Chase Jarvis RAW: [not] Getting To Portland

You should know that the above video is not my typical video. Sure it’s a Chase Jarvis RAW – the series where I normally show a bunch of behind the scenes footage from a shoot – but this is different because, while this certainly is the backstage of “a shoot,” there are ultimately no models, no cameras, no lighting, no wardrobe or props anywhere to be found in this video. Huh? I understand that sounds weird. If you need these things in your photography videos, I totally understand, but wait for my next vid and don’t watch this one. Seriously. No hard feelings. On the other hand, if you can do without those things, and if you want to share in the less-well-known side of the coin, then please read on, and do watch.

In truth, we just whipped this thing together in about 8 hours. It isn’t at all a video I set out to make initially, but when I realized what it was turning into, I didn’t try to change it either. It deserves to be out there because it’s pretty real and also:

1) it involves personal work, for which I’m a huge advocate. Personal projects–like my Songs for Eating and Drinking project–are deeply important to me and I think they should be to all creatives.

2) much of being a professional photographer is a lot broader than f-stops, megapixels, and lighting mods – the ironic cornerstones of photography vids on the web. The problem solving, the travel, the budget, the will, the pre-production, the art for art’s sake, and having fun while doing all those things actually take up a most of the typical day, yet they’re rarely discussed or explored. This video has peculiar instances of each of those things, and I hope we can now begin to explore them more fully.

3) I’m an advocate of saying yes, and giving a shit and trying, even when it’s sometimes recognizably not in the cards. Stupid? Maybe. But it’s historically yielded good results. I’ve advocated this before in a popular post called To Go Or Not To Go. I suppose this is just an extension of that same idea with a different outcome.

4) There’s a couple great elements of community. First, there’s my crew. I love them. So cool and fun. I’m grateful to have somehow tricked them into working with me. Second. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may know of — or, hell, may even be one of those generous people who responded to — my outrageous requests for private jets just a couple days ago. The funniest part? You made it happen, and that is freaking cool. I wasn’t able to take you up on the offer for a variety of weird reasons, but you made it a possibility. So in a quirky way, this vid is a thank you, thank you too.

So again, you might think this has no place in the behind-the-scenes-photography video realm, but I think it fits just fine.

[Big thanks to Halcyon and Adult Napper for the background beats. King 5 and KEXP? Y’all rule too.]

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@ Anon

I’m not surprised that you are a little resistant to taking up promotion efforts. After all, it would be much easier if the work could just speak for itself (we are all fans of efficiency). But remember, you are selling more than great photos. In addition to photographic assets, photographers are selling the quality of their services and the experience of working with their brand. Again, there is no shame in telling people who you are, and what you can do for them.

While I am not Chase, and I hesitate to comment on his behalf, I bet there is never a day that goes by where he doesn’t think about how recent projects can be used to shape his brand and promote his business. And I would also bet that approaching shoots and projects with that mindset has a beneficial effect on the products and services ultimately delivered.

In your initial post, you never appeared to be a hater of Chase’s work (what I understand to mean his photos), but rather a hater of his promotion efforts. Specifically, you ask Chase, “…is there ever a day where you don’t think about promoting yourself, your business and the whole look at me, I’m Chase Jarvis?” Regarding this question, I think it is important to be clear that business promotion shouldn’t be confused with/lumped in with “self promotion/look at me.”

Warming up to the idea of business promotion might be easier if you thought about it like this: talking about yourself in the context of your business is not self promotion, it’s business promotion. And when you are talking about your business, you are not an insufferable douche who never stops talking about himself/herself. After all, you are not talking about yourself, you are marketing your business.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the identities of most commercial photography businesses are inextricably linked to the identities of the photographers that own them. This fact can cause some photographers to hesitate promoting their businesses (beyond their portfolios) because they don’t want to seem like self promoters. But don’t make that mistake, crossing the business promotion/self promotion wires can have a huge impact on your business’s potential. Don’t just let your work speak for itself, you have so much more to say.

Anonymous says:

John b had some valid points. I feel that I was misunderstood.

My question could have been framed and written more clearly. What I intended to ask of Chase is, Do you feel that because there is so much effort within your team on promotion that it affects your work or vision? I was honest when I said I am not a hater of his work. Chase is younger than me and of a different mindset about promotion. I wonder if it affects personal work, or if every shoot is is a possibility for promoting the business.

I posted as Anonymous as I am a well known photographer and wanted the question to the most important part of the post. I did not want to bring attention to myself.

I apologize for any misunderstanding that this post created.

Thank you.

Jon B. says:

@ Anon

Not trying to be snarky here, but a word to the wise…“not a hater but” is almost always a red flag for hater. ;)

I don’t know if you would describe yourself as a commercial shooter, an artist with no interest in running a photography business, or something else altogether. But if you are running a photography business, it doesn’t hurt to study other very successful professional photogs and what they are doing to generate buzz about their services. A huge reason for Chase’s professional success is his ability to promote his business.

Maybe you don’t like Chase’s style because you can’t emulate it, or maybe you don’t want to emulate it because it’s not your style. That’s all good, everyone has his/her own style and there’s more than one way to skin a cat, but if you are indeed running a business, promoting it can dramatically increase your bottom line.

There is nothing wrong with letting people know who you are and what you do. Think about all of your favorite services/products and how you learned about them. It is crucial to get the word out, and make sure it stays out. A talented commercial photographer focused solely on capturing images will likely work far less than a talented commercial photographer who is also a talented business promoter.

Further, a commercial photographer can demonstrate relevant expertise to prospective clients beyond having a beautiful portfolio. Companies hire Chase to help promote their businesses, and Chase’s tireless pursuit of promoting his own business can help build the connection/trust between photographer and client. ADs and CDs will think, “This guy knows what he’s doing, not only has he helped create successful campaigns for other companies, but he does this shit every day for himself.”

I wish you the very best no matter what your pursuit, and if you are running a business, I hope it is every bit the success you want it to be.

Hello Chase, I have a slow internet connection today and can’t see the video but wanted to thank you so much for writing the “Players of Character” post you did a while back. I feel for any organization, that is the core of its success and much of my job-searching and new goals are based around that. I want to be a player of character and surround myself with people that are as well.

Thanks again. You rock!

Thomson Photo says:

@ anon: at least Chase is smart, funny and a great photographer. He’s not boring, or worse, ANONYMOUS.

Kendo says:

Thank you for sharing this with us. It shows that even though you and your staff are pros, stuff happens to all. I look forward to more stories. Thanx. Kendo

Michael says:

Gotta love anonymous posters with an opinion :)

The minute you stop promoting yourself you’re gone. It’s part of the business.

Anonymous says:


Not a hater but I wonder, is there ever a day where you don’t think about promoting yourself, your business and the whole look at me, I’m Chase Jarvis?

I find the whole approach tends to overshadow creating great compelling extraordinary photography. I have a feeling that you will grow out of this phase one day and concentrate on work.

Best of luck to you.

Anonymous says:

Love seeing the teamwork. Generous of you to show us this side of things.

Martin Wolf says:

I think that was a really cool Behind The Scenes video. I liked it, because it is so daily life of a photographer and not perfect. We can get a look on what it is really like being a professional.

motionid says:

More like this please :-) Liked it because it shows you just HOW MANY people it takes to put a real shoot together. And what about all the equipment rental costs that had to be eaten because the shoot couldn’t be done. And all the while everyone is up beat about it because they know that stressing about it what improve the situation. Well illustrated.

Very Very Cool Chase!!! Might not be your typical but it is really cool you are able to put so much energy in to projects big or small!!!


sam says:

thats a crazy scenario. maybe i take living in san diego for granted. i don’t know if i’ll ever come across that problem as much. fires yes. water- not so much.

Richard Cave says:

water is the universal solvent, it makes everything unstuck, it can carve rock, go through solid steel and melt away your plans…

At least you shared the experience with a pretty cool crew.

Cory Morhart says:

This was a great post, shows us more of what is really important namely work ethic and perseverance.

Thanks Chase.

GeoWulf says:

Yay! A shout out to our own Mark Wallace from Phoenix!

Brent Rust says:

Was it out of the question to take 12 (or 8) to 101 South to 30 into Portland? I didn’t think the coast got it bad…but being so far away, I don’t see the details of the issue only the national highlight reels. UGH.

Derek says:

Tangential non-photo benefit of this video? I forgot how much I love KEXP, hearing both Cheryl and John’s voice has me tuning in over the net. Thanks!

As Richard Branson is fond of saying, “Screw it, let’s do it!” Was cool to see your Twitter feed on the day about finding a plane and the response it got. Wonder if a boat would have been better? lol

Wonderful video and it shows dedication to something that’s promised, and not canceling because you think you might have a headache :D

Something that is not done enough nowadays, good to see there are still real people out there that will try to keep their word even if it’s almost impossible :D

I am a fan of all the video’s on this site. This one is no exception! As always good work…. or maybe good no work on this! Thanks for all the great posts! Keep’em coming!

Scott Brown says:

Great video! Too bad about not being able to get through…

Should you ever need to get to Portland by alternative modes of transportation and not have a car I bet some of us down here in Portland would be willing to chauffeur you where you need to go… I know I would!

The amazing power of social networking!

Duane says:

Thanks for post/sharing that. Even though it failed in the end it was cool to see the level of effort you put into making it work.

Michael says:

Chase, if you don’t try you can’t fail, but you also can’t succeed. As for the video belonging on your blog or not, of course it does. It was fun to watch and it was fun to see a group of people being dedicated to achieve something together. Like to see more of these :).

Scott R. says:

@DJS – A quick answer to your question about shooting in cold snowy environments. Most of the pro gear works really well in cold snowy environments when used with care. Your weakest points are your batteries and your lenses. You can keep a spare battery or two under your coat in order to keep them warm until they need to be shot, this will greatly increase their life. Your lenses will generally be fine as well as long as they start the day off dry. Dramatic temperature/humidity shifts can cause condensation on your glass, so try to keep your lenses in one environment. For instance, once you’ve had them out in the harsh weather, don’t take them into a hot room or car if you hope to use them again that day. They WILL fog. Keep an assistant outside with the gear while you go in to take your boots off and have some hot coco :) At the end of the day dry everything very well and it’ll be good to go out the next day. One last thing, keeping your hands warm is a challenge when handling cold metal. Some Little Hotties hand warmers in your pockets will help you regulate your temp. Good luck on your shoot!

Scott R.
Chase Jarvis Inc.

Sucks that you couldn’t make it to Portland, flooding is no good. I don’t have any travel connections out there so I couldn’t offer help. If you do make it down there, there is a sweet vegan bakery somewhere in town that my best friend works at and says that everyone loves.

Anonymous says:

Very fresh. I like this a lot.

Ryan S says:

Sorry to hear about the time/money lost on this for you. I had never seen your “To go or not to go” post, and thought that was a great read. It’s strange how a few paragraphs, or a photo you come across can completely shift your state of mind and motivation. Your videos are always great, and you use them fully to your advantage from a business point of view. It’s a win/win for you and the viewer/reader. I really like the behind the scenes stuff like this.

It’s also insane to think that you can reach out for help over the internet and have complete strangers offering you private jets in a matter of hours. Pretty cool.

Sven says:

even from germany i really digg this vid. it just shows some of the things, that can happen, even with the best planing ahead. as i took part in organizing some events, i really know, what a pain in the as it can be on one hand, but with what experience (and sometimes stronger bonds) it provides you on the other hand. so thanks for the vid. and good luck next time you try.

greetings from northern germany

Sarah Rhoads says:

Even Chase Jarvis, The MAN has stuff flake out on him that are out of his power!! I love this Chase! You too are human lol :) We were stuck here too… my hubby was trying to get to Portland for a show he was playing with no avail. crazy to think we were literally stranded here in seattle with no way out. bahh!
This also goes to show that the goodness you put into the community comes full circle ;) that is awesome people were able/willing to help via twitter etc. You deserve it chase. you are a giver.

Ivan Chertov says:

Well, it’s the thought that counts ;)

djs says:

equipment in snow/extreme cold conditions

Hi Chase, we’ve seen many videos of you photographing in ski resorts/snow conditions, and I’d like to know what kind of precaution/procedure you take when bringing and leaving your camera, lenses and flashes to this kind of environment. I’m about to do a shoot in a ski resort and I’m a little worried.

Thank you!

Joan "Jet" says:

Hi Chase and crew,
We did not officially meet during this video but I am “Joan” of Legendary Jets (oops Mark– it’s not West Jet). If I was your first call, I could have had that jet (open leg to Portland) at a much-reduced rate than what you were quoted by the charter company you contacted first. You may have not had the bonding time with your crew but you would have made the shoot and gained a friend in the private travel industry that really cares! Ok, I will still be your friend you seem like a great guy, your staff looks fun too and though it’s hard to beat road side “tots”–next time call me first and I will get you there.

Adam says:

Fun times! Of many shoots I’d love to be along on, this is NOT one of them! Thanks for keepin’ it real and showing that even the MJC (Mighty Jarvis Clan) gets shut down from time to time.

Jonny says:

Great vid… this really showcases why photography is truly 100% business, all hard work required.

I haven’t been doing this long, but I hear where Michael warf is coming from at the top (Being in calgary as well)… You just can’t rely on anything working out how you planned, no matter how much you plan.

Ken Mott says:

Was 101 on the coast open?

Man that’s a bummer.

OG says:

Nice video/insight Chase. Creative problem solving is definitely in the job description for a photographer.


Bruno says:

Thanks for posting another great video! Even though it didn’t work out this time, if you hadn’t tried it, I guess you guys would still be wondering now if it had worked had you only tried…

I experienced a similar situation a month ago when on the way for a short one day climbing trip… we started out on what should have been a 1 hour drive for a friday afternoon climbing/photo session and it turned out that we arrived a good 4 hours later when it was already getting dark due to a huge car crash somewhere in front of us :-)
While driving my pal and I both often thought about calling it quits and hitting the gym instead but somehow I had the feeling that it would be worth it if we kept trying to get there.
Even though we climbed with headlamps from the start, in the end, I walked away with the ascent of a route I had worked on for almost a year and a couple of nice photos I took of my pal… a short but great day it turned out to be!
So I guess it’s always worth to try…thanks for taking the time to do the video, I enjoyed it very much!


Ghislain says:

You probably know that already Chase,but what you are doing in here is not just cool, it’s helping the entire industry. But even more than that… I finally got the inspiration to really start my own business as a photographer. For years I’ve been holding his passion in me as I was afraid… But now I want to live my passion and be happy for a change in mhy job.

I am still working full time as a project manager, I still like that job but it’s just a matter of time before living my dream with my photos… Need to make a good reputation first, get a few contracts on the line and here goes.

If you ever stop by Montreal, you’re more than welcome to stop by with your entire team at my house!!! you’re all invited for a few drinks on the house!

Thanks for everything!

Ghislain Leduc

Mark says:

Thanks for sharing this Chase. No doubt all you pro shooters have to overcome all come of problems during a given day. Appreciate the behind-the-scenes here.

I’m glad you posted this video because I love how it shows that it takes a team and not individuals to make (or try to make) things happen. Great stuff.

Adam says:

Am I the ONLY one that is jelous?

Sure, I don’t wish delays, and horrible damaging weather on anyone…..but I am more jelous with this video, than any of the other videos. (Don’t get me wrong – a trip to NZ would be wicked).

But….I am jelous….because I want to be in the back seat of a mini cooper with your crew looking for taco stands along the I-5.

No jokes. I hope those inconsiderate bastards of team mates you have know how good they have it. (Just kidding – I am sure they are all cool).

jeremy earl says:

let me get all nostalgic on ya for a second…I was actually stationed at ft Lewis for a couple years when i was 19 and I love that place, I remember the road trips me and my friends would take so that sent me back….aahhhh

this video also highlights why some photographers or business succeed and some fail despite superior skill and resources…the most important thing is the ability to stay positive, our expectations before a doubtful undertaking are the one key thing that will determine the successful outcome of the venture.

Anonymous says:

The trick is to stay east of I-5 when it dives underwater, there is a stealth route that takes you out towards Ashford and the rejoin I-5 further south. Avoid the masses, they eventually fall off the cliff.

My company could have easily got you there in our helicopter, it’s big enough to carry your whole crew but your looking at about $5000 to Portland from Seattle.

Don’t forget Seaport Airlines out of Boeing Field… they go to Portland, they fly sweet Swiss made turbo props and seats cost less then Horizon.

Internet is great, but sometimes a big map on the wall and a compass will get you further…

Julian Love says:

Wow – 7 hours on the road is all it takes for Scott to grow a beard… gnarly!

10/10 for effort guys, wishing you better luck for next time.

Chase Jarvis says:

Yea. After all that work in pre-pro and trying to get there on Thursday (the ONLY day in teh past 10 years that you couldn’t drive to Portland from Seattle) we’ve just begun trying to reschedule everyone. It’s a huge pain in the arse a)because it’s a personal project and no big bucks to pay for cancels etc; b)coordinating my schedule with hebb’s and 40 some odd rockers is a tough gig.

But I’m glad we went for it. It was the right thing to do. The more you GO the more stuff tends to work out for you…

Overall, very glad you dig the vid. Felt like at least one video had to be made where everything didn’t go as planned ;) in truth, no matter how hard you try, there are always surprises.

Anonymous says:

I find this post really interesting because it highlights less than perfection as well as on the fly problem solving, which is 90% of a photographer’s job. I presume that however complicated you finally rescheduled the shoot, right? And also since it’s a personal project, I totally appreciate your considering costs as you do. Loved the video.

Michael Warf says:

I guess this post is essentially about overcoming adversity. The winter months here in Alberta have killed most shooting days with driving winds and snowdrifts – so most shooters I know haven’t let that shut ‘em down. I’ve seen some of the most amazing indoor work yet as a result.

Keep on Keepin’ on.

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