VIBES: Hugh Holland and the Seventies SoCal Skate Scene

“The style was incredible,” says Holland. “That’s what brought me to it in the first place. I always say it’s like a ballet on concrete. I came into it being totally fascinated with capturing the point where the action reaches its peak.”
He also caught the in-between times, the static of those suburban days, “boys standing around not doing anything, just waiting”.

“But at the end, the reason I stopped was because I didn’t like photographing the company logos, you know.”

“Because they started wearing helmets and knee pads and elbow pads with logos written on their shirts and all that stuff and it was just … it was not the same.”

“It was the last year of the free spirit” he says of ’77. After that, skate parks were built as fast as they could and money was made. After that, the boys in Holland’s pictures – for him – stayed just that. The Peter Pans of Venice Beach and beyond, held almost forever in boxes.

One of Holland’s favourite shots – Down On The Corner – was taken on the way back from a contest at Balboa Beach when he stopped off for another little small contest. “I shot some pictures of the contest but that wasn’t what was good. It was the kids in the street, outside the contest – the kids in the street just hot-dogging. Years later, someone was telling me, ‘do you know who that is?’ and I said ‘nope’ and they said, ‘that’s Danny Kwock’. Anyway, he became a famous surfer later in the 80s and there in Newport Beach he was a legend.”

Then, though, and always in Holland’s lens, he is “just a kid on the street but what style. Beautiful style.”

When asked of the others, he says: “I don’t know what happened to them, a lot of them became pro – they got logos and they designed boards and stuff – but anyway, that’s neither here nor there.”

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