Legendary surf/skate photographer Warren Bolster: 1947-2006

One of surfing’s most talented and eccentric visionaries, Hawaii photographer Warren Bolster, died yesterday from an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 59.

One of the most prolific and gifted surf/skate photographers since the early ’70s, Bolster had chronic health problems and suffered from long bouts of depression. Despite his health issues, Bolster remained on the cutting edge of surf photography with his extensive cameraboard work. His 2003 tail-mount shot of Manoa Drollet inTahiti stands as one of the greatest out-of-the-tube water shots ever captured. “Regardless of his problems,” says Surfer’s Journal photo editor and longtime friend Jeff Divine, “what stands out most with Warren is his work. And that work is right up there with the all-time greats. He is one of the all-time greats.”

Bolster was born in Washington DC, the son of an American Foreign Service diplomat. He traveled often as a child, and eventually started surfing in Sydney in 1963. During his college years, in San Diego, he took up photography, acquired a water housing and shot some of the first fisheye tube shots ever seen. The images landed a SURFING cover shot in 1972 and his career grew from there. He became involved in skateboard photography and edited Skateboarder Magazine in the mid ’70s. Captured Town surf in Honolulu for Surfer like no one else. Helicopter angles. Unique water shots. Strobe work. Bolster pioneered all of it – one of the key founding fathers in action sports photography. He will be missed, but his contribution will always be with us.

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