WRITER Ryan Willms
Having published a number of iconic photography books rooted in West Coast culture, including Yosemite by Glen Denny, Surfing Photographs Taken in the Seventies by Jeff Divine and Surf Contest by Ron Church, Tom Adler has recently released another beautiful title: California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties. Combining both colour and black and white imagery gathered from a variety of photographers and private collections, the publication paints a undeniably appealing picture of an exciting era full of experiment and evolution. Aside from the wide selection of archival photographs, the book features short passages written by Yvon Chouinard, Steve Pezman and Steve Roper, which give personal accounts of what was happening at the time and help to bring the images to life. Each photo is also extensively captioned, noting the individuals involved and their influence on these sports throughout the '50s and beyond. This information adds an interesting layer of depth and personality to the publication, which ultimately serves as an evocative look back at a golden age, and the growth of two Californian countercultures.