Grannis began shooting surf-culture images on 22nd Street in Hermosa in 1960 as a hobby at the suggestion of a family doctor. His work immediately appeared in the important surf culture magazines of the time including Surfer, Reef and Surfing Illustrated. He quickly became one of the sport’s most important documentarians, voted into the International Surfing Hall of Fame as the number one lensman in 1966, awarded SIMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002 for his legendary surf photography and most recently, his stills were included in Stacy Peralta’s 2004 critically acclaimed surf documentary Riding Giants, as well as featured on the cover and within Taschen’s Surfing: Vintage Surfing Graphics. The artist, now well into his 90s, continues working—and surfing—from his home near San Diego.
Schooled by California’s first surf photographer “Doc” Ball, Grannis would soon be hailed as one of the only photographers to capture the true essence of the surf culture that spread up and down the California coast—and the world—beginning in the 1960s. According to Brad Barrett, editor of Photo: Grannis, “Granny’” differentiated himself from the other surf photographers of his day by using a very slow, fine-grain, low contrast film that he pushed up to the speed the others used.