5 Photoshoot Ideas Worth Stealing

chasejarvis_5photoshootideasRunning dry on ideas to push yourself and your photography portfolio? Here’s 5 ideas worth stealing. Perhaps one might catch your attention, or inspire to you do something similar. Or very very different.

1. Photograph one of your grandparents extensively. Might sound boring, but I assure you it will be profound. If you’re lucky enough that your grandparents are still with you, spend an entire day–or better, a week perhaps–photographing your grandma or grandpa. 1,000 images at least. Portraits, close ups of her eye, her hands. Fill the frame with her face. Photograph her in her home or wherever she lives, those places tend to be visually wonderful and strange at the same time. Amazing still life’s everywhere… You’ll connect with your grandma in a very deep way and you’ll have made some amazing photographs. And when he or she passes on, you’ll have the world’s best images to remember them by. Cost: $0.

2. Flood a space with an inch of water. Have a dancer perform, or some sports stuff, shoot from overhead. Capture an ethereal moment of where it looks like someone is performing on water. Shoot any, some, all of this from a tall ladder. Or flood a tennis court and shoot some crazy cool shots. Logistically this isn’t as tough as it sounds. You’ll need the right space, some visqueen and sandbags, and a good bit of water, but this could be a portfolio opener. Some really cool post production will take this shot to the moon. Think of the reflections and the depth. Estimated costs: under $500.

3. Get 5 friends to drive their cars onto the freeway at bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic… Have your friends jockey their cars into position side by side. You’re waiting at the next freeway overpass with your camera. As your friends approach, the all stop for about 10 seconds in a line. The traffic in front of them continues to pull forward under your overpass. Start shooting. If you’re friends are as crazy as mine, have them hop out of their cars and pose for a couple of seconds while you grab the shot. Imagine the final images, 5 cars in a row with 1,000 cars lined up in the background. Estimated costs: $0. Unless of course

…you realize that you’re breaking the law and get caught, that you’re putting people at safety risk (moderate) and inconveniencing 1,000 people (although just for 10 seconds). Disclaimer: I’m not recommending this. If you do this one, you didn’t hear it from me. It’s illegal and dangerous. But I might get this image before you do ;)

4. Roadtrip with a twist.
Take a trip with 4 of your best friends out to the coast camping in the summertime, or the desert in the autumn. Tell them to bring interesting clothes and props. Whatever they can dig up. Seek the strange. Stop off at a thrift store and buy some strange stuff that will act as muses for you. Shoot at least 500 images…all the ‘off’ moments, not single posed image. And here’s the kicker. Do it with film. The oldest film you can find, expired Portra 400 color print film. And an old camera. A holga perhaps, or an old hasselblad (cheap rental). Or (gasp) a 35mm point and shoot. Get the negs scanned at the local lab when you get home. Price: Gas plus food plus $400 in film expenses. $40 in junk from the thrift store. You’ll get priceless moments of those people closest to you. And you’ll be experimenting all the while…

5. Find a huge trampoline on a perfectly blue-sky day. Get a couple models–friends, pros, whatever. Dress them up really interestingly…fashion, sports, whatever. Wait till just before sunset then hose them down–I mean soak them– and have them bounce on the trampoline, over and over, high into the deep blue sky. Photograph them from your position on the ground so they’re floating in a sea of blue. With some interesting post production and the rich light of sunset, it’ll seem like they’re underwater, but not. It’ll read very surreal.

So, obviously, whether or not these ideas are worth stealing is completely up to you. The real point is that I came up with these ideas in 5 minutes and you can too. You can do better in fact, because you know what you like to shoot. But perhaps even more important than what each of us does with any particular idea, is the underscoring f the notion that ideas aren’t meant to be hoarded, they’re meant to be shared. Create yourself as an idea machine. Appropriate ideas an put YOUR twist on them. After all, there are no original ideas, just variants on existing ones. Borrow ideas and give ideas away. Treat them like the fleeting and changing things that they are, and they will come back to you in hordes.

And btw, I recently used my dreams as the source for a photo shoot. Here’s the result..

Mitchell says:

Hello there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I really enjoy reading through your blog posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same subjects? Thank you!

Magnificent site. Plenty of useful information here. I am sending it to a few buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And naturally, thank you to your sweat!

Scot says:

I delight in the details on your site. Many thanks!.

No Thanks says:

Perhaps Chase could take a nap on some railroad tracks with a video camera running, then come back here with an update.

edin says:

You rock!!! I like the mini road trip with a twist :)

Mark says:

LOVE the water concept. I’ve conducted water tango shots before, but never considered doing them from above. Thanks!

voyance gratuite amour parisConsulter mon magnifique web site: voyance

Avraham says:

#1 hits home with me, I just lost my grandmother last week, and most of the time she was my subject to test my lighting, now I have many many images of her smiling and making silly faces, do take images or your grandparents and your parents because you just never know, you dont want your last photo of them to be 2 years ago at some party!


Jake Repko says:

Chase Jarvis – you are the fuc*king man. That is all.

Mack says:


ken says:

For (1), do the same w/ your parents. Mine died when I was young, so you don’t appreciate them not being there unless they aren’t :-P

For (3), I’d echo what others said. Causing a traffic jam for one stupid photo is a dumb inconsiderate self-centered jerk of an idea. Sorry Chase. If you don’t realize this by now, you should really look hard at it and put yourself in the shoes of people this messes up…and ask yourself why you thought of this in the first place :-P

MC says:

“dozens killed in freeway pileup”… you do know how many people texting and calling will just slam into stopped cars on the freeway? If someone needs ideas like these to get out and shoot, maybe they should put their cameras on eBay.

MajRon says:

No 3 is stupid – really stupid and potentially dangerous.

MonicaBerry says:

I wonder if with #3 you were (subconsciously?) thinking of something that was already done, not as a photo op, but to prove that the speed limit in a particular area was unrealistic, completely disregarded & unenforced. A group of people drove their cars parallel to each other in the lanes of the highway going exactly the speed limit & a similar image appeared. Tons of traffic was backed up & it was totally clear ahead of them… and they didn’t do anything illegal.
Sorry if someone else already pointed this out, way too many comments for me to sift through! ;)

Number 3 is Irresponsible, dangerous, inconsiderate…..plain and simple….NOT A GOOD IDEA

Mpho Zitha says:

Good ideas,keep it up

Excellent goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you’re just too wonderful. I really like what you have acquired here, really like what you’re stating and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it smart. I can’t wait to read far more from you. This is really a wonderful website.

I usually do not drop many comments, but i did some searching and wound up here 5 Photoshoot Ideas Worth Stealing | Chase Jarvis Blog. And I actually do have a couple of questions for you if you usually do not mind. Could it be only me or does it look like some of the responses come across like written by brain dead individuals? :-P And, if you are writing on other online sites, I would like to follow anything fresh you have to post. Could you list of the complete urls of your social sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

Farrah says:

‘ I think she is very pretty tat is a very nice photo shot picture but what i dont understand is were is the other four?

YRaj says:

You just unleashed my creativity….thank you so much…it’s called pushing the envelope and thinking out of the box…thank you.

Great piece. Thanks for sharing. As a photographer myself I appreciate the photo ideas.

Anonymous says:

I love them!! seriously girl im liking ur brainstorms!!!

You have a great eye and a very interesting perspective. Thank you for motivating me to be be a better shooter!

Some very good photographic suggestions and ideas Chase! I will try to photograph around Indiana and get some of those great shots.

Thanks for the great write up.

All great ideas. Thanks for sharing. I used similar techniques early on in learning photography by choosing friends to photograph in depth at different settings. It was definitely a great learning experience, and above all very comfortable.

James says:

Interesting ideas. While I do not agree with the technique of the traffic scenario, it is a great example of how mundane situations can be transformed into extraordinary ones!

Sara Smets says:

Thnx for the beautiful ideas, it’s the energy in it that makes you wanna move, pick your camera and do the stuff you like, all that sharing and doing with friends and you will create unforgetable moments …

Haha, love these ideas! Especially the wet ones. And the freeway one… I just love them all, basically!

Ralf says:

talking TOO much
make images!

JPayne says:

Some great ideas. Like the sound of the trampoline one. Might have to give that a go!

Barrosinc says:

I went out and shot my granfather.

He is my role model!!


I recomend you all go and do this! it is great!

Loving the freeway car stop idea. I may bring a model or two to hop on the cars though.


Philip says:

I actually recall someone doing the car idea but not for a photo shoot. It was to demonstrate the the speed limit was unnecessarily low. A group of cars drove side by side at the speed limit and caused all the cars behind them to follow the speed limits. Eventually other cars would break the law just to get ahead of them.

Danny Santos says:

Chase, you're idea #1 just inspired me to do exactly the same thing to my parents. I see them rarely coz I work overseas, but I'll be doing exactly that next time I visit this christmas. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

Strobox says:

I loved the car idea and would love to see if anyone has actually done it.

Another idea to add is smoke. It's easy to get a hold of smoke machine and you can make photos in any environment look so much cooler with smoke – thick or thin.

Nez says:

wow.. these are interesting.. especially no 1.. love it!!

100% agree with grandparents. Or any family member, really. My aunt nearly died in a very bizarre, out of the blue way – but she pulled through – and you can bet the next time I saw her we had one hell of a photo shoot.

Chase Jarvis says:

friends. totally vibe you on not wasting others' time on the car one….

but that's not intended to be the REAL focus of this post. this post is about bringing ideas forward and realizing them and making them and giving them away.

i'm glad you shared your opinion about my ideas. no come back at me with some others!

RichMeade says:

Awesome Ideas Chase!

a few years back a group of kids pulled a similar highway concept here in Atlanta and made a video of it.


(3:45) is where you really see the effect, but before that they show you some of the dumb shit people will do in traffic.

Tom says:

That was a great post, thanks. Awesome ideas.

kids games says:

Great tips! Thanks

Anonymous says:

#3 is stealing a whole lot of time from a lot of people. Say it works out to be a minute stolen from 10,000 people, which could easily happen.* That is seven *days* of other people's lives that you have just destroyed.

*Nobody can get out of their car, let you take a photo, get back in, and start driving, in ten seconds. Also, traffic jams accumulate in a ripple going backward, so a ten second delay at the start could become much larger down the road.

pamckes says:

great ideas!!! would love to try the water one w my boys on skateboards this Summer!
BTW, LOVE the pic of the young beauty in the car…… how can i not, she's my lovely daughter!!!!!

pamckes says:

love all the ideas!
always in for something new!
Photographing the Grandparents, something we all need to do! its a must!
BTW, love the pic of the beauty in the car….. yet again how can i not!!! she's my lovely Daughter!

Adam Coppola says:


Love the Ideas. I always struggle with trying to decide to bring my camera gear and photograph during the fun outdoor things that my friends and I do. Like snowboarding… I know I can't snowboard as hard if I've got 10lbs, or better put 10Grand, in my hand and backpack…. huge dilemma I always face.

The pic above is amazing, but I would love to see the focus spot on the sunglass shade and hair right around the sunglasses.

Love your work, and love following the blog.

Thanks for continuing to inspire my photography


Thanks for cool ideas! Some of them seems really worth stealing (all of them, but some are easier to organize). The link at the end is also cool. Thanks for sharing it!

Chaz Boyd says:

who is going to a job interview @ 5pm? im so shooting the freeway idea.

Mike Yip says:

very interesting ideas.

tried taking photos of my grandma but got scolded instead. LOL

the highway idea is fantastic but it's dangerous if you have some idiots racing a long and didn't realize the traffic has stopped.

Kitty says:

I'm going to be a Grandma this summer and would love to be a model for my Grandchild someday. I took pics of 37 nursing home residents for Help-Portrait, one was 100. Some of them were really into it. And they got to keep their pics.

I must confess that in college, many moons ago, on a hot, humid TX night, we flooded the dorm hallway from a plugged water fountain and went slip and sliding. Not sure if anyone took photos but it was a blast.
And no one got suspended that time! ;)

Jason says:

I love the grandparents one. I did that a few years ago with my Grandfather. It didn't seem like muc at the time but when he past away, spend that time with him and having those shots meant a great deal to myself and my family.

The rest of the ideas are fantastic too!! great ideas!!

Dan says:

The highway shoot is foolish. What if there is an accident because of this and someone is hurt, seriously hurt or killed? And seconds count when someone is trying to get to the hospital, whether in an ambulance or a car. Not cool.

Anonymous says:

Sorry to be a bother, but I cannot seem to find a shop that has old Hasselblad cameras cheap. Do you mind finding a shop for me?

Hawkman says:

Good ones, but why not 6 and 7: Seamless white paper against a (shadowed) wall downtown (like Clay Enos did a while back), or the school\local sports team? Those guys\girls always want some decent mugshots, and you can have a fair amount of guinea-… MODELS to use.

Darrell says:

As a coroner investigator I hate the traffic idea, but as a photographer, oh man, I am loving it! Totally easy to pull off in massively congested 101 in Marin County! Clinton held up an airport for a haircut and a radio DJ did the same on the Golden Gate Bridge – but then again, that DJ was tossed out of California after that. Hmmm.

Chase Jarvis says:

@anon: you can rent old hassies at almost any pro camera shop… for cheap.

Mer Phillips says:

i dig the trampoline idea! thanks!

usually i like most of your posts. this one is lame. i hope there are no readers here who really need this sort of "inspiration".

but most of all i think the freeway-shoot is one of your weakest moments. maybe in seattle you get a cheer from the bleachers for that – here in central europe you play with the lifes of other people. there is enough danger on the roads already.
so you're risking other peoples lifes, their time (and money), pissing most of them of … are you really that kind of person, that doesn't give a damn about the people around you? where i'm from most teenagers are more grown up (in a good way) than that.

if your risking your life, health, time or good mood and that of willing participants – knock yourself out. but think your 5min-ideas a little bit more through.

Sangeeth says:

Wonderful ideas and so interesting.
Thanks for sharing.


Fan says:

The freeway one causes much more than 10 seconds of inconvenience due to 'traffic jam physics'. Regardless, 10 seconds x 1000 people is almost 3 hours you've stolen for your gain.

Other ideas are great and appreciated though

jr cline says:

These ideas got my creative neurons fired up.

Anonymous says:

Does anyone know where you can rent old Hasselblads?

ice says:

Freeway stop. Really? I'm with previous poster, "why does art have to be rude?" Imagine you're stuck behind this train wreck of an idea and late for a job, interview, etc. Imagine there's an ambulance with a sick or dying patient stuck behind this freak show. Not cool.

Anonymous says:

Great advice Chase – it's easy to get lazy when normal stuff is taking precedent on your day to day carry on and passion. Thanks for that – you have inspired a good kick of motivation and put the camera back into my hands – peace ! Dave from Ireland http://www.loadednikon.com

btw Im very happy with my Google status also. Type loaded nikon and you will find me on the front page number 4 from the top – chuffed !!

jason says:

I effin love these ideas! The wheels they are a spinin!

Anonymous says:

Oh the places your can go with photography… Thanks for the inspiration Chase!

Anonymous says:

Great idea, so the community should build on it. This year I decided, not unlike another CJ project, to try and shoot as many interesting people doing interesting things in the city I live in. Whether it is the B-Boy Crew who busks under the bridge after the fire works or the members of the 100+ year old rugby club does not matter as long as I find them interesting.

Anyone else have some ideas? And Cory, if you get that shot, I will buy it!

Michael says:

Shooting from underneath a trampoline (making sure your head won't get stomped of course) makes for some interesting shots too.


Not my original idea…stole it from someone else.

#3 was done by GA State students a while back to demonstrate that the speed limit on I-285 needs to be increased. http://bit.ly/aLH0N3

Cory says:

I think I'm going to see if my grandma would be up for jumping on a trampoline in thrift store clothes soaking wet next to the freeway at evening rush rour after a rain storm while I photograph her from a 20 foot ladder with an old view camera. She just might go for it.

Steven says:

Steal some ideas, sure – but don't do exactly the same thing as someone else and end up on this site:


tyron says:

number 3 is a cool idea.

Noah Fallis says:

Love the Grandparent thing. Tested it out on my Grandma last year:


It had a profound effect on my family. Now I'm trying to shoot one a week. HIghly recommend doing this one…

I'm already scheduled for #1 on Sunday. She's turning 90. It's gonna be epic.

Phong says:

:) Awesome. Definitely worth stealing.

photokp1 says:

A friend and I talked about something similar to #5 a few weeks ago. Add tubing on Big Reed Island Ck when the water warms up.

jonny says:

I've always wanted to take a friend, strap a seamless backdrop stand to their back along with a speedlight and small softbox or umbrella, and then follow them all over downtown getting people to get their picture taken in the portable studio. Would be a total blast, and probably end up being good marketing in the end too. You never know who's picture you'll end up taking.

Feel free to steal this idea :)

Krula says:

Haha, I’ve been doing this in London for over two years now :)
Please check my website for this project:

Love the Water Ideas!
This is Now Officially a Good Day!

Glyn Dewis says:

Some great ideas here Chase; thanks for sharing.
The Freeway (Motorway) one wouldn't be a problem at any time of day here in the UK if using the M25. Rumour has it they've removed all the speed cameras and replaced them with artists to draw the cars as traffic is that bad :o)


Sue says:

haha! Great ideas! Although I still have nightmares of my kids flying into the pine trees as they jumped the trampoline as crazy teens. : )

Chinese fire drill on the highway!! Been there… done that… on the GWB too! LOL in a row of Toyota Supras coming back from the Englishtown NJ meet. So wish I thought to shoot it.

Sue says:

haha! Great ideas! Although I still have nightmares of my kids flying into the pine trees as they jumped the trampoline as crazy teens. : )

jayanth says:

yessss! i did shoot my gdad with bw film and it was pretty kickass. best shot of mine till date.

These are great ideas. I'm driving across the country with my mother in a week and I plan on photographing her the whole time. It should be an interesting trip.

Anonymous says:

yes it will

Barrett says:

Chase, you've done it again… stirred up some thoughts in my noggin. Thanks for sharing these.

Several sound just great!

Jeff says:

Thanks for some thought provokers… first thing on agenda, find some friends :)

Daf says:

Ree Freeway one…

"Yes Officer, I know it's wrong"
"No officer – it's not my fault."
"Chase MADE me do it! It's all his fault"


Daf says:

Soooo want to photograph an old wrinkley man in B&W; with dramatic lighting – you know the fisherman type picture. But alas both grandfathers died early on.
Anybody lend me their grandfather ?

oldschoolphotographer says:

Go to a senior home…meet someone…spend time with them…they if enjoy the company and you get your photos..

Dig it! Now who owns a trampoline in Hong Kong…?

Watson says:

#3 (Roadtrip) is a little played out, but the #2 (Tennis courts) idea is solid.

Hope to see Stealourideas again. Fun reads.

I don't think any of these would cost too much money if you played your cards right.

Great ideas Chase, tks!

Jenna says:

ha! i love these all! i think the last one was my favorite. i may have to give them all a try. :)

Rúben Neves says:

Always pushing up for some new works… Tks again for the ideas! ;)

Joshua says:

My mind was just inundated with endless possibility and images. – For the moment, at least. What a great kick-start to my week of vacation!

Josh says:

i want to plaster someone's face with fortunes from cookies and take a photograph of the fortunate mummy. any volunteers?

Brooklyn says:

I do :)

Nice freeway idea… By the way, I really think you're going to shoot this one before everyone: you got the money (I mean your agency) to do this :)

William Beem says:

All interesting, except #3. Why does art have to be so inconsiderate of others? That takes you down a notch, in my eyes.

Anonymous says:

That. what makes,it,so, good.

Markus says:

Ah c’mon cheer up mate! “Inconsiderate of others” for 10 seconds..
I am sure everybody does a lot of things of that “caliber” every week and is not even aware of it.

Shelby White says:

Ha! Loving the freeway car stop idea.

Gary says:

Haha great ideas :)

Grouch says:

I’m guessing anyone who loves this idea has never ridden in the back of an ambulance.

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