Featured in Shanghai Weekly

We’ve been feeling a lot of international love lately – from Switzerland to Germany to India and now we’re happy to share our latest interview, this time from Shanghai Weekly in China. This might be a tough one to get your hands on and read in person, so we’re sharing an English version of the interview. Keep reading to see what questions Shanghai Weekly had to ask…

When did you start your career as a photographer? Do you remember your first camera? When did you start to consider making photography your livelihood?

I was first captivated by photography early on in my college career. My first camera was a Canon AE-1. Halfway through my time there, I transitioned away from pre-med and decided that I wanted to make my living taking pictures.

Where does the inspiration for your photos come from, especially the more creative images?

Inspiration comes from a ton of different places. For a start, I have a running list of concepts (almost 100 long) that I am continually adding to and working from. In a lot of ways, I draw inspiration from the world and around me – I am often inspired by the places and spaces that we visit and shoot in. There are also situations where I can be inspired by a subject, and let their personality and energy drive the photoshoot.

What kind of photography do you enjoy most (for example, portraits, landscape, photojournalism or artistic images) and why?

The very first photos I took were landscape images, and as my career developed, I moved into environmental portraiture, and lifestyle photography. I most enjoy creating pictures that allow me to blend all of these together, capturing unique moments in captivating spaces. Those photos are the most accurate realization of my vision as a photographer.

(Photos thanks to Cara Anderson)

What does photography mean to you?

Photography is my way of interpreting and translating the world around me. I try to always make captivating, honest, and noble pictures. Visually and conceptually, these three ideas can be found in all aspects of my work.

Have you started planning any new work recently?

One of our goals for this year has been to make at least one deeply developed, layered, complex conceptual image per month. We’re a little off track because of the volume of commissions this year, but there are still five months left and we’re hopeful we can catch up.

What preparation and follow-up work is required for an outstanding photo? Could you give us an example?

Every beautiful, inspiring, and successful photo requires way more than just the click of the shutter. In terms of preparation, days if not weeks or months can go into finding the right location, casting and booking the right models, testing the light, and finally traveling to and shooting the photos. After the picture is taken, the editing process of choosing, toning, and retouching can take just as long.

Thinking back over your entire career, what is the most impressive photo subject you’ve ever shot? How did you come to shoot it?

The most memorable subject to have ever been in front of my lens was Jane Goodall. Not only a truly wonderful woman and beautiful model, she had an amazing and inexplicable aura about her that I have never felt before. The shoot itself was the result of months of trying to track her down and fit a photo-session into her busy schedule. We had to travel to Vancouver, British Columbia to track her down, but once we finally did, the resulting images were magic.

Who is your favorite photographer? How would you like your own legacy  to be remembered?

There are too many great photographers out there to choose just one. With every shoot, I am striving to make the best photos possible. I don’t think often about my legacy, but I hope I’m remembered for never tiring of making the best pictures I can.

What kinds of cameras or lenses are you using at present?

I shoot with both Canon and Hasselblad camera systems. The Hasselblad is a H system body with a 39 megapixel P45+ phase one back, but my favorite camera currently is the new Canon 5D mk III, paired with the 24-70mm L lens.

If you could live any way you wished, what would you choose? Is this reflected in your photos?

There is not a day that goes by where I’m not either making photos, thinking about photography, or somehow working towards my vision. Since I spend time every day connected with photography, I can’t see living any other way. Through photography and because of photography I am able to live my best life possible.

If the world was about to come to an end, what would the last scene you want to see?

This question has a simple answer – my beautiful wife, smiling back at me.

Any readers out there in China? Have any questions that went unanswered? Want to find out more? Leave us a note in the comments or let us know @crismanphoto or @robertluessen!