DELTA BLOCK II BY ATIBA JEFFERSON
photos by: Johnny Wilson
Atiba Jefferson has been a household name in the skate world for the past 25+ years and it is through his lens that many people got their first look at what modern skateboarding represents. Contributing to countless publications, cover photos for days, global brand campaigns, and currently on staff at Thrasher, Atiba has always been a part of the photos he's taken, in a way... you can tell this is his life, not just a paycheck. The subjects he shoots quickly become a part of his circle, and if they weren't family before, they are now. An outstanding example of what hard work will bring, Atiba goes non-stop and success has followed. Though he is the founding partner of Bravo, we have not yet had the chance to sit down and talk about the part of his history that brings his passion full circle with this project, so this brief chat is nice to finally have on record.
(BRAVO) Yo! Getting right to it….although you developed the Delta Camera bag specifically for your needs, almost 10 years ago now, I’m not sure we ever actually sat down and communicated this part of the story. Let’s tell the readers how it came about, and why we think it's truly the best version of a camera bag in the industry.
ATIBA I have a history of camera bags. Apollo was the first company, way way back, let's say 2002/3? Next was Ogio...and then they killed their skate program. They mentioned actually trying to keep my bag in the line because it was successful, which I thought was not cool to dump the skate program, so for me, it didn't feel right. So I walked away from that kind of wondering what to do... and this is how Bravo came about. It was actually Mikey Taylor who said I should just start my own backpack company. I knew Berto well from the shop and he had a lot of people in so many different worlds... he helped connect the dots to get Rian on board as our designer, making those introductions in japan to get our manufacturing lined up, to really continue the legacy.
Going down the line... Apollo was a brand that wasn't really even ready to be on the level to compete with other bag brands, so it was when I went to Ogio that it was like "Whoah, they know what they are doing!" But it's definitely been working with Mei and his production team that opened the doors... he's a pro and has the ability to build what we need. We had to look at it and say Ok, there's two ways of approaching this: we can make a price point bag, or we can focus on a design that will never fail you in the field. That's what I decided to go with... I want to make something great.
(BRAVO) So lets talk specifically now about the Delta bag itself, the rhyme and reason.
ATIBA So there's all kinds of functional bags out there for photography. The Delta, for me, is a good multipurpose bag for travel. The photographer that could end up on a bike, The photographer that rides their skateboard.. there's roller camera bags that are great but don't work in situations that are grab and go. That's really the function of the Delta... skateboarding, getting kicked out of spots, kind of having to be on the move, this bag performs great.
(BRAVO) How has your schedule and travel been now that been now that we are "relatively" post-covid? Definitely excited to get a chance to try out all the new bags we’ve been releasing.
ATIBA I think with the weight of the world and what's going on, travel is back. It's actually very expensive right now. We've all been so stuck, it's an exciting time to be able to get out and put our bags to use. I've been very lucky to have already done a lot of traveling this year, and my favorite part of all of this is being able to test them. We make these items to make travel better and be more convenient, so without travel, we can't test and refine those features.
(BRAVO) Ok, this is your first truly signature colorway Delta, with your name on it. What was the inspiration to use this Kareem Campbell photo? Any stories or memories from that shoot?
ATIBA Right, for the Delta Build I worked on the design and we always made it pretty universal, with the inserts, to adjust to any different cameras. so yeah, with this one, I'm a pretty simple person as far as needs go, black has always been a fun and easy color. But I've always loved the colors that Bill Strobeck has worked with, and even with our Multicam editions, I was just trying to think of something different for it. And then it just hit me, normally photos on merchandise isn't the first thought...and on a t-shirt with plastisols it gets so heavy. But a bag can handle it, and we could get it really Dense and High Quality. I wanted it to be timeless, to be street, to be one of my favorite skaters. Using this photo of Kareem...It was actually a photo I forgot I had taken. Once I dug it out, it had received such a great response. I hope to do more of these photo bags in the future.
ATIBA The photo itself was taken when I first moved to California, 1995. That photo is 27 years old, right!? I didn't know what I was doing, I didn't know Kareem at the time, I just went to the Contest at Zuma Beach, and I was so excited to be able to shoot a childhood hero...
(BRAVO) Oh, you literally just jumped in and started taking photos... this wasn't a scheduled shoot...
ATIBA Yeah it was a free for all. I had not met Kareem. Little did I know we would become friends and I ended up having the opportunity to shoot a lot of his career.
(BRAVO) Jumping forward, we made a memory card accessory pouch to compliment the bag. You’ve been shooting digital since the beginning, at what point did you make the switch, and do you ever go back to film on any projects?
ATIBA I love all formats and don't believe in just one, I still shoot film. But I do still have my very first Canon EOS-1D 4MP DSLR from 2002! When I was thinking of accessories, I realized we needed a cardholder in the line, because that's something that I use daily, and I've had the same one forever. It holds different formats, so I wanted to make it universal.
*Limited in quantity, each DELTA BLOCK II (AJ/KC/BLACK) purchased will come with one Kareem Campbell photo, printed and signed by Atiba.