“I’m always searching for new ways to transform reality, to craft the kinds of fantastical spaces and places where anything is possible.” – Chris Crisman
Chris Crisman is a positive force, marrying his love of the land with his belief in helping people connect to their vision of who they are and all they can be. We wanted to know more about his background, and what formed his vision through possibilities. Here is what he had to say:
Growing up the son of a steelworker and a dog groomer, I saw how my parents used their hands and eyes to get a job done; how they nurtured their businesses, going to great lengths to support the community, and anyone they came in contact with that needed a helping hand.
They informed the way I think about traditional gender roles as anything but — no glass ceilings in my household. With their exceptional work ethic and a commitment to whatever they engaged with, they are a massive source of inspiration. I believe this is why I am drawn to those who labor, who work with their hands, those that forge their path.
As an only child, I stoked the flames of my imagination through books or out into the woods of Northwestern Pennsylvania that surrounded us – searching for treasures, following streams and pathways, crafting imaginary worlds. This is where the seeds of my passion for the living world and how we interact with it were planted. Where I also began to appreciate the need for solitude and of the obscure.
In high school I channeled a love of camaraderie into a variety of sports, ultimately choosing the javelin throw — I loved the thrill of competing at the highest level, my dad along as my coach, my mentor. Through repetition I learned about mastery, to be unyielding in the pursuit of goals, and that anyone can be a champion. Those hard-earned lessons about what it means to be a healthy competitor and a team player continue to influence me as a husband, a father and as a creator.
In college, I further explored a growing sense of responsibility and stewardship of Earth and her natural resources into pursuing a degree in environmental science with a focus on biology, cultural anthropology and photography. While recovering from sports surgeries, I found a new outlet through photography and fulfillment in the darkroom. Through it all, I learned to apply a compassionate take on humankind, and I continue to call on these lessons to help navigate the changing realities of the world around me.
After graduation, I continued to immerse myself in photography and in nature. It was my first experience with portraits, documenting the compelling faces of retired steelworkers that formed the basis for my current career. I craft images that marry my love of the land with my belief in helping people connect to their vision of who they are and all they can be — images that are cinematic and beautiful that capture a moment in time, that erase boundaries of gender, race, and demography.
To be truly ready and present for these intimate moments to manifest themselves, I believe it is essential to keep things positive, especially when it comes to communication and production value. From conception to logistics to creative solutions, I strive to create a culture of collaboration where everyone is heard, and creativity and ideation are democratic. It is this sense of inclusion that we take with us on set. And then I take all that shared energy into post, and we remember why we all love doing this in the first place.
Of late I’ve been focused on video and book projects that allow me the opportunity to explore storytelling with more depth. Be it shining a light on women doing non-traditional work to capturing a library of images for a life-changing pharmaceutical launch, I’m drawn to ideas that celebrate the human spirit, and that will serve to show us how our drive and passion can transcend any perceived limitations.
See his Director’s Reel here
And I’m always searching for new ways to challenge myself and my team when it comes to thinking about how to transform reality, to craft the kinds of fantastical spaces and places where anything is possible. Ultimately to create the type of work that can help people see things not as they are but as they can be — and I believe the more thought-provoking, the better.
Follow Chris on Instagram to see more of how he blends the natural with the fantastical.