Chris Crisman Photography

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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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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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Hi everyone! Short and sweet post for you today. Back in July we got another call from the NY Observer. We love getting their calls because you never know who they’re going to have for us to shoot. They’ve given us Kevin Spacey, Henrik Lundqvist, Kevin Kline, and a few others in the past. If you haven’t seen them, there are posts for each. Check them out!

This time it turned out to be Jesse Eisenberg and we were super stoked on this one. I LOVE movies. I’ve seen every movie ever. So yeah.. I celebrate his entire catalog… He’s been in a ton of stuff. He played Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Zombieland is probably my favorite of his but Adventureland was great too. He’s also playing Lex Luthor in the upcoming Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (!). Can’t wait! Anyways, back to it. He was great to photograph. Super generous with his time and very easy to talk to. The shoot went smoothly and we’re all very happy with the pictures. Many thanks to Jesse, the Observer, and the Library Hotel in NY for letting us use their roof. Enjoy!

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And of course, some BTS:

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Chris is pretty relaxed on set sometimes.

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And yours truly sitting in for another light test.

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crisman ellsworth creek

Hi everyone! We’re super happy to to announce that the story we shot back in February for The Nature Conservancy has finally been released. Usually when we get the call from TNC, we need to prepare ourselves to go to some far off place and this job was no exception (and neither was the one we just got back from… we’ll be talking more about that in a few months!). This job had us go to southeastern Washington to the Ellsworth Creek Preserve to photograph their operation.

I’m sure a lot of people are wondering why TNC would put a logger with a fallen tree on the cover of their magazine… and that’s a good question. I’ll try to explain things as simply as possible. Back in the day (about 100 years ago), logging companies we’re cutting down everything they could get their hands on. They’d just completely clear cut entire forests – sadly, this is still happening as you’ll see in one of the pictures below. After a few decades pass, trees would grow back but the forest would all be the same height. There would be no diversity in the ecosystem. So TNC is thinning out these second growth forests to allow sunlight to get through to the ground and allow a natural diversity in plant life and wildlife to take hold while also creating jobs in the local community. Here’s a link to the story which is more detailed and explains things much better than I could ever do. (http://www.nature.org/magazine/archives/beyond-the-timber-wars.xml).

I’ve gotta say that this was one of the toughest shoots we’ve ever worked on. It rained the whole time we were there.. which makes sense since it’s a rainforest but rain and photo gear don’t get along. The terrain was steep, slippery, and overgrown. Most of the time I was carrying a Profoto 7b pack and a small octabank through the forest and Chris had the camera and tripod. We were falling all over the place even with the spikes our contact had loaned us, all while trying to keep the gear dry. We took a beating but sometimes that’s what it takes to make great pictures. I’ll let the pictures below tell the story.

Russell Shippey, timber faller, cutting corridor to pull out trees in second growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/10/15.

Russell Shippey, timber faller, walking up a tree he just fell in a second growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Russell Shippey, timber faller, cutting corridor to pull out trees in second growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/10/15.

 

Russell Shippey, timber faller, cutting corridor to pull out trees in second growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/10/15.

Russell falling a tree in a second growth forest at Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Russell Shippey, timber faller, cutting corridor to pull out trees in second growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/10/15.

Russell Shippey, timber faller, cutting corridor to pull out trees in second growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/10/15.

Kurt Bower, log loader, standing on back of logging truck with full load of trees at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/10/15.

Kurt Bower, log loader, standing on back of logging truck with full load of trees at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Kyle Smith, TNC forest manager, overlooking the Ellsworth Creek Preserve , WA on 2/11/15.

Kyle Smith, TNC forest manager, overlooking the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Kyle Smith, TNC forest manager, taking measurments in old growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/10/15.

Kyle Smith, TNC forest manager, taking measurements of an 11-foot-wide western red cedar at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Aerial views of the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/10/15.

The effects of clear cutting seen from the air neighboring the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Landscape of old growth forest at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/12/15.

Landscape of a healthy old growth forest. This is the scene TNC is trying to create by thinning the second growth forests. 

Tom Kollasch in old growth forest and with big cedars at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/12/15.

Tom Kollasch, TNC Willapa Program director, in old growth forest and with big cedars at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Darryl Waddle, choker setter, in the logging yard at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/13/15.

Darryl Waddle, choker setter, in the logging yard at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Rober walls, choker setter, in the logging yard at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, WA on 2/13/15.

Robert Walls, choker setter, in the logging yard at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

And here’s a few BTS shots from our time in Washington:

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.02.30 AMA clear cut and the border of the Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.03.15 AMThis is the machine that pulls the thinned trees out of the forest up to the lumber yard. It’s very heavy. The workers specifically said don’t stand under it…. Chris fell directly under it. 

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Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.03.56 AMWe drove down to Astoria to catch our plane to get aerial shots of the preserve. We had to stop here. 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.04.47 AMLighthawk is a non-profit organization that donates air time to conservancy efforts. Chris is doing business before taking off.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.04.24 AMGetting aerial shots in our Lighthawk flight. Apparently the air is really cold going 100mph and having your hand out there is uncomfortable.

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Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.06.10 AMChris working with the crane operator in the lumber yard.

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.02.55 AMAnd lastly, it was oyster season while we were there. These were the largest oysters we’ve ever had. They were the size of our hands. 

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chris crisman editorial photography Southwest Airlines Shakespea

In the fall 0f 2014, the Crisman team headed to Detroit to spend a week working with a group of artists and actors who make up Shakespeare in Detroit. Founded in 2013, Shakespeare in Detroit is a site-specific Shakespeare company that performs throughout the city of Detroit. From the costumes to the actors, the staging and their props – every piece of the SID productions are sourced and based in Detroit. They’re an amazing group of people who are breathing life into the city, and we couldn’t be happier to tell their story.

chris crisman editorial photography Southwest Airlines Shakespea

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For this shoot we wanted to bring the characters of Shakespeare to life in real locations that spoke to the city of Detroit. The first and most obvious thought would be do go down the route of ruin and shoot inside the crumbling remains throughout the city – but this is a misstep. The true Detroit, the 2015 Detroit is not a crumbling remain, it is a city in rebirth, a thriving city which plays just as an important role in this project as the characters we’ve staged in front of the lens.

chris crisman editorial photography Southwest Airlines Shakespea

chris crisman editorial photography Southwest Airlines Shakespea

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Art, culture, food, it’s all there in Detroit. And it’s growing – faster than you may image. From city institutions like Coney Island hot dogs to brand new craft distilleries and burgeoning restaurants, there couldn’t be a better city to stage this performance in.

Not happy with just shooting stills, our team also captured motion for this project, including this video interview with the founder and director of Shakespeare in Detroit, Sam White. Although our photos may shed some light into the amazing production she founded, Sam shares the story of SID in a way that only she can.

chris crisman editorial photography Southwest Airlines Shakespea

chris crisman editorial photography Southwest Airlines Shakespea

Can’t have a shoot without some light tests and BTS coverage. We kept our kit pretty small and mobile since we were shooting at least 2 locations a day and sometimes more.

chris crisman editorial photography Southwest Airlines Shakespea

chris crisman editorial photography Southwest Airlines Shakespea

One of the most unique and most distinctively Detroit locations was The Heidelberg Project, a large scale outdoor art exhibit that spans an entire city block.

chris crisman editorial photography Southwest Airlines Shakespea

And then I got stuck in a fish tank. Well – not really… we did shoot at the amazing Belle Isle Aquarium, a historic building designed by the legendary architect Albert Kahn.

chris crisman editorial photography Southwest Airlines Shakespea

chris crisman editorial photography Southwest Airlines Shakespea

Aside from being the stage for our scenes photographed from Othello, Slow’s Bar Bq serves some damn tasty BBQ and is a must visit if you’re in the city.

chris crisman editorial photography Southwest Airlines Shakespea

chris crisman editorial photography Southwest Airlines Shakespea

chris crisman editorial photography Southwest Airlines Shakespea

chris crisman editorial photography Southwest Airlines Shakespea

We owe a big thank you to our editors at Southwest magazine for trusting us to bring this wild story to life. We also owe a thank you to Sam White and the entire acting company at Shakespeare in Detroit – we couldn’t have pulled this off this without all your help! Last but not least, we owe a thank you to the city of Detroit – the other character throughout this series of photos – quite possibly the most appropriate backdrop for these images.

chris crisman editorial photography Southwest Airlines Shakespea

And last but not least here’s a photo of Jared asleep while sitting in for a light test. Yup – it was definitely a long week.

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

 

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Hi everyone! Jared here. You may remember me from past blog posts such as Assistant Interview: Jared Castaldi  and pretty much any other post where I’m standing in testing light for Chris or acting a fool. I’ve been working with Chris off and on over the years as an assistant, digital tech, second shooter, etc. You name it. But most recently I’ve been handed the task of telling the story of how we came to make two of Chris’ recent portfolio pictures: Neon Boy and Golfer.

chris crisman neon boy golfer portrait

chris crisman neon boy golfer portrait

Back in January of this year, Chris, Robert, Zack (our in house digital artist), and myself packed up and headed out west to Las Vegas. Chris had ideas for three pictures. Unfortunately due to weather issues, one of our pictures never came to be. I won’t mention what that picture was because it’s still in the works for later this summer. So you’ll just have to wait!

chris crisman neon boy golfer portraitWhen we end up in Vegas, we usually end up at Tacos El Gordo. They are amazing. Go there and get the adobada tacos.

chris crisman neon boy golfer portrait   And when you’re in Vegas, you usually end up at a Casino. We like the Cosmopolitan but we didn’t stay there this time (but we stayed in sight of it!). They have secret pizza. We like pizza.

chris crisman neon boy golfer portraitHere you can see I’m taking a selfie of myself and the back of Robert’s head while riding an escalator in the Belaggio.

chris crisman neon boy golfer portraitIt was the Chinese New Year while we were in Vegas. The Bellagio had a huge display in their lobby for it. The goats were robots and they moved around and made noises. Reminded me of the Chuck E. Cheese band. Pretty cool stuff.

So once we got settled our first stop was the Neon Graveyard. The Neon Graveyard is a park like space that is home to a bunch of old vintage signs from long long ago when Sinatra roamed the streets of Vegas. It’s an amazing place. Here are a few of my favorite pieces from there:

chris crisman neon boy golfer portrait chris crisman neon boy golfer portrait chris crisman neon boy golfer portrait chris crisman neon boy golfer portrait

chris crisman neon boy golfer portrait chris crisman neon boy golfer portrait

As you can see from the final Neon Boy picture up top, we pieced together a variety of the signs and transformed day into night. When we got back home, we shot our hero and a few other pieces in studio. I’m no retoucher but I’m sure Zack had a great time putting the whole thing together…

After we got what we needed for the Neon Boy picture, we headed out to Mesquite, NV. This is where mother nature screwed us out of our portfolio picture. Mesquite is a little town a few hours northeast of Vegas. It’s basically the middle of nowhere. I don’t recommend going there. We stayed at the Virgin River Hotel and Casino. I don’t recommend going there either unless you like second hand smoke and becoming extremely ill….. Let’s not mention Mesquite ever again. Let’s move on.

After our defeat in Mesquite, we headed to back to Las Vegas for our last shot, which details a day on the links with a storied golfer. We needed to get plates at a golf course for this shot and the fine people at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort were kind enough to give us free reign of their beautiful course.

chris crisman neon boy golfer portraitCheck out that form! I’m actually an OK golfer. I shot an 84 last weekend. How ’bout that?

chris crisman neon boy golfer portraitPresident and Vice President of Best Hair in the business right here. I hope they don’t crash their cart. Who will lead us then?!

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chris crisman neon boy golfer portraitAnd again, our golfer in studio back in Philly.

Then things got weird. We stopped in El Dorado Canyon which is even more in the middle of nowhere than Mesquite. It’s the site of the oldest and richest gold mine in Nevada. There were also a bunch of murders and Indian raids here back in the day. We didn’t know what to expect…. Now it’s basically just a few houses and barns filled with all kinds of stuff/junk. I think you can pay them a small donation and they’ll let you walk around with a camera and take pictures.. so we did that. Here are some pictures. You can decide yourself…

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So this was our last stop on our trip. Our trip home was not fun though. We were sitting in our hotel room at around 8pm the night before our flights home. A huge blizzard was supposed to hit Philly a few hours before we landed and the airlines were starting to cancel flights. We got on the phones and booked red eye flights home to land before the storm. Unfortunately the rest of the west coast had the same idea and the four of us couldn’t fly on the same flights. Chris and I had to fly to Phoenix then home which went smootly but uncomfortably. Robert and Zack had to fly to Phoenix then to Orlando then home to Philly.

Their trip ended up being a real life version of the movie Trains, Planes, and Automobiles. It was not a good time for them. 🙁

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chris crisman running horses portrait

Hi everyone! We are very pleased to announce that we placed in the advertising category of this year’s PDN Photo Annual! Our photo of running horses from our shoot at Lone Mountain Ranch in Montana is among the many amazing pictures selected for this category.

Many thanks go out to the judges and PDN for choosing us this year. To view all the winners for this year, check out the gallery at: pdnphotoannual.com

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