When I was 11 years old, I went outside of my family’s home in small town North Carolina with an old 35mm camera that my parents had given me. In the front yard, in front of the makeshift basketball court, there was a butterfly bush buzzing and shifting under the weight of a hundred different insects. As a Monarch butterfly landed on a flower in front of me, I raised my camera to my eye and made a photograph. A few weeks later I left the Caldwell County Fair holding a framed photograph of the Monarch and a “Best in Show” ribbon. Ever since that day I fell in love with the art of image, and that was the day I began my lifelong journey as a photographer.

This photograph continues to sit in front of me as a gentle reminder of the origin of my passion. Throughout my years photographing, I have concluded that photography is a mode of visual communication, having the ability to tell stories and share voices through images: photography is a poem or painting with light. Human and machine merge into a synthesized mechanism that creates an expression of the world, making a photograph rather than taking one. Photography is my way of communicating with others, painting a picture brushed with various shades of my experiences and perceptions of the world. Photography is a part of my own process of exploration, and I share my photographs so others can understand my standing in the world, so others get a glimpse of what I see and how I want to see it.

Together, my camera and I have told our story and the stories of others all across the globe from the Harriet Tubman Foot Clinic at the Open Door Community in Atlanta to schools rebuilding a lost generation of leaders in Liberia, West Africa. I will continue to make photographs that express life as I see it, sometimes as a chaotic and troublesome world or as a beautiful and mythic world that I hope to be a part of creating.
My professional aspiration is to turn life into a work of art through photography, whether that work of art be an idealized representation of beauty, or a wretched reproduction of the reality of our surroundings. I find it my obligation to share these different perspectives with those who are willing to see the world in ways that I capture it, and who are willing to challenge their own preconceived notions of the world as we are supposed to understand it.

Thank you so much for visiting, and please email me with any questions or comments at crissman.james@gmail.com

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