During my 10 years working in the skateboard industry, I shot countless thousands of photos. During my early days as a skater, I only shot negative film. I then switched almost exclusively to slide film (Kodachrome 64) after being hired as a staff photographer at SkateBoarder magazine in January 1978. Though I later went on to work as the general manager and team manager at Gullwing, then as managing editor at TransWorld SKATEboarding magazine, I continued to photograph skating as time (and energy) allowed.
Most of my slides were stored at the SkateBoarder and TWS offices, so the photo editors would have easier access to them for publication. Many of the slides were left at those magazines, even long after I quit, in the hopes of them eventually being published in the magazines. I had also loaned many of my slides to the skateboard manufacturers to be used in product ads. Since I didn’t keep close track of those photos, many of them were either lost or stolen over the years. The worst instance of the unnecessary loss of photos happened when SkateBoarder magazine was bought by a large corporation, and they threw many former staff photographers’ original photos in the trash without bothering to contact anyone.
After leaving the skateboard industry in 1986, I estimate that I had less than five hundred of my original slides still in my possession. Then, starting around 2000 when the old-school craze took off, several skate industry companies and individuals contacted me to let me know they still had some of my original slides. Many hundreds of photos came back to me that I had thought were forever lost. Billy Ruff was one of those skaters: the slides I’d given him eventually ended up in a box which was stored at his mom’s house until he got them back just a few years ago.
Another source of my old photos came from Monty Little, who I had loaned many of my best photos to decades ago so he could make copies. Since many of those original photos were later lost, those duplicates became the only surviving form of my old photos. Then, earlier this year, Tracker discovered a stash of my photos during production on their book. The largest batch of photos came from Grant Brittain, which he’d found while clearing out the photo archives when he left TWS magazine to start The Skateboard Mag, and had long been forgotten in the TWS’s file cabinets for decades.
I estimate that over the past few years I’ve had at least a couple hundred slides returned to me. Some were of skaters and locations that I had no other photos for, which made them irreplaceable to skate history, and especially to me personally.
Billy Ruff, Frontside Air. Oasis Skatepark, San Diego, California, 1980.
“Billy Ruff was a regular at Oasis skatepark, which was one of the most popular Southern California parks for many years. Along with his other G&S team riders, he ruled the park from the day it was built.”
Brad Bowman, Early Release Frontside Air. Del Mar Skate Ranch, Del Mar, California, 1978
“Del Mar was one of the most popular parks with the S. California skaters for many years. Brad frequented the park often and ripped it as if it was his own home park. His smooth style was a standout even among the locals.”
Christian Hosoi, Lien Air.Del Mar Skate Ranch, Del Mar, California, August 1985
“Del Mar skatepark was once one of the most popular parks for the skaters in Southern California, and soon became the battleground between Christian Hosoi’s aggro style and Tony Hawk’s technical proficiency, who both consistently dominated the contest scene in the 1980’s.”
Ellen Oneal, at Knott’s Berry Farm. Buena Park, California, February 1978
“This was at a skate demo at the park’s Good Time Theater during a break in the skating to sign autographs for the many fans who attended. Other notable skaters, such as Paul and Dave Hackett, were also in attendance performing at this demo.”
Mike McGill, Frontside Channel Plant. Lynnhaven Ramp, Virginia Beach, Virginia, June 1985
“Lynnhaven Ramp, along with the nearby Mt. Trashmore ramp in Virginia Beach, VA, were among the favorite spots for locals, and the scene of a major vert contest in 1985 with all the top skaters attending.”
Paul Hackett, No-Handed Backside Air. Reseda Skatercross, Los Angeles, California, 1978
“Reseda Skatercross was one of the most popular skate spots in the San Fernando valley north of Los Angeles, which was built on the former site of an A&W drive-through. Paul ripped the park, along with many other top skaters of the time.”
Darren Ho, Pearl City pool, Hawaii, August 1978
“Hawaii was famous for its multitude of local pools, ramps and ditches, and Pearl City pool was one of the most popular in spite of its small size and tight transitions. Skating here is local, Darren Ho, with Doug “Pineapple” Saladino sitting on the deck waiting to skate.”
Steve Olson, Backside Air. Lakewood Skatepark, Lakewood, California, 1979
“Steve Olson was famous for his solid and aggressive skate style, and one of the most popular skaters in the ’70s and ’80s. Lakewood Skatepark was located in the central Los Angeles area, and was a popular spot for many contests and frequented by the top skaters of the time.