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“Best Crew” Features Chris Birck, Digital Tech
Capitol Communicator -- PR News in Washington, D.C. Capitol Communicator -- PR News in Washington, D.C.
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Washington, DC
Friday, September 23, 2022


Capitol Communicator is featuring “Best Crew,” a profile series brought to you by Eli Meir Kaplan, a Washington, D.C.-based commercial photographer and director. The series “Best Crew” features talent behind the scenes of photo, film and video productions. This profile features Chris Birck, a Digital Tech.

Chris, how did you get started? 

I’ve been in the professional photography business since 2000. I got started in photography back in college at the University of Texas in San Antonio. I was a Fine Arts major and took a few photography classes. A fellow classmate was the photo editor of the school’s newspaper and thought I should join, so I did. I shot assignments for the paper for about 2.5 years, which eventually led me to become the paper’s Photo Editor. I graduated from college in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts with concentration in Photography and immediately started looking for a Photojournalist job. I approached the San Antonio Express News, which did not have a staff photographer position open, but the photo editor liked my work and encouraged me to freelance with them. I did this for a couple of years and during this time I was introduced to the Team Photographer of the San Antonio Spurs, who was looking for an assistant. We clicked and I started working with him, setting up remote cameras and photographing live games. This job introduced me to a variety of tech and grip gear, lighting techniques and other aspects of photography that I hadn’t really utilized in my photojournalism career and I found it fascinating. It led me to where I am today as a Digital Tech. I also offer equipment rental (lights, grip, etc.) to photographers that I work with on set.

Who are some of your clients and why do they love working with you?

I work with a variety of local photographers – Shawn Hubbard, Eli Meir Kaplan, John Burwell, Judy Davis, Jim Vecchione, Ryan Smith, Rey Lopez, Edgar Artiga, Jared Soares to name a few – and also many out-of-towners as well, including Miller Mobley, Robert Trachtenberg, Ben Baker, Kareem Black and Jesse Dittmar. I think my clients enjoy working with me because they can rely on me to treat their shoot like it was my own. I am also extremely skilled in distributing a well-timed, witty pun or dad joke.

What is your most invaluable tool?

Experience. With 20-plus years working with photographers from all over the world, I’ve picked up a few tricks that I can bring to the job besides just digital teching skills; including grip and lighting techniques.

What kit purchase have you made that you wish you didn’t?

I recently bought a 4ft x 4ft pop-up tent for my digital cart for rainy days. The description online said it was waterproof, but it was not. Luckily I tested it first before I took it out in the field.  I did some research online to see what I could do to waterproof it and found many YouTube tutorials out there that talk about using a mixture of mineral spirits and 100% silicone caulk to waterproof fabrics. I tried this, but the material that the tent was made out of didn’t fully absorb the mixture – most likely due to the pre-existing chemicals that were on the fabric already – and left surface of the material a sticky mess that transferred to anything it touched. The $150 tent plus the $125 for caulk/mineral spirits were lost, but I’m glad I tried!

Who inspired and helped you along the way?

Everyone really, but during lunch break I can usually be found sitting with the gaffers and grips. When it comes to tech and tricks, they are usually the ones that are the most creative and show me the next gadget that I need to get that makes my workflow run smoother.

What do you love about the work you do?

Every job is something new. I personally could not take a desk job where I show up and sit in the same cubicle everyday. Digital Teching allows me to work with photographers from all around the world, see places I never would have otherwise seen and meet people I would never have met otherwise.

What was a favorite production you’ve worked on?

One of the more memorable shoots that I worked on was a job for Popular Mechanics. We were photographing a company that makes bionic prosthetics for people who lost limbs. This one prosthetic we where shooting was an arm that had a custom-made socket with sensors on it that contacted the patient’s skin and detected electrical signals from the person’s muscles. It would convert those signals to motorized movement and the way the arm moved was EXTREMELY fluid, it almost looked like a real arm. Not only was I awed by the technology, being the “tech geek” that I am, I was also inspired as a father, as I have a child who wears a prosthetic leg.  It was comforting to know that there are people out there working on technology that will make his life more normal.

What advice would you give to others who are starting out in your field?

Join an organization in your field and meet as many people as you can. Use social media to connect with others.

What are your five favorite movies? 

Aliens, Contact, Shawshank Redemption, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Rogue One.

Capitol Communicator is a unique online and offline resource for Mid-Atlantic advertising, marketing, public relations, digital and media communications professionals. The e-magazine, e-newsletters and events bring together communications professionals, fostering community and providing important information; news; trends; education; and opportunities for networking, career enhancement, business exchange and showcasing great work. Visit www.capitolcommunicator.com to learn more.

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