Kodama – Spirit of a Tree

Here in the Northeast spring has sprung. The once barren trees looming over our heads are now sprouting with new life. As the lush green growth floods our landscape we once again marvel at the dramatic rebirth of these gentle giants and reminding us of the great role trees play in our world. From producing much of the oxygen we breath, to shielding us from the harsh summer sun, trees are often overlooked. But, for Mira Nakashima, trees play a large part in her life. As the daughter of the famous woodworker, George Nakashima, her upbringing was molded by the philosophies her father embodied.

Mira Nakashima, Designer and Woodworker

Each tree, each part of the tree, has its own particular destiny. We roam the world to find our relationships with these trees.

George Makashima

With the belief of working with trees deeply ingrained in her at a young age, Mira has continued her father’s tradition of making unique and memorable furniture after his passing in 1990. Surprisingly, she was not formally trained as a woodworker but as an architect.

Mira Nakashima

Architecture was extremely good training for me as it was with my father.  Not only can you visualize shapes and volumes on paper, but engineer the structure and visualize the piece in a given space.

Mira Nakashima

She began her studies in architecture as an undergrad at Harvard and earned her Master’s at Waseda University in Tokyo. After receiving her Master’s, she returned home to New Hope, Pa in 1970. Once there Mira spent the next 20 years as her father’s assistant. In this role she quickly became skillful in woodworking and mastered the techniques that her father was renowned for.

Classic Daybed

When it was time for her to take over the “family business”, she strived to maintain a close connection to her father but over time her designs began to push beyond the boundaries set by her father.

Conciod Coffee Table

I’ve created a few new designs out of necessity, sometimes in collaboration with my design assistants, sometimes in collaboration with the client, and always in cooperation with the wood and the woodworkers

Mira Nakashima

It is through this respect for the wood and the tree it came from, that you will not only find a Nakashima piece sitting in a lucky home but also within the walls of a museum. The ability to see the true potential of a raw material and allow it to be beautiful in its own special way is what makes Nakashima furniture truly one of a kind.

Mira Nakashima

Healing Garden

When we first wrote about our time at Oregon State Penitentiary we shared our trepidations of entering a male maximum security prison. In that tale we introduced you to Megan Lowe, a Corporal Corrections Officer at OSP, but she wasn’t the only one we were meeting that day. Once we wrapped our dynamic shoot with Megan in the middle of a locked down cell block we were ready to be securely relocated. We arrived to a space that looked more like a recreation room at a day camp rather than a prison

The large gym like open space was outlined with rooms made of chain link fencing. Each brightly colored vibrant room contained a different club run by the inmates themselves with the help of Patrice Lans.

Patrice is Oregon State Penitentiary’s Activities Director and another addition to our ongoing project, Women’s Work. Before taking on the challenge of working in male prison Patrice spent twenty-four years in the grocery industry and peaked at the corporate office level. Feeling the need to change paths she accepted a temporary position in the kitchen of Coffee Creek Correctional Facility as a food service coordinator. Soon after this, she was asked to interview for a different position and was hired by the activities department in OSP.

I really like the niche that I’m working in. I love to be in the trenches instead of managing other tasks and such. I’d rather be working with the people, making stuff happen.

Patrice Lans

And with her help stuff does happen.  For one, Patrice and the Asian Pacific Family Club of OSP are working towards being the first prison in the western world to have a healing garden within its walls.


It has been proven that nature such as flowing water and plant life can reduce stress. In a study in 2016 done by Arcadia University about gardening programs in prisons has shown to enhance incarcerated individuals’ psychosocial well-being in three different ways:

  1. Increased their self-efficacy and self-worth
  2. Decreased their anxiety and depression symptoms
  3. Reduction in reincarceration rates.

With the healing garden there is hope of improving the overall quality of life for all the inmates.

I feel strongly that I’m making an impact by building and facilitating these programs in the prison, so that the inmates will be better citizens when they get out.

Patrice Lans

Patrice is making a difference is the lives of the inmates she works with and with her help projects like the healing garden become a reality. A reality that benefits everyone.

Shakespeare in Detroit

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.

William Shakespeare -Julius Caesar

Throughout the years the theatre has been a place of social gathering. As early as 6th century B.C. Ancient Greeks would line the rows of the outdoor amphitheater to be entertained by talented thespians. To this day we still seek amusement through the emotional gauntlet of humanity.  As the lights slowly dim around us we sit in our seat with the anticipation of the pending performance. We wait for an experience that will change us.

There is one man who compiled a series of words to express who we are like no other. His timeless work portrays humanity that still exists today. William Shakespeare, through prose and verse, has been entertaining the masses since the 1590s. His work allows a younger generation to make it their own. That is exactly what Sam White, founder and artistic director of Shakespeare in Detroit, is doing.

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.

-William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Detroit is a city that has seen some very hard times. Jobs have moved and with them, the spark of the motor city has been dimmed. With a thick cloud looming over the place Sam White calls home, she and her diverse troupe take to the streets to raise the spirits.

Armed with the eloquent lines of  Shakespeare they perform in unique places all around the city, such as an unheated recycling warehouse, historical homes and public spaces throughout Detroit. There they brought the great and inspiring works of a 16th century poet to a new audience and to inspire a younger generation

It‘s a commitment to my city and using what I have to help grow the city. I’m using what I have, and what I have is Shakespeare.

Sam White, founder and artistic director of Shakespeare in Detroit

Shakespeare in Detroit creates dynamic performances with a diverse cast and audience. They strive to be approachable and accessible. That can be hard to accomplish but with Sam’s vast knowledge she is able to make the classics relatable, new, and exciting.

I live for the days the audience shows up and they see the show we have been working on for months or a year and they laugh or cry or shout or complain or rejoice.

Sam White

Shakespeare in Detroit continues to grow and a new building to house the troupe is in the works. The former Stone Soap Building on the Detroit Riverfront is the location of their new home. The grand opening is planned for 2020. So in the meantime, Sam will be planning, figuring out the right shows and people to bring it to life.  She hopes to create a place that will continue to be inclusive and allow the whole city of Detroit to fall in love with Shakespeare.

Gratitude

As we spend the last few days of 2018 in reflection, we view our recent past with great fondness. 2018 has been a year of continued change and growth defined by new challenges. 


All along the path, we have created many memories.

We have traveled all over the land and worked with so many wonderful people. Some long time conspirators and other new faces that we will welcome back to our team when the right time comes.

 No matter where a project took us, each one allowed us to dive further into the depths of creativity and to make each opportunity count.

As we look forward to even greater challenges, our team continues to grow.  This year called for expansion and we were fortunate to have Noel Pattani hop on board.

Noel is currently our production coordinator and we are excited to see how her strengths continue to develop as a part of our team.

 With her help, we have expanded Chris’s personal project, Women’s Work. Her creativity, spirit, and strong values have brought a new sense of life to who we are.

Mike Ryan will be entering his first year as a full-time member in 2019.

It seems like it’s been years, but his commitment and dedication restored a balance to our team as well as helped shape how we get it all done.

To be part of so many projects that pushed our creative limits has been a thrill and a pleasure. As a team of creative people, we require challenges and 2018 has been full of them. From creating a lush garden in studio during December, to traveling to Cape May, NJ to capture an oyster farmer and her crew at sunrise, to working 18 hour days in the scorching summer sun, we will continue to raise the bar on creative productions that bring out the best in everyone who is part of our what we do.  We are grateful for the opportunity to do what we love and to share our passions and strengths with you.

One to 2019 – Our next call time hits in just over 72 hours.

THAT ONE TIME WE WENT TO PRISON

A long narrow hallway lined with tiny barred cells enclosing angry men flinging obscenities is what we expected to find at a maximum security male prison. The entertainment industry depicts the American correctional system as a scary place. So, when we were given the opportunity to enter Oregon State Penitentiary we were filled with excitement and a bit of concern.

As you might have guessed, entering a prison is no easy task. There are several obstacles to navigate in order to be approved for entry. First off, background check for all members of the entire crew. Second, a thoroughly vetted equipment list. This list was scrutinized and whittled down three times. Each list included visuals of what was included. A location like this is only possible with the use of battery powered lights. Without them, it would be difficult to get down to three bags. 

The third obstacle was squeezing two portrait subjects into a tight schedule during the facility lockdown. We reviewed the Tour Guidelines for visitors which informed us of their hostage policy that states there are inherent risks in visiting a correctional facility. After several weeks of back and forth with Oregon State Penitentiary, everything was set and ready to go.

Oregon State Penitentiary is nestled in the sleepy town of Salem. Driving through the town you wouldn’t expect a maximum security prison would live just up the road. If there was a maximum security prison, you wouldn’t expect it to be lined with large, lush trees and meticulously maintained landscaping. The stark difference from the picturesque greenery and the castle-like exterior of the prison is striking. We stood on the steps of the Oregon State Penitentiary with nothing but our gear, our IDs and just a little bit of nerves.

Once inside we went through a series security checkpoints. Every step of the process was efficient. The staff was friendly and helpful through it all. We quickly moved to our first location and set up to shoot in cell block D. Once we were in the heart of the facility, it was evident how calm and quiet space it was. Unlike our chaotic expectations, we felt comfortable in the space. Of course, there was a bit of excitement buzzing around, we were a photo crew, something completely out of the ordinary. Even with our unusual presence the men lounged in their brightly colored cells patiently waiting for the lockdown to end.

Our first subject was Megan Lowe, a Corporal Correction Officer at OSP. She began her career at the Oregon State Correctional Institution (OSCI) in 2014. She was inspired by her father to follow a career in correction. Megan’s petite frame was weighed down by the required gear but her presence was enormous. Watching her walk down the block you saw her confident control in the space. She was one of the reasons we felt so safe there. She provides the order needed for peace.

We spent a few short but fulfilling moments with Megan. She allowed us to collaborate in her domain and we could not have asked for a smoother experience. Wrapping up in the housing block it was time to pack up and move on to our next location to meet Patrice, another staff member of OSP.  She is also doing amazing things but that is another story for another time.

To Be Continued…


Captured52 + Chris Crisman

crisman wild horses

We’re excited to announce a new collaboration with Captured52, an amazing resource for large format, fine art photography. Starting this Saturday, 2/13 our award winning Wild Horses photo will be available as an open edition 40×60” print. We’re honored to be part of an elite group of image makers that include Sandro Miller, David Burnett, Simon Vahala, Adam Senatori, and Alex Buisse.

Captured52 releases for sale one photograph per week, all printed and framed in stunning large format. Our image will be printed in the USA by a master printer on heavyweight matte Hahnemühle paper, embossed with the Captured52 seal, date-stamped and custom framed in solid wood, museum shadowbox frame. Our Wild Horses image will be available for $1,952.00 including shipping and a large format journal at the end of 2016 featuring images and text from every participating photographer.

Questions, comments? Let us know your thoughts below or @crismanphoto and /crismanphoto. Also make sure to keep up with @Captured52 on Instagram and Captured 52 on Facebook. The sale starts this Saturday 2/13 and will only be available for one week so act fast!

 

Wired UK: Server in the Clouds

chris crisman wired uk drones airware Jonathan Downey 3D Robotic

Drones are here. Whether it’s as simple as capturing footage from a GoPro, surveying land, top secret military operations or even drone beer delivery (my personal favorite) – these flying robots are in our skies and not going away anytime soon.

As with any developing industry on the edge of modern technology, the team at Wired UK are on it. Earlier this year we received a call from across the pond to fly out to San Fransisco and photograph two companies at the forefront of the aerial robotics industry: Airware and 3D Robotics.

chris crisman wired uk drones airware Jonathan Downey 3D Robotic

chris crisman wired uk drones airware Jonathan Downey 3D Robotic

chris crisman wired uk drones airware Jonathan Downey 3D Robotic

First up was Airware, a drone company aiming to take the already airbone industry into the cloud. Terrible tech puns aside, the Airware team creates hardware and software that is trying to create a standardized operating system for the world of commercial drone operations – no small task.

Jonathan Downey, the founder and CEO, as well as the rest of his team were generous with their time and access – helping us to illustrate both the tech and the people behind scenes who are bringing this idea to life.

chris crisman wired uk drones airware Jonathan Downey 3D Robotic

chris crisman wired uk drones airware Jonathan Downey 3D Robotic

Our second shoot took us to the Oakland based HQ of 3D Robotics, a consumer robotics startup helmed by former Wired Editor in Chief, Chris Anderson. They just released their first offering, the 3DR Solo Drone – a very user friendly and easily piloted GoPro wielding UAV capable of 3D scanning. Not too shabby.

Spending a day with their pilots and watching the R&D team work was inspiring to see where the consumer side of the drone world is headed.

chris crisman wired uk drones airware Jonathan Downey 3D Robotic

chris crisman wired uk drones airware Jonathan Downey 3D Robotic

And of course the shoot wouldn’t be complete without a few wonderful light tests from Jared and myself. After all these years we’ve gotten really good at standing next to windows and on rooftops.

chris crisman wired uk drones airware Jonathan Downey 3D Robotic

chris crisman wired uk drones airware Jonathan Downey 3D Robotic

We were pretty busy on set wrangling all of these flying robots but we managed to grab a few quick BTS shots. If you look closely enough at the shot of Chris Anderson you can spot the 3DR Solo flying dangerously close to the industrial tanks in the background. No crashes though – the shoot was a success!

Questions? Comments? Let us know at @crismanphoto on Instagram and /crismanphoto on Facebook.