Ron Church was one of the pioneering photographers of surfing and surf culture in California and Hawaii during the 1960s, shooting legends from Duke Kahanamoku to Greg Noll. His photos captured the surf culture of the time beautifully, both the action in the water and the wider culture, the people, on the beach, in the parking lots, at the pier. His photographs make up a good deal of the archive of iconic photos from surfing and Californian cultures’ history.

Surfer tying a surfboard to his car

Born in 1934, in Denver, Colorado. In the 1940s Ron moved to Southern California where he became an accomplished waterman; originally diving, spearfishing, surfing, and notably he was an award-winning underwater photographer. In the 1960s Ron adapted this experience to bring a unique and pioneering perspective to surf photography, shooting surfers from within the impact zone.

Tragically, Ron died young at only 39 years old. But his work inspired a new breed of surf photographer, and still inspires modern-day surf photographers.

Proof sheet of surf photos by Ron Church
One of Ron Church’s proof sheets. Source

See more great photos and behind the scenes treasures, like the proof sheet above, on Ron Church’s family run Facebook Page.

Skateboarder proof sheet
Woman on the beach
Surfers on crowded beach at a surf competition
Spectators at a surf competition
Surfer proof sheet
Surfer at a 1960s Californian surf competition
Cameraman hoisted above a surf competition

His work is captured in two great books:

Prints are available at Archiv-e.

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