A Closer Look at Ben Chrisman Photography.
Ben Chrisman started out as a newspaper photographer after studying photojournalism in college. He spent four years as a staff photographer for The Daily Times in Farmington, New Mexico before deciding to start his own wedding photography business in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2004. “I didn’t realize how much time and energy it took to run a business,” recalls Ben, “I was really naive on the business end and had to learn as I went.”
His photography company, Ben Chrisman Photography, has grown quickly. He photographed 33 weddings last year and is approaching that number for 2008. His studio is based in the San Francisco Bay area, but he is only shooting a few of his next 30 weddings in the area. He is traveling across the country and worldwide for the majority of his weddings, and will be visiting destinations such as Greece, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Antigua, and Mexico. “I love to travel,” says Ben, “so I feel fortunate that I have couples that trust me enough to bring me thousands of miles for their wedding.”
His couples are not the only ones who love his work. These past two years, the Wedding Photojournalist Association has ranked Ben as one of the Top 10 wedding photojournalists in the world. “While I don’t take much stock in awards,” states Ben, “it’s nice to be listed among other photographers I greatly admire.” Ben’s contact with these other photographers has been one of his greatest resources. “We are constantly bouncing ideas and referrals between us. Without them, I have no idea where I’d be.”
When it comes to the wedding day, Ben is very thorough. “I am fairly obsessed with telling the complete story of the day,” admits Ben, “so I never limit the number of hours I shoot.” Ben has learned that he can gauge the thoroughness of work by how he is feeling near the end of the night. “When I have an easy day and my tie is still on straight at the end of the night I usually feel I didn't get what people expect out of me. But when I'm filthy, my hair is a mess and I have seen the last beer bottle get knocked to the floor, then I think I might have a chance at producing some photographs people will remember the rest of their lives.”
Ben has never wanted to shoot like a traditional wedding photographer and believes his unique style has helped him stand out in an over-saturated industry. According to Ben, “standing apart from the traditional has made all the difference.” Ben’s favorite lens to shoot with is his 35mm. “If I wanted to be buried, which I don’t, but if I did, I would want that lens to be in the pine box with me,” says Ben.
Ben’s inspiration comes from social and reportage photographers like James Nachtwey and Joachim Ladefoged. He likes their use of light, angles, and mood. He also checks out several photographers’ blogs for inspiration. His favorite wedding photography resources are Digital Wedding Forum and Huy’s Foundation Workshop Forum.
Because of the amount of travel Ben does, he spends seven days a week working in some way. “It’s a fairly intense lifestyle, but one that I like very much.” He has never wanted a huge business, and is happy to keep everything ‘simple and pure.’ “I really want to stay small,” knows Ben, “I want to shoot a few really great weddings a year and eventually end up on a secluded beach in Mexico where I can continue to shoot, not just weddings, but documentary stories as well.”
Ben’s main goal is to continue meeting new and interesting people. “If that didn’t happen, I am sure I would not be a wedding photographer. So hopefully I will be able to keep traveling to places I’ve never been before and meeting people I am inspired by.”