In 1975, when Hugh Holland first began photographing the skateboarders in southern California, he had already been living in Los Angeles for nine years.
His interest in photography had developed in the mid-sixties as a 20-year-old living in his native state of Oklahoma. Apart from a college job working in a photo lab, Holland had no formal art education. But he spent years training his eye by shooting photographs and working with the images.
It wasn't until after returning from a trip to Spain in 1968 and settling into what would become a career in West Hollywood as an antique finisher, that he began to seriously pursue the hobby. He made a dark room and began photographing everything that came into sight. A favourite subject—from the beginning—was the figure.
Then one afternoon in 1975, while driving up Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Holland encountered his first skateboarders carving up the drainage ditches along the side of the canyon, and Holland knew he had found his subject. Although not a skateboarder himself, Holland never tired of capturing on film the beauty and grace of the burgeoning craze for the next three years. By 1978, the scene had become more commercial, and Holland’s documentation of the skateboarders came to its natural end.
Holland’s Angels series was first shown at M+B in early 2006. Following the success of the show, the work was shown internationally in London, Paris and New York, with upcoming exhibitions in Sydney and the Pera Museum is Istanbul. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, npr, and the Los Angeles Times.
In 2010, the artist’s monograph Locals Only by AMMO Books was published, documenting his work during that golden age of skate culture.