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Art Brewer, great surfer photographer, dies at 71


“They were like mismatched brothers,” said CR Stecyk III, who collaborated with Mr. Brewer on the book “Bunker Spreckels: Surfing’s Divine Prince of Decadence” (2007). “They were going around the world, living a life that you couldn’t live. Art was an emerging documentarian at the time, and here is Bunker, whose great-grandfather had played poker with the King of Hawaii. (His great-grandfather Claus Spreckels was a sugar baron who bankrolled King David Kalakaua.)

Mr Brewer told California newspaper The Dana Point Times in 2016: “All he wanted me to do was come and take pictures. I wasn’t paid, I was just going to take pictures. There really wasn’t anything specific about it, it was a fun little show.

Arthur Jennings Brewer was born on February 14, 1951, in Orange, California, and grew up near Laguna Beach. His father, Daniel, did masonry work; his mother, Florence (Wellman) Brewer, was an accountant and seamstress.

Art started surfing at age 12 and started taking pictures a few years later when a friend with a new Pentax camera came surfing with him.

“He asked to borrow my board and I said, ‘Sure,’ and he said, ‘You’re looking at my camera; if you want to use it, you’re more than welcome to,” he recalled on the “Temple of Surf” podcast in 2021. “I shot a movie, picked up the movie two days later from Kodak, and I knew what I wanted to do.

He saved up money to buy his own camera and soon began sending pictures to Surfer magazine. He quickly became a professional photographer, earning $500 a month, and in the 1970s became the magazine’s photo editor. In all, he says, 36 of his photographs appeared on the cover of Surfer.

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