In California's Empty Pools, Skateboard Photos Become Epic Landscapes

© Craig Fineman
© Craig Fineman
© Craig Fineman
© Craig Fineman
© Craig Fineman
© Craig Fineman
© Craig Fineman
© Craig Fineman
© Craig Fineman
© Craig Fineman
© Craig Fineman
© Craig Fineman

It's a familiar image to anyone with even cursory exposure to surf and skate culture: shirtless, long-haired dudes shredding empty concrete bowls on skateboards in the razor-sharp California sunshine. But when I leafed through POOLS by skate/surf photo legend Craig Fineman, which depicts a single day's skate session in the late 1970s, I saw this well-documented visual trope from an interesting new angle,.

Fineman always had an eye for line and composition, and in these photos (all of them flipped vertical for the book), the careful geometry of both the activity and its setting takes adds even more visual drama to the scene. Skaters seem to hang infinitely from the precipice of a pool lip, mastering gravity to its upmost potential. The interplay of the skaters and their shadows fill in the negative space, creating a double image of bodies in fast motion.

Fineman passed away in 2003, and his work continues to influence the visual style of skate and surf today. POOLS is a collaboration between Stussy and New York's Dashwood Books; you can buy it here for $45.