Tribute to a bygone surf culture
WITH a career spanning more than 50 years clicking some of the world's best surfers in locations we mere mortals can only dream of, iconic Australian surfing photographer John Witzig recently opened a new exhibition in Maclean, where he shares some of those extraordinary moments with us.
The exhibition is called 'These are (mostly) pictures you've never seen …' and it's a large cross- section of not only surfing photos, but also an expose of the culture and lifestyle of some of those who waxed up and peroxided their hair throughout the '60s and '70s.
A few of our local surfing identities stand tall alongside others who, while hanging 10 on walls, also act as a testament to a time where a particular Australian sub-culture was not only making waves in the water, but also within communities up and down the eastern seaboard.
Names such as Wayne Lynch, George Greenough, Ted Spencer and local Angourie surfers Nat Young, David Treloar and brothers Terry and Garry Keyes, all with their youthful good looks, are just a few of the surfers Witzig has brought to the surface for this exhibition.
"The photographs here are ones that haven't made the cut previously, or that I've noticed in the meantime … pictures that didn't seem important when they were taken (mainly from the mid-1960s until around 1978) but have attracted my attention some 40 years later," John said.
Witzig's surfing imagery for this exhibition is not typical of what is seen in your glossy magazines today but "mostly it's because they seem to capture the spirit of those times … times irrevocably gone".
Photographs taken of Ted Spencer at Bells and Nigel Coates at WA in the early '70s have both of them almost running over the top of Witzig while on their waves.
"I used to use a Nikonos underwater camera with a 35mm lens, and when you set it to infinity the pictures you got in serendipitous moments were great, including the one of Ted Spencer who I could almost touch as he went past," John said.