The great Bruce Weber's gorgeously torrid work with Kelly Slater, Shaun Tomson, John John Florence, the Fletcher family and so on.
If you enjoy examining black-and-white photos of men in underwear as much as me you’ll know the work of the American photographer Bruce Weber. Abercrombie and Fitch, Calvin Klein and so on. A real one-of-a-kind.
Via an enduring friendship with the famous surf family The Fletchers (Herb, Dibi, Christian, Nathan etc) Weber occasionally cuts frames with surfing celebrities: The Fletchers, natch, John John Florence, Laird Hamilton, Shaun Tomson, Kelly Slater, Bruce Irons.
Look at the harmonic revelation of the world champion Kelly Slater, and pals, all with thorn stumps out.
And the barbarically sexy Laird Hamilton (with eighties star Brooke Shields).
In an issue of the always very good Saturdays Magazine, the New York clothiers interview Weber about his relationship with the surf game.
I won’t take you all the way to the bottom of this particular grove (click here for the full story) but you’ll like these moments.
Surfers remind me of the rock and roll guys of the ’60s and early ’70s. Rabbit Bartholomew is a good example. He was the Keith Richards of surfing: hair, clothes, jewelry and all. All the surfers I met early on had great style and a desire and passion for living in the moment. They made no money. They were like wrestlers in that way. College and high school wrestlers never make any money, but their hearts are totally into it.
Danny Dimauro: When you work with surfers, what is it that you’re seeing, from an artist’s perspective?
bw: I think you always discover something when you look in the eyes of an adventurer—whether it’s a surfer or a person who climbs mountains. They defy incredible obstacles. Their eyes seem to have the same light as the sky. They’re almost translucent. Surfers are adventurers, people who know no boundaries. My interest in surfing began with photography, but I was never going to be out there in the waves taking surf photographs. I take portraits. Surfers remind me of the rock and roll guys of the ’60s and early ’70s. Rabbit Bartholomew is a good example. He was the Keith Richards of surfing: hair, clothes, jewelry and all. All the surfers I met early on had great style and a desire and passion for living in the moment. They made no money. They were like wrestlers in that way. College and high school wrestlers never make any money, but their hearts are totally into it. To meet a surfer whose heart is so into the sport and into being in the water—there is just nothing like it for a photographer. I was really lucky that I got to photograph so many people when they were just beginning. I photograph for Vanity Fair sometimes, and my friends who work there often tease me—they say, “You’re really great with people when they’re beginning, or when they’re in their 90s.” I forget about that sometimes, but it is how I live my life.
Danny Dimauro: Let’s talk about your relationship with Herbie and the Fletcher family.
bw: It was around the time when I first photographed Marky Mark for the cover of Interview. I wanted to do a sportsman, so I thought of Nathan and Christian Fletcher. I drove down to where they live in San Clemente with my assistants and some clothes. Dibi opened the door and said, “That fucking 405 is terrible.” It’s the last thing I expected that a mom would be saying to me. I stepped in the house and there were all of these great artworks and painted surfboards everywhere. We were in the kitchen talking, and Christian came in with his hair half-shaved, a tattoo on his skull and a ring through his nose. He was so beautiful—it just made me love surfing that much more. It felt like I was in the middle of a crashing monster wave when I was at their house. I went into Nathan’s room—it hadn’t been cleaned in years. Surf paraphernalia everywhere, like a great piece of art. I knew I was photographing a record of their family, living there at that time. I just adored Herbie and Dibi. I kept imagining that they were like my adoptive parents. They taught me so much about the surfing world and surf clothes. They instantly became great friends of mine and still are to this day. I had some of my greatest times with them during our travels and visits over the years. Looking back at all of those surf films, I think that the Fletcher family’s story would have made the best surf film ever. I know that Sean Penn was really interested in it at one point, but then he got occupied with other films he was working on.