rob gilley

The Young and Not-So-Brilliant

| posted on April 17, 2011

To the youth: May this image always be a lesson to you. Photo: Gilley

Rob Gilley

Recently cut from the Surfer photography staff, Rob Gilley is now applying a surprising new talent for embittered, sardonic prose to the

Young people don’t always make good decisions. In fact, let’s face it: They usually make bad decisions. Take the above photo, for example. What at the time seemed like a brilliant self-portrait idea has now set the bar as one of the most laughed at images in surf slide show history.

The interesting part is that the two photographers pictured here were receiving a high secondary education at the time—which goes to show that schooling means absolutely nothing.

Young people are basically idiots, and if you want proof, just ask an older version of themselves.

So the next time your buddy asks you to paddle out when its 40-foot and closed out, or jump off a cliff into shallow water, or drink grain alcohol, or streak naked through the Quad during an electrical storm, or (heaven forbid) take a self-portrait, run away. Run away, quickly.

  • Anonymous

    Think only photogs care about this pic. Weak post.

    • http://n/a zeno malan


      I was here first. How did you get SURFER to post you before me by 1 minute?

  • http://n/a zeno malan

    Follow the footsteps of Art Brewer and teach the upcoming generation of surf photogs the difficult mechanics and finesse of surf photography.
    Gilley – give Art a call.

  • Bryce Lowe-White

    Slide area…BRILLIANT, BRILLIANTTT haha. Rob, will you snap a photo of me next to a stack of hard drives and come up with a witty remark. this photo is classic

  • Pete Hodgson

    Hey, I resemble that remark!

  • Phil Gibbs

    Pentax 135-600mm in the back? Nice!

  • Dick Islong

    Who is that posuer on the right?

  • jojo

    Man, what made Gilley so bitter? The fact that he enjoyed a career most photographers can only imagine? Maybe he’s pissy because no one shoots slide film anymore? Whatever. I already find his shtick tiresome. It’s formulaic, it’s uncreative, and it’s certainly not clever enough to be funny. A column about young people being “stupid” is like an investigation of (gasp!) erectile dysfunction in middle-aged men. It’s just too flaccid to be interesting. It’s also kind of sad. Rob, I know you were a young, stupid person at one time in your life. My advice to you: go find that kid. I’d be willing to bet he’s a lot more fun than you are.

  • Johnny Z.

    Why is that image laughed at?

  • Scott N

    Yeah…what’s the problem here? This photo is rad!

  • Alek

    They are misled by today’s enabling society.
    They are put in “time out” and have no discipline.
    Its called “conversational parenting”.
    Take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself when the last time you saw an adult as a leader.
    Our entitlement culture continues to foster the notion of all is good until baby sticks the knife in the socket. These children look great on paper though.
    Until we promote respect and hard work as a culture, we will continue to fall far behind other countries.
    Many people reading these words I type are enablers.
    It is not what “feels” right, but what is right.

    • Neil

      Your letter just inspired me to ditch work today and go surfing.

  • dave

    That’s the mark of a good blog; to be so ambiguous in what you are ranting about, that no one knows what you’re talking about. If you want people to get on board with you, we have to know what the hell your babbling about.

  • http://n/a zeno malan


    I vote your comment best in class!

  • tortellini alfredo

    I hope those 3.125 paragraphs were worth ~ $150. This seems more like an exercise in spiting your patron.

  • stephen

    I don’t know what this jabroni is talkig about. The smartest I have ever been was between the ages of 18 – 21. In fact, I knew it all!

  • Lusk

    come on gilley you can do better than that

  • Alek

    The fact is we need to read between the lines when an author shows us a photo of 2 men on the ledge.

    It is a metaphor for preparedness in life. These two young men appear to have had “measured success” by academic standards, but fail at common sense principles such as this example with the warning signs behind them. They have little idea that their own choices have consequences and what boundaries mean because their “reality” is academia and “time outs” or parenting and teaching that is buffered from consequences that effect them. (I have not written my name on here, but I am a teacher and very worried about our future generations. This piece struck a chord with me because i work with this age group. My name is not Alek, but I want to remain anonymous.)

    Please know that there is a man out in the world today that is trying to put young adults like this on a path toward success not by handing them the keys to the car or laughing at their inept behavior, but making them accountable operators in the world and showing them how to get to where they need to be. We cannot continue as a society to degrade them, but lead them. Its not in my curriculum anywhere, but with certain knowledge comes wisdom (only gained through experience) so I make my students prepared for their future by showing me concrete evidence that they are working and are responsible in their choices. I am not asking us to change anything, but take it upon ourselves to look at what example we set and our expectations.


    That’s a photo of Bilderback and Gilley, back in the early 1980’s. They were in fact, both young and idealistic about what they could achieve in the surfing world. They were a photographic team for awhile….

    The underlying theme of this post: Get an education.

  • Mike Balzer

    Shouldn’t this photo credit be, “choice photos”? Wasn’t that the photo credit that you two put on your photos way back when you both moved west from where was it, New Jersey?
    A more captivating blog would be the reason you two came up with to shoot this photo in the first place. Where did you think it would take you? I worked with Bilderback shortly after this as an assistant for Aaron Chang. John was a blast to be around but took a beating from Chang and Hornbaker who called him Bilderwank. Enlighten us as to what was behind the genius of this shot. That would be much more interesting.


    Bilderback now shoots kite surfing!!! LOL!

  • Ayn Rand

    The quote about youth will be recorded, repeated and attributed to Mr. Gilley until time immemorial. It is so ironically true that I couldn’t stop laughing my ass off.

  • Colin Brown

    Classic Choice Photo, good blog entries too, thanks.