The new COTTON USA campaign challenged the Cramer-Krasselt (C-K) team to create a mind-opening campaign featuring the farmers and researchers who are on the cutting edge of sustainable farming.

“There are already many stunning photos of heroic farmers selling everything from harvesters to mustard,” said SVP, Group Creative Director Christina Calvit. “But, the people of COTTON USA are so much more than that—they have unique stories about sustainable farming practices, transparency, and innovative research that helps reduce environmental impacts. They’re doing bigger-than-life work, so we needed a way to tell their bigger-than-life stories.”

To help tell the COTTON USA story, C-K turned to Chris Crisman, an internationally recognized advertising photographer. Crisman’s photography has been recognized by prestigious trade organizations such as Luerzer’s Archive, Communication Arts, American Photography, Photo District News, and the International Photography Awards. To be able to showcase the true essence of these farmers’ lives, Crisman traveled to their hometowns to show their stories.

“When photographing someone in their space, you have this beautiful play between their real environment and how they behave therein,” says Crisman. “And beyond that, there’s a little bit of magic that happens because they’re just comfortable. They’re behaving as themselves…I’m always going somewhere I’ve never been to make the most important portrait that’s ever been created of that person, helping them establish their story.”

Sledge Taylor was one of the subjects of Crisman’s photo series. His family has lived near Como, Mississippi for generations and takes pride in their hometown and farming history.

“You get a marvelous sense of history from Sledge and his family’s love of their land,” said Calvit. “Their old general store was converted into a store house piled to the ceiling with memorabilia. Chris and his team dug deep into it and created a Room of History that told bits and pieces of Sledge’s family’s history as cotton farmers. The room is part historical artifact and part futuristic because Sledge and his sons are using cutting edge technology to farm using much less water and pesticide. Sledge is of the now and of the past. It’s the balance that creates his commitment to sustainable farming.”

In addition to Sledge, Crisman photographed other unique COTTON USA stories.  James Wray was surrounded by a bevy of drones used to heat map fields for precision agriculture. Drs. Gary and Kathy Lawrence are conducting sustainable farming experiments in the middle of a cotton field.

“There’s something heightened and mythical about the way Chris styles and shoots,” said Calvit. “It’s a perfect lens to capture the spirit of someone who is looking beyond the present into a future that offers a greener and kinder world. We are very proud Communication Arts recognized our goal with this campaign—and Chris’s beautiful artistry.