LARRY “FLAME” MOORE
Larry Owen Moore, aka Flame, was born in 1948, in the land of Nixon – Whittier, California – as was I, although Flame was six years my senior. Whittier, at the time of my youth, was an enclave of surfer energy. I grew up in a neighborhood dotted with characters, like colorful sprinkles on a vanilla-cake donut, where the hardcore guys beat it up and down the coast, from Baja to Santa Barbara, in search waves; school and work were mere secondary concerns.
Coming from inland, our high schools were made up of a soup of diverse cultures. For the most part everyone got along. Like the natural world, where one ecosystem overlaps another, we’d integrate. I’m still amazed when looking back on those innocent days, of the joy rides taken in a Mexican friends lowered ’66 Chevy Nomad and cruzin’ Whitter Boulevard on a Friday night. It was in this salad bowl of humanity that Flame emerged.
Like all hard-core inland surfers, by 1970, Larry found himself posted up at the beach, and no ordinary beach at that. Larry found habitation in Newport Beach, directly across the Pacific Coast Highway form River Jetties. In 1970, I was a high school sophomore with a driver’s license, and other than Huntington Cliffs, River Jetties was the place to be. Back then a pier existed there. That pier, in an agreeable collaboration with the Santa Ana River, deposited great sand-banks along both sides of the towering structure. Here, shallow, hard-breaking, barreling waves piled up and spent their energy. A miss timed take-off often resulted in a sand scrubbing facial, while the very real risk of a broken nose or collarbone or concussion was always present. This wave was home to all of Newport’s hottest – Ed Farwell, Junior Beck, Lenny Foster, and John Van Ornum come to mind. These were single-fin days, and these guys would get so barreled in these sand-sucking waves.
On to this stage rides Flame, a good surfer himself, armed with a debtors Pentax K1000 SLR, and 400-millimeter Vivitar lens, without which he may never have taken a photograph. “The key to a good shot…,” Larry explained years later, “… [was] to have good surfers.” In the beginning Larry and his friends gave no thought to the magazines, they just wanted to get the “Shot.” Armed with the trusty Pentax, and either black and white or Kodachrome 64 slide film, Flame ventured forward, constructing a crude water housing and sending his photos to the magazines, and the rest as they say, is history.
For more about Larry “Flame” Moore, his photography, the Follow the Light grant program, and this year’s recipients, head on over to the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center (SHACC) at shacc.org/2019followthelight.