Exploring Risk: Conversation Yields Innovation

The times they are a changing. We’re finally breaking into a new era, one that’s much less about companies filling formulaic advertising buckets like single page ads and 30-second spots, and much more about finding new approaches to connect meaningfully with an audience.

As a professional creative, this is a huge breath of fresh air for me.

It’s with that in mind that I’m excited to introduce some of my latest work: two short films exploring the topic of RISK. Risk is something we all experience everyday. It presents itself–and is mitigated–in a myriad of ways. What are YOU risking in pursuit of your job, your hobbies, your profession? How do you deal with it?

The two shorts above are the beginnings of a five-part series that I’ve been commissioned to create, thanks to an amazing company called Russell Investments and their latest campaign Conversation Yields Innovation (please check it out).

Few clients give the kind of freedom to the artists they hire as I’ve been given on this gig. The normal escapades usually require that we dress-up advertising imagery to simulate real-life. This project is entirely different. At its core, Russell has asked me to find and interview…a handful of not-so-everyday people, and understand how they feel about real-world concepts like risk, security, and innovation. They are genuinely interested in the conversation. The only requirements for these films are that I reveal interesting insights and make them beautiful. I hope that I’m on the right track. I’d love to know what you think about what we’ve created.

For the techies, we shot all this using the RED one and Nikon D3s cameras and we used a variety of cool techniques to capture the footage. We’ll deliver a behind-the-scenes look in the very near future…

But more important than all that, is this: since risk is such a part of expressing yourself as an artist and since it plays a huge role for those of us that are independent business owners, I’d love hear from YOU about about risk in your life. How do you engage, mitigate, and live with risk?

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Dan Speicher says:

Chase,

Love these videos, find myself coming back often to watch them.

I am wondering what you are using for the location audio… what mics do you use? are you using wireless or shotgun’s?

Any advice you can give on this would be amazing! Documentaries would be horrible without quality audio!

Thanks

mark says:

risk is something that the human race needs to progress forward and explore

John Grover says:

this series is some of the most inspiring and beautiful advertising I have seen. It is truly high art for the soul.

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It warms my heart to see advertising dollars being spent on the creation of something meaningful, beautiful, and inspiring.

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David says:

It took me a little while to get around to watching these, but now that I have I'm very impressed, as always! :-)

David says:

Great videos!

Risk is a natural aspect of life.

At the beginning of the year I took on a pretty big risk when I decided to become a freelance web designer because the company I work for is on the verge of going out of business. It's stressful & worrisome, yet exciting & liberating at the same time.

I've got an upcoming project next month where I'm filming a solo road trip from San Diego back to Seattle via HWY 1 & 101 along the west coast. I'm a bit low on funds, but it was a necessary risk to upgrade my current camera equipment in order to complete the project.

Dan says:

I know, I'm always last to comment, but his videos are beautiful and super inspiring. Thanks

Leon Schoots says:

Hey Chase,

Since my friend introduced me to your work and you website I have been keeping up to date with all your new projects and posts. I recently went from working for one of Australia's best family and kids studios back to College to pursue what I'm really passionate about.

I'm in my first year of study at Photography Studies College in Melbourne and will be going down the commercial path. I wanted to write to you because I find your post so inspiring, I recently shared a bunch of your stuff with my class and when ever I feel low on creativity or where I'm heading I find your website drags me out of that rut very quickly.

I just finished watching your short films on risk and I thought I would share my story with you.

After final getting up the courage to pursue photography as a career due to the constant reminder of how unstable and unpredictalbe it is I moved 7 hours away from my family and worked for a Studio for just over 12 months, I then had the fortune of opening and managing a studio for the same company in Saudi Arabia where I lived by myself for 3 months, after returning to Australia I promised myself that I would no longer do something I did feel passionate about and decided to quite my job and take a Risk in going back to College and pursue the field I love.

Thanks for all your inspiring words and I hope to be half the artist you are one day.

Canadada says:

Risk?
Learning to trust my gut instinct.
Over-thinking can ruin spontaneity.

Not to belittle 'care' or 'attention to detail', but yes, at a certain point, you just gotta hold your nose, and JUMP RIGHT IN. It's really up to your instincts, whether you'll sink, or SWIM …

Another great post.
Thanks Chase.

Groove707 says:

Very nice! Beautiful to look at and evocative. And… since we're in the image business, I especially like how deftly it fulfills the client objectives. A win-win, you do something you like and the client gets their money's worth.

I've done a lot of talking in the past several years and I'm learning that Action = Risk = Joy = Profitable Life. My Mantra: Stop talking and do something!

Thank you Chase and your team for so much encouragement on this.

andrew says:

Very nicely shot clips with lovely lighting and sound.

BUT…..

Seriously haven't we all had enough of financial organisations (I'm guessing that this is a finance company ad) taking themselves so seriously and lecturing us on how they manage risk while sucking away fees and operating with huge conflicts of interest.

Chase, your work is great and I'm sure you had a tight brief but my personal view is that these vidoes are as inspirational as those crappy inspirational posters that people stick on their walls.
Isn't this stuff just patronising the audience at best and at worst misleading them.

Andrew J

Kyle says:

Hmm. I have to say that this video made me think.

When my husband and I quit our jobs to become full time photographers, I actually didn't feel like it was that big of a risk. Why, because we had savings and some bookings and total faith in ourselves. But that's not to say it wasn't risky.

I think the biggest risk I've taken is working as a photographer in a developing country. The risk is that I will never be able to convince people to pay me the same amount I'd be making in a developed country (or enough to live the same standard of living). But the pay-off will be that I'm here first. There's no one else doing what I'm doing. And hopefully that will be enough to sustain my business in the near future.

Eth says:

My supreme hesitation to take risks holds me back.

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inspired. thanks a lot.

Loves,
Gerry, Malaysia

Alex Gauthier says:

This theme strikes a chord with me. I think all of us trying to build a career in photography have a lot on the line. In my case, I've bet my home and my future financial stability on it. More than, that; what I see is truly at risk, is all my dreams. I'm not a person who can easily punch a clock for some large company doing the same thing every day. It really does boil down to- make this work or grow old and eventually die trying.

"To risk nothing is to take the biggest risk of all." …nice quote Joshua . Where do you got it ?

k says:

Wonderful videos. I think the skateboarder said it best when he said he doesn't take 'stupid risks'. There is much to be said for paying your dues and working hard to minimize your risks. And sometimes not taking a risk is the foolish thing to do–especially if it means not growing or not doing what you need to do to be happy. I read somewhere recently: "fear is temporary, regret is forever"

Very innovative. Love sharing this with people in my life who aren't creatives. Good stuff, as usual.
-s

Chase,
these are both amazing. I love the treatment and the way you tell both stories in a dynamic way. You have a gift for story telling that comes across so strongly in video.

Amazing stuff. I may like you more as a director than photographer, and that's saying a LOT considering how much I respect your photography.

This is a fascinating look into lives and viewpoints. I'm quite interested in seeing the other three pieces. Quite like how you've chosen to shoot. It feels slow, deliberate, and intimate. Well done.

Bryce Gehrls says:

I truly enjoyed these videos!

WOW Chase…these videos are amazing

For both videos, I love your selection of models/actors/actresses…also, they are very interesting and engaging…for the first video…I love the camera angles and the way you played with shadows creatively…I also love the editing and soundtrack…I was thrown out of balance when the guy in the first video mentioned his age…the way that information was presented thru the editing was pretty sick…I love it

For the second video, the woman mainly focused on her job and we did not get to see other aspects of her, like her family…

I prefer the first video because the man talked about risk as a skater and risk as a father and from that video, I could conclude on the type of person he is…for the second video, it was almost unilateral…only her job/business risk was addressed but I love the camera angles and editing too…

Great job on both videos…I can't wait to see the rest…Also, how did you go about scouting for the models??? We will be happy to see the Behind-the-scenes footage for both videos…

Thanks again

http://www.facebook.com/dialachineduphotography

WOW Chase…these videos are amazing

For both videos, I love your selection of models/actors/actresses…also, they are very interesting and engaging…for the first video…I love the camera angles and the way you played with shadows creatively…I also love the editing and soundtrack…I was thrown out of balance when the guy in the first video mentioned his age…the way that information was presented thru the editing was pretty sick…I love it

For the second video, the woman mainly focused on her job and we did not get to see other aspects of her, like her family…

I prefer the first video because the man talked about risk as a skater and risk as a father and from that video, I could conclude on the type of person he is…for the second video, it was almost unilateral…only her job/business risk was addressed but I love the camera angles and editing too…

Great job on both videos…I can't wait to see the rest…Also, how did you go about scouting for the models??? We will be happy to see the Behind-the-scenes footage for both videos…

Thanks again

http://www.facebook.com/dialachineduphotography

Dave says:

Hey Chase,
As usual your execution is right on and well done. I imagine most of these are in the bag and any criticism you hear on this board has no chance of actually affecting your crafting of these videos. In that sense you really haven't taken any "risk" in posting these. My two cents….I would love to see a story about someone in a more "mainstream" career. Someone talking about being an accountant or something. Also I think the word risk is very close to being beaten to death, especially in advertising. Really what does it mean, what are you talking about? A lot of people are getting paid to tell people to take risks. Then they never really talk about what it actually means. It's becoming a catch phrase like "go for it!". The skateboarder came the closest when talks about the risk of getting physically hurt. That was interesting and substantial. If you are really interested in pursuing this I would love to hold your feet to the fire and ask you to really talk about the actual risks we as photographers need to take. Do we have to mortgage our houses to buy gear and start our business. Do we need to wrestle alligators to get cool pictures? Do we need take a picture of a crucifix in a bottle of urine? What concrete risks does an average wedding photographer need to take? How about an advertising photographer. I did like the videos and was actually inspired by them. I felt a personal call to action. I just feel people could use some nut n bolts talk of what risk actually means. A few years ago you posted a video about an REI shoot in New Zealand. It was cool and fun and inspiring. However due to so many questions about gear you posted a second video about the bike mounted camera set up. I think that's what I'm talking about here.

Cheers,
Dave

Ryan Diener says:

I orig. hailed from good-old Seattle, but having just graduated from college, and still looking for work as a designer, I decided it was time for a change. I packed up and am living in Tokyo. I don't know a lick of Japanese. Everyday is new and it feels great!

"'Safe' is risky." Seth Godin

Bruko says:

You guys did an amazing job in shooting and putting together the shorts.
Amazing light and great storytelling.

Risks… I take way to few.
I often play it safe and I think that is my main limitation right now.
This needs to change, so thanks for the kick in the butt :)

Shawn says:

I love the last shot of the skateboarder. How u managed to time his finishing his run with the camera reaching the top of the tunnel is magnificent! How did you do it?

magicsnaps says:

Inspirational, warm, moving, charming, beautiful & that's just Chase (I imagine). The two movies aren't too scrappy either….
On a serious note, I think the digital world has knocked back many photographers quite unexpectedly & it's a scary place out there right now. This guy seems to be doing something really special sharing his work with this kind of posting. All strength to him.

Alex says:

Wow… I totally love these two shorts. You get me inspired in filming and to be creative. AND you give me a kick in the ass to get out of my comfort, non-risky, zone and take wise risks in order to develop as a photograhper.

These two films has beautiful artistic character but also an important message that I need to hear.

Thanks Chase!

Great shorts! I love that fact that you take risks and win big

Ranski says:

Since I enjoying climbing I often have discussions with my friends and often with myself about risk…as a father of two adopted boys and a husband it is something that is very much top of mind. But what sums it up for me is a poem I ran across awhile back.

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach for another is to risk involvement.
To expose your ideas, your dreams,
before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To believe is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken, because the
greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The people who risk nothing, do nothing,
have nothing, are nothing.
They may avoid suffering and sorrow,
but they cannot learn, feel, change,
grow, love, live.
Chained by their attitudes they are slaves;
they have forfeited their freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.

- anonymous

Peace!

Me says:

beautifully filmed, nice work

diego says:

I guess I'm doing a big risk just being a photographer here in my country. Times are hard especially in a 3rd world country (Philippines) and there's lots of competition, but I just love it too much. I learned back in from my college degree, that it's not about takig or not taking risks, it's about MANAGING risks.

So right now I'm trying to do the whole create-share-sustain thing, making sure I'm able to make a decent living doing all sorts of work and being careful with my spending, then creating an sharing those projects that I love. And those times I stepped outside the box were just priceless, and funnily yielded the most, with the main foundation being creative.

diego says:

Goosebumps chase. I personally love it. Great stuff.

I'll try to think about how I work with risk.

Carey says:

oh, it's an ad.

Norlinda says:

In the first video with Jason, there's this scene where it's a couple of guys and you can see their shadows on the right of the screen and one of them's twirling their board. Moments later, you see Jason skate right across the shadows. I just don't know how you come up with these shots but that one really shines.

Scott Hargis says:

The Essence of Irony:
The legal disclaimers Russell Investments puts at the end of their "Risk Management" videos.

Anonymous says:

Hey chase-

Love the videos. The topic of Risk is a really interesting topic. After all, the word Risk means different things to everyone. What I think is risky is not necessarily what someone else would define as being risky. I totally agree with what the skater said about taking risks helps you think on your feet and the more risks you take, the more flexible you become.

Matt Timmons says:

I'm risking everything on my belief that I will succeed as a commercial fashion photographer. So much so that my home is in foreclosure. Building a business isn't free, and I've chosen to have a future doing what I love rather than just working a grind and going no where. That might be a little too transparent, but it's my risk I'm taking and it's the path I've chosen for what I truly love.

Martin Royds says:

I'm not really a risk taker in life, don't think I ever have been. Lately I do feel like I've been missing out on something and am trying to take a risk now and again. I feel like putting my photography out there is a risk as the feedback isn't always positive but I must keep trying and risking the criticism if only to improve and find happiness.

Matt says:

Love the clips. Great personal touch. I'm in sales and risk is everything if you seek reward. I'm an adrenaline junky so I seek out risk… calculated risk. If I'm not failing then I'm not risking anything and I will never be successful. Thanks for sharing your vision.

Daria Riley says:

Risk is uneasy… restless. So, I reach for things in life to mitigate it… to make it easy… easier. Friendship. Coffee. Prayer. Long drives. Positive thinking. New techniques. Better equipment. Innovative concepts. Inspiring photographers. I can't control what happens tomorrow, but I can be prepared with everything I need in my back pocket, so that when my future shows up, I'm ready.

Bryan says:

Very well done. Lots of good insights that apply to all aspects of life. The edits speak particularly well to the industry, I could see thru the whole "conversation" how it relates to how risk is managed in investing. Brilliant idea by Russell and I'm sure they're thrilled with the results.

Love what you have put together here Chase. Emotive and beautiful cinematography with a meaningful purpose. Well done!
http://www.brencecoghill.com

Scott says:

Wonderful, thoughtful, intelligent videos. Oh, and pretty too. Thanks for this inspiration!

Very well done Chase. The skater conversation video had some exceptional angles and artful use of light/shadow. I'm looking forward to seeing more and watching some of the behind the scenes footage. Inspiring work.

Rick Joy says:

I worked a job I hated at the worst possible schedule (4:30pm to 3:00am) and had virtually no time to shoot any portraits for paying clients. I was at odds with the normal world I felt. The schedule did not coincide with any other schedule and I was basically told to work and eat or learn and starve. I took the money I earned at my dead end job and bought a DSLR with it. I had shot with film before but digital was a different beast. I read a book by Joe McNally
called The Hot Shoe Diaries. It changed how I approached lighting. The risk I took was taking what ever money I could scrape up from my job to buy gear and books…and eventually membership to NAPP and enrollment in Kelby Training. I spent a lot of money I worked my butt off for and sacrificed free time to practice and become a better photographer. I had almost no time to shoot and people were taking notice of my work and asking me to shoot for them when I was occupied by my job. I may have lost some potential clients for that. I have since quit that job and I shoot with what gear I have. I am acquiring new clients and things are starting to look good for me. It has paid off for me but I am still at the beginning of something that used to be a cute little hobby. I hope my efforts are not in vain and I get to do this for years to come.

macus grip says:

I think the videos were beautiful and very interesting. They seemed harmonic and serious. They caught me.

Me and my risk have been many and variable. As a skateboarder like the man in the first video i take risks all the time and i agree fully to what he says: We fall but it makes us stronger and also, the more i skateboard the risk for any serious damage is less.

I have been living with diabetes for nearly 10 years and to travel and do whatever i want is always a greater risk with that. I see myself as cured and a person without diabetes and act from that.

As a photographer, digital creator and musician i take risks all the time since i follow my heart and dream rather than trying to get a job and earn more money.

That is a risk since the economy is breaking apart but without these chances and risk i take i wouldn´t have met alot of incredible and fantastic people that have shaped me to what i am and helped me along the way and still do. With risks come joy and experiences wich leads to success in whatever you do

Ghislain says:

Lots of people have no responsibilities so the level of Risk is always different. Is it risky to drop our job and start as a freelancer? Yes and no, it all depends of your situation. If I didn't have a wife and kids, I would have dropped my 100k job long time ago and start my own business. I would have been ready to live a hard time for a few years… but I'm not ready to ask my family to live this.

Maybe in a year or two, it will be possible not now. So yes risks are interesting and they are what drives you, but they are also the one that can hit you pretty hard. Meanwhile, I am living half of my dream, I am doing a few contract here and there, learning the business side and always getting better at shooting.

Am I unhappy? I think I am not satisfied in my professional life that's a fact but I am still a very happy camper.

Risks are good, but to a certain extend. Of course, if I was out of a job, I wouldn't speak like this, I would be the first one out there finding contracts, but right now… it's not a question of risks, it's a question of priority and my wonderful wife and 2 sons comes before my lifetime dream.

I may not be living the professional life I always wished for but my personal life is a real success.

I will be a photographer one day, that's a fact, at 36, I'm still very young after all!

Patty says:

Thanks for the post it really inspired me to starting taking more risks, nothing ventured nothing gained ;)

Will says:

Chase and Company,

I Love the way these were shot. I must say that as someone on a Gap year (starting at R.I.T. in the fall) I don't take enough risks with my photography. I think I need to push it in the next 6 months. Wow 6 months away, Thank you for making me check the iCal on that!

Best,

Will

P.S. I think your intern Norton is a not so ordinary person, who put a bunch on the line. I think the community should hear his story.

scott says:

Hi Chase,

with our risk there is no opportunity.

I enjoyed the videos. Ultimately i am guessing the ads will be used to sell financial services i think they will work well to support branding initiatives, my only question is without having seen any of the company's market research, is do the people you interview resonate with the market segments you are trying to influence.

Jonny says:

This brings me back to my mountaineering guide courses… the "sphere of acceptable risk". Everyone has a limit to which they are willing to risk, however that limit is never static. Part of growing as human being is to expand that sphere, to step outside the comfort zone every once in a while and push back on our own limits sometimes.

I manage risk when I scramble or climb by being prepared with good safety equipment, knowing the route, and relying on experience and skill.

I manage risk backcountry skiing by knowing and understanding the conditions, travelling with experienced partners, and by using perception and wisdom gained from training and experience.

I manage risk in my business by not living or spending outside my means, being honest with myself and my partners, having a plan, and staying focused.

Great post chase, love the concept.

Your risk in producing these was well worth it. Excellent.

gary http://www.garyschapman.com

Howard Haby says:

I LOVE LOVE LOVE these videos. The theme and idea is great, the music fits perfectly, and you've succeeded in making the videos beautiful. Visually, fantastic work. The people interviewed had some great insight and they're experiences fit together perfectly. Couldn't be better if it was scripted.

Excellent work.

It's says:

Wonderfull work Chase….!

Tobias Best says:

Feel I can relate alot the guy skatebording in relation to my skiing. It's practilly the same – the more you fall/ are close to falling the better it makes you handle those situations. Nice work by the way!

smlg.ca says:

Risk is an integral component of my photography, since it involves me trespassing in abandoned and decaying buildings to get the shots. I never know if the building is going to collapse, or if I'm going to get robbed, or what kind of shit I'm breathing in will kill me. But I simply allow my sense of curiosity overwhelm my sense of personal well being and I do what I need to do. And I'm all smiles when I get out of another place in one piece… looking for the next.

kevwil says:

Truly inspiring. Again. Great job!

Gregg says:

I take risk as uncertainty, and I simply need that feeling to feel alive. Otherwise life becomes mundane.

Will Foster says:

The glass blowing spot reminds me of one of, if not my most, inspirational artists Dale Chihuly

http://www.chihuly.com/.

He is this wildly talented glass blower

http://www.chihuly.com/Video/chihulyinaction_150.html

that tasks risks in the creation of his art. Check out any of his vid's. I especially like

http://www.portlandpress.net/chihuly-and-the-masters-of-venice-dvd.html

but their all cool.

I myself am taking a risk by using a small business loan to finally get some digital gear.

Freddy says:

Wow, this one hit close to home for me.
I grew up in Venezuela, and at 19 decided to grab the 1500 US I had saved, a backpack full of clothes, my skates and came to NY, to make an artist and stunt guy out myself.
Managed to climb trough the ranks and turn into a pro skater to later get recruited by Disney, where I performed as a stunt person for many years. After some of my youth and many injuries moved farther along, I decided it was time to risk all, and go in to being an artist full time, so I starting investing all my time in to learning computer arts, which I'm doing at the time, based out of Los Angeles, working on commercials, TV series and Movies.
But once again, after many years of doing this, I feel the need to take on a new challenge, And better myself as an artist, so I've been putting all my my time and energy into photography. all though the industry buzz doesn't seem to be on the positive side towards stability, due to the economy and technological advances. Hard work, perseverance and sacrifices have never failed me to this point, so I remain hopeful and positive, and maybe some day I'll be able to rub elbows with the best.

Sunny says:

Hi Chase,

Nicely shorts and nicely done. Btw was there a reason why you used the D3s to shoot some of it instead of say (this maybe hard to swallow!) a 1DIV or 5D2, I know you're a Nikon user but, in some shots you can tell which was done using the RED and which shots was done using the D3s, was this the reason why you chose to grade it B&W; rather in color or was that client specific?

Jensen Hande says:

If I'm not failing at things. Then I'm not taking risks. If I'm not taking risks I'm not really living am I?
I remind myself this when I leap into something new concerning my business.

Nice videos. I had to laugh at the huge disclaimers at the end of the vids, though. But leaving them out would have probably been too much of a risk for the client (sorry about the lame joke, I couldn't help it).

But risks.. yeah. They make the colors more vivid and the air feel fresher. Some people say commuting to work by bike is too much of a risk, especially in winter. Some say rock climbing is too risky. Or backcountry skiing. Some say quitting your nice and secure day job to try your hand at something completely different is too much of a risk, too. I'm doing (or preparing to) all of that. With the necessary precautions, of course, but I still fully expect to land on my ass from time to time… and I'm pretty sure it'll be worth it.

And if I fail big time, well, so what. Then I still tried, and I saw. I lived.

I don't have more money for college, I'm about to sell everything I got to leave my country (Chile), I would work for 5 years in other country to save enough money to pursuit a career as a photographer… because I just Love It!… Risks makes life taste good!

curtis says:

Avoid risk and you'll live to regret it.

may says:

Love the shorts. They are so beautifully shot. It reminds me of this book I"m reading called Speak Human and there's a whole section on the Risk/Reward Ratio. He's actually giving his book away one chapter at a time which I think is so cool! (i'm not affiliated with the book at all :P )

http://www.speakhuman.com/ch01_Big_Isnt_the_Only_Option

scroll down to the youth/bravery section.

Looking forward to seeing the rest of the videos!

may

Heidi Rae says:

i was recently told to go for it dont hold back see what i want and just give it all or nothing .. and this goes right along with your project ..anything worth doing is worth the risk and if we dont take on such risk then where is the reward .. thank you for your inspireing words Chase im about to close my eyes plug my nose and jump from the cliff !

Joshua says:

"To risk nothing is to take the biggest risk of all."

Maskido says:

Gotta take that step out of the comfort zone & take RISK to gain the big reward! Had my parents not done that 24 years ago, we'd still be living in Eastern Europe. Well done.

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