All of my best stories begin with my being broke, and the following is no exception. The year was 1990 and I was once again penniless after having returned from a frustrating year in Australia.
I am not exaggerating when I say broke. I had nothing but the clothes in my travel bag — no home, no money, no car, no work prospects, nothing as I limped home and was afforded the kindness of near strangers.
I don’t recall where I was living when I was invited to share a house with Bill Dice and my longtime friend Steve Pinner. The place was two blocks from the white sands of Solana Beach and proved to be a new chapter in my life. I will never forget them and the others who helped me stagger to my feet and encouraged me to continue writing.
Many people who would become influential in changing my life visited that house. Among them were Bob and Rita Bohanan, who hired me as the editor of Longboarder Magazine; Steve Cleveland, who trusted me to direct the first longboarding movie in modern times; a guy who went by the name Mace and had acquired the habit of putting words together in a unique way; a surf entrepreneur named Sam Ryan; a cute young woman named Tracy, who would become my wife; and an aspiring surf photographer named Randy Dible.
While all the others are well worth a story of their own, this one primarily concerns Dible. I remember him as solidly built with a way about him that put me in mind of a highly alert guard dog as he took in the information around him and processed it quickly.
He would need those traits for his chosen professions that included commercial fishing and photography.
As a fisherman, Dible could catch fish where there were none. As a photographer, he saw things that went right past most people.
That is what also made him a good traveler, as he weaved his way through some of the most dangerous regions of Mexico with his wife, children and all of their belongings crammed into some old rust-and-duct tape station wagon chasing some mythic point wave far below the border, scoring world-class waves with nobody around while befriending the dreaded federales, those often corrupt individuals who often exercised their power to destroy the lives of the foolish and unaware.
As a photographer, Dible never needed to sign his photos. Anyone who knew the surfing world could tell they were his because of their unique style.
Shots of empty point waves with a solitary surfer slumped on the bow of a panga while checking the lineup, hollow tubes taken in the La Jolla reefs, where most other photographers would be sent packing.
The cast of characters, each worthy of their own Steinbeck novel, that came into focus include: Joel Tudor, Tom Wegener, Chris Olivas and Michael Myers.
It is no wonder Dible is so involved in the world of surf. His mother once owned a surf shop in San Diego and his grandparents were world travelers who fished and surfed along the beaches of La Jolla and Mission Beach long before it was fashionable to do so.
There’s always something of those deep roots showing in a Dible print, revealing the timeless beauty of the ocean and the characters who regularly haunt it.
To learn more about Randy Dible or to order a print of one of his photos, you can visit https://diblephotography.myshopify.com/