Chris 'Rhino' Rooney has been a backbone Thrasher photographer for many moons. He has traveled the world, seen it all while keeping things surprisingly local and down to Earth. His recent photo show at Broken Heart Tattoo was 100% Southern California pool shredding. This is a quick interview of the moment. Tomorrow might be different. Legends on the walls.
Name, date, location?
Rhino/ 2/18/2012/ San Diego
Did you ever get to skate The Turf back in the day?
Yup a few different occasions, 1995 for 5 days and then around '94 for a month while I was out there working.
What did you think when you first got out California, seeing all the famous spots from magazines in person?
Thought it was the greatest things. Upland Skatepark "89 Nude Bowl, Salton Sea pool in 91. McGills Park, ditches and various pools.
Have you always been down here in San Diego, why not L.A. or S.F.?
L.A. for 2 years finished College at CSUN and then been in San Diego since.
Which came first the skateboard or the camera?
Skateboard 1976, camera were for rich kids then
Is it possible for a non-skater to shoot skateboard photography? Why or why not? Anything is possible, but its hard to get in the mix as an outsiders.
Skaters don't like to relate with photo dudes who don't skate. But there is one or two in the Industry.
All the photos in your recent photo show were pool skating. What is it about pools that you like.
That just happened by chance. Not every photo gets printed in the mag or used on the web or in ads. Some pools get skated by alot of people and some only by a few. So I had some photos that I wanted to use that have not been seen and some have been in Thrasher. Just seemed like a good idea for the show.
What if the dirtiest pool you've ever seen?
Dead birds and chickens in it, with maggots all around. Had to clean one or two of them. After it was clean the wind was blowing and maggots from outside the pool were blowing back in and you would run them over. So basically maggot juice on your wheels and trucks. Which means on your hands.
Being from the East Coast, did have many pools out there?
The have there share, but more out in California because of the weather. There are skaters on the East Coast that search for them and get some good ones. Usually in Spring when they are painting them before filling up for Summer or abandoned hotels. Up and down the Eastern Seaboard have seen some really good pools over the years.
Scenario. Jumping a fence with some fellow shredders, perfect pool on the other side, but chances are you only have 5 minutes if that. (neighbors are already watching) You got your skateboard camera gear, your point and shoot, your skateboard and the beer. What do you grab?
Grab a beer and the skateboard always. 5 minute pools suck, its like a tease. I usually try and talk to the neighbors so they don't call the Cops and get to skate alot longer.
Did you have a hard time transitioning from film to digital? Do you ever feel the younger kids are missing something such as developing their own black and white prints, or using a light meter?
Yeah film ad light meters teach you about thinking what you are really shooting. Time is money. Changing over I didn't want to give up the film aspect, it seemed like ceating but when I did it was great. It made things so much easier, but I am thankful for shooting film for years.
What was the first photo you got paid for?
Maybe a Sector 9 ad, Eddie Alioto who skated regular sized boards. It was a photo at the Nude Bowl.
How did you start shooting photos for Thrasher?
My first photo was used in an article that Salba wrote, that was my kind of in with the mag. Then I met Mike Burnett who lives in San Diego and would show him some slides from time to time and photos started getting used in the Mag.
Best King Of The Road experience?
Winning with Nike in Vegas, we were partying for sure. But most of all we worked hard and somehow won. Losing is also fun like this year with them. Just being involved with KOTR is a great experience.
Sketchiest experience with Jake in a car?
Just wrestling, beers being thrown at you while driving. Nothing to bad, usually a great time when he is int he Van. Lots of good conversations and music is on as loud as possible at all times.
I have to ask, did you ever run into Nik Freitas?
No, never met that dude. Don't even know what he looks like.
After Thrasher you went to Independent Truck and NHS. How did that come about?
I still work for Thrasher Mag. I did some work for Indy over the years and they asked me to interview for the TM position. Somehow it worked out. Great Company to work for and I have been riding the trucks since they came out in 1978.
What are your duties at Indy?
Team Manager. Occasionally put new Team riders on the team. Write up boxes for the team, plan a trip or two per years, shoot photos for catalogs, ads and website. Help with product development. Film sometimes and attend some contests and different events.
Best new spot that you've randomly found?
Maybe a new pool or a ditch. On road trips its cool to talk to kids at skateparks or shops and see what kind of weird spots they have. Sometimes you get taken to some of the most epic spots that nobody really knows about.
What are your future goals, where do you want to go from here?
Just keep doing what I am doing, try to skate a little more. Its easy to get stuck shooting photos and that cuts into skating time. Hopefully another KOTR this year. Shoot a photo with Mark Gonzales would be a awesome.
Alright, that's about it, shout outs.
Everyone I have met through skateboarding and traveling.
Interview by Joey Young