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Portfolio Check – Rhino

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Chris "Rhino" Rooney

Full name, date of birth, hometown?
Chris Rooney, old enough to know better, Ayer Massachusetts

What brought you out to California originally? Did you already know people out here before you moved?
I always wanted to move out to California since I started skateboarding in 5th grade. Getting Skateboarder Magazine in the mail when I was a kid got me fired up to move to the West Coast. All the colorful photos of pros skating the old skateparks, ditches and pool’s on the West Coast. Growing up on the East Coast with the long winters also helped me migrate west.

Al Partanen, Back Smith, Photo By Rhino
Al Partanen backsmith over love seat Montana

Rhino Interview

I have to ask, how did the name Rhino come about?
Long story but in a nutshell here it goes. I was living in California and my friends who owned Eastern Boarder skateshops back East started a board company called Rhino skateboards. So I was getting boards from them to skate and I started meeting people skating pools and the vert ramp in Linda Vista. I guess Chris is a fairly common name and they just started calling me Rhino because of the boards I was riding so it just kind of stuck as a nickname.

Jimmy Cao, Fs Blunt, Photo By Rhino
Jimmy Cao Front blunt, Sunset Cliffs, SD

How did you first get into photography? What was your first set-up?
My father used to shoot photos when he was in the Army and also while he was a High School teacher. I always had some sort of point and shoot film camera when I moved out to California to document skate spots that I skated. Like pools, ramps and ditches. Never had a chance to take a photo class in College, but was always interested in photography. I was around a lot of good skateboarding and saw photographers like Dave Swift and Grant Brittain shooting photos. So I started investing in some good camera equipment and was taking a black and white photo class at City College. So I just started taking more and more skate photos and eventually started getting some photos for ads used and eventually got on the radar with a few magazines.

Jason Adams Fs Hurricane, Solana Beach, SD

Rhino Interview

Do you have a favorite photo in your collection? If so, what is the story behind it?
Maybe a few pool skating photos that bring back some memories of some fun afternoons with my friends drinking beer and grinding some pool coping. Maybe something I shot of Hewitt in a pool a few years back. He might get something gnarly before you even have you equipment set up and most likely its that sporadic that he is not going to do it again. Not any in particular that I can think of.

Shane O'Neil, Switch Crooks, Photo By Rhino
Shane O’Neil Switch Crooks, Canberra, Australia

Aside from a steady paycheck, how has your career changed from your days as a freelance photographer to becoming a staff photographer for Thrasher Magazine?
Kind of the same, a lot of work. More people want to hook up and shoot and also getting to go on more trips so the article will get used in the magazine. Always trying to go out and shoot even more so I can keep a job at the magazine. There are a lot of photographers coming up and with digital photography it’s a lot easier to learn than with the days of shooting film. But the main change is not having to shop around your photos to other magazines, they kind of have a home.

Rhino Interview

Chad Bartie, Back noseblunt, W.S.V.T, Photo By Rhino
Chad Bartie Back noseblunt, W.S.V.T

In what ways have you seen skateboarders change over the years in San Diego? How is each new generation of skateboarders different from the last?
There are so many good skateboarders coming up that can skate almost anything. And with all the different skate terrain in San Diego – rails, ditches, pools, parks, gaps and DIY spots popping up it just helps the progression of skateboarding all together.

Cory Duffel, South East San Diego, Photo By Rhino
Cory Duffel South East San Diego

Rhino Interview

I remember you have lived with a few different roommates in the past, who were they and how did you end up living with them?
They have always been skateboarders because that’s who I have always hung out with. Preston Maigetter has been my roommate for about 10 years so we have always had tons of skateboarders who would crash at the house. The last roommate after Preston moved up to SF was Kyle Berard and that was a good time for a year. Now I live with my girl Debbie and our dog Iggy but still have tons of people coming through to crash.

Who are some of favorite people to shoot/travel with and why?
I can pretty much get along with everyone. Always Thrasher trips with Preston and skaters who like to skate a lot and have a good time while doing it. Too many skaters to list. I’m not a fan of skaters who bitch a lot on trips.

Peter Hewitt, Stalefish Australia Photo By Rhino
Peter Hewitt Stalefish Australia

Rhino Interview

Tell us a crazy road trip story.
10 day trip to Australia and half of the crew bailed out the last minute. Drehobl, Hewitt, Brian Anderson and a few others got cold feet and it ended up being me, Phelps, Preston, Trujillo and Childress. 2-3 cases of beer a day and driving from Sydney to the Gold Coast in a small car that was packed to max with the 5 of us and gear. Skating a bunch of parks and sleeping on floors. We all had a great time but it would have been more productive with the rest of the crew. I got a DUI at 10 am in the morning after a all day Xmas party in Canberra. Phelps throwing knifes over his head while we were at a restaurant eating steaks. One actually hit some dude in the forehead. Too much fun.

Lucho Knabe, Ollie, Buenos Aires, Argentina Photo By Rhino
Lucho Knabe Buenos Aires, Argentina

What are your predictions for the future of print magazines?
I’m not too sure, I love getting the magazines in the mail just as much as when I started skateboarding. Hopefully they will keep getting printed. It’s rewarding to see your photos get published in the mag for myself and the skaters. Some of the online web mags are really hard to look at. Reading magazines on the shitter, in the car, on a plane or just at the house is a lot easier. Hopefully print magazines will last a long time.

Rhino Interview
Lucho Knabe, Ollie, Buenos Aires, Argentina Photo By Rhino
Darren Navarrette Andrecht FDR skatepark, Alex Olsen

What are some positives/negatives that online journalism has brought to your job at Thrasher?
You see a lot more photos and video on the web, most of it is B or C grade but there is new stuff all the time. Sometimes too much, but it shows that people are always out skating and documenting skateboarding at all levels. You can do more stuff on the web now that coincides with the print magazine. Like extra photos and videos to go along with articles or just tons of fun web content to keep people checking out the sites daily.

What advice can you give to an aspiring skateboard photographer?What advice can you give to an aspiring skateboard photographer?
keep shooting and try not to be lazy. You have to know the spots, know how to handle yourself on the road and know what skaters like to skate what. Its not the glamorous life some people think it is, it’s a lot of work and a lot of fun.

Lucho Knabe, Ollie, Buenos Aires, Argentina Photo By Rhino
Mike Peterson, Fs Blunt Rancho Santa Fe, CA
Would you like to thank anyone for helping you along the way?
Preston Maigetter for hooking up trips and buying tons of beer, Mike Burnett for helping me out over the years and getting me on Thrasher staff, Phelper, and all the skateboarders that I have shot with.

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