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chris crisman wired uk brain researchers adam gazzaley Michael M

When the call came in from our editors at Wired UK, we knew we were in for a good shoot. Fly out to the west coast and photograph three of the most important scientists researching ways to challenge and expand your brain – how could we say no? Although this shoot literally flew by – traveling from home base in Philadelphia to San Fransisico, San Diego, back to San Fran, and all back to Philly in just over 72 hours – we met incredible subjects working on the cutting edge of technology and worked with them to make amazing photos.

Want to see the results and read our story of how it all came together? Keep on reading…

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chris crisman dynalite xp800

As soon as our Escalante assignment for The Nature Conservancy booked, the first call I made was to our friends over at Dynalite. We knew they were working on an ultralight Battery & Sine Wave Inverter that could power their strobes and I couldn’t think of better terrain for a field test than hiking through southern Utah.

When I explained our shoot to our good buddy at the company Jim Morton, I remember asking what kind of advice he had for the type of field test we were about to put their battery unit through. His response was exactly what we were hoping for: “…nobody has ever done that before…” Perfect – time to take this piece of gear for a test drive. How did we fare? Keep reading to find out…

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chris crisman tech post storage backup archiving

Quite the question, isn’t it? To be perfectly honest, it’s not one that we ask ourselves around here all that often – we tend to err on the other side of the coin and worry more about making pictures than worrying about the space they take up. Of everyone on our crew, I’m admittedly the most technically oriented (read: geekiest) so this is naturally a question I wanted to explore while working on a system-wide offsite backup for all of our files.

As I sat at my desk staring at the quantity of hard drives these files were filling, I took it upon myself to break things down a bit more and try and find the answer to how much we shoot, how we shoot it, and how it’s changing. The answers didn’t necessarily surprise me, but they weren’t exactly what I was expecting…

I should preface this discussion with the simple fact that this entire inventory occurs within the digital space, working in gigabytes and terabytes as opposed to rolls, sheets, binders and drawers of film. Chris’s professional career as a photographer began digitally and we’ve stuck to the format since 2004. Inherently, this has created a legacy of digital files, seemingly ever expanding as time goes on.

To add it all up, we’re working with just about 35TB of active storage (mirrored for a grand total of 70TB) and as much as I hate to say it, out of that active storage there is not a ton of free space. Only a few terabytes. So where the hell does all of that space go?

When I broke it down year by year and took a closer look at history, I did notice a few strange things. Obviously the numbers have increased over the years, but I was surprised to see huge growth from 2009-2010. What could have happened that our volume of files went from 750 gigabytes in 2009 to over 2 terabytes in 2010?

Initially this was puzzling, but there were a few key things that happened in this period of time that escalated the quantity and file size of what we’re shooting. Technology plays a huge factor into this – Chris bought our Phase One P45+ digital back at the end of 2008. Although we shoot with a mix of our Canon cameras and medium format system, there’s no question that adding these files increased our demand for storage.

The other factor wasn’t entirely clear until Chris and I were discussing the anomaly. 2008-2009 were years of recent economic crisis in the United States and as a result, Chris was shooting less. When things began to pickup in 2010, the difference was marked – more assignments, more shooting, and more files to store. Ever since the growth has followed a similar pattern of gradually increasing every year. I never thought that greater economic factors would influence the amount of storage we’d need to worry about, but there’s a first for everything.

Aside from actual file sizes of our captures, the scope of work and size of our the actual assignments we were shooting began to grow as well. As Chris’s career has develops, we’ve been continually working on bigger and better projects, shooting more and more for each assignment. Whether we’re on a high profile advertising shoot with a two dozen models, or off the grid shooting in the wilderness for a week, we’re certainly going to make a lot of photos – tons more than a one off portrait editorial assignment.

So what does this mean for the future? Essentially it means that we keep doing what we do – we make pictures and we store them. As we grow, our storage will simply need to grow to accommodate the demand. Our ears are to the ground listening for the next biggest hard drives or storage solutions, but the big idea here is that we’ll never limit the capabilities of what we can shoot and create by a factor of storing it all.

Are we crazy? Questions, comments? Let us know your thoughts below or @crismanphoto and /crismanphoto!

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chris crisman tech post storage backup archiving

Photography is our business. Everything that we do furthers the common goal of making photos – it’s how we are wired and I can’t imagine that changing anytime soon. It’s an amazing and unique position to be able to inspire and excite by creating and executing our creative vision. We take our creative process very seriously; we derive our livelihood off of our ability to make photos.

An equally serious and important process is how we process and archive the images we make. There’s no doubt that in most cases, celluloid has been replaced by megabytes, but no matter the medium, when you make your living making images, you need know that those photos are safe and secure. How do we do it? Keep reading for the breakdown of how we manage it all, from capture to archive…

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chris crisman photographer tech post laptop upgrade

When it comes to upgrading a core piece of technology for the studio, we have two essential criteria we need to think about. First, we shoot a helluva lot of photos. Second, we’re on the road most of the year. With these key factors in mind, we need a laptop that can handle whatever we throw at it. Our macbooks need to be both processing powerhouses and jam packed with as much storage as we can fit.

Monday we might be shooting tethered in studio in NYC and Tuesday we’ll be out in the deserts of New Mexico – we never really know what shoot scenarios to expect so we have to plan for anything. Our newest piece of technology looks like a standard Macbook Pro on the outside, but under the hood is where things get a bit different. Keep reading for the breakdown of our new, ridiculously fast laptop…

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chris crisman photography how we travel tips and tricks

We travel a lot. So much in fact that you could say we have it down to a science. Before we even arrive at the airport, Chris and our team know that everything is in order – when you’re on the road and up in the air as much as we are, you can’t leave anything to chance. How do we do it? Keep reading for an in-depth look at how we travel…

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chris crisman weekly wrap up editorial advertising editorial tra

Whew. What a week. We’ve been working hard these past five days, waking up well before the sun and working late into the evenings down here in San Antonio, Texas – our home base this week and for most of April and May as we shoot an unprecedented tourism project the city. From tiny little flowers to giant orca whales, it’s really feel like we’ve shot it all this week. Want to see more? Keep reading for behind the scenes of our adventures these past few days…

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