“They were like ill-fitting brothers,” said C.R. Stecyk III, who collaborated with Mr. Brewer on the book “Bunker Spreckels: Surfing’s Divine Prince of Decadence” (2007). “They were out touring the world, living a life you couldn’t live. Art was an emerging documentarian at the time, and here was Bunker, whose great-grandfather had played poker with the king of Hawaii.” (His great-grandfather Claus Spreckels was a sugar baron who provided financing to King David Kalakaua.)
Mr. Brewer told the California newspaper The Dana Point Times in 2016: “All he wanted me to do was to come along and take pictures. I wasn’t being paid, I was just going along to take pictures. There really wasn’t anything specific about it, it was a funny little show.”
Arthur Jennings Brewer was born on Feb. 14, 1951, in Orange, Calif., and grew up in nearby Laguna Beach. His father, Daniel, did masonry work; his mother, Florence (Wellman) Brewer, was a bookkeeper and seamstress.
Art started surfing at 12 and began taking photographs a few years later when a friend with a new Pentax camera came to surf with him.
“He asked to borrow my board and I said, ‘Sure,’ and he goes, ‘You watch my camera; if you want to use it, you’re more than welcome to do so,’” he recalled on the podcast “Temple of Surf” in 2021. “I shot some film, got the film back two days later from Kodak, and I knew what I wanted to do.”
He saved money to buy his own camera and quickly started sending pictures to Surfer magazine. He soon became a staff photographer, earning $500 a month, and in the 1970s he became the magazine’s photo editor. In all, he said, 36 of his photographs appeared on the cover of Surfer.