Crisman Photo
Archive
Thoughts

We work like crazy. As a studio manager/producer/assistant/blogger life very rarely slows down to the point where I can step back and reflect on it. When it does though, I find myself mulling over aspects of this job that might seem so inconsequential, but for me hold deeper meanings. I’ve decided to start this monthly series on the blog to take a minute and stop, reflect, and write about some of the aspects of being a studio manager that really impact me. These are my studio manager meditations.

crisman_studio_manager_calumet_01

My Last Trip to Calumet

Earlier this month, I started off my morning in a fairly normal fashion: coffee, a quick breakfast, hopping in my car and stopping by Calumet on the way to the studio. We needed a few A clamps – nothing more, nothing less. In every respect, it was a perfectly normal trip. I browsed around for a few minutes looking for odds and ends, bullshitted appropriately with the employees, paid for our new A clamps and got on with the rest of my day.

A week later, Calumet filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy overnight and closed every single one of it’s US stores. Chris and I were in San Fransisco on a shoot when I woke up to the news – plastered all over Facebook and social networks that the longstanding photo supplier shut it’s doors without telling a single soul. Maybe it was the haze of jet lag or a slight hangover from the beer I’d consumed the night before, but I didn’t quite believe it. This couldn’t be – I was just there, I just bought A clamps, it was business as usual.

I made a few calls – first to the Philadelphia store; nothing. With no answer on that line, I made a call to one of the only people who I knew could give me a definitive answer. I dialed the cell number of one of our guys at the Philadelphia store. What I’d heard was confirmed – the news was not good, our conversation was short and I immediately realized the worst part of the situation. It wasn’t the equipment, it wasn’t the studio supplies, the rental gear, or any of the actual things Calumet sold. The worst part of this situation was the abrupt and unfair blow the company dealt to its employees.

This blog post goes out to those guys – I wont name names here, but you all know who you are.

Thank you. Thank you for that morning earlier this month when I came in, browsed around, bullshitted, and bought A clamps. Thank you for the years of great service and even better friendship. Thank you for putting up with all of the Crisman team’s craziness and requests. Thank you for everything, it won’t be forgotten.

Read More

There are some truly creative people in this industry. Let’s face it, you’ve got to be constantly concepting, developing, and executing or you get left in the dust. I’m fortunate to work with some really dynamic and inspiring people, ranging from art directors, to producers, to creative directors, photo editors, art buyers, and print producers. Instead of questions about email blasts, printed promos, and portfolio reviews, I think that it’s time that I put some of them on the spot to show us their meaning of Life. “The meaning of Life” may be a little far flung to answer in only ten questions, but hopefully these interviews will serve to distill some of the inspired and intellectual energy of the creatives that we work with.

crisman_10_questions_matthew_slimmer_003

It was just about this time last year that we first started working with Austin, TX based producer Matthew Slimmer. As we estimated and began work on our San Antonio tourism project, we knew that Matthew would be the ideal producer to bring together all of the crazy moving parts that would make up such a huge campaign.

Looking back on the shoot, what stuck with us most was Matthew’s flexibility and willingness to roll with whatever curve-balls came our way. He’s a great guy to have on any shoot, but enough from me, I’ll let Matthew tell the rest:

Read More

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!

Read More

chris crisman dr scott mackler portrait

We have the unique privilege of meeting and making photos with people from all walks of life. From celebrities to athletes, business leaders to academics, scientists to veterans – the list goes on. There is hardly a week that goes by when we do not put one of these subjects in front of our lens to take photos that will serve as a permanent reminder of that encounter. Today we are pausing for a moment to remember our shoot with one of these incredible people.

In the summer of 2009 we met and photographed University of Pennsylvania professor Dr. Scott Mackler, a researcher on the genetic susceptibility of addition in the brain. Despite a decade of living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, Dr. Mackler actively pursued his research and continued as a professor at Penn. Interviewed the year prior on CBS 60 Minutes, he was also a pioneer in a field called Brain-Computer Interface, a way of communicating with eye movements interpreted via computer to output as text or speech.

chris crisman dr scott mackler portrait

Scott led remarkable life as a husband and a father, still researching and teaching until his unexpected passing in the fall of 2013. We were touched by his kindness and perseverance, and his willingness to make time for our photo-shoot. After the shoot and now upon deeper reflection, we were humbled by his unyielding drive to continue, despite the very real circumstances of ALS.

chris crisman dr scott mackler portrait

Scott is survived by his wife, Dr. Lynn Snyder-Mackler, and sons Alexander and Noah. Scott’s work and legacy live on thanks to the Scott A. Mackler, MD, PhD, Assistive Technology Program at the ALS Association of Philadelphia and the Scott Mackler 5K Run/Walk.

Read More

There are some truly creative people in this industry. Let’s face it, you’ve got to be constantly concepting, developing, and executing or you get left in the dust. I’m fortunate to work with some really dynamic and inspiring people, ranging from art directors, to producers, to creative directors, photo editors, art buyers, and print producers. Instead of questions about email blasts, printed promos, and portfolio reviews, I think that it’s time that I put some of them on the spot to show us their meaning of Life. “The meaning of Life” may be a little far flung to answer in only ten questions, but hopefully these interviews will serve to distill some of the inspired and intellectual energy of the creatives that we work with.

cc2013044_0028_ret_V1

Meeting Mr. Ken Zane is one of the most prized gifts I have received in being a professional photographer. We have held this post for months waiting for the right time for him to get settled into his new career at Leo Burnett in Chicago. We were very sad to see him move on from Philadelphia, but in my heart I knew he would be a happier man back in Chicago.

I met Ken almost 6 years ago. He had just started at Digitas Health in Philly and we hit it off right away. We share many similar loves. The big three would be wonderful people, a well made drink, and deep appreciation for well crafted art.

Ken, thank you for sharing your time with us while you were in Philadelphia. We all can’t wait to hit the town with you soon in Chicago. Cheers!

1. Name one actor you’d like to portray you in a movie about your life?

Liev Schreiber

2. What is your preferred vehicle or mode of transportation?

Airplane, (with the exception of going through security lines). I find travelling on an airplane to be the one time to be without cell phone or email access so and you can’t be on “call” and are forced to relax. I have truly learned to appreciate that quiet time.

3. What is your favorite beverage for creative inspiration?

In the AM a smoothie made with Kale, spinach, avocado and blueberries, If it’s evening then a Belvedere Martini with a twist

4. Name your all time favorite band, singer, or album?

AMERICA- I can listen to “Ventura Highway” over and over again!

5. Name one place in the world that you’ve been and can’t wait to return to and why?

Hmmm Chicago, but I already returned here :) so I would have to say Paris- It is one of the most inspirational cities I have ever been to!

6. What is favorite shoot you’ve worked on?

I can’t really pick one,as I find wonderful things and memorable experiences on most productions I have worked on. I have had the opportunity to work with incredible people ranging from Photographers, Stylists, Models, Producers, Creative Directors and Clients. One shoot that was very memorable  was my first car shoot, I had never worked on one before so I was a bit overwhelmed, it was a great challenge. We created a highway on a Tarmac in Los Angeles, I was blown away watching the photographer shoot from a crane 175 feet up in the air. We had stunt drivers and an incredible crew, the production was flawless. On the last day of production,  the photographer had himself strapped to the underside of a car in motion, to shoot a moving vehicle next to him, lots of adrenaline going there.

7. What is your philosophy on creating?

I think you have to trust your intuition to create. Don’t think, just do it. Read the book “Blink” it all happens in a moment.

8. Describe a defining moment in your career that has led you to where you are today?

I think all roads and experiences bring you to where you are, my background in Art and Photography genuinely contributed to where I am today, but if there was a moment I would say it was when I met Andrea Kaye at McCann Erickson, at that point I knew I wanted to be an Art Producer

9. Name one person you wish you could have a drink with and why?

That’s a tough question because there are so many people I would want to do that with. I would probably have to say my Father because there were many things I wish we had discussed before he passed away a few years ago.

10. If the world is ending in 2013, how will you change your life plan?

I would spend much more time with my family and friends. And I have to admit, since you posed this question to me in the early fall I have made the effort :)

Any questions for Ken? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or @crismanphoto and/crismanphoto!

Read More

chris crisman archive 200 best photographers worldwide

We’ve blogged about it, we’ve shared previous features, and here we are again in 2014. Every two years, Luerzers Archive publishes a collection of the top advertising photographers in our industry. Handpicked from thousands of entries, this publication distills down to the best and brightest shooters in the world.

In 2012 we were extremely honored to be featured for the first time and now, in 2014 we are just as proud to say that we’ve been chosen again to be included in this great collection. What photos made the cut? Keep reading to find out…

Read More

We work like crazy. As a studio manager/producer/assistant/blogger life very rarely slows down to the point where I can step back and reflect on it. When it does though, I find myself mulling over aspects of this job that might seem so inconsequential, but for me hold deeper meanings. I’ve decided to start this monthly series on the blog to take a minute and stop, reflect, and write about some of the aspects of being a studio manager that really impact me. These are my studio manager meditations.

photo 3

I need to apologize. I need to apologize for being busy: too busy.

The new year started off with a bang, like a sprint off the starting block and truth be told, there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to check off every box on my to-do list. When it comes to my responsibilities within our team, I spend a ton of time producing, coordinating, facilitating, and very generally speaking, making shit happen. When the dust settles at the end of the day and we take a breath and crack open a beer, there’s still a laundry list of tasks that vie for my attention. The honest truth is that my role and responsibility as part of this team changes every single day and I may wake up with one thought in my mind as to what needs to be accomplished only to be pulled in ten different directions to help put out ten different fires. It’s what I do and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

This January in particular has been a whirlwind. We’ve been across the country on advertising and editorial shoots, quickly checking-in at home base in Philadelphia before heading back out on the next adventure. The past few weeks have taken us from Philadelphia to Califorinia, Florida (twice), Texas, North Carolina, Mississippi, and NYC. It’s an incredible feeling to be working this hard – but there are a few drawbacks and inevitably things fall through the cracks, like this blog.

This is where I need to apologize. I’m sorry for being too busy to keep us all on track here. Ideally we like to share at least one or two posts a week – something that I’ve been missing the mark on. Moving forward, we’ll all be doing our best to post more regularly and share as much as we can. Whether it’s new personal work, advertising campaigns, editorial assignments, or just some of the randomness that we deem worthy of the internet, we’ll do our best to keep it up.

So I, and much more importantly, we – embrace the busyness. It’s fuel for the fire. All we ask is a bit of understanding for the situation: we’ll share when we can, as often as we can, and when we can’t, we’ll do our best to save those stories for next time.

In the meantime, the best way to keep up with Team Crisman is through the lens of our iPhones and via 140 characters at a time:

Chris:

www.twitter.com/crismanphoto

www.instagram.com/crismanphoto

Robert:

www.twitter.com/robertluessen

www.instagram.com/robertluessen

Jared:

www.instagram.com/jaredcastaldi

David:

www.instagram.com/dohl67

2014 is shaping up to be a great year and we’ll keep on sharing our unique take on this crazy world. The blog may evolve and change as we grow, but rest assured we’re committed to everyone out there and offering up more of the projects, photos, behind the scenes, and thoughts that we encounter on the daily.

Thank you.

Read More