Endless Summers

Photos: Hugh Holland

Los Angeles-based photographer Hugh Holland honed his craft documenting the emerging skateboard culture that was born to the background of iconic 1970’s endless summers and free living in California.

Two events coincided on the west coast in the mid 70s that gave rise to skateboarding as we now know it. The invention of the urethane wheel and the drought that emptied the pools across the city allowed the kids to ride their new boards in an entirely new way. Holland was in the right place at the right time, and spent three years documenting what is widely considered the golden era of skateboarding.

Always looking beyond the sport, Holland captured intimate portraits of young boys sat under trees waiting their turn, or in peaceful contemplation after a long day of riding. Most of the images here featured in the celebrated book Locals Only, which is referenced time and time again for the unbelievable style found on every page. “Skateboarding was and is all about style, and the stylishness was incredible as they performed a kind of ballet on concrete" says Holland.

The photos have a dreamy quality as a result of Holland primarily shooting in the late afternoon and using old colour negative movie film, rendered in warm tones, in contrast to the sharp, crisp chromes that most skate photographers were using at the time. As a footnote, many of the images feature now legendary names of the sport, most notably Jay Adams and Stacy Peralta of the Dogtown Z Boys skate team (Peralta later directed the Sean Penn narrated movie of the same name in 2001).

The skateboarding phenomenon moved fast and it wasn’t long before commercial interests took over. Holland stopped photographing the scene in 1978. To him, the "wildness and spontaneity was disappearing," as the sport became commercialised and the skateboarders he once knew were wearing company logos and were in uniforms. Things are obviously very different today, but these images live on as a reminder of the earliest days of the scene and a special moment in time.