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Explore the work of Jonathan Chapman through featured locations.

On The Farm for Red Gold

"On the farm, you breath it, you play it, you sleep it." - Jim Paarlberg, Paarlberg Family Farms

There is a strong appeal for some of us urbanites to dig in the soil, plant some seeds and tend to our small micro miracle of a garden with a pat on the back when small green tips of life shoot skyward from the earth. Imagine doing this on a massive scale in even grander proportions and you’ll get a glimpse of the passion and dedication behind tomato farmers in Indiana.

For generations the four farm families we spent time with have been working the land of rural Indiana to produce the finest tomatoes for Red Gold. Over five days we were fortunate to film and record the lives of the growers and their families. We woke before the sun, observing time both in the field as well as at the family table, telling their story as honestly as our lenses could capture them. We proudly present the director’s cut of Red Gold “Family and Farming” with accompanying still images.

FedEx | Ship & Get

Dallas, TX... it's not supposed to rain here right? When thinking about Texas this is one of the last things that come to mind. The day of our tech scout we had great weather and were looking forward to the same for our shoot day, however, this was not to be the case. As we geared up for our shoot with FedEx all was looking good, our weather app had us smiling, and then… well, raindrops started to fall from the sky and we didn't have an "extra day" to wait it out in case things didn't clear. As they say, the show must go on and things just always seem to work out, often better than anticipated.

While we dodged a couple early morning hours of rain, the sky soon cleared and we had a great shoot for FedEx, capturing lifestyle stills of their new "Ship and Get" system. This is a brand new concept to allow people to send and receive just about anything without having to go inside a store. We managed to cover off on all scenarios, even adding a few additional set-ups as the late afternoon sun more than made up for it's early a.m. absence.

Recently we've been testing out a new partner PXL.HOUSE in the realm of post-production. Anthony Morrow and George McCardle have been working with some of our imagery on the retouching / color profile front.This collection of shots for FedEx are some of the first to pass through their hands.

We are off to NYC for our next project, a "day in the life" profile for a cool brand and subject that we are all quite excited to explore. While in the city we'll be showing the new portfolio to a handful of creatives at agencies as well as on the film / production side of the business.

McDonald’s | Europe in Motion

"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." - Henry Miller

In the previous post "McDonald's | Around the World" we released a sampling of images from our time plane, train, and taxi hopping throughout Europe. On the road for nearly three weeks we set out to capture a day in the life of one of the world's most recognizable brands; showcasing similarities and differences while building a library of still and motion based visuals.

After sifting through hours and hours of footage on the film side, editor Nathaniel Schmidt crafted a visual narrative / director's cut that highlights our time traveling amid Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Once again, many talented and creative partners worked together to bring the McDonald's | Europe in Motion piece to life.  We hope you enjoy watching as much as we did producing, traveling, shooting, and "lovin it."

Photographer / Director - Jonathan Chapman/JCP

Line Producer - John Fontana

Edit - Nathaniel Schmidt
Second Camera - Eric Schleicher
Post Production - Joseph McMahon
Graphic Design - Sam Bohlken
Graphic Animation - CoElement
Music - Verskotzi
Sound Mixing / Foley - Locomotive
Representation - The Gren Group

New Book + New Look

“We really wanted Jonathan’s new portfolio to fit seamlessly into the brand. The work coming out of JCP feels so natural, honest and beautifully crafted—that’s how it needs to be presented. Our suggestion was to find a solution within the heritage realm—an object that feels like it could have been made by one of Jonathan’s photo subjects. We began compiling items of handcrafted inspiration made of felt and leather with thoughtful details like hand stitching. From there, Travis Read took those ideas and sketched out a great piece with just the right character and utility. We love it!”  Nathan Strandberg, Eight Hour Day

The era of all things digital seems to be pushing the print portfolio slowly out the door. We put our heads together to revisit the idea of a portfolio; one that retains the tactile beauty of a print portfolio (case, design, and a physical book) as well something that allows seamless integration of the iPad, showcasing the film side of our work. We coordinated some initial meetings to bounce ideas off graphic designer Nathan Strandberg from Eight Hour Day and industrial designer Travis Read, both creatives doing amazing work that we have had the chance to partner with on several occasions in past years. We went through many rounds and incarnations of case designs that could house an iPad for our video content, as well as hold our printed portfolio, business cards and smaller promo samples. You'll see many case designs and the overall evolution presented in the imagery above.

The new portfolio case is hitting the streets nationwide and we are excited to share what came to life after several months of discussion and prototypes. After finishing the portfolio we circled back with Industrial Designer Travis Read for his take on the project through a short Q & A:

From initial concept to final product and every step in between what was the continued inspiration or drive for the project?

From the beginning of the Project, I knew that I wanted to make a custom form factor for the case that would address the unique needs of the end user. There are plenty of cool looking cases in the market place, but non of the cases adequately addressed the need for this type of functionality. Understanding the end user was my biggest driver. At first, I went over board with the functionality and didn't focus on the style of the case enough. But as I learned more about the end user's role as a creative director, the style and simplicity became equally important. It took some time to find the balance, but I think we finally found the balance with our final case.

What is one part of the final portfolio that really stands out in your mind?

The leather band really brings the whole piece together. It creates the necessary color accent, the heat pressed logo is beautifully burned into the material and the integrated card pockets show that its functional and not just wasted material.

Was it a challenge to match functionality with the aesthetic of the design? How did you bring these together?

It was a challenge, I hate unnecessary accents, we see this all the time on clothing and bags. Every piece on the JCP iPad case is purposeful, minimal and designed to create the right look. It utilizes grey felt and real leather, to give it an authentic look that is on trend. The large flap and pockets neatly organize the system, so that it looks clean and easy for a first time user to open and pull out the contents they need.

As an industrial designer, is there anything else you would like to add?

I've made a lot of products for retail customers over the years. This was an interesting project, because we were focused on a specific user segment and not trying to make some generic enough for the masses. We conceptualized all kinds of ideas that would never work for mass market, but would be fantastic for a small amount of people. It was also really nice to work with creative people that are in a very different field than hardware development.

United Health Group | Your Life’s Best Work

United Health Group employees are a unique group of people and it’s no surprise that recruitment attracts the exceptional rather than the expected. Over four days we experienced and documented both sides of passions and dedicated work lives. The imagery and video profiles produced are rolling out under United Health Group's Careers page, offering a look at how the company’s top recruits thrive and achieve their “Life’s Best Work.”

Being able to spend time with such passionate people and jumping into what they care about brought a special optimism to the shoot. Projects like this offer a pretty sweet opportunity to put our visual story-telling skills to work. Meet a few of our favorite subjects we had a fun time getting to know.

Thanks to the following people who came on board and added their talents to the production:

Photographer / Director - Jonathan Chapman/JCP

Production - Tanya Silver

Assistant Producer - John Fontana
Edit - Joseph McMahon

Second Camera - Eric Schleicher
Aerial Photography / Third Camera / Assistant - Patrick Meehan
Camera Assistant - Joseph McMahon
Digital Tech - Karl Herber
Props / Wardrobe - Julie Caruso
Hair / Make-up - Ashlee Ellert
Location Scout - Charlotte Ariss
Music - "Aerials" The Music Bed
Sound Mixing - Nick Mihalevich

Aqua | A study of swim and water

Here at the studio we regularly bounce ideas around as far as creating personal work, imagery that refines our craft and ultimately generates new work for the portfolio. We've had an idea based on swimming in the back of our minds for quite some time and last July we put the wheels in motion to make it happen. The idea is simple and was inspired by the relationship between a training athlete and the serenity of a lake. Tanya Silver coordinated the production and helped arrange our talent Heidi Fellner through Minneapolis based Agency Models & Talent. Alison Hoekstra jumped on board for props and light styling and John Fontana offered a hand as always to bring it all to life.

With everything in place we were all set to head out to a local Minneapolis lake one July afternoon. As we traveled to the location a cell of severe thunderstorms arrived, catching us by surprise a bit earlier than anticipated. As the rain pelted the roof of our cars we waited. We almost called off the project, but with our weather apps open with minute by minute updates we decided to wait out the storm. After about a half hour the rain drops began to dissipate and eventually the weather moved on to the East. The storm left us with a virtually empty location, a beautiful calm body of water, and the light, well you be the judge of that one but we certainly enjoyed it.

In case you missed it check out the motion edit from this shoot, the latest installment to the #JCPBlink series on Instagram.

St. Jude Medical

Innovation, technology, and knowledge are all part of what makes St. Jude Medical one of the most advanced medical device companies in the world. St. Jude Medical builds many of the components that are used in a variety of products a few of which we saw first hand during a three day shoot at their headquarters. From intricate nitrile braiding, stints, pacemakers, to heart valves, cardio catheters and other such important medical devices, it was quite amazing to get a behind the scenes look at one of the industry leaders in the medical device field. Take a moment to see what we captured through our lens in both stills and motion.

Happy new year. John, Joseph, and myself all managed to duck away for a little break and are feeling refreshed as another year unfolds. We have a new portfolio near complete as well as an infusion of new work that will be hitting the website in the very near future.  Stay tuned and thanks as always for checking out the blog!


Bringing Back a Life

“I realized just because you wear business clothes to work doesn’t mean you’ve got it made” - David Williamson

A visual narrative profiling Austin, Texas based Wildlife Designs Taxidermy. Words by Kristen Munson.

Tanning a hide, stretching it across a manikin, and mounting it to a wall is more about preserving a story than an animal skin. It is about connecting us to a moment we can never have back, but often wish we could.

Taxidermy is art that requires a death. It is designed to resurrect life. Each project begins by stripping an animal skin of its meat and internal organs before curing the epidermis to draw out moisture and blood. The first animal David Williamson fleshed was a lion. He was 11. At the time he thought it was cool. Then things changed.

Williamson is not what you might expect when meeting a taxidermist for the first time. He is not a recluse. He is not Norman Bates. Williamson is an affable father of two with a close shaved beard and the thick, black-rimmed glasses of an architect. Or in his case, a certified public accountant. As you walk up the driveway of his ranch home in Austin, Texas, the head of a nilgai – an antelope native to the grasslands of India – stares you down. Williamson is sweeping out the garage.

He hands you a mug of coffee and leads you to the backyard carrying two fresh deerskins. Sun streams onto a patch of grass covered with a wooden board. He examines a pelt draped across a plank. Underneath it blood-soaked salt dries brown in the sun. Williamson unfurls the two skins across the wood and reaches for a bag of salt.

“We are dealing with things that will rot or decay,” he says.

Williamson is a third generation taxidermist. He learned the science of the profession as a child in his father Robert’s shop, a building the two raised together on a two-acre parcel of land in the panhandle of Texas. Williamson, 28, spent a decade learning how to tan leather, build manikins, and mount animals from grizzly bears and bobcats to elk and zebras. But it wasn’t something he liked to talk about.

“I thought there was a lot of shame to it,” Williamson says smoothing a layer of salt across the pink flesh. “I thought it was a crude way to make a living. I remember all of our customers coming dressed in business clothes and thinking, ‘Oh man, those guys, they’ve got the good life … I didn’t like to tell people my dad was a taxidermist.”

Williamson’s parents divorced when he was a baby. Growing up he spent weekends working in the taxidermy shop with his dad. By age 10, Williamson was his father’s right hand man after he broke his back in a motorcycle accident. During reconstructive surgery his father flatlined on the table.

“He died. For a few minutes he died, but he was brought back to life,” Williamson says before heading back into the garage.

As he grew older, Williamson’s father wanted him to be his protégé. And Williamson didn’t. One afternoon after an argument Williamson’s father fired him. He was 19.

Williamson moved from Amarillo to Austin where he apprenticed for a local taxidermist to pay the bills while he studied accounting. He learned new techniques that produced better quality mounts and twice as efficient. After graduating Williamson scored a desk job. He worked long hours. He became confused.

“I realized just because you wear business clothes to work doesn’t mean you’ve got it made,” Williamson says.  “It’s really not that great to sit on your ass all day in front of the computer.”

Around the same time his father’s health began to fail. Williamson helped him close the shop and sell his home. Before leaving the property Williamson claimed some of the tools. Afterward he read the book Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford. He began telling people he was a CPA and a taxidermist. He found that no one ever asked about accounting.

Taxidermy makes some people uncomfortable. Animal skins are commonly worn in the form of shoes or draped around waists and stored in back pockets in the name of fashion. But the moment a skin is mounted to a wall, taxidermy becomes something macabre. For many people, death is something to put in the ground or burn to ashes, not put on display in the family room. However, taxidermy is a story people want to tell.

“They always want to tell the story,” Williamson says.

A former customer of his father’s recently told Williamson one he had never heard before. Years ago the man witnessed Williamson’s dad arguing with a customer about a duck mount. The customer insisted he had requested the duck be posed in a standing position, not flying. Williamson’s father insisted he hadn’t.

“So my dad turns around and walks to the house and he grabs a shotgun,” Williamson says. “He walks back to the shop, grabs the duck, throws it up in the air and shoots it. So that was my dad in a nutshell. You just don’t meet people like him anymore. He just didn’t have respect for artificial things.”

Williamson splays a freshly tanned deerskin atop his workbench. With a paring knife he shaves off portions around the nose. He scores the ears to prevent them from warping as they dry. Williamson threads a needle with fishing wire and sews tiny holes in the skin.

“It’s pretty cool to think this is just an old skin,” he says. “In a few hours it’s going to feel like it’s alive.”

Williamson’s father was a nurse as well as a taxidermist. He was a Vietnam War veteran and occasionally took in homeless men and women. He gave shelter to the outcasts in society. He was always poor. And he spent decades fighting with his inner demons. He died in 2010.

“I never really understood the whole rest in peace thing,” Williamson says while sewing the deerskin. “But that was the only thing I could think after he was dead. I hope that saying is true. I hope there is peace. I hope he is at peace.”

Williamson mixes a salve of epoxy and fiberglass and scoops it into the empty ear pockets of the deerskin. He molds them into an alert position and waits for them to dry before stretching the hide over the manikin. Afterward he inserts glass eyeballs into the sockets and gently smoothes strips of clay around them with his thumb. Dozens of antlers once belonging to foraging deer, elk, and reindeer hang from the rafters above. Three newspaper stories from the Amarillo Globe News are framed on the wall and span nearly 40 years between publishing. One is a profile of his grandfather and the other two features are about his father.

“Taxidermy is kind of a lonely profession, but you find in any business that people stay in it because they love the work,” Williamson’s dad says in one story.

Williamson listens to the quote while tucking the skin around the deer’s eyes into grooves carved into the manikin with a mottling tool.

“One of the problems I had with taxidermy was I didn’t feel there was a purpose to it,” he says. “Rich dudes are basically just hunting animals and it’s this way of showing off their socioeconomic status … but then I started doing CPA work and the same questions were being brought up. Is taxidermy a right or a good profession? Is being a CPA a right or moral profession? Who knows? Is it essential to society? Maybe if you just find something that you just halfway enjoy doing that will actually help out the world a lot more.”

He laughs.

“Maybe that’s the problem with taxidermy,” Williamson says. “There’s so much time to think you just think yourself into these spirals.”

Taxidermy is handling the remains of the dead. This can force one to think about how you live your life. On the windowsill between a canister of WD-40 and a jar of paintbrushes, a plastic Folger’s coffee can rests at eye level. It doesn’t contain coffee grinds.

“I think about my dad quite a bit. Basically all he lived on was cigarettes, Folger’s coffee, and work, so I figured this was a good place,” he says lightly tapping the lid. “I kept those specifically because he’s always been out in the workshop with me. That’s really my main memory of him. We went hunting a few times, we went on a few little road trips, but by and large all him and I did was work together. I think I owe the majority of the skills that I have to him.”

Nowadays Williamson works alone. If he listens closely he might hear his infant daughter crying inside the house or his 3-year-old son Wyatt laughing from the other side of the garage door. From the workshop Williamson can hear birds chirping and cars driving down the street. His mind wanders.

“It definitely does make you think about your own mortality,” he says. “You see how quickly life can be taken from you. I’m pretty sure that if we really grasped how short our lives are we would live it a little differently.”

Williamson recently quit his full-time job at an accounting firm and launched his business Wildlife Designs Taxidermy. Before giving his notice he asked his boss if he could work 40 hours a week for the next 15 years and delay pursuing the path to partner. His boss said it doesn’t work that way.

“I try to learn from people who have gone before me,” Williamson says. “Typically with men, their greatest regret is not spending enough time with their kids.”

An hour later two men arrive to collect their trophies. A common hunting tradition is to have the first big game you kill mounted. The older man, wearing blue jeans and a cotton dress shirt, points out the various deformities in the antlers of his deer.

“They’re all unique,” he says tracing a point with his forefinger.

The younger man nods but never says a word. He looks as though he came from band practice. The father shakes Williamson’s hand and leads his son down the walk. The two men climb into the cab of a pickup truck.

“They’re both pretty different, but I think hunting is something they both share,” Williamson remarks as the truck pulls away from the curb. “[Hunting] is a really long process. You have to drive out to a ranch. You usually sit in a deer blind and wait for a deer to come by. Then you shoot it together. You skin it and gut it together.”

Sometimes all a father and son have in common is the time they spend together.

“Most of this is just preserving the memory,” Williamson says gesturing to the mounts in his garage. “To some people it’s art, to some people it’s decoration, but to those guys when they look at those horns, it’s going to take them back to the hunt and they’re going to remember it.”

He lifts a green wing teal from a shelf below the framed newspaper clippings. Williamson’s dad mounted it for him years earlier.

“I shot this duck. And I remember the story of my dad and me,” Williamson says. “When I see it I don’t really look at the duck so much. It takes me back to the moment and it’s really nice.”

“Blink” | 15 seconds in motion

Keeping things fresh has never been higher on the list. While there's never a shortage of tasks to juggle, we are always working to evolve amid the ever changing worlds of still and motion capture. We collaborated with Travis Olson of Acre Design on our latest endeavor BLINK. “The ability to tell powerful, emotional stories in any medium is Jonathan’s strength. Blink becomes a way to highlight that.”

With Instagram's 15 second video medium as the stage, we are setting out to produce a series of video shorts throughout the next year. It's a simple idea that should provide a quick glimpse or "blink" of recent projects that have just been shot. Our work is discovered in a variety of ways and Instagram as well as Twitter are top of the list in terms of relevant platforms to showcase visuals. As is often and typically the case, the post-production process behind video edits is so long that it can take months to complete an project. With Blink it's much more immediate and certainly a quick, engaging channel to share recent work.

Thanks to Adam Duguay and the crew at Coelement who brought the branding elements together, their animation skills sweeten up the start of each BLINK.

Check it out by following @jchapmanphoto on Instagram.  It'll only take 15 seconds…!

Matrix | Fitness Enlightened

A stone washed smooth by the water's edge, a palm frond cutting the early morning light, natural elements of wood, cotton, steel seamlessly complimenting our surroundings.  When a call came through earlier this year to produce a still and motion based lifestyle campaign centered around health, wellness, enlightenment, and fitness (with a likely location being Hawaii) we were certainly intrigued. 

One of the top tiers in fitness equipment Matrix Fitness certainly stands apart and on the top rung.  Found in high end resorts and hotels around the world, we were introduced to the multi-faceted lineup with locations as diverse as Toronto and Maui serving as backdrops for talent and machines alike.

One of the many incentives of traveling to diverse locations are the uniquely varied textures found in and around each environment.  Being aware of and capturing the abstract, colorful, and unscripted details that surrounded our locations was an integral part of the shot list and project objectives.  This was an early cue that the desired creative visuals were right in line with how we thrive and find ourselves the most excited behind the camera.

Out of all the locations, Maui was definitely at the top of the list.  Warm sun, ocean breezes, and a whole host of other positives combined to make this a unique and ideal place to support the shoot.  Looking back at the visuals we captured, it could not have been successful without our amazing crew who kept things fresh and spirited in all of these varied locations.  A big shout of thanks "Mahalo" to Matthew Slimmer for his work producing this project that spanned over two months of on and off travel to four different markets.

Enjoy a sample of our favorite stills as well as the final video, edited by Minneapolis based Nathaniel Schmidt

Fall has come and seems to be on the way out for us who call the Midwest home.  The temps are definitely on the decline as another year winds down.  Thankfully luck seems in our favor as we have our sights on warmer envrons for the next few weeks with upcoming travel to Los Angeles and Austin, TX in our sights.  As always, thanks for checking in and taking a moment to catch up on the latest at JCP!