The Seventies birthed a new generation of surfers, with a new language, new attitude and – with the advent of the short board – a new way of surfing. Like the legendary LeRoy Grannis in the decade before him, Jeff Divine captured the time in a comprehensive, on-the-spot fashion. At a time when surf media was still a nascent, near-underground affair, Divine’s vision was vibrantly tuned to the times and captured the free-spirited nature embodied by a sport in its adolescence.
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 helped to turn it into the commercial giant it has now become. 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.
This was the time of the glorious Barry Kanaiaupuni carves and delicate-yet-dangerous pitch-outs at Pipeline. Rory Russell and Gerry Lopez reigned as kings. Surfing had reached a Zen-like, escapist zeal. According to Divine: “It was all about the karma you had, that and going with the flow. We really believed that when the surf was on that’s what it was all about: good vibes actually caused good waves to happen. I surfed first and then shot photos. As things got more serious, I shot first and surfed later.”
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 Surfer’s 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 and many of his iconic images were collated in the book Surfing Photographs from the Seventies taken by Jeff Divine (T. Adler Ltd).