We’ve just wrapped up twenty days of shooting down in San Antonio Texas, working on a massive project that took us all over the place, shooting the best things the city has to offer. I know you’re hoping that right about now is going to be the big reveal where we share what the project is about and show you some images. Not quite. I promise that the full story and the big reveal are on the way, and you’ll just have to be patient until we can show it.
It’s Friday and we finally have a minute to catch our breath and look back at the past few days- as usual, it’s been a whirlwind. After a brief stop in Texas, Chris found himself starting off the week in Las Vegas. After only 48 hours (and a few very lucky hands of blackjack later) he moved onward, hopping on a plane to Portland for an editorial shoot, and then back to home base in Philadelphia for the tail end of the week. As for the rest of the Crisman crew, we kept it local these past few days, getting prepared for the next big adventure in the coming weeks. How did it all shake out? Keep reading for a few more shots from this week…
Earlier this year we received a call from across the Atlantic Ocean. The editors at Wired UK magazine had an incredibly ambitious project ahead of them that they asked us to be a part of: one week, four photographers, over thirty photo-shoots, and a triple gate-fold cover featuring sixteen of the brightest and most inspiring minds in the world at the MIT Media Lab. How could we say no?
As a studio manager and full time first assistant, I spend a lot of time on set. In the past few years, I’ve worked on hundreds of shoots with Chris and an ever-evolving roster of really talented assistants. We have our crew that we like to work with and bring along when possible, but we’re often relying on the skill and expertise of local assistants wherever we may be. First and foremost, a huge thank you to everyone in that crew who may be reading this, you guys and girls rock.
Now, I have to admit, with all of my time on set and no lack of studio manager responsibilities to attend to, I may not be the best photo assistant. I must admit, when I’m not setting up gear or moving equipment, I do spend a lot of time attending to other studio-managing-work on my iPhone or laptop (an assisting sin, generally speaking). Therefore when I started putting this blog post together, I decided to defer to the experts and ask our top freelance assistants if they would offer up their best tips and secrets to success. Lucky for you, they did…
A few years ago, I came up with a theory. Every person has some balance of two incredibly valuable assets – Time and Money. If you have an excess of one of them, there’s a good chance that don’t have much of the other. I’d like to take some time and reflect on being aware of how you spend your assets can potentially improve your business and maybe even your life. In this post I will tackle Time specifically.
Here I sit on a flight from Philadelphia to San Francisco. This is the fifth time I’ve taken this flight in the past 6 months. I’m confident I’ll be making the same trip at least as many times before the year is up. When I’m on a long flight like this, I use some of my time wisely and then spend some frivolously. I will spend a few hours catching up on email, organizing my computer, trying to read a bit and write a bit, and then work on some images if time allows (concepting, toning, editing). Undoubtedly, I will also spend some time doing things that you could put in the category of wasting time (yes, this includes playing games on my iPhone). Believe it or not, it’s a very important part of the creative process for me. As I strive to establish efficiencies in all aspects of my business, my life has quickly developed a certain intensity. That being said, I find a lot of value in pulling back a bit and just relaxing.
From spring 2002 until about spring 2005 I spent a great deal of my time assisting commercial photographers. I believe this is a vital step in the process of developing a healthy photography career. When it was time for me to make the jump to from assistant to photographer, I was cash poor and time rich. I was having a very hard time making ends meet, but certainly had hours and hours to spare. At the time I was working with one of my mentors, photographer Bill Cramer. He was very busy man at the time. He was shooting constantly, caring for his wonderful family, and developing the business that is now Wonderful Machine. I remember thinking about how I had so much of the one thing he could use – time. As you could probably guess, his financial situation was quite enviable from where I was sitting.
When you’re a young, aspiring photographer you’ve got so much time on your hands. Time should be read as opportunity. You have very little responsibility, minimal commitments, and hopefully nothing holding you back from dedicating your life to developing yourself and your work. It’s an incredible time when you have the greatest chance of building yourself into someone greater than you can dream of yourself. It’s also a window that likely will be closed before you know it.
When I was starting out, I made some tough decisions that made great use of my time. These choices helped me go from full-time assisting to full time shooting in just one year. First, I moved out of the apartment with my friends and moved much closer to our studio. This helped me avoid some distractions and spend more time working. I also chose to destroy the idea of a 40-hour workweek. It was a tough transition, but now I can hardly remember what sleeping on the studio floor felt like. Finally, I dedicated myself to a personal project that required me driving 350 miles each way to get to my subjects. This was the Titusville Steel Project and the time dedicated helped make it my first successful body of work.
These days, things are a bit different for me. A week doesn’t go by where I don’t say to my studio manager Robert: “There just aren’t enough hours in the day.”
I’m coming off my best year ever in business and am shooting non-stop. Creatively, I am making the best work of my career. Most importantly, my wife and I are expecting our first child in September. We couldn’t be happier.
That being said, I’ve just been informed that we’re preparing to land in San Francisco and it’s time to shut down and stow all portable electronics.
With that, I leave you with a song that has been something of a personal mantra. Enjoy.
Happy Fourth of July from everyone at Chris Crisman Photography! Hopefully you’re enjoying it with a hot grill, cold beverage, and maybe even some fireworks. More photos of these BBQ characters to come in the next few weeks, but for now, we’re taking the day off and celebrating America. Cheers!