Shortly after Mountain Creek Bike Park held their King of the Mtn Enduro we came across several stunning photos of Xprezo and MTBVT rider Ali Zimmer racing her way to the top step of the podium. David Tufino was the man behind the lens, and was generous enough to allow us to use them in Ali’s race journal. We decided to dig a little deeper, checking-out David’s photos from Mtn Creek in NJ all the way up to East Burke, VT to find out what makes this photographer tick. Thanks David!
Photos: David Tufino
Mountain Bike Vermont: Where are you from and where do you reside?
David Tufino: I’m a New Yorker. Born in Brooklyn and raised in NYC. Currently I reside in Lower East Side Manhattan with my wife and 2 rad kids!
MTBVT: We know a little about you from our internet stalking. We know you are a fashionable dude, you wear suits often, you seem to be surrounded by attractive women. Might you be some kind of secret agent?
DT: Hahaha, Pretty much! I’m an Agent of Swag!
MTBVT: No, seriously, tell us about yourself. What makes Agent Tufino tick?
DT: Anyone that knows me personally, knows that I take pride in my family. Having a happy family makes me tick. My wife is 100% supportive, my children think I’m weird, what more can a man ask for, eh?
MTBVT: How did you get into photography? School or hobby? Full time shooter or still have a day job?
DT: I’ve always been into photography in one way or another, but never on the pro level. I’m an IT manager for an online media company in NYC and I moonlight as a professional photographer here and there. My disciplines are that of Portrait, Fashion, and Actions Sports. I tend to steer away from weddings, but will shoot one here and there. Man, my first digital camera was a Sony Mavica, it was one of the first digital cameras to hit the market, the memory card was a floppy drive… For real…
MTBVT: When and why did you start shooting biking?
DT: I got into downhill mountain biking because I was fat and needed a hobby/sport. I always rode bikes, so it made sense to get a DH bike and go crazy! I would tell my co-workers and they wouldn’t believe the things we did with the bikes, so I got my first DSLR Camera (10 years ago) and I started taking photos. Of course the first batch of photos were all out of focus, composed incorrectly and just plain old terrible, but I really enjoyed shooting!
MTBVT: Bike photography takes a lot of patience, particularly for your riding buddies. Who was patient enough to let you practice on them early on?
DT: When I first started shooting I didn’t have a CLUE how to even use my dSLR camera! No, no clue. I didn’t know the difference between aperture, shutter speeds, depth of field or anything, I just knew where the shutter button was. Displeased with the results, I went to “YouTube University” and start watching tutorial videos and even trolled professional photographer sites for tips. Mountain Creek Bike Park also played a huge role in me getting better, I was able to ride there and shoot every weekend. So I really thank all the locals who frequent MCBP that let me practice my photography skills on them; Dennis Yerushek, Justin Brigandi, Danny Caramia and Joseph Caramia, I might be missing a few names…
MTBVT: We noticed that you shoot some fashion photography too. Any similarities to MTB shooting? Ever crossed the two disciplines?
DT: The difference between the two are the pace that you shoot at. Downhill/Action sports you need to be ready to shoot, sometimes if you aren’t ready, you might miss an Epic shot. In Fashion it’s all about waiting, most of the time you sit there and wait about 2 hours before you actually shoot, while sitting there you draw a picture in your mind of what you want to shoot, the model sometimes just stands there, so the pace is MUCH slower. The only similarity between the two disciplines is that MTB’ers and Models are all Divas…! While a model wants the her face to look flawless, the Biker wants to the whip to be just as perfect. If not, he will go back up to redo the whip.
MTBVT: What was your most epic bike shoot ever? Why?
DT: I’ve had plenty of epic shoots, but to me the one that stands out the most is the 2009 Brodown Showdown at Highland Mountain Bike Park! I got the opportunity to shoot some amazing riders then, but I just let my art do the talking and boom, done. Several images we used in publications by Decline Mag, Protec, Fox, Kenda.
MTBVT: Any advice to the kids looking to get into shooting?
DT: The best advice I can give is the advice that was never given to me. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to experiment, and use the tools you have at your disposal to become better! YouTube and the internet are great tools to learn. Be happy with your work, don’t compare your work with others’ work. No matter what, your work, in your eyes, will always need improvement! Be your own biggest critic!
MTBVT: And for us camera nerds, what is your favorite kit to carry on a bike shoot?
DT: My “Ultimate” bike kit is my Canon 5D MKIII + 70-200 f/2.8 lens, but I also use a Canon 1D MKIII with various other lenses. But remember guys and gals, it’s not the camera, it’s the creative process. If you have a camera, use it, ALL the time… I sometimes take my camera to work and shoot people on the street.
Mountain Bike Vermont: Thanks David, see you on the on the trails and at the races!!