The bovine autopsy by Chris Crisman

I’ve been saving this special treat just for Halloween...⠀

It’s taken me weeks to get over the emotional impact of this shoot. What you’re seeing in the background is a bovine that has been through an autopsy to determine the cause of death. The subject of this portrait is Julie Engiles, an Associate Professor of Pathology. The odour of this space was almost too painful to work in. While gagging through each shot, I was also terrified that I would slip and fall into the blood, guts, and the cow’s last meal that Mike Ryan, my assistant (@mryanphoto) and I needed to wade through to find my lighting and compositions. ⠀

© Chris Crisman
© Chris Crisman

Growing up next to a farm, I am familiar with uniquely foul smells. Every once in a while our dogs would find a skunk in the woods at night. It’s particularly potent, but bearable. I’ve been in New York City on a 100-degree day – it’s the aura of garbage juice that gets me, but it only comes in waves. We’ve got two kids and we’re just a year out of legit potty training – unique and certainly gag-worthy, but you can walk away for a minute. Of all these smells and a million others that nobody wants to hear about, nothing compares to the smell of this space where I created this image, the latest from The Women’s Work Project. ⠀

Dr. Engiles is a rock star. She is the woman you see here, and she also wears a number of other hats. When she's not working with animals you can find her teaching yoga. Professionally, her expertise lies in veterinary anatomic pathology with a specialised focus on orthopaedic and gastrointestinal pathology.


Photographer: @crismanphoto
Producer: @hasinarose
First assistant: @mryanphoto
Post production: @yeahnoproblem