These Black-and-White Photos Capture the Early Days of California Skate Culture

Hugh Holland’s book ’Silver. Skate. Seventies’ chronicles a burgeoning sport’s carefree youth in the 1970s

In summer 1975 Hugh Holland was driving through Laurel Canyon when he glimpsed what appeared to be half-naked bodies levitating from the sides of the road. Holland and his Canon EF would spend the next three years shooting skateboarders in California’s drought-emptied pools and reservoirs.

The skaters he captured, mostly Hollywood teenagers, some of them future pros, pushed the sport to new heights of grace and athleticism—and, unwittingly, commercialization. By 1978 big-money tournaments and advertising dollars had transformed Holland’s “wild boys” from street kids to sponsored stars. The gorgeous black-and-white photos collected in Holland’s Silver. Skate. Seventies., just published by Chronicle Chroma, capture the long summer evening of skateboarding’s adolescence, a momentary sense of freedom from gravity, just before it rocketed into the cultural stratosphere.

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