Shake Your Tree Today

I’m taking the liberty of suggesting that you do one or more of the following today:

1. Shoot personal work. Call in some favors, get creative with no budget, and shoot something for yourself.

2. Set free that idea you’ve been holding onto. Write a blog post about it. Ask your friends what they think. Tell the world.

3. Learn about video. Don’t have a camera? Buy drip coffee for a month instead of lattes, and buy a Flip Mino video camera with the money you save. Experiment.

4. Connect with your peers. Start a blog, dig into your Facebook. Or, hell, gather your photo friends for beers and a slide show.

5. Walk around with your camera. You don’t need sunshine. Interesting weather makes interesting pictures. iPhone or one dSLR body with one lens. There is no “client”. Just take pictures.

6. Rent a piece of equipment you’ve been wanting to learn about. Or try this rental secret: pick it up on Friday after 3pm, pay for Saturday. Sunday’s are often free because the camera store is closed. Return Monday by 10am. 3 days for the price of 1.

7. Put together a book of your work. Blurb or Asuka, whatever. Affordable. Even if you don’t print 10 or 100, print 1. Put it in your studio for visitors to flip through, or leave on it your coffee table at home.

8. Do the thing on your list that you most dread doing. Call that client who hasn’t paid. Sign up for Twitter. Develop a marketing plan. Go to the ASMP meeting.

9. Remind yourself that the gear you can’t afford is not the barrier keeping you from success. Gear has very little to do with photography.

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10. Read up online about the history of photography and it’s masters. Weston. Steichen. Arbus. Mapplethorpe. Adams. Doisneau. Cartier-Bresson. Avedon.

11. Admit to yourself that you don’t know about something you’ve been pretending to know about. Sit down and do the research yourself. Learn it.

12. Go sit in front of the newsstand at some mega book store. Flip through all the magazines that interest you. Go beyond photo magazines. Generally speaking they limit your imagination rather than expand it. Spend at least an hour.

13. Make a list of 5 clients you want in the next 24 months. Shoot for the moon.

14. Rent a medium format film camera and shoot two rolls of 120. Slow down. Places will process your negs and give you scans these days for pretty cheap.

15. Look through the pictures in my portfolio and appropriate an idea. Tweak the concept and go make a better picture. It’s okay. We all do it. I’m probably looking at your work right now and am grateful for the inspiration.

16. Take 100 pictures with your iPhone. Or your Samsung phone. Or your point and shoot. Whatever camera is the closest to you right this minute. The best camera is the one that’s with you.

17. Refresh your website with at least one new picture. Or dig up an old one, re-process it and make it a new one.

18. Take a picture of something wherever you are when you read this post. Share it somehow, even if it isn’t your favorite. Post it to your blog, twitter, or link it in the comments below. Email or MMS it to somebody who will appreciate it.

19. Quit your day job if you hate it and can live without it. People say it’s a bad time to start a new business or go in a new direction. On the flipside, I think it’s a great time if you’ve got a clear vision and a little cushion.

20. Concept, shoot, and edit a short film (video) in a single day. Keep it cheap. Keep it short. Use whatever camera you have access to.

21. Show somebody your portfolio or a selection of pictures. Let them tell you which ones they like, but also be sure to ask them which ones they don’t like and why. You’ll likely learn something.

22. Back up your work. It’s not that hard and it’ll probably save your arse at some point in the very near future.

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a wonderful list, chase… and one to make resolutions from. as it turns out, many items on it were done today (many more than i expected). many are pointers i will use. thanks. and i got a flip for christmas – so more more to do…. :)

What a great bunch of suggestions & inspirations. Kinda makes me feel bad for sitting here surfing the net.

Thanks Chase….I will do research on how to set manual settings on my strobe instead of pretending I know what I'm doing with it!

Nugglemama says:

Great Post! I added it to my facebook page and twitter feed.

Trudy says:

This is one of the best posts that I've read in a while. Thank you so much.

Dixon Hamby says:

And I can tell from experience the last one is the most important. Lost a whole trip to Latin America because I didnt back up in time.

Joanna K. says:

thank you- I feel very warm and inspired after reading this!

you really don't "need" more comments, but here's one anyways. Thank you for continuing to inspire me. I moved to the city from the country side to get closer to the photo community. Now I just have to get the balls to meet people (i'm a wuss)

Aric says:

I got one to add… if you shoot color all the time shoot some B/W. If you always shoot B/W shoot color.

Steve Gibson says:

Now is not 'difficult' it is a perfect time to quit a day job you hate, you never regret that decision even if money becomes tight.

Thanks for those lines.

Wow! Head is spinning….cant’ wait to get out and do some of these!

seriously im inspired by your post
im just as noob as most of the freshmen.
i got great ideas but i dont have the luxury to share it with anyone.
hopefully one day my work will get notice.

CMurray says:

nice post :)
found you from epic edits

Mandy says:

Well this is going to keep me busy for a while! I like No. 16 the best…

Chase this is an amazing post, I’m gonna keep coming back to this for the next few days, it’s really got the gears going, thanks.

Yann Riche says:

Beer is on me!

this was the slap in the face I needed for my next day off to “get to it”. thanks for the wake up call Chase

- Matt Blassey
Pittsburgh ASMP

Number 13 – so simple yet so easily overlooked. Why wait for my dream clients to come to me? Could be a verrrry loooong wait.

alex hajdu says:

this is very true

Henning Wust says:

Thought one more time. So great, I needed to post the link to the blogentry in my own blog here:

Best regards


david chua says:

Thanks so much Chase! You have just reassured my decision to quit shooting the same stuff over and over again in my life and do what I like without worrying so much about livelihood! I am experiencing more breakthroughs in my last 3 months than I ever did in my last 9 years! I shall continue learning all the stuff you suggested.

Anonymous says:

Great, Great, great. Thank you Chase.

Chase Jarvis says:

@ car blog: yes, flip mino HD is fresh.

Robbie says:

Meep! So many terrific things I have to share — and get out and do!

Amazing post – Thank you Chase. Here is #2 & #18 for ya!

Split personalities and well-lit toes

Glyn Dewis says:

Awesome … just what I needed to read.

Glyn ;o)

Thanks Chase for putting words into my thoughts. Yes, what you wrote does work. I’m gonna share your post to my friends.

adam loewen says:

great ideas. just what I needed to read.

Pedro says:

MAn!!! Where the hell do you get all those ideas from!!! It’s been a while I’ve been reading you and following a lot of your work and have to SHOUT OUT LOUD… YOU MUST BE A HELL OF AN INTERESTING PERSON TO MEET IN REAL LIFE!!! Think I would give a finger or two for that!

Who knows… One day… Lifeis short but the world is also very small!!

Gonna take that picture now Master Yoda!!!! ;oP

Taara(as they say around here!)

Peter Pan.

You’re on!
As it happens, I did just decide to start shooting the things that interest me in my every day. I jam with a guitarist buddy weekly. His day job is building custom guitars, so I just started bringing my camera along.
Combine that with the “Blog-n-tell” challenge and well, here you go:

Jessica says:

This was just the inspiration I needed to get back on the photo wagon. Thanks!

Anonymous says:

Great and inspirational – day job not so good at the moment, so these thoughts are very welcome!

Great inspiring information for a Hump Wednesday bro… Thanks for the refreshing reminder :)

Henning Wust says:

WOW! Thanks!

Thats 100% inspiration!

Becky says:

I bought a Holga last Friday just for that purpose…and stuck a roll of Velvia in it. thanks for the inspiration

jeremy earl says:

thank you…i hate my job and frankly i’ve been a pu@#y about taking a chance….so here we go…!

car blog says:

Thanks Chase for the wonderful post. Inspirational. Which Flip do you recommend? The MinoHD?

Katie Wilkins says:

Yes, personal work. It’s been missing recently. Time to go outside :) Thanks Chase!!

C.C. Chapman says:

Great list. I think I’m going to have to print it out and save for a rainy day when I need a little kick in the creative pants

ok, see how this stuff works….. i started this yesterday…. ‘The DogTown iPhone project’ on my twitter:

Chase, i thank you man, great sharing of thoughts and inspiration. oh, and also thanks for the iphone tips too. killer stuff.

WidgetBook says:

A great post.

PS. waiting for iPhone OS 3 to get an iPhone…

MilesBintz says:


Great list! I will definitely tackle some of these!

WRT to your last item, I would also suggest that people practice a RESTORE after their back-up. I've seen many occassions where people back-up religiously only to find out that their restore ability was broken for some reason. Obviously, this only adds insult to injury!

Back-ups can't be emphasized enough, in general. I would assume that this community is comprised of avid photogs and they're probably careful about this… But imagine the casual P&S-camera-computer-phobic-family; who have years of family memories tucked away on a single hard drive. They're in danger of a devastating loss.

melody says:

A perfect post.

Sam Rogers says:

These words couldn’t have come at a better time for me my friend. This post gave me some truly needed motivation to go out here and kick is serious butt with my camera. Thanks!!!

Bob Lewis says:

This is just the inspiration I needed today! Thanks Chase. It’s a wonderful day!!!

Andy says:

Thanks chase; I’m living the camera phone dream too! – its teaching me a lot about composition and getting a way from always wanting the next best camera and thinking it will improve my photography.

Mike Kobal says:

great post. very inspiring. gotta shoot something today.

Sanford says:

Words to live by everyone. Thanks Chase….Again

Let’s have a look:

4. Connect with peers.
Check. Signed on with Twitter just last week.

5. Walk around with camera.
Check. Been shooting stuff around Bangkok streets.

7. Put together a book.
Check. Made a 160 page blurb book and gave it to my wife, only a month ago.

8. Client that hasn’t paid.
Check. It took 8 months (!), but they finally paid.

11. Read up.
Check. Was just re-reading Robert Frank’s bio the other day.

12. Newstand.
Check. Did that two weekends ago. Twice.

13. New client list.
Check. Already had two meetings with two perspectives.

15. Appropriate an idea from CJ portfolio.
Check. But no where near as good!

17. Refresh website.
Check. Last week I added Maldives Processing Plant photos to my portfolio.

Arctic | Icebergs to stock library last night –

Arctic | Landscapes to stock library last night –

21. Show portfolio and get feedback.
Check. Did that one t0o, only two weeks ago.

22. Back up your work.
Check. Did it this morning.

Okay, now onto the one’s I haven’t done yet/recently.


bp says:

#3 #10 #11 #14: ongoing
#18: seems easy#19: Cross fingers

thanks a lot from Istanbul for the kickstart.

az says:

Thank You Chase- that is exactly what I needed.

bee says:

Thanks a lot for this inspiration! You’re so right…

andychin says:

Thanks Chase! Very inspirational.

Chris says:

So, you had to know this was coming after asking us to take a photo wherever we were (#18). So here you go…(dont worry its not dirty)

etienne says:

Inspirationnal…definitely gonna post that on myfridge and read it everyday…thanks

Ryan Golla says:

Great article Chase! Thank you for the inspiration and ideas.

Refreshing and got me thinking of other idea like slapping on my least used lens to take photos for the day. It’ll force a change in the types of pictures I’d take.

Jose Ruiz says:

great great great inspiration. I’m going to print this one and put on my door. thanks chase

Just started mine, actually was thinking for a while but you finally made me do it!!


Thanks for the inspiration, my friend!

Danny says:

Way to go. Inspiration to everyone. Love it.

Aimee says:

fantastic fantastic post. Love all the ideas.

Yammie says:

Love this post Chase! So inspiring!!!

Emil says:

Like 14, try working in a different medium. I’ve been drawing with pen for a week (one 10-15 minute sketch per day) and its already been improving my vision.

gerard says:

posted a new photo on my blog :)

a very nice inspirational post!

Jamie says:

Very inspiring, love your blog. I’m already using my little nokia phone cam more cuz of you, even got a couple of shots. Gonna do no 15 and post it in the flicker group, and get a twiter account by the end of the week. Thanks for the inspiration. Time for bed in the UK. Peace.

NascentTelios says:

Thank you. I’m not even a photographer in any sense of the word, but this has moved me to do something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time. I appreciate it.

Great ideas Chase. I think it’s time I put up a new post on my blog. :-)

Matt says:

Amen Chase! Thanks for writing this :)

Bill says:

man, this was really good. i am saving it to my best blogs folder and going to attempt each one of them. this is really on time and really, really good(can’t stop saying really good…lol). thanks so much. it means alot.

iamchanelle says:

awesome inspiring post. thanks for that.

Will says:

I’m not a pro tog, but yeah, I should get some ideas for a personal project together if only to be creative in a more structured way rather than just taking photos of what I see and find interesting.

Some good ideas!

Jurgen says:

Hi Chase,

Brilliant points. Fell in love with my iPhone camera and find a new challenge to work with the absolute limitations of it.
I love your point that gear has little to do with photography. At the end of the day, all you need is a camera obscura. Renting the equipment you can’t afford to buy might just demystify the whole thing and you start appreciating what you have and make the best out of that.
I find often in situations, where I don’t have the stuff or not with me that my creativity kicks in and I find new solutions I haven’t thouht of before.
Thanks Chase for your substantial amount of inspiration.

Jeff Papin says:

Perfect time for a back-up…

FOOSE says:

Thanks Chase, starting with #18 today.

Child Person says:

You certainly made the day for lots of people! Add me to the list…heading out with my little camera just for the sheer pleasure of it. Thanks!

like you said:
my blog:
and https://twitpic/520vx
if some one goes to my blog leave a comment!!

Here’s for #21. Let me know what you think.

Eric Petersen

Great post – lots of things that are easily done, but so easily overlooked.


Great stuff Chase! Was a good reminder on a couple of things and some sweet ideas that I haven’t done yet – thanks for taking the time to post!

Dave Bradley says:

My tree is shook. Thanks.

thank you so much for this great post!

here’s my blogpost about yours and my photo!

greetings from cologne

wannabe says:


posted images to the blog.

also, first new picture in ‘landscapes.’ is new today.

Thanks Chase, My response to your #18 recommendation

“Take a picture of something wherever you are when you read this post….”

falleri says:

Nice, thanks for this list. Lots of them were on my own “list” already, but it’s great to have a reminder every now and then.. and there’s a lot of fresh ideas for me too.

Inspiring post – and not just photographers, but also for any creative worker (naturally with adaptations).
The 23rd step I would recommend is Go to your local restaurant and/or cafe and ask if you could hold an exhibition of your work there. Choose stock of suitable photos with you and select the exhibition material with him/her.

Thanks for this. I can do 5 of them right after I right this.

andycollins says:

thanks for the kick in the pants! I’ve been needing to get off my arse for a while

Kara says:

Very inspiring post. I’ve already printed it out and will work my way through it. I just took 40 photos of my cube at work – who knew. :)

Emon says:

Wow, man, just the boost I needed. #1 and #13 is what I’ll go for. #19 I think about a lot but am going to hold on to for just a bit. Clear vision, I agree, is what sets you apart.

Thanks for this post!!

matt says:

Thanks, Chase. Awesome reminders and inspiration … and kick in the pants!

Jeremy says:

Thanks for this, Chase…

Great post!

I found a model and makeup artist to trade time for pics (zero budget). I don’t recommend doing this a lot but it’s good to keep the creativity fresh. I always learn things that inform my client portraits and keep me moving forward.

emily says:

Great stuff. Definitely a much needed boost today.


David Burke says:

thanks Chase. This is just what the Dr ordered today. On my way to shoot some personal work.

Day19 says:

#22, #22, #22.

Thanks soo much Chase…I read it and I showed my friends #9 cos they always say my pics are due to my gear and its TOTALLY NOT…Thanks again, I appreciate!!!

Roger Madsen says:

Great inspiration. Thanks! Number 19 is most tempting :-)


Here’s my link which didn’t activate previously,
G20 stillsAnd here’s a Flip Video and stills movie of same,
G20 MovieYou are absolutely right about the Flip. I’m a little tired of mine now but I haven’t got anything else nor can I, at this time, afford anything better. But it’s a brilliant little thing to use and can yield fine results.

I would love to fetch me the new Flip Ultra HD with stereo mics and hack it with a wide lens.

I’m going to stay in an Irish lighthouse with my wife and kids in a couple of weeks and hope to flog a picture feature afterwards. I will also make a movie about it all.

I’ve got 3 Blurb books I need to make for their big competition. That’s my next task.

Paul Treacy

R. Aubin says:

Finally a list of the top xx items that was actually worth the read. No filler, short and sweet.

Thanks for this.

Excellent article, really gives us something to focus on.

Ed Z says:

Great list. I’ve been trying to do a number of those things myself recently!

You never cease to impress me Chase. I think your open and honest attitude toward this industry is having a very real and positive effect on us all.

Thank you for sharing.

Thank you Chase needed to read it thank you very much


So very well thought out. Got so inspired I wet my pants.

Kari Crowe says:

pure greatness:)

Lindsey says:

Excellent post! I’m going to see how many of those I can check off by Monday.

Sweet inspiration Chase … no excuses now ;)


I found your list very uplifting. It put me in a good mood.

I put a new gallery on my site just yesterday,

Now I just need to work my way through the rest of the list and make stuff happen.

Good man Chase for chasing us up.

Paul Treacy

Craig says:

Awesome inspiration Chase! thanks for the post. Now i just need the motivation to get off my arse and go do some of it :)

Christian says:

Great post, Chase. Thanks so much!

I spent the afternoon working on Number 4:

Anonymous says:

dude, your a mindreader! i was literally thinking of and working on exactly at least a couple of these things. but very succinctly put. thanks for the clarity/ clarification.

bobcoran says:

Very inspiring! Thanks!

Becks says:

Stop looking at my work! ;)

And also, are you planning some sort of mass storage device attack (re: point 22) ;P

Shelby White says:

Chase, thanks for the kick here!

Anonymous says:

As always great post.

brent... says:

DUDE – thank you for validating my day!

Dan C says:

I’ve created a Flickr group for sharing the things people create after following the advice of #15.

It’s called ‘Better than Jarvis’

Ian says:

I am gonna print this one out!

I am already working my iPhone camera cuz of you !

Thanks for the kick in the pants. Even someone like myself, 20plus years as a pro, need this.

Sherri Meyer says:

Chase – this is a fantastic list of ideas to get the creative juices flowing. I will make it a point to do one of them today!

nice little refreshment, thanks my bro!

Simon says:

Just what I needed to read. Thanks for the inspiration.

sweetness and awesomeness…thanks Chase

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