The Love Affair Between the Man and the Sea

When reading The Washington Post on Saturday, the obituary noting the passing of surfing photographer LeRoy Grannis caught my eye.  

Mr. Grannis was also remembered in the Los Angeles Times, where it was reported that “The images by photographer LeRoy Grannis helped popularize and immortalize the sport (surfing)  —and the life behind it — at a crucial point in its history. ‘His photos captured the real thing,’ wrote surfing journalist Steve Barilotti.”

 An exhibition of vintage photographs by LeRoy Grannis was held in London in 2003. At that time, Sebastian Smee, of the The Telegraph, said  “The man who recorded these images may not have concerned himself greatly with their status as art, but for today’s viewers their merits go beyond the pull of nostalgia. There are photographs here with the latent energy and almost mythical simplicity of Hokusai’s timeless print The Wave. Still more capture the elegance and drama of surfing’s unique attraction: the love affair between man and the sea.

In 1961, all of Mr. Grannis’ shooting was done from the beach. “In 1963 I heard about a waterproof camera, so I started to use it. But it only had a 35mm lens, so you had to get up real close to fill the frame” he reported.

Hawaii Surfer 1960's by LeRoy Grannis

Into Another Realm by LeRoy Grannis

Watego Locals at Sunset by LeRoy Grannis

As I view his images I find myself recalling the surfer songs of the 60’s. “You gotta catch a wave and your sittin’ on top of the world” (Catch a Wave by Beach Boys) or “Were loading up our woody, with our boards inside” (Surfin Safari, Beach Boys).

As we contemplate our written word assignment, this makes me wonder, does the written word inspire an image? Or can an image inspire a movement which in turn is immortalized in song?

by Leslie Sinclair


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