Rancho Santa Fe photographer develops art from ‘everything I’ve done in life’

Professional photographer Christine Finkelson.
Christine Finkelson’s “Oxford Blood,” on display at the Del Mar Art Center.
Christine Finkelson’s “Oxford Blood,” on display at the Del Mar Art Center.

As a child, Christine Finkelson lined up for countless family photos at the request of her grandfather.

“He took pictures all the time,” she remembered. “The funny thing is, he would put the self-timer on, he would set everybody up and then he would run — and he knew right where he was going.”

The photos have become Finkelson’s prized possessions — not only because of the memories, but because she grew up to be a professional photographer.

“They’re treasures now,” Finkelson said. “I learned from him by watching him and looking at his photos as a photographer. He really set up his pictures.”

Although inspired by her grandfather, an amateur photographer in the late ’30s through the ’70s, Finkelson got her start in another art form: acting.

Born and raised in New Jersey, she flourished in New York City. At the start of her acting career, she participated in a two-year acting program at The William Esper Studio and later studied at The New School for Social Research, also in Manhattan. She proceeded to work as a theater actress throughout her 20s. She also became a founding member of the Montclair Theater Company in New Jersey, which has a new name and has since been relocated.

In time, however, Finkelson’s passion for photography came into focus.

“I always did photography, but not seriously,” she explained. “I later took it up seriously as an art form.”

After marriage, Finkelson and her husband would travel, and she would bring her camera. Wanting to learn more, she went on to study photography at the International Center of Photography, a photography museum, school and research center in New York City.

“It’s a different art form,” she said. “It was something I could do on my own and be creative.”

Finkelson has been a professional photographer for about a decade. She relocated to Rancho Santa Fe more than three years ago.

“I really love abstracts,” she said. “I love textures and collage-like photographs, and a lot of my work reflects that. I just like to go out looking around and taking photographs. Something will click.”

Finkelson serves on the board of the San Diego Museum of Art Artists Guild, which supports the San Diego Museum of Art. Opened in 1926, the San Diego Museum of Art is the region’s oldest, largest and most visited art museum, with almost 250,000 visitors annually.

“That’s been a really good thing for me — to get into the community of artists in San Diego,” said Finkelson, who has served on the board for about three years. “From there, I’ve had so many different opportunities to meet people, to be in shows.”

Finkelson’s work is on display at the Del Mar Art Center. The nonprofit has an artist-run gallery in the Del Mar Plaza. Finkelson was juried into the group in April.

In addition to her pieces at the Del Mar Art Center, Finkelson has selections at the Turner Gallery in Del Mar, a satellite show of the Oceanside Museum of Art.

“I think everything I’ve done in my life informs my photography,” said Finkelson, noting she has also worked as a director. “You’re looking at the balance of everything — the lights, the costumes, the people. You’re creating a picture.”

Although she can often be found shooting photos with her camera, Finkelson also takes shots with an iPhone and iPad, something that grew out of a New York University-sponsored group. The group had a three-day symposium with workshops, which led to a book from Focal Press called, “Mobile Digital Art: Using the iPad and iPhone as Creative Tools.”

“It’s creating art and putting it out there in the world,” Finkelson said. “It’s a beautiful thing.”

For more about Finkelson, visit