New Conceptual Portrait: Birdman

chris crisman personal conceptual portrait crows piano

This spring has afforded us the opportunity to make a handful of new conceptual portraits. You may remember our Wildman portrait from a few weeks ago, and our Gardener we released last week – today we are excited to share the latest fantastical, conceptual environmental portrait: Birdman. Born as a combination of ideas, this latest portrait still amazes me in the way it came together – a unique combination of serendipitous finds and discoveries, spread out over the course of two years.

Yes, that is a strange way to describe the making of a photo, but bear with me and keep reading for the full explanation…

chris crisman personal conceptual portrait crows piano

As Chris has explained in the past, so much of our conceptual work is location driven – in our travels, we’ll encounter locations that inspire us and spark the idea for something greater that we can return to later down the road. This particular shot was found while location scouting last fall in northern California. In a true moment of serendipity, we had made a wrong turn and needed to park the truck to check our map and re-route. Before heading off again, we took a minute to look around and came upon a truly amazing scene.

chris crisman personal conceptual portrait crows piano

Standing there, overlooking the Pacific ocean, weathered and worn, tattered and beautiful was a piano. It was a totally random find, and perfectly timed that we happened to have our Hasselblad in the truck, ready to capture the scene. Although at that moment we didn’t know who or what would end up in the final shot, we knew it was the beginnings of a great image.

chris crisman personal conceptual portrait crows piano

As we began 2014, Chris and I took stock of the various pieces of inspiration and different elements we had on hand to make new personal conceptual work. Our minds immediately jumped to the piano background plate and we started thinking about the character that we would need to create to play piano.

It just happened to be coincidence that we were holding a casting for our American Standard Shoot when we came across the amazing character David Kaplan. He wasn’t quite right for American Standard, but we kept him in mind for something special. When it was time to bring this shot to life, we gave David a call and brought him down to the studio to get in front of our camera.

chris crisman personal conceptual portrait crows piano

And last but not least came the crows. Another piece of the puzzle that we’ve had in our minds since 2012 when the box of taxidermy first arrived at the studio. Strange I know, but for years we knew there was a photo to be made with the birds, we just didn’t quite know what that would be.

chris crisman personal conceptual portrait crows piano

We’re really happy this all came together and that we can share it today – we owe a big thank you to our talent, David Kaplan, Vanessa Hernandez on hair & makeup, and last but not least Lindsey Baker on production. Thanks everyone!

Questions? Comments? Let us know below or @crismanphoto and /crismanphoto!

One reply to “New Conceptual Portrait: Birdman”

  1. Absolutely amazing image and a testament to the effort you guys put in to pull it all together (although it did sound like a lot of fun). Thank you for being so open about the creative process and where you found inspiration.

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