Jeff Divine.

“I spend hours here and even chunks of time on the weekends. We were just informed of a state mandated law that you have to step away from your computer for periods of time. The only thing that draws me away is visiting ” creedlers” and “time bandits ” (we get a lot of interesting visitors from all walks of the surfing world), arguments over photo picks, content or obscure surf politics or philosophical discussions on surfing. Yes, we work in the toy department of life. My small shrine display area is ever-changing.

Foreground: cheap Pakistan knife engraved “thanks for printing article in TSJ called ” Light in Darkest Baja,” Buttons peace sign on Pearl Jam fan club single, Rick Griffin ” Mexico” color proof, Hodgeman canvas raft replica (I used in 70’s to shoot from the water ), Jan and Dean album with my photo on cover, Peruvian coffin replica – opened it displays skeleton with large red penis (a gift from my editor).Other office-desk views feature, John Van Hammersveld poster gift from artist yesterday, Herbie Fletcher ” Malibu” painting, frame grab print from the film Big Wednesday, Honolua 1974 sequence of Steve Dabney , flu shot flyer, hard drives, surf mags, next issue print outs for tracking progress, Swell catalog, 1980’s surf photos pdf printout, water, Canon pro services renewal…”

Growing up in La Jolla, Jeff Divine began taking pictures of fellow surfers in his hometown during the 1960s and got to know the original alternative sport before the mainstream media blew it into the commercial kingdom it has now come to be.

His photo focus took him into a staff position in 1971 with Surfer Magazine, where he would begin the first of some 35 annual trips to the North Shore. In 1981, Divine would become the Photo Editor of the magazine, a position he held for the next 16 years. Today, Divine is the Photo Editor at The Surfers Journal and continues to contribute to Surfer. Divine was the focus of The Surfers Journal’s second ode to the master photographers in 2000 with Masters of Surf Photography: Jeff Divine. This year, T. Adler books published Surfing Photographs From The Seventies Taken By Jeff Divine.

In the 70′s we didn’t have any of the branded gear there is now; no sunglasses, watches, hats, backpacks, sandals, logoed T’s, shoes, board bags, leashes…

FROM YOUR DESKS: What is your work routine?

JEFF DIVINE: 7AM to 4:30PM. I like to get home to watch the amazing winter sunsets over the Pacific.

FYD: At my desk, I’m looking at your photograph for the Pearl Jam Fan club single. How did that project come about?

JD: Eddie Vedder and others in the band surf. Somehow they had seen this shot at M+B Art and thought it communicated their vibe from some music they made in the islands.

FYD: I know trustafaris who surf but more for the love of gear, toys and “coolness” factor. Does the mainstream aspect of surfing bother you; has it sold out? 

JD: We consider ourselves purists in our outlook. One man on a wave; all else is bullshit. My take is who cares about everything else if someone’s in the ocean and actually gets a wave and the feeling. It takes a certain level of competence to arrive at that point and then you’re hooked. It’s a level playing field in the ocean. Core surfers really don’t care who you are. I’ve met Iraq Vets, Cops, Lawyers, Doctors, Kings, Princes, Hedge Funders, Derelicts, Dealers, Nobel Prize Winners, Architects, Rock and Movie Stars all while paddling for and out to the waves.  At the time, I had no idea who they were and didn’t care.  It was about catching the next wave which entails having a whole skill of lining up, timing and paddling at different speeds. Miki Dora was one of the few who never sold out.

We consider ourselves purists in our outlook. One man on a wave; all else is bullshit.

FYD: Is the ocean sick?  
JD: I think the ocean is sick, especially around populated areas. I always think how sophisticated and aware we’ve become in California (Surfrider Foundation) and we’re still struggling with sewage spills, polluted lagoons at Malibu and Rincon, chemical, brake dust, bird-dog poop, runoff into the Ocean.  At least it’s on the radar screen here.  In traveling, I see the rest of the world is out to lunch and way behind our thinking about the ocean. All of Africa, Asia, Latin American and a large part of Europe.  I think we’ve made a lot of progress whereas the rest of the world has barely begun. Depressing.

FYD: What camera did you shoot with in the 70’s. Is that era dead and gone?

JD: Nikon with motor drive. Pretty much dead and gone especially in the sense we’re all branded now and then we weren’t. In the 70’s we didn’t have any of the branded gear there is now; no sunglasses, watches, hats, backpacks, sandals, logoed T’s, shoes, board bags, leashes, etc.

FYD: Is there a massive difference between the California and Hawaii surfer?

JD: Yes, big difference. On a daily basis Hawaiian surfers deal with waves, ocean energy-riptides, and wind way more powerful than California.

Miki Dora was one of the few who never sold out.

FYD: Is Pipeline still considered an epic place to surf? Any great new discoveries?

JD: Yes, Pipeline is still one of the wonders of the surfing world. Along with many others discovered in the last 10 years or so- Jaws on Maui, Mavericks at Half Moon bay, Teahopuu in Tahiti, Shipstern Bluff in Tasmania, Cortes Bank-100 miles off San Diego, Belharra in France, and a variety of waves they call slabs which break basically dry rock shelves out in the ocean. On big days, the surfers are towed in with a jet ski. These are the radical,high end waves. There are perfect waves that have been discovered or considered the best- Rincon, California, Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, Lance’s Right, the Mentawai Islands and many more. Because of new swell forecasting, boat charters and the motivation to get away from crowds there have been many new discoveries.

(Jeff Divine images 1-3 Jeff Divine’s studio.  Image 4: Jeff Divine. Image 5: Rabbit, Off the wall, Pipeline, 1974. Image 6: Brotherhood of Eternal Love, Canyon Acres, Laguna Canyon (David Nuuhiwa and John Gail), 1971. Image 7: David Nuuhiwa, Expression Session, 1971. Image 8: Rory Russell, Rocky Point, Ohau, 1974. Pipeline. 1971  Image 9: Peace, Buttons Kaluhiokalani, Velzyland, 1972 Image 10: In 2006, T. Adler books published Surfing Photographs from the Seventies Taken by Jeff Divine.)

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