Chris Crisman Photography

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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.

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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 advertising photography american standard

Early on in 2015 we were already chatting with the awesome creatives at 22Squared – the word was in that their client American Standard was interested in shooting a second round of the “As told by DXV” campaign and they wanted to bring the Crisman Team back for the sequel to our 2014 shoot.

From the get-go, we worked closely with the agency and designers at American Standard to brainstorm, concept and ultimately execute three new images for this years campaign. Culled down from practically a dozen candidates, we landed on Beauty & The Beast, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – three instantly recognizable classic stories that we were tasked to bring to life in the context of premium plumbing.

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This was no small task, but we knew our team was up to the challenge. Choosing to shoot this in our hometown of Philadelphia meant that this project was a bit of bringing the band back together from 2014. Our first call was to the talented set designer Matthew Englebert. He was on-board from day one, overseeing the practical design and construction of our three sets. Matthew and his team worked for weeks to design, build, and prop the three spaces – creating custom pieces that show a true mastery of craft and an artisan quality of construction.

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chris crisman advertising photography american standard

We worked closely with the team and 22 Squared and the brand designers from American Standard to create rooms that framed up the story while keeping the plumbing fixtures the star of the show. This meant lots of discussions and lots of collaboration between Chris, our team, the agency, and the designers at American Standard. It was an amazing process to watch everyone’s ideas and input get distilled down into the three final ads.

Not only that, but it is equally amazing to see these concepts physically brought to life and built by our set building crew. Trust me when I tell you that every little detail, down to the subtle coloring of the real poured concrete floor is not missed by these talented folks.

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One of the biggest and certainly the coolest differences between our previous campaign and this years shoot for American Standard was the decision to shoot motion content and create cinemagraphs. To achieve this we needed to both concept actions and elements in the images that functioned with motion, and also practically light and build our sets in such a way that we could capture this content. For every shot that we lit with strobe, we needed to match that lighting with HMI & continuous lighting.

The results are something we’re really excited about and definitely plan on shooting again.

chris crisman advertising photography american standard

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chris crisman, chris crisman photography, chris crisman advertising photography, chris crisman ad photography, chris crisman american standard, chris crisman american standrd dxv, chris crisman dxv, chris crisman 22 squared, chris crisman 22 squared advertising, 22 squard american standard, 22 squared american standard dxv, chris crisman american standard advertising

chris crisman, chris crisman photography, chris crisman advertising photography, chris crisman ad photography, chris crisman american standard, chris crisman american standrd dxv, chris crisman dxv, chris crisman 22 squared, chris crisman 22 squared advertising, 22 squard american standard, 22 squared american standard dxv, chris crisman american standard advertising

With any large production – it quite literally takes a village to get the shot sometimes. Whether that’s designing and building the sets, wrangling the animal talent, propping out the shots, tweaking the lights, or even in my case – standing in for a light test…

As always, we owe a huge thanks to everyone who helped bring this project together. From our clients at American Standard and 22Squared to our talented set building and construction crew, the hair and makeup and wardrobe styling team, and our trusty photo assistants. We couldn’t have created these images with you all so thank you!

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

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“Own It” – I can’t think of a better opening phrase for this blog post than the tagline of the campaign itself. We’re really excited to share some work we shot towards the end of 2014 for Intuit Quickbooks. Partnering with the amazing creatives at RPA, we brought a campaign to life featuring small business owners who embody the spirit of “owning it.”

Our production took us all over Los Angeles, shooting talent who included beekeepers animal veterinarians, and woodworkers. Two great shoot days with an awesome crew resulted in beautiful images that you can find in magazines and plastered on billboards throughout the country.

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It is definitely worth noting that our beekeeper shot was done entirely in camera. Sure we may have added a few extra bees in post, but they were all real – and so were the beekeeping suits.

When the rest of the crew cleared off set, Chris and yours truly donned full bee protection and got ready for a fast 30 minutes of shooting. It’s also worth noting here that making any kind of battery of CF card changes to a Phase One digital back while wearing padded beekeeping gloves is strongly not advised.

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You’d think the drama would have ended with the beekeeping shoot, but a little known fact about myself is that I’m actually scared of horses. No childhood trauma, no weird experiences, I just kinda don’t like how big or unpredictable they can be. I think this picture pretty much sums it up.

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Our second day of shooting brought us to an awesome private woodworking shop just north of LA. Naturally with woodworking, you need sawdust and haze to get the right look and feel. Judging by the BTS photos from that day… It was pretty hazy on set. This shoot is also responsible for Chris’s newfound love of hazer machines.

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With any project like this, we owe a big thank you to the awesome agency RPA for having us on-board to bring their concepts to life as well as our LA based crew – you guys totally rocked it.

Thanks for reading – make sure to check us out at @Crismanphoto on Instagram and /Crismanphoto on Facebook.

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chris crisman american standard dxv advertising

From Shakespeare to Hemingway to… plumbing? When we were approached by the folks at 22 Squared to create and shoot a new campaign for their cleint American Standard, we were immediately excited at the opportunity ahead of us. The goal: bring to life four unique concepts each rooted in a piece of classic literature that focused on the four different eras of design referenced by the new American Standard DXV kitchen and bathroom fixtures. The process: build everything from scratch, working from the ground up to create truly unique worlds for these products and models to exist in.

So how did these ads come together? Let’s take a look at what goes into building, lighting and creating these imaginary worlds.

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chris crisman conceptual portrait wilderness

What do you do when your studio manager/assistant/blogger (extraordinaire) goes on a well-earned vacation?

You call me. You also cross your fingers that everything is still standing by the end of the week. I’m only half kidding here; Robert has some pretty big shoes to fill, however temporarily. It’s a tough job! Luckily for me, these guys are so well prepared that I actually would have been hard pressed to mess it up. Still, no week around here is complete without a few surprises. Mine came in the form of a few rare free days in our schedule. Not being ones to waste time, we took the opportunity to produce an in-house conceptual portrait, known now as Wildman. With Chris on a whirlwind trip to shoot a particular a poppy field, I had some calls to make from the studio. For a while now, he’s had the idea for Wildman percolating. We knew his domain: The beautiful and ethereal Hoh Rainforest, in the Olympic National Park. We knew his character: An oracle of the woods. Someone who felt like equal parts Sea Captain, Yoda, and Santa Claus. Of course, we already had just the guy (I wasn’t kidding about the preparedness thing. As spur of the moment as the actual shoot may have seemed, even this detail was already taken care of for me.) Our model K.J. was a bonafide Pennsylvania man-of-the-woods. Or at least he introduces himself that way. I would know, as I was the one who called him to come in. To give you an idea of how that went:

“Do you want me to bring my skull collection with me?” Um, yes.

“How about an axe? Single or double bit?” Yes! Both!

“I also have this walking stick that I made…” Are you kidding me?!

Any day you talk a woodsman into bringing his collection of forest stuff into work is a good day, in my books.

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Things were coming together, but we still needed someone to handle the finer details of creating a convincing woodsman: Our makeup and hair stylist. With a few calls and some help from friends, we found Vanessa. Not only can she braid hair into feathers and repurpose wig bits into beard parts, but she also happens to collect vintage furs. Details, people. We had some workable pieces on hand, but Vanessa called in a favor and had some of her collection brought in. Turns out, they were perfect for what we needed. Transformation complete!

chris crisman personal conceptual portait wildman

chris crisman personal conceptual portait wildman

As easy as these guys make it look to get the shot they need, I know that it’s because they have lots and lots of experience. Sometimes you have your talent and location in the same place, at the same time. Sometimes you don’t. There are nuances to capturing your subject in a studio and dropping them into the middle of the woods. Never underestimate the importance of choosing your background plate ahead of time. Unless you possess a god-like ability to control the sun, your background has a lot less latitude in terms of light, and so lighting your subject well really matters. The most convincing elements of a good shot should already exist straight out of camera.

chris crisman personal conceptual portait wildman

chris crisman personal conceptual portait wildman

Hey all, Robert here – just wanted to jump in and discuss the nuts and bolts of our shoot for a second. Having shot our background plate back in 2010 when Chris visited the Hoh Rainforest, the idea of shooting a wildman talent has been in the back of our minds for a while now. We knew that the lighting would need to match the contrast and shape we had in the background plate. With KJ in full costume, we used a gridded octabank as our key light to really focus and cut the light onto him and give us the look we needed. Since the background also had a natural back-lighting about it, we mimicked that with a soft hair-light to break our subject off ever so slightly. Enough from me though, I’ll pass this blog post back to Lindsey…

All that being said, you don’t just drag and drop and call it a day. There are tones to match, and hairs to mask. Forest-diffused daylight has a slim chance of being the exact same temperature as your studio lights. You can get pretty far along with the right shot, but the feeling you want to create really comes to life in post. Thankfully we had the talent of Taisya Kuzmenko and Picturebox Creative on-board to help bring it all together in post.

For my part, I had a great time being Robert’s understudy. I think I really lucked out with the projects at hand while I was there. Making the intangible tangible is certainly a process, but it’s a fun one.

We owe a big thanks to Lindsey for filling in while I was on vacation and for writing this awesome blog post. She did a great job filling in for me and you will most likely see more blog posts from here in the future.

We have more wild personal shoots underway in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to see what’s next. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts below or @crismanphoto and /crismanphoto!

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