LeRoy Grannis (1917 – 2011)

LeRoy Grannis was an American photographer best known for his documentation of surfing and beach culture in the 1960s.


Born on 12th August, 1917 in Hermosa Beach, CA he grew up on the shore, going on to join the US Army Air Corps in 1943. Grannis, an amateur surfer himself, was assisting in the photographing of surf competitions in the 1950s, which developed into a serious interest and career by 1959. “Knowing surfing makes a good surf photographer,” he once declared. “I’ve seen good professional photographers arrive at the beach with the best equipment money can buy, but they didn’t know anything about surfing. They would shoot dozens of rolls of him, but they couldn’t come up with as good shots as those who were actually surfers!” He pioneered the use of several innovative techniques, including developing a custom waterproof surfboard-mounted camera. During the 1960s, he took some of what are now considered the greatest images of surf culture in its golden age. In 2006, TASCHEN published the landmark photo collection LeRoy Grannis: Birth of a Culture, and his work was featured in Stacey Peraltas award-winning documentary of the sport, Riding Giants (2004). Grannis died on 3rd February, 2011 in Hermosa Beach, CA.

Grannis’ photographs are featured in the permanent collections of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, USA, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, USA, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC, USA, amongst others.