Photographer Chris Crisman is constantly looking for people doing unexpected things.

When he heard about Heather Thomason, a woman who had recently left her career as a web designer in New York City to become a butcher in Philadelphia, he knew he had to get a shot of her in action.

"[Being a butcher] is just always seen as a male role," says Crisman over the phone. "Or at least depicted as a male role."


All photos by Chris Crisman, used with permission.

In his photography, Crisman specializes in dazzling hero portraits of people in their natural environments.

"I’m shooting in a very heroic light," Crisman explains. "Whether it's in the lighting, the composition, how people sit in the frame ... that’s kind of how I’ve always done portraiture. I’m trying to depict them in a way that is strong."

Crisman began photographing other women in other male-dominated roles and collecting the images in a series called "Women's Work."

Women like Mira Nakashima, a woodworker from New Hope, Pennsylvania.

Christina Burris, a professional beer brewer and operations manager at Saint Benjamin Brewing Company in Philadelphia.

Nancy Poli, a pig farmer at Stryker Farm in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.

Alison Goldblum, a property developer in Philadelphia.

Sadie Samuels, a lobster fisher from Rockport, Maine.

Beth Beverly, a taxidermist from Philadelphia.

Mindy Gabriel, a firefighter in Upper Arlington, Ohio.

And Carol Warn, the leach pad operator at Marigold Mining Company in Nevada.

Shooting at Round Mountain Gold Mine in Nevada, Crisman says he was surprised at how much gender diversity existed in the workforce.

"It was really balanced," Crisman says. "There were a lot of women working on that site."

Women like Leeann Johnson, a haul truck driver.

Jordan Ainsworth, a mill operator.

And Kris Alvarez, senior geologist.

Through these portraits, Crisman hopes to break down the gender barriers that are built up by popular culture stereotyping certain jobs as being for people of certain genders.

For butchers, firefighters, and woodworkers, for example, there are archetypal pictures and illustrations that we see time and time again. "It's just always a man," Crisman says.

Crisman's photos challenge those archetypes in a visceral and immediately apparent way, and the response to his work has been overwhelming.

"I’m finding this project is really unifying and spirit-building," he says. "It means different things to different people. But I think all of the interpretations are impactful in a positive way."

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