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chris crisman daveed diggs hamilton portrait photo

When our editors at the New York Observer called with an opportunity to shoot a member of the award winning cast of the hit musical Hamilton, we couldn’t say no. We were lucky enough to spend an hour with Daveed Diggs, the actor and rapper currently playing both the roles of Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette.

chris crisman daveed diggs hamilton portrait photo

chris crisman daveed diggs hamilton portrait photo

We spent a morning shooting with Daveed Diggs at the Fraunces Tavern Museum in downtown Manhattan, coincidentally a historically significant location that the real Alexander Hamilton frequented during the 19th century. Couldn’t have asked for a better location.

chris crisman daveed diggs hamilton portrait photo

chris crisman daveed diggs hamilton portrait photo

chris crisman daveed diggs hamilton portrait photo

We owe a big thanks to our editors at the Observer for the opportunity and a thank you to the Fraunces Tavern Museum for providing such an awesome location. As always, we also owe a thank you to the team at PXL House for post-production and the final polish on theses shots.

Tickets may be close to impossible to get these days but head over to the official site for Hamilton to check out more info on the show. Also if you’re a Daveed Diggs fan, make sure to give him a follow on Instagram @daveeddiggs. Also make sure to head over to the Observer’s website to read their story on the star.

Questions, comments? Let us know your thoughts below or @crismanphoto and /crismanphoto.

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chris crisman the musician conceptual personal work

We’re always striving to create new work that we’ve never seen before – some images that exist squarely in reality and others that require a bit more imagination to create and a bit more ingenuity to bring to life. When we’re in the studio concepting and brainstorming, ideas have a tendency to grow and build off of other ideas until everyone has a clear vision of what we’re after, whether it exists in reality or not.

For this new photo that we’re calling The Musician, both the location and the talent were born out of a brainstorming session that got us all a bit carried away, with thoughts and ideas that compounded and forced us to ask the question: “how can we shoot that?”

chris crisman the musician conceptual personal work

First and foremost we needed an environment for our photograph. From imagination to the internet and eventually to reality, we whittled down the list of possible locations from a worldwide search (ruled out – too many frequent flyer miles to travel to Europe on short notice) and eventually discovered a violin shop in the tri-state area that contained all of the pieces of what we were looking for.

chris crisman the musician conceptual personal work

Were those pieces necessarily lined up and constructed in the way that they needed to be for our concept to come to life? Not so much. But we knew that the reality of the space was merely a detail that we could overcome with a touch of creative retouching and post-work.

So we shot, and shot and shot, capturing as many angles and vantages on the violin shop as we could, knowing that the final space would be created as a composite of these pieces.

chris crisman the musician conceptual personal work

chris crisman the musician conceptual personal work

As for the character, we knew we wanted someone who would look eccentric and eclectic, someone who could match with and amplify the background we’d created. Simply enough, our casting call only asked for “unique looking” males and we let the magic of the search provide what it could. After sifting through a few pages of results, we knew immediately who our talent would be when we saw Geoff Lee – an actor and musician based in New York. Geoff was on-board and with the help of our talented prop and wardrobe stylists set to work creating his character.

In the end it all came together seamlessly, a space and character born out of imagination and brought to life through our vision. As always, we can say that the sum is greater than the whole of it’s parts, but those parts deserve a thank you. Many thanks to our talented model Geoff, Matthew Englebert on props, Wendy Oswald Kinney for wardrobe help, Megan Ambroch for makeup styling, and of course the talented folks at PXL House for bringing it all together in post.

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

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Crisman Forest Landscape

It’s that time of year again – time to take a moment and look forward at what opportunities and adventures await us in the coming weeks and months. Time to discuss and refine our team’s goals and ideals for the next 365 days, time to ask ourselves “what can we do differently, what can we do better this year? what can we create that will be new and different? How can we refine our craft?” Both practical and creative, we love to ask these questions and take even greater joy in answering them by creating new and inspiring images.

So what’s the plan for 2016? Isn’t it obvious?

Make new work. Make photographs and images that we’ve never seen before and create content that can embody our aesthetic and the ideas and vision of our clients. And as always, we’ll do our best to share.

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We may have a few less blog posts to show for it than usual, but 2015 has been a year with just as many days on set and on the road as the past few before it. With any shoot there comes those wonderfully awkward test shots and cringe-worthy behind the scenes shots. Since it’s the end of the year, what better time and place to share them all here on the blog:

chris crisman advertising photography behind the scenes 2015

chris crisman advertising photography behind the scenes 2015

chris crisman advertising photography behind the scenes 2015

chris crisman advertising photography behind the scenes 2015  chris crisman advertising photography behind the scenes 2015

chris crisman advertising photography behind the scenes 2015

chris crisman advertising photography behind the scenes 2015

chris crisman advertising photography behind the scenes 2015

chris crisman advertising photography behind the scenes 2015

chris crisman advertising photography behind the scenes 2015   chris crisman advertising photography behind the scenes 2015

chris crisman advertising photography behind the scenes 2015

chris crisman advertising photography behind the scenes 2015

And there we have it – 2015 is all wrapped up. We’ll be taking New Years off, then getting back into the swing of things early in 2016. We hope you’re as excited as we are for what the new years has in store – happy holidays all!

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crisman_balloon_009

Some images come together quickly while others take their time, changing and developing over weeks and months to be fully realized. Our hot air balloon photo definitely falls into the latter category; a photo that has been on Chris’s mind for quite some time and one that the team has been actively chasing since January of this year.

As with many great (or terrible) stories, this one starts in Las Vegas. In January of this year, we decided to finally pursue bringing Chris’s vision for a dynamic hot air balloon portrait to life – after some research and  a few phone calls, we were booked for the weekend with special aerial access at a small hot air balloon festival in Mesquite NV, only a few hours north of Las Vegas. As far as we were concerned, this was our chance to shoot a sky full of balloons – the perfect background for this photo.

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That weekend in Mesquite, our team learned a lot about the world of hot air ballooning. We learned tons of information on balloons, safety regulations, wind and weather patterns, proper chasing techniques – the list of ballooning lingo goes on.

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Unfortunately, despite all this newfound knowledge, one thing we most definitely did not do though, was fly in a hot air balloon. After two mornings of 5:00am call times in the middle of the desert, we left Nevada empty handed due to high winds and unsafe flying conditions; it was a bust (despite and voodoo or magical efforts Chris may be making in the photo above… the wind was just not on our side).

Did we give up? Of course not. As soon as we landed back in Philadelphia, we were on the search for the next balloon festival we could line up.

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In the meantime, we were also searching for a truly amazing landscape to serve as the backdrop for this photo. We knew the perspective needed to be shot from the sky, so what did we do? Made sure we were carrying our cameras with us on almost every flight. It just so happened that a seaplane flight in Alaska provided the appropriately epic landscape we were looking for

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Finally in August we set our sights on a huge festival in New Jersey – flying up with dozens of balloons and shooting the whole time, we captured hundreds of photos from all angles. After discussing and sketching and planning the image for months, we all had a pretty good idea of the pieces we needed to shoot, but once the balloons all took off, it was honestly a bit of a free-for-all to shoot as much as we could. We’ve learned that hot air balloons are not exactly the most predictable type of vehicle.

cc2015025 - Balloon talent

cc2015025 - Balloon talent

cc2015025 - Balloon talent

Last but not least, all we needed were our models, and of course another hot air balloon to shoot them in. Surprisingly enough, this may have been the easiest part of the photo. We worked with Carter County Flights, a small family owned company local to Philadelphia to help us achieve the final piece to this photographic puzzle. All that was left to find two great models, dress them and shoot a few photos.

It may have taken almost a year to come together, but we’re so happy with this image – it’s not always applicable, but in this case the final product is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

When it’s all said and done, we owe a big thank you to everyone who helped bring this image to life: The fine folks at the Casablanca Resort in Mesquite NV, everyone at the NJ Festival of Ballooning, the various members of our team who traveled, assisted, or helped shoot parts of this image, and of course our very talented models from Reinhard Philadelphia. Thanks all!

Questions? Comments? let us know your thoughts below or @crismanphoto and /crismanphoto!

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chris crisman wired uk pixar john lasseter ed catmull photos

Whenever the phone in our studio rings and there’s a +44 country code at the beginning of the number, we get pretty excited – a phone call from Great Britain almost always means a new assignment from the folks at Wired UK and always something new and exciting for us to go shoot.

This latest cover and feature shoot was no different; we were asked to shoot the creative and technical geniuses who are behind the world famous computer animation studio, Pixar. This particular project took shape over many weeks and came to fruition as two separate shoots in California. First we set off to photograph the director, animator, producer, and all around creative genius John Lasseter. For the cover image, John was to be composited into a scene with the Arlo, the star of Pixar’s newest film The Good Dinosaur.

chris crisman wired uk pixar john lasseter ed catmull photos

chris crisman wired uk pixar john lasseter ed catmull photos

As usual with most cover shoots and important subjects, we had a short amount of time with Mr. Lasseter – Chris planned to shoot 3 unique setups in under 30 minutes. After a few hours of setup and testing, our shoot was a breeze – John was a natural and totally enjoyed himself with Chris and our team.

chris crisman wired uk pixar john lasseter ed catmull photos

chris crisman wired uk pixar john lasseter ed catmull photos

By far the most unexpected moment of the shoot was on our final all-white set when John called out to everyone behind the scenes asking if anyone had a sharpie. As if she was reading his mind, our awesome prop stylist Kim Creigthon was ready with a set of markers. The next thing everyone knew, John Lasseter was sketching out an original drawing of Buzz and Woody from Toy Story – right on the middle of our set (quite literally)! I have a feeling that drawing is currently framed back at Wired UK Headquarters in London.

chris crisman wired uk pixar john lasseter ed catmull photos

chris crisman wired uk pixar john lasseter ed catmull photos

chris crisman wired uk pixar john lasseter ed catmull photos

Arlo may have been CGI that was added in later, but we still needed something to simulate the presence of a giant dinosaur in frame. It may be a bit smaller than a dinosaur, but in this case, a tennis ball attached to a C-arm did the trick. No need to book an animal wrangler for this shoot.

chris crisman wired uk pixar john lasseter ed catmull photos

chris crisman wired uk pixar john lasseter ed catmull photos

A few days after our quick cover shoot with Lasseter, we flew back to California to spend the day at Pixar’s campus near San Fransisco, capturing images of the incredible space and some of the creative minds behind the company.

First on our shot-list was Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar and Disney Animation. Similarly short on time to John Lasseter we only had a few moments with Mr. Catmull to shoot our portraits, and were able to capture a handful of great options (if you look closely on the top portrait you may notice the very familiar looking art from the recent Pixar film Inside Out).

chris crisman wired uk pixar john lasseter ed catmull photos

We also shot portraits of Denise Ream and Peter Sohn, the producer and director of The Good Dinosaur. With the upcoming release set for only a few weeks away, these two were also very busy wrapping up any final details on the film, but spared a few moments for a portrait session in front of Chris’s camera.

chris crisman wired uk pixar john lasseter ed catmull photos

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The other unspoken star of the show on our shoot day at Pixar was the building itself. Designed and meticulously managed and built by Steve Jobs, the space was beautiful, refined and architecturally stunning, yet reflected the playful and quirky nature of Pixar – truly an inspiring space to drive creative ambition. We honestly feel very lucky to have spent the day in such an inspiring place.

Questions? Comments? let us know your thoughts below or @crismanphoto and /crismanphoto!

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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.

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