20 Years Ago

With both my favorite bands every Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews Band celebrating their twenty year anniversaries, it recently dawned on my thick skull that I too am experiencing a twenty year mark of my own, two actually.

No… nothing as noble as sobriety, I happily drink like a fish. Nor abstaining from red meat, I do love carne asada burritos.
No, none of that. This year, I celebrate 20 years of both Photography and Surfing.

I love surfing. I try to paddle out every day. But I’ll focus on the photography here today.

It’s fitting that in my 20th year I make the move back to the medium of film, the same substrate that filled me with such wonder and desire for adventure back in my gremmie days as a freshman in high school.
As part of the process of moving back to film, I came across my old box of negs from back then which include a lot of images from friends at Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach. (All I can say is that I have myself some good blackmail material on my hands… My friends should pray that none of this ends up on Facebook).
Maybe I’ll do a full post with all the clean ones.

Out of all the negatives, I decided to pick a favorite from my first year photographing and post it here for kicks. And I’ve chosen the one shown here. It’s not my best photo ever, the story isn’t clear, not a compelling angle, and it isn’t even exposed well…

But what it is for me can never thoroughly be explained in words. The story was greater than this single image, yet for me this single image sums the entire story.
It was a time of exploration, growth and friendship. I guess it was like anyone else’s formative teen-age years, just with a camera to document the events.
Jerry Broderick (the guy in the photo), and I used to ride bmx and freestyle bikes. We’d go hunting for dirt jumps all over town getting into all kinds of trouble, getting lost in Tijuana looking for concrete skatepark playgrounds.
It was our own version of Dogtown and Z-Boyz. I’d have my camera on hand to document the events and even at one point got one of my photos of Jerry published in Transworld Magazine.
In this particular image, Jerry had just fallen after attempting something like a 360 over a dirt jump down in the estuary trails in Imperial Beach.
The funny aspect to the image is that the T-shirt he’s wearing is for a company called Dirt Brothers Inc, and it says “100% Dirt” underneath the dirt…

I look back at this image and I see that I was on a journey, often times a real journey to find a new jump with Jerry, or to find a cool place to photograph. But I was also on a metaphorical journey to explore my passion and where that fit in this great big world.

After 20 years of my love affair with capturing images; the good times and bad, the years where I didn’t even feel like picking up a camera, the times when I couldn’t put the camera down, all the missed shots, and all the award winners, the scratched negatives, the digital camera failures… I guess the journey then is the same as the journey now.

By the way I was no slouch when it came to riding either. That’s me on the left (I think Jerry took that one with the high school’s Twin Lens Reflex. And Jerry doing a wall ride over another friends bike at the Palomar Culvert in Chula Vista on the right.


Check Out William's Latest Book

There Ain’t No Pageantry in Cockfighting

A short novela recounting a surf trip to Baja turns South when the engine my '71 Volkswagon seized, leading me on an adventure down Baja 1000 roads, encounters with transvestite prostitutes, and drought ending weddings.

Share This Post

Facebook Twitter Reddit

15 thoughts on “20 Years Ago

  1. That last session of yours was dreamy and I’m so excited to see some of your new film work, William. Happy anniversary! 😉

  2. Thank you for sharing this and happy anniversary! I can’t wait to see what the next 20 have in store for you and your work. Your latest film sessions are amazing.

  3. Wow, you’ve just made me take my own trip down memory lane. Congrats on the milestone! And good taste in music.

  4. I was scrolling through your other posts and now I see why they are so dreamy. Film definitely has a wonderful look. Here’s to you rocking another twenty!

  5. I stumbled upon your blog doing some research for http://www.discoverymp.com. You caught my attention by mentioning DMB’s 20th anniversary.. my where has the time gone? I loved your Dogtown of Z-Boys experience. What a great moment in life to capture on film.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.