LEGENDARY SURFERS
Legendary Surfers

Subscribe to our mailing list


Powered by Robly


Subscribe to our feeds:

Subscribe to the Surfing Heritage Main Exhibits RSS Feed SHACC

Subscribe to the Legendary Surfers RSS Feed Legendary Surfers


Follow SHACC on:

Follow us on Twitter

Facebook

YouTube

 

Warren Bolster, RIP

MASTER OF SKATEBOARD PHOTOGRAPHY

Warren Bolster: 1947 – 2006

First Take By Ben Marcus


On Wednesday, September 6, word began to flow sadly out of Hawaii that legendary surf and skate photographer Warren Bolster had committed suicide. There was shock and sadness but not a lot of surprise as Bolster had been struggling with health and financial problems for many year. He suffered from arthritis and the Oxycontin he took to ease that pain, “made him crazy,” according to a friend who had known Bolster from his heydays.

Warren’s heydays were the 70s, when he was one of the most influential action photographers during the rebirth of skateboarding. Born in Virginia in 1950, Bolster traveled with the world with his father who was in the foreign service. Bolster learned to surf and skateboard in Sydney in 1965 and he took a job as Associate Editor at Surfer Magazine in 1972. In 1973, Bolster was tasked with starting up Skateboarder Magazine as skateboarding was taking off again, fueled by the urethane revolution: “Warren gave everything he had to what he loved,” said Daniel Gesmer, who edited the book The Legacy of Warren Bolster, Master of Skateboard Photography. “ Warren was so devoted on principal to what he cared about is it kind of cost him his job at Skateboarder. Ultimately he wasn’t a business man. He didn’t know how to temper his passion and his purism.”

In recent years, Bolster had been living in Hawaii, raising two sons and struggling to make a living in an industry that he had helped to establish and where he had thrived.

A friend of Bolster’s who was active in skateboarding in the 70s and 80s said that the photographer had been struggling: “Warren had been taking Oxycontin for years because he had debilitating arthritis. He would go on it and come off and he had called me many times, threatening suicide, because he was in pain, and he was broke. A few years ago he went to a very expensive rehab in Laguna Beach, and I picked him up when he came out and took him to ASR. This is so sad. I think about him every day and I was going to call him.”

Warren Bolster is survived by his sons, Edward and Warren Junior. His father, Edward, passed away in 2004. Bolster’s sister was the personal secretary to Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist for many years.

Gmail - Warren Bolster RIP, by Ben Marcus





---------------------------------------

MASTER OF SKATEBOARD PHOTOGRAPHY

Warren Bolster: 1947 – 2006

2nd Take by Ben Marcus


On Wednesday, September 6, word began to flow sadly out of Hawaii that legendary surf and skate photographer Warren Bolster had taken his own life, with a gunshot to the head. There was shock and sadness but not a lot of surprise, as Bolster had been struggling with health and financial problems for many year. He suffered from arthritis and the OxyContin he took to ease that pain, “made him crazy,” according to a friend who had known Bolster from his heydays in the 70s and 80s, when he was an editor and photo editor at Surfer and Skateboarder Magazines.

In The Encyclopedia of Surfing, Matt Warshaw described Bolster as “protean,” which means “Readily assuming different forms or character; extremely variable, changeable in shape or form, versatile, able to play many kinds of roles.” And that one word described Bolster well. Born in Arlington, Virginia in 1947, Bolster traveled with the world with his father who was in the Foreign Service. Bolster learned to surf and skateboard in Sydney in 1965 then established himself as one of the top competitive surfers in the Cocoa Beach area in 1967. In his early 20s Bolster moved to San Diego to surf and in 1975 he began taking surf photos. He produced a cover of Surfing Magazine on his first try and by 1975 he was working for SURFER as a staff photographer.

Ron Dahlquist has “lots of Warren memories. I don’t think he missed an opportunity to shoot the Waimea Shorebreak. Every time I’d fly over to Oahu to shoot the epic shorebreak scene, there would be Warren sitting on his Pentax Telephoto case already at work while I set up my tripod. I consider Warren a peer from ‘my generation’ of shooters and his passing leaves a huge void in the surf community at large. Rest in peace Warren. Hopefully your pain and suffering has come to an end.

Bolster was the Associate Editor at SURFER in 1976 and 1977 and he also served double duty as the editor of Skateboarder Magazine during the Urethane Revolution. According to the Encylopedia of Surfing: “Bolster was constantly on the lookout for new angles, shooting from helicopters and often using a deck-mounted camera to get spectacular in-the-tube photos from behind the surfer, or noseriding photos from in front of the surfer.”

“Warren gave everything he had to what he loved,” said Daniel Gesmer, who edited the book The Legacy of Warren Bolster: Master of Skateboard Photography. “He was a flawed human being, as we all are, but the soul he brought to SkateBoarder Magazine changed countless lives, mine included. His passion and his purism seemed entirely untempered by pragmatism. That was his beautiful strength as well as his Achilles’ heel.”

Grant Ellis now fills the Photo Editor position that Warren did in the 70s and 80s.

Ellis understands how the pressures of his position – and the emotional and financial roller coaster of professional surf photography – can drive a man to distraction: “I never got to meet Warren in person but I spoke to him often on the phone and he was always excited about his next project. We just ran one of his camera board shots in the Photo Annual and he was pretty stoked. I think he was a very innovative photographer and always trying to push surf photography to new levels with camera boards and Gyro Camera stabilizers. His shot of the guy skating the Big Pipe out in the desert that is on the cover of his skate photo book is one of my all time favorite shots.”

Bolster moved to Hawaii permanently in 1972, and he was on the SURFER masthead as a Staff Photographer until 1992. In recent years, Bolster had been living in Hawaii, raising two sons and struggling to make a living in an industry that he had helped to establish and where he had thrived. A friend of Bolster’s who was active in skateboarding in the 70s and 80s said that the photographer had been struggling: “Warren had been taking Oxycontin for years because he had debilitating arthritis. He would go on it and come off and he had called me many times, threatening suicide, because he was in pain, and he was broke. A few years ago he went to a very expensive rehab in Laguna Beach, and I picked him up when he came out and took him to ASR. This is so sad. I think about him every day and I was going to call him.”

Warren Bolster is survived by his sons, Edward and Warren Junior. His father, Edward, passed away in 2004. Bolster’s sister was the personal secretary to Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist for many years.

-------------------------------------

SURFER Magazine has a pictorial tribute to Warren's surf photography at:

http://surfermag.com/photos/images/warrenbolsterphotos/


(Brian Keaulana at Makaha, by Warren Bolster, courtesy of Surfer Magazine)

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanted to just say that I hope his boys know that thier dad was a wonderful guy. He took pictures of us when we were young and I have thought much of him over the years. I too have had to suffer the same problems as Warren... Boys your Pop was the best, now his pain has eased.
Peter Shaw

September 16, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I nearly ran over Warren many times out in the water at Big Rock. He was bold with that water camera. He was a great guy and he got some nice shots of me, several that ended up in mags. He was always stoked and it inspired us to try radical stuff. A wonderful man. I also remember him giving me rides in his car and he would put on music that I "needed to hear". He was stoked about that too. He knew I was a musician and was interested. I remember him turning me on to J.J. Cale and Hoyt Axton. Guys I had never heard of before. Warren is indeed missed.

November 04, 2013  

Post a Comment

Mahalo for your comment!

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home