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The Story Behind the Cover of VICE Magazine's September Issue

Christian Delfino explains how he captured the claustrophobic photo.
All photographs by Christian Delfino

This story appears in the September issue of VICE magazine. Click HERE to subscribe.

Christian Delfino became fascinated with the world's biggest metropolises after growing up in Sarasota, Florida, a small city filled with many families and senior citizens. Inspired by photos in skate magazines and an encouraging high school teacher, he received an associate's degree in digital photography from the International Academy of Design and Technology in Tampa, and then started traveling around the world. He set out to reveal the slower aspects of busy cities.


Although we loved both these images, what struck us about our final select was the claustrophobia and voyeurism it evoked. This cover makes you want to know what's happening in each of this building's rooms.

Christian Delfino took this photograph while riding in an elevator across the street from the building on the cover.

People look out from the roof of the building where Delfino captured the cover image.

VICE: What's the story behind our cover image?
Christian Delfino: I was in Jinan, which is the capital of the Shandong Province in eastern China. I was getting lost one night with my camera, and I captured the image. I turned a corner and was drawn to the high-rise building. Lucky for me, there was an outdoor public elevator at the building across the street. I hopped in, rode up to the roof, and shot some images. But there was a high railing that wasn't doing me any favors. Luck struck again when I noticed a service ladder that led up to another roof. This area had no railings to block my view or to catch me from falling. I hesitated climbing up there right away, considering I was the only white male I'd seen all night. Safe to assume I didn't fit in. I waited for the passing locals to clear out and then climbed up the ladder. Ultimately, it gave me the perfect view.

How many cities compose your series Disconnected?
There are at least 16.

You focus on architecture in a very unique way. Why does it catch your eye?
For as long as I can remember, I've always been fascinated by architecture, especially in metropolitan areas. Something I find very intriguing is the relationship between the physical environments that societies create and how those physical environments end up influencing society.

Where do you get your day-to-day inspiration?
It's important for me to surround myself with other visual artists and to keep up with the work of those who inspire me. Traveling is incredibly inspiring, as my work often relates to the unfamiliar. And of course light—I'm often awed by the way light touches my surroundings.

What projects are you working on now?
I've been working on a long-term project photographing my father and his workplace. He works at a scrap-metal yard in Florida that coincidentally has another location just a few blocks away from my apartment in Brooklyn.