Staying in Focus

chris crisman interview patrick onofre podcast

 

“The driving force of my career is making work where I’m the art director, I’m the stylist, I’m the photographer – where it’s totally independent and I’m controlling as many aspects as possible. [Commercial photography] is a very cooperative effort to meet in the middle… but when I do my own work, there are no rules. I just make the pictures that I’m passionate about, the pictures that I stay up at night, trying to conceive.”

 

A few weeks ago we hopped on Skype for an hour or so and spoke with Washington DC based photographer, blogger, and podcast-er Patrick Onofre. Patrick has been producing the Staying in Focus Podcast since 2012 and we are honored to be featured in his most recent episode. Over the course of the show, Chris and Patrick chat about everything from the Philadelphia restaurant scene to his tastes in photography, to what really drives Chris to make photos. It’s not often that we have the time to sit down and talk about photography, make sure to give it a listen!

A big thanks to Patrick – make sure to check out the rest of the Staying in Focus podcast (which you can subscribe to on iTunes), as well as checking him out @OnofreShoots. Any questions, thoughts? Drop us a line in the comments and let us know.

Capital Girls Video

chris crisman captial girls aarp magazine video

In December of last year we received a call from our good friend Caitlin Peters and AARP The Magazine to shoot stills and a video interview with the critically acclaimed authors of Capital Girls. Writing under the pseudonym Ella Monroe, the duo behind the hit series of young adult novels is also known as Amy Reingold and Maz Rauber. We spent a few days down in Washington DC with Amy & Maz, delving into their daily lives as authors and bringing their creative process to life. Keep reading for our video interview and more shots…

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So you want me to talk about my Failures?

Last month Robert and I were down in Washington DC for a presentation on my career. At the end we took questions from the audience and one in particular struck me. The question was “What are your biggest mistakes or worst choices you’ve made in your career thus far?”

I’ve done a handful of talks and interviews and this was the first time a question like this has ever come up. Originally we were going to focus on a few questions from the Q&A after the presentation, but this one deserves some focus.

Going back to the question itself and to my failures, I think one of the mis-steps along the way would be when, in 2007, I made a transition from working at Wonderful Machine to being independent photographer. Before this transition I was growing my work and expanding my skills. The pictures had seen big jumps every year from 2004 to 2005 and I think I was in a really great place in 2006 to transition out of assisting and studio managing and into being an independent photographer.

Consciously though, I don’t think I realized the weight of the responsibilities in managing all aspects of my business being an independent photographer and as a result creatively I was trying to do things that were a step back – almost analog to a point. I was trying to work more minimally and had stopped thinking about photography from a progressive point of view. I had stopped pushing myself and stopped growing my skill set and in that sense I was working backwards. It took a while for me, almost until mid 2008 before I started to realize I’ve been heading in the wrong direction and not really making the next steps for my work. That was one a big one. That’s why I tend to call 2007 my “lost year.”

Another choice I made that I think may have been a mistake relates to a photo I made of Michael Vick, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback. Soon after it was released in Philadelphia Magazine, one of the major network channels was covering a football game in Philly the next week and contacted me wanting to use that photo and talk about it during the broadcast of the Eagles game. I asked for photo credit after they said they had no money to pay for the usage, but they explained that wasn’t part of their process. Ultimately the value of national exposure with that photo verses the monetary worth of five or ten seconds of broadcast would have balanced out – in retrospect I think that’s one I should have just given away.

One more mistake I think I’ve made in my career has to do with my landscape photography. Going back to day one of Photo 101 in college, it has always been something I’ve been drawn to and interested in. When I started shooting more portraiture, I think that I abandoned the landscape work.

Jumping ahead a few years to when I was actually making money through photography and was able to travel and take trips to great places like Madrid, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, and all these beautiful places. When I would go on some of these trips – I think if I was on vacation I’d want to abandon my work. Now, I should say that it’s always nice to take a break, but this job is not always a job and if you’re in a wonderful place you need to take advantage of the opportunities in front of you, which is not what I did. On a few of those trips I didn’t even bring my camera and missed out on a few amazing opportunities. It wasn’t until 2010, coincidentally on my honeymoon, that I returned to making landscapes when I travel. I haven’t looked back since.

Speaking literally, there have been some falls in my career. In 2011 when working in Maui on the Travaasa Hana shoot, we were shooting on a pool at the base of a waterfall and I slipped and fell into the water, taking a 1Ds MK III and 24-70mm lens with me. That was certainly a mistake.

Last but not least – I don’t know if this qualifies as a mistake, but it certainly can feel like a failure in the short term. For some projects and larger advertising campaigns, we will often go to great lengths to prepare for the job. In the initial creative and bidding process we’ll go to great lengths to express our desire and drive to be part of the job. Sometimes we might spend a weeks worth of time trying to win a project – and when you know that you’re the right person for the shoot and you’re 100% engaged with the job, everything lines up and you know your numbers are fine then you don’t get the job, well it’s a big hit. Sometimes it takes a little while to shake it. When that happens though, you just have to persevere. You have to keep working and keep putting yourself out there and showing the world that next time, you’re the right guy for the job.

Chris Crisman Q&A on POP

Alison Mcreery has an in-depth Q&A with Chris up on her blog, Photographers on Photography. Chris’s interview joins the ranks of Q&A’s with a handful of extremely talented individuals – photographers like Andy Anderson, Craig Cutler, art buyer Ilona Siller and of course our very own agent, Heather Elder.

Enjoy the full interview here!

The Meaning of Life in 10 Questions… Drew Hendrix, Red River Paper

There are some of truly creative people in this industry. Let’s face it, you’ve got to be constantly concepting, developing, and executing or you get left in the dust. I’m fortunate to work with some really dynamic and inspiring people, ranging from art directors, to producers, to creative directors, photo editors, art buyers, and print producers. Instead of questions about email blasts, printed promos, and portfolio reviews, I think that it’s time that I put some of them on the spot to show us their meaning of Life. “The meaning of Life” may be a little far flung to answer in only ten questions, but hopefully these interviews will serve to distill some of the inspired and intellectual energy of the creatives that we work with.

Chris started making his prints on Red River paper in 2005. Seven years later, Aurora Art Natural remains our paper of choice in the studio. We’ve used it for everything from the pages in our portfolios to custom promos to our gigantic landscape prints. In the beginning of 2011 we came on as a Red River Pro and got to know Drew Hendrix, the vice president of Red River. He’s a great guy who works with some great paper. I’ll let him tell the rest…

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The Meaning of Life in 10 Questions… Dave Hill

There are some of truly creative people in this industry. Let’s face it, you’ve got to be constantly concepting, developing, and executing or you get left in the dust. I’m fortunate to work with some really dynamic and inspiring people, ranging from art directors, to producers, to creative directors, photo editors, art buyers, and print producers. Instead of questions about email blasts, printed promos, and portfolio reviews, I think that it’s time that I put some of them on the spot to show us their meaning of Life. “The meaning of Life” may be a little far flung to answer in only ten questions, but hopefully these interviews will serve to distill some of the inspired and intellectual energy of the creatives that we work with.

In June of 2011, while Chris and I were shooting in LA, we grabbed dinner and a few beers with Dave Hill. Aside from letting us in on a secret and surreal spot to shoot landscapes out in the desert, we spent the evening talking about making pictures, the business of making pictures, and the industry we’re a part of. After we left the west coast, we knew Dave had to explain the meaning of life. I’ll let him tell the rest…

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The Meaning of Life in 10 Questions… Faded & Blurred

There are some of truly creative people in this industry. Let’s face it, you’ve got to be constantly concepting, developing, and executing or you get left in the dust. I’m fortunate to work with some really dynamic and inspiring people, ranging from art directors, to producers, to creative directors, photo editors, art buyers, and print producers. Instead of questions about email blasts, printed promos, and portfolio reviews, I think that it’s time that I put some of them on the spot to show us their meaning of Life. “The meaning of Life” may be a little far flung to answer in only ten questions, but hopefully these interviews will serve to distill some of the inspired and intellectual energy of the creatives that we work with.

Nicole Rae and Jeffery Saddoris, co-founders of Faded+Blurred both hold a deep appreciation for the art, craft, and business of photography. Starting in 2009, F+B has evolved into a well curated online magazine featuring photographers, photo news, podcasts, and tutorials. We were interviewed for a Photographer Spotlight back in July of last year and have been waiting to return the favor for a while now – what better way than to ask them the meaning of life?

Although our paths have yet to cross in person, I’ve learned a lot about the duo behind Faded+Blurred from these ten questions. I’ll let them tell the rest.

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