Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 6:02 p.m.
Some of Grannis' timeless work was captured in this 2007 book.
The surfing community is beginning to spread word of the passing of renowned surf photographer Leroy Grannis. Grannis was 93 and with his family in Hermosa Beach at the time of his death.
"No words can define Leroy," wrote Henry Ford in a Facebook message announcing the passing. "He was a photographer, surfer, a friend, a father to his family and a mentor to all who knew him! He was a great man who will be missed by all those who knew him; he touched [the lives of] so many of us growing up in the South Bay!"
Grannis was at the forefront of surf photography when he began shooting waves and surfing in the early 1960s. The New York Times once called him the "godfather of surf photography," though he only focused his efforts on the sport for a brief period.
Prior to picking up a camera, Grannis worked for Pacific Bell as a switchboard installer. In 1959, he was diagnosed with stress-related ulcers and advised by his doctor to find a hobby, which is when he found photography.
Leroy Grannis wasn't the first to depict the California lifestyle with his photos. It wasn't his idea to begin shooting in the first place. His contributions to surfing photography occurred over a brief 12-year period, and he hasn't much bothered with it since 1971. Nevertheless, most of the great images from the '60s' golden age of surfing, regardless of the magazine, bear the inscription "Photo: Grannis."
Grannis turned his back on surf photography in the early '70s, when he began to feel there was too much competition for finding the perfect angle, and he ended up shooting hang-gliding for a while before an accident derailed that desire. He then turned to windsurfing.
His work appeard in some of the earliest surfing publications, including Reef, Surfer and Surf Guide. In 1964, he co-founded International Surfing magazine, which later became Surfing.
Grannis was inducted onto the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame in 1999 and the International Surfing Hall of Fame in 1991, and in 2002, he was awarded the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association's Lifetime Achievement Award.