The Secret ThrillArt Brewer and Jeff Divine

A surfer could tell instantly where someone was from
by subtle cues, the hair, the surfboard shape, logo and art work.



When we picked up our first cameras in the 1960s, we were just teenagers. Back then, California was an arid, pre-freeway, pre- populous, pre-tech, pre-housing explosion, non-commercialized paradise. As young photographers, we would set up to shoot from land or swim out into the waves, while no one else was taking surf photos. There was only a handful of surf photographers at that time and the surfing population was still small as well. When we saw another car with surfboards on the roof, we waved and elicited a thumbs up or down, a signal to indicate if the waves were or were not good. Mainstream society didn’t really understand what the surfers were up to. We had our own slang-infused language to describe surf spots and places, the people of the scene, the wind and the ocean, the qualities of boards. Surfers looked like hippies, but were really wilderness athletes. Kurt Letterman, who was an editor at Surfer Magazine, described the sport as “The secret thrill”.