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Monday, November 26, 2007

Art Brewer - Master Of The Stoke

Capturing the surfing culture takes more than hanging out in the tube at Pipeline. Art Brewer's photography gets at the core of the lifestyle.

art brewerRenowned surf photographer and Laguna Beach native Art Brewer has captured the essence of surfing since the early 1970s. Cutting his teeth for Surfer Magazine while still in high school, Brewer went on to embrace surf culture's elite and photographed an era of definitive moments. His images capture the zeitgeist of a bona-fide religion, each symbolic of a lifestyle that has captivated the imagination of would-be surfers around the world.

It was 1969 when Brewer found himself nestled at Oahu's epic North Shore for Surfer. Within a year, the self-taught photographer had already recorded six covers for the publication.

“I had 500 bucks a month, a gas credit card and a food allowance,” he recalls. “I was living, eating and sleeping the culture. That's what separated me from the other photographers. To me, it was more of an involvement than an observation. It takes a lot to get accepted on a personal level with world-champion surfers.”

Brewer went on to surpass “the stoke” of his decade-long tenure on the magazine, but his approach to capturing the image stoutly remains to this day.

“Patience, patience and more patience,” offers Brewer. “That, plus being completely immersed in the culture that surrounds you. Before I even pick up a camera, I get in the head of the person I'm photographing. You have to get under the surface. It's incredible how it shows in the image if you don't take the time.”

Brewer's surfing and celebrity portraits have been featured in publications such as Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Muscle & Fitness and Playboy. His commercial photography also blossomed, fulfilling ads for clients such as Pepsi, Kodak, Nike, Casio and Quiksilver.

“When I shoot, I always consider myself on assignment because I have a good reputation of not getting skunked, especially surfing,” explains Brewer. “I start off with peripheral stuff on the beach and in a boat. There are solid foundations for getting what you need as far as telling the story is concerned, but then I get in the ocean for more shots that I see as accents to the story. As far as the day-to-day beach life is concerned, you're constantly shooting that, so it happens in a very natural way."


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