1939 - Surfers at a beach in Venice

Surfing Venice Beach in 1939

Wayne “Dick” Whittington is one of my favorite photographers. With his large format Kodak he captured classic Southern California imagery like few others.

1939 - People crowd the beach next to an amusement park
People crowd the beach next to an amusement park

Whittington was an early pioneer of commercial photography in Los Angeles and owned one of the largest commercial photography studios in the city.

1939 - Surfers at a beach in Venice
“Surfers at a beach in Venice”

I was astonished to see the size of the surfboards used back then!

1939 - Surfers ride waves at a crowded beach
Surfers ride waves at the Venice Pier.

They look like canoes — some look like they’re six inches thick in the middle!

1939 - Venice - People relax on the beach in the sun and under umbrellas 2
People relax on the beach in the sun and under umbrellas.
1939 - People relax on the beach in the sun and under umbrellas
People relax on the beach in the sun and under umbrellas.

USC has digitized thousands of his photos and posted them online.

1939 - People ride surf boards and paddle boards in front of an amusement park
People ride surf boards and paddle boards in front of the Venice Pier.
1939 - People swimming at a beach await the arrival of a large wave
People swimming at Venice beach await the arrival of a large wave

This last one is my favorite. How the hell did he get that huge camera out there?!? If I recall correctly, there may have been another adjacent pier at around the time this photo was taken. I think it might have been called “Meier Pier” or something, but I have to check. Otherwise, I don’t know how he got this angle of the beach. Still, it’s a fantastic shot!

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Tom Cornyn

I'm just a regular guy. I eat tires.

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