“Reach Out,” Trey Hall, May 1977. (Hugh Holland)

“Sidewalk Surver,” Huntington Beach, 1975. (Hugh Holland)

In the 1970s when Southern California was experiencing a serious drought, it left a surplus of empty swimming pools across communities that ultimately became playgrounds for young boys from Venice Beach with skateboards in their hands. The increase in empty pools coincided with a rising generation of wavy-haired, sun-bleached skateboarders who would make up the pioneering competitive skate team Z-Boys. In the blink of an eye, a subculture that had evolved out of surfing culture had staked its claim, and California’s back yards and asphalt were its main platforms to shine.

Photographer Hugh Holland was 32 and living in Hollywood when he began photographing the wave of skateboarders who had descended on parks, boardwalks, empty pools and parking lots in the ‘7os. For three years Holland documented California’s vibrant skate subculture, eventually lowering his lens in the late ’70s as the sport was becoming more commercialized and skateboarders were receiving endorsements from sponsors.

The ’70s-era photos were first shown at M+ B Gallery in Los Angeles in 2006. Holland received a nod in the 2005 skateboarding film “Lords of Dogtown,” and his work is prominently featured the Blender Gallery in Sydney, Australia.

This year –40 years after Holland began documenting the young skateboarders —  Ammo books published his extensive collection of California skateboard cool, titled “Locals Only.”


“Solo,” Kenter Canyon Elementary, 1976. (Hugh Holland)

A collage of skateboarders shows them using empty swimming pools around Santa Monica, Runyon Canyon, and the Valley. (Hugh Holland)

Todd Foote, left, and George Mitchell. (Hugh Holland)

“Left Turn Only,” August 1975. (Hugh Holland)

“Jeff Jones Stands on Coping,” 1976. (Hugh Holland)

“Todd’s Guitar,” Todd Foote, February 1977. (Hugh Holland)

“Skate Shooter,” Kenter Canyon, 1976. (Hugh Holland)

Skateboarders in 1975. (Hugh Holland)

“Arthur Attitude,” Arthur Lake, Kanter Canyon Elementary, 1976. (Hugh Holland)

“Collision on the Ramp,” Redondo Beach Pier (No. 69), 1975. (Hugh Holland)

“Skatepark Air,” Jay Adams, Reseda (No. 72), 1977. (Hugh Holland)

“Last Light at Kenter Canyon,” 1976. (Hugh Holland_

More In Sight:

Aerial view: Surveying the effects of California’s severe drought on agricultural sector from above

Vivid 1970s Miami Beach culture: All quirk, no vice

The subversive cool of punk style in 1980s London

Through the purple haze: Marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles