NYC BASED CHRISTIAN DELFINO TALKS HIS CRAFT

Portrait by Ryan Loewy/Be-Mag

 Interview by Ryan Loewy
Photography by Christian Delfino & Ryan Loewy

Throughout the years, rollerblading has yielded a handful of successful photographers. From the likes of Brian Bowen Smith, mentored by the legendary Herb Ritts and heralded with his celebrity portraiture, to Jeff Stockwell‘s lifestyle and automotive photography, which retains a variety of high end clients from the likes of Vans to Cadillac, it’s safe to say the sport has had its share of impeccable lensmen.

 

Alex Broskow – Bench Hop – Photograph by Christian Delfino

Among those that I consider to be impeccable with the craft is Christian Delfino. I met Christian around 2011, at which time, he had recently relocated from Florida to NYC, picking up a job at a local studio in Manhattan. From there, Delfino would go on to enhance his skills as a digital tech and assistant, which in turn would hone him into maintaining a meticulous eye. This meticulousness is reflected in the work he produces, which is fluidly crafted and seems to be endless; a look at his Instagram is a testament to that. Each image Delfino composes, although claimed by chance, is a culmination of years of relentless study and trial and error. In the past 2 years, Delfino has begun to embark on his own career as photographer, having landed assignments with likes of Travel and Leisure, as well as pulling a cover for Vice . With this all in mind, I felt it fitting to pay a visit to Christian’s studio in Greenpoint, NY and get a bit of insight into his craft.

From the on-going series Scrap Yard – Photograph by Christian Delfino

When and why did you pick up a camera?

I got into photo in 2003 when I decided to take darkroom photography as an elective in high school. At the time, my experience with photography consisted of using disposable cameras here and there, so I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I lucked out with a photo teacher who was super passionate about pushing those of us who were actually interested in photography.

Did you have any sort of creative influences as a child that you’d say attribute to your interest in photo ?

Daily Bread and Be-Mag were huge inspirations for me from the beginning. I don’t know if my love for photography would be the same today if it weren’t for them. Architecture, especially urban, was also another big inspiration. Most of my early work was images of the downtown area in my hometown of Sarasota, Florida. I think a big part of that comes from the fact thats street skating tends to take place in urban areas.

Robbie Pitts – X Grind to Toe Roll to Darkside Back Royale – Photograph by Christian Delfino

 

You obviously got into skating at some point. When was that and did that affect your passion for photo at all?

It’s actually the other way around, I started blading when I was 8, then I get my first pair of grinder blades in 1999 when I was 12. It wasn’t for another 3 or 4 years that I got into photo. In the earlier years, I had a harder time deciding if I wanted to strap on my skates or break out the camera and document my friends skating. Skating was a means of traveling, exploring, and so much more. Without that experience, I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to use my camera so freely.

 

Delfino’s cover for Vice – Photograph by Ryan Loewy/Be-Mag

When did you move to New York and why?

Ever since I was 13 or so, I wanted to live in NYC. After finishing college in Florida, I saved up $3,000, packed my life in 3 bags, and moved to NYC, that was 2010. As I got more into photography it became clear that NY was the place to be for experience in that industry. NYC always had a solid blading scene, so it was an all around no brainer decision, since moving up here I haven’t thought about leaving.

 

From the on-going series Scrap Yard – Photographs by Christian Delfino

What was your first job in New York?

I worked at this trashy Irish Pub/Restaurant in the West Village that catered to tourists and frat kids. It was a terrible job, but I did get to serve Quentin Tarantino once, that was cool. After that I worked a couple more restaurant gigs before getting an internship at a photo studio that turned into a production/driving job which was my first full time job in the photo industry.

A stack of Delfino’s favorite books – Photograph by Ryan Loewy/Be-Mag

How did you get into assisting?

After 2 years of working with the production company I quit and started freelancing as an assistant and digital tech. I think most people are capable of becoming really good at making photographs, but its another thing trying to market yourself in a constantly changing, oversaturated market. That being said, I wanted to work for as many different photographers as possible to get  hands on experience and see how they approach things creatively while running a business.

Reviewing an image of Tadd Labozzetta – Photograph by Ryan Loewy/Be-Mag

Tadd Labozzetta – Top Soul – Photograph by Christian Delfino

Photograph by Christian Delfino

I know you travel a lot. What do you love and what do you dislike about traveling so often?

I love putting my headphones on and getting lost with my camera, sometimes I’ll do that with my big wheel set up to cover more ground. Definitely into trying new food, learning how other cultures do things, and escaping the routines. All things considered, I think traveling is really important for enriching your life and broadening your understanding of the world. As far as dislikes, leaving my girlfriend and friends for a month at a time isn’t the easiest. It’s quite easy to fall out of good habits and routines when you’re on the road working, jet lag and airplane food don’t always leave you feeling the best. Also, generally everywhere one could go from NYC ends up being a less convenient place. Having a 24 hour corner store about 75 feet from my front door, countless restaurants, and everything else in walking distance is too easy to get used to.
Mike Torres – Front Torque – Photograph by Christian Delfino

Who are some of your favorite photographers?

Thomas Prior, Daniel Shea, Mark Mahaney, Gregory Halpern, Andreas Gursky, Jason Nocito, and Phillip-Lorca Dicorcia are a few of my favorites.

Delfino reviewing his favorite photo book by Gregory Halpern – Photographs by Ryan Loewy/Be-Mag

 

 

Can you tell me a bit about your video, Deals? How did that come about?

I was skating a lot with my close friends Alex Ryerson, Tadd Labozzetta, Nate Moore, and a handful of other solid dudes all the time when I moved to NY. We figured we might as well do something with the clips. Nate Moore had all this beautifully shot Super8 footage that really tied the project together. I always wanted to make a skate video, so I checked that off my bucket list. I tore my labrum and dislocated my shoulder a couple times as we finished up filming that, so I’ve taken it a bit easier since the surgery.

Deals – Christian Delfino from Christian Delfino on Vimeo.

Deals – Tadd Labozzetta from Christian Delfino on Vimeo.

Deals – Alex Ryerson from Christian Delfino on Vimeo.

Deals – Homies from Christian Delfino on Vimeo.

Do you plan on doing any more video work?

I want to start doing motion work alongside my photography, but no real plans at the moment. As far as blading video work, I really want to focus on photographing rollerblading for the next couple years.

From the on-going series Scrap Yard – Photographs by Christian Delfino

What’s your goals for 2018?

Professionally speaking, I want to continue working on personal photo projects. Building my portfolio, doing more editorial work, and set up meetings with magazines and agencies. From a blading point of view, I’m 30 years old with my fair share of injuries, so I want to continue taking care of this bag of flesh I’m stuck in so I can keep skating for the next couple decades and make some skate trips happen with the boys!

Portrait by Ryan Loewy/Be-Mag

 

Christian Delfino lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. You can see more of his work here and follow him on Instagram here.