surfing became not just a sport, but a way of life, and the culture that surrounded it was admired and exported across the globe. One of the key image-makers from that period is LeRoy Grannis, a surfer since 1931, who began photographing the scene in California and Hawaii in the longboard Gidget era of the early 1960s.

This collection, drawn from Grannis`s personal archives, showcases an impressive selection of surf photographs—from the bliss of catching the perfect wave at San Onofre to dramatic wipeouts at Oahu`s famed North Shore. An innovator in the field, Grannis suction-cupped a waterproof box to his board, enabling him to change film in the water and stay closer to the action than other photographers of the time. Equally notable is his work covering an emerging surf lifestyle, from "surfer stomps" and hoards of fans at surf contests to board-laden woody station wagons along the Pacific Coast Highway. It is in these iconic images that a sport still in its adolescence embodied the free-spirited nature of an era—a time before shortboards and celebrity endorsements, when surfing was at its bronzed best.
The photographer:
Leroy Grannis’s initial foray into surfing began at age 14, but it wasn’t until the age of 42 that he picked up a camera and made a career out of it. Under doctor’s orders to take up a hobby, Grannis built a darkroom in his garage and began shooting surfers at Hermosa Beach, and "Photo: Grannis" quickly became a hallmark of the California surf scene of the 1960s. Grannis is considered one of the most important documentarians of the sport, and was inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame in 1966. He died on February 3, 2011.

The author:
Over the past decade working as Surfer magazine's globe-roaming editor at large, photojournalist Steve Barilotti has made it his business to document the sport, art, and lore of surfing. He has also written for The Perfect Day and books by renowned surf photographers Art Brewer and Ted Grambeau.

The editor:
Cultural anthropologist and graphic design historian Jim Heimann is Executive Editor for TASCHEN America, and author of numerous books on architecture, pop culture, and the history of the West Coast, Los Angeles, and Hollywood. His unrivaled private collection of ephemera has been featured in museum exhibitions around the world and in dozens of books.
LeRoy Grannis. Surf Photography of the 1960s and 1970s (Collector's Edition)
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LeRoy Grannis. Surf Photography of the 1960s and 1970s

Leroy Grannis, , Jim Heimann
Hardcover in slipcase, 15.6 x 13.0 in., 278 pages
$ 1,500
  • Reviews
"‘Here`s the monster,` LeRoy Grannis says, picking up one corner of the gorgeous and extravagant new collection of his classic surf photos, just released by TASCHEN, and titled LeRoy Grannis, Surf Photography of the 1960s and 1970s. A limited edition of 1,000, it comes in a special protective box, so heavy that Grannis, now 88 years old, can barely lift it. And that`s fitting, because contained within its oversized pages is not only the work of Grannis` own lifetime, but also the embodiment of a profoundly influential American subculture."
— C Magazine, Los Angeles, United States
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