Photographing the origins and rise of skateboarding in 1970s California
For Hugh Holland, it was very much a case of ‘right place, right time’ as he wandered the streets of 1970s California armed with his camera as the skateboarding trend began to explode around him.
As Skip Engblom was arranging his Zephyr skateboard team in Santa Monica, kids all around Southern California were taking advantage of the severe drought that had hit the city and began to ride empty swimming pools and drainage ditches, surfing the concrete like the local-only waves by the pier.
With new technological developments making skateboards a genuine alternative while the ocean was flat, the likes of Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Peggy Oki and Stacy Peralta were kickstarting the legendary Dogtown and Z-Boys skateboard era which would end up defining what we know of the sport.
Aware of the counterculture movement which was gaining followers with ever-growing day, Holland followed the sidewalk surfing off Mulholland Drive through Venice Beach, parts of the San Fernando Valley, San Francisco and Baja California as skateboarding swept the West Coast with more scruffy and dirty teenagers hopping fences and skipping from the police while in search of a new bowl to ride.
In his new book, Silver. Skate. Seventies., Hugh Holland has collected some previously unseen images taken from the early formations of the skateboarding movement. “In the 1970s, photographer Hugh Holland masterfully captured the burgeoning culture of skateboarding against a sometimes harsh but always sunny Southern California landscape,” the synopsis reads. “This never-before-published collection showcases his black-and-white photographs from suburban backyard haunts to the asphalt streets that connected them, this was the place that inspired the legendary Dogtown and Z-Boys skateboarders.
“With their requisite bleached-blond hair, tanned bodies, tube socks and Vans, these young outsiders evoke the sometimes reckless but always exhilarating origins of skateboarding lifestyle and culture.”