Choose Your Own Adventure.

chase jarvis sunrise streetIf you wait around to read the email when it pours into your inbox, will you ever have time to take pictures?

How many ideas will you miss by chasing the next best thing rather than finishing the project you’ve already started?

If you continue taking those crappy gigs that generate dogpoop looking photos or films, will you ever have time to create the ones you want?

What is the cost of doing things that your industry says are “normal”?

How many pictures will you let pass you by if you wait till you get a better camera, better lights, or better vision?

If you do what your teacher tells you to do without pushing the boundaries of photo school, will your work look just like everybody’s in your class?

How old will you be when you finally quit your day job because it sucks?

When was the last time you …created an uninterrupted day for yourself to do the things that you wanted to do, rather than attended to “obligations” that weren’t really obligations at all?

It’s great to please the world. To be a citizen, to answer the phone, to go out of your way, to… to…. to… But every once in a while, it’s healthy to do things on your own terms. Take a break from reacting and choose your own adventure this weekend.

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Tim Roper says:

Here’s a great example I just read, after reading this:

To think that adults would discourage someone so young and “encourage” him to change his style to be more current is beyond sad and pathetic. But it is tough, and at least he realizes that, and had been through the wringer already.

Aw, this was an exceptionally nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to create a good article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and don’t seem to get nearly anything done.

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“How old will you be when you finally quit your day job because it sucks?”
Apparently, 37. Today is the day!

motzo says:

very true friend,
one can truly find himself only through exploration and letting go of the chains that we are given by the surroundings in which we find our selves at that particular moment

Rasdi Shafie says:

Well said..thanks for giving me inspiration to be myself in photography, create my own path. Keep inspiring others. TQ.

I get very enthusiastic everytime I see your works. They are astounding

Fantastic words of encouragement. I think everyone and anyone can take this messge to heart.
The only person setting barriers for you is you. You are your own worst enemy and the only one that will force yourself to get better.
Inspiring words Chase. Thank you.

Very inspiring questions. I can relate to a lot of them, they really touch the point. Basically, if you want to be a photographer, you have to shoot. The goal is to be a photographer, not a person who understands better photography or gear or software, you have to shoot shoot shoot.

Very inspiring, as usual!
Thanks for turning my daylife better!

Tracy says:

Choosing my own adventure and taking a day trip to NYC this weekend from DC. Me and another photographer are doing a “One Lens Challenge.”


Randy says:

Hey Chase:

Thanks for this great post. I really love the way you are always emphasizing the need to do personal projects. I think you cannot be highly creative in photography if you lose the passion. Without photographing what really moves you, how can you work commerecially and be successful. Somebody once said balance is essential in life, and I think balancing personal projects with commercial work or financially needed photography jobs, achieves balance.

Great post Chase. It’s good to have a kick in the nuts (maybe not literally) every now and then. There’s always an excuse out there.

JK says:

You’re talking to me, right?

“How old will you be when you finally quit your day job because it sucks? “

Quit my day job because it sucked last year. Now, have to be careful of taking on those “dogpoop” jobs Chase mentions above, just because I need to take every photo job that can possibly come my way now that it is my sole source of income.

Have coincidentally been in a similar mood to this post tonight. Even wrote my own photo story about it, describing a day of pure Freedom I had in Thailand on a day I was really alive:

riron says:

why am I sitting here reading this blog………..I’m off to conquer the world and do what the hell I please!

Eliel Rosario says:

Wow man, this really hit a soft spot, but thanks a lot, I needed it. Btw, luv the new site.

Edwin says:

Inspirational but, sometimes it takes a push to make you see the light. The company I was working for made cut backs and I made a decision to follow my dreams. I leave for 5 months of photographing India on Saturday.

PS – I am also doing this trip to save money, India is much cheaper than where I live and the little money I have will last longer there.

Alessandro says:

Easy to speak when you are able to generate income. I’ve lost my previous job in 2007, and since then, i wasn’t unable to generate any serious income from my photography. And I study a lot, but it looks that is something wrong, can somebody help me find out what is wrong with my images?

I printed this and hung it next to my desk. This is very inspirational.
Thanks Chase.

Alex S says:

> How old will you be when you finally quit your day job because it sucks?

I’ll be 35. I’m starting at SFAI in 4 months, a month after my 35th birthday, finally pursuing my childhood dream of going to art school and giving myself a chance to produce great art and see if I can make a living at it.

Jason Wallis says:

Ah Chase… the Seth Godin of photographers… :)
Seriously, great post. Jason

Fish says:

My mind races when I watch your BTS & Commercial vids with ideas I haven’t seen.
– Ball or object point-of-view with DSLR(D3s for you.5DMkII for us). Footfall from quarterback to receiver. Closes thing I’ve seen was a camera guy following a soccerball until it his him in the nuts while shooting.

Just saying thanks . . . Chucktown, SC
Don’t Worry I’m doing my thang.

Fish says:

My mind races when I watch your BTS & Commercial vids. Ideas I haven’t seen.

Just saying thanks . . . Chucktown, SC

I’ve started thinking about these questions a lot lately. Work coming slowed a bit during December through the beginning of February. I decided it was time to stop sitting around thinking about what to do and just go out and start experimenting again, practice some new techniques etc. It has definitely helped me get over this slow period.

Chase you are the most inspiring person i know. Thanks for your love.

Graham says:

Thanks for the post!
Like alway very inspiration, drives me to do/even try things different.

Rob says:

Soooooo true, not so easy sometimes! I think I’ll schedule a personal day and go out and play. Nice reminder!!!

Patrick says:

Well put; questions we should constantly ask ourselves.

Chase, your outlook on life is inspiring. I strictly follow one of the philosophies you shared with us in Toronto: “If you’re deciding whether ‘to go’ or ‘not go’, choose GO!” This simple advice has given me many great experiences when I otherwise would have chose to stay put.

Game Critic says:

Thanks for making me realize that I need to pull my socks up and live life!

Kevin says:

Thank you for this post. You hit basically all the questions that will push me into going towards what I love versus what is safe.

jeremy says:

this is some Yoda type stuff right here :-). its like you were ease dropping on my day yesterday…feeling sooooo unwanted or unneeded by my job, starting to feel old, wondering what they hell i’m doing with my life when all i really want to do…my true gut tingleing dream of dreams….to be a proffesional food photographer. Nothing makes me happier. I’m 38, divorced, 2 kids, pretty much 0 debt, car payed off….maybe…maybe its time to take the “leap from the lions head”…


I can so relate- Especially to the email issue. I had to set my phone to only look for messages once an hour because it was too addicting to checking it every 2min all day every day.

I remember growing up with these little booklets in yellow and black titled ‘the Tyranny of the Urgent’. I never read it (we had about 10 copies of the same little booklet) pobably because I was always to busy. But I’m guessing it had to do something along the lines that we put our destiny in the hands of others when we give in to procrastination and a constant state of ‘urgent’. Just think about it. Rush charges, late fees, 3 day shipping, overnightprints, urgent care, whatever you can think of we Americans have come up with a way to get what we want faster-when-and how we want it.

It’s time to stop giving into the urgent and piss poor planning. Time to reclaim personal control over some long overdue negative habits.

So today: I was sitting just stairing at my phone waiting for another email to come through… How irrational? What a waste of time? Yeah. That’s when I just set it down an walked away.

Thank you for this post – exactly what I needed right now.

Donovan says:

This is EXACTLY what I needed to read right here. Thank you so much Chase, this really inspired me.

Candice says:

Thanks for sharing.

This makes me want to take my camera out this weekend. I’ve put it down for far too long because of confidence issues.

Must read more Chase Jarvis!

Myke Yeager says:

Thanks for the kick in the ass.

DaCosta says:

Excellent blog post, Chase. Just saw it on Facebook. This week I’m heading for the hills and bringing my cellphone camera. I decided to “break the rules” and leave my bigger gear at home.

Thanx for sharing and all the best!

Damn the praise Chase! I’ve gotta digress and say this, I did enjoy reading “Choose your own adventure” books as a kid. ;)

I think for those of us starting out the key is to also have a good network of fellow creatives to help steer you toward regular personal projects.

Thanks for the memories Chase!

Chase says:

interesting reference to the books. ironically, for years the choose your own adventure books have been a model for me … only the end hasn’t yet been written.

karl bratby says:

awesome, live life love life, to live life is to love life….

I’ve found an interesting way to operate is to set a percentage of your income aside for personal projects. This way, you have a ring fenced budget to work with and blow as you see fit on something you reckon will be cool.

It’s all well and good to suggest folk get out there and set aside a day for doing cool stuff, but in reality, I’m not a believer in good things happening unplanned. You’ve got to put the planning and work into your free day that you’d put into commercial work, or else you’ll just mess about for a day and come out with something that will often be a disappointment.

I also find that personal projects for me tend to be part of my advertising budget. I like to do things which do the rounds on social networking sites and get my work talked about. The bigger the impact I can make, the more I get talked about – hopefully the more work I get. And the best bit is if I’m doing personal work that I love doing, it potentially lead to commercial work of the same nature that I’ll LOVE doing!

Sam Coran says:

Thanks for the inspiring blogpost.

Let the adventure start now!

Gobhi says:

Awesome! Just what I needed to hear right about now :)

Carlo Gomez says:

Epic. Thanks for sharing.

Mark says:

Perfect timing for this post / words…… Inspired.

Andres says:

Hell ya! Where can I join your “Fight Club.”

Greg says:

Awesome words… being married with a baby on the way, I’m finding it harder to find the time though :(

tripleman says:

I’m choosing my own adventure, I’m moving to Germany – from Vancouver. Told my boss on monday.

I don’t speak German. Should be interesting.

Evan says:

VERY well put Chase!

Reminds me of my favorite quote. “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift” -Steve Prefontaine.

Keep up the hard work!

Jenn says:

Timing is everything… had my pocket camera with me at work today, and while waiting for the shuttle noticed that the big white fluffly clouds where begging for a black and white… Took a moment, found the shot, took it and had my adventure for the day. Sometimes you CAN do it all!

Cam Cope says:

Nicely said, the art of Photography sits at a nexus between technology and human creativity. Too often the technology side of the equation is assumed to be the most important, it isn’t, it’s the least important. The best creative projects are always successful because of an artist’s vision, not the tools used to achieve it. They’re obviously important, but definately secondary.

Carrie says:

Thank you. Thank you and did I say Thank You. Kick in the pants inspiration and I love it.

Ira says:

How old will you be when you finally quit your day job because it sucks?

Words of wisdom, Chase.

Jamie Carl says:


That’s all I can say.

David says:

Timely information. Spent the weekend working on some charity work taking photos of buildings, spent today trying to drum up some business going door to door to sell my photog. services.

Always make time for yourself and your photos. If you dont your going to get stuck into a 9-5 mentality and never get out. Get out there and create

Game Critic says:

That’s why I hate working for someone!

Hey Chase!
Reading this was a very uncomfortable experience. Mainly, because I was feeling very anxious and frustrated about all the things I have to do for people that I don’t want to, and how much I’d rather be outside with my camera. My heart was pounding and mind racing. Now, I’m feeling rather untroubled. Hmm..

Dan Oksnevad says:

“How old will you be when you finally quit your day job because it sucks?” … awesome quote!

Robert says:

OMG Chase you’re telepathic and in my head. The main reason I’ve held off opening my studio is because I needed some sort of financial backup for paying the studio space if things weren’t to go to my plan A, B or C. Anyway I and wife have sorted that so I should be making the big step to having my own studio this fall.

Your words do make me feel more confident as the moment comes closer.



BP says:


Cheap 50mm says:

Great words Chase! Love this blog…

jason says:

you nailed all of the points. i appreciate your honesty, integrity and guts. i left my job as a teacher in my third year to chase the dream of being a photog. things changed in the lives of me and my wife and i had to take another day job working as a product photographer being underpaid and under appreciated. we’re working on getting me out of here in the next two months so i can continue to build my passion.

thanks for always being an inspiration!

randy says:

Man! i’ve made the jump but i’m drowning, i guess it’s mostly my fault, there’s probably a little negativeness in my thinking or my attitude, but living in “the deadliest city in the world” [nope, not afghanistan, but juarez mexico] doesn’t help either, on one hand, everyone’s affraid of being caught in a shooting or being blackmailed, so being a designer/photographer has really hit hard in a city where most of the businesses are closing down; on the other hand we have a region where they don’t really have the money, let alone the appreciation of the hard work and the experience involved to make decent work… so it’s a struggle.

Having that said. i’ve been eating up blogs and tutorials and books and whatever i can get my hands on so i can at least hone my skills and try to get better at what i do, and reading all of you guys is just inspiring, i can just feel the creative juices and the will to keep on going moving along my body with every line and every post, so keep up the good work, hopefully i’ll post something cool pretty soon!.

Brookland says:

Just got back from 4 months in S. America… word.

Jack Pope says:

I don’t have anything planned for Sunday this weekend and you just inspired me to get off my ass.
Thank you for that!

Great Encouragements.

I read this post having just done exactly this today. I’ve got a student doing work experience with me at the moment so we decided to borrow some funky clothes off the eBay seller across the corridor in my office building, pretend he was the client and go and shoot some fun stuff. We got lots of hoots from passing motorists. I like to think they were for me but seeing as my student was a 20 year old wearing a beautiful red dress, I must concede. Images at

Keith Caesar says:

Thanks for the words. I am like many happy when I am out doing what I like. And being able to have pieces ready for shows is encouraging. Especially when they sell. I’m one with a day job who wants to change the game up a bit. But the prospect of not having a cash flow for a while is nerve wrecking. Now stationed at my desk every time I feel in a slump, inspiration for change:

How many ideas will you miss by chasing the next best thing rather than finishing the project you’ve already started?

How many pictures will you let pass you by if you wait till you get a better camera, better lights, or better vision?

It’s great to please the world. To be a citizen, to answer the phone, to go out of your way, to… to…. to… But every once in a while, it’s healthy to do things on your own terms. Take a break from reacting and choose your own adventure this weekend.

Damn Chase, good timing. I have been reading a bunch of stuff like this trying to get myself out of the funk I’m in. It happens every winter. This year was bad. Many reasons. To long a story. Really feel like hanging it up many nights. I just turned 43 on Monday and feel like I have been doing it all wrong and I’m to old now to try and get it right. But I won’t give up. I really need to do this for myself again and hope everything else falls into place. Thanks.

douwe says:

thanks chase.

these posts help me to keep questioning myself. witch I think is healthy

not to stay in the middle of the road.
to explore and pursuit.
thanks for the advise

i wonder what kept you motivated when you just started as a photographer?

AGDM says:

Thanks for having what it takes to express yourself thus inspiring other photographers who get caught up in the rut that is:

product lifecycle: always waiting for an upgrade…

or the next product is what i need to create X look…

It’s important to try to be driven to create and explore.

Bravo Chase.

Nik says:

sigh…preach it. totally feeling this right now.

David says:

Thank you, it felt like this post was made just for me.

Julie Blair says:

Wow, such great words. I am the one always thinking I need the better camera, the better lens that I can’t afford….you are truly an inspiration! Thank you for pushing all of us to just get out and do it!

ian flanigan says:

you are the best.

Bruce says:


We call them adventure Saturdays. This weekend its driving to LA for a Photo Exhibition and a Kids concert perhaps, and yesterday it was playing the keyboard for an hour with Pro Tools.

Great advice – still keeping my day job for awhile – but great advice.

Tatiana says:

all worlds is true without exceptions, I’m a student begginer and my technics of shoot is far from perfect but I’m shoot like crazy

William Beem says:

I’ll speak in defense of the day job that sucks.

There are plenty of times when I’d rather be out shooting than doing my day job. Then I remember that the day job pays for the gear. The gear lets me do what I enjoy for my own satisfaction without any other pressures or responsibilities. I’m not sure if I want to turn the joy I get from photography into something that may end up sucking as much as my old job, but possibly paying less. I already turned one hobby into a career. Fortunately, it pays well.

It’s OK to be a photographer who doesn’t make a living at photography.

Jonny says:

Great point Will,

I think the key is that it’s all about whether or not you are doing what you are are passionate about. If you are doing what you love, whatever that looks like, then there is certainly nothing wrong with that!

Chase says:

william: im not saying become a photographer. i’m saying quit your day job that sucks and pursue whatever it is that you love doing that can make you a happy person. if that’s photography, great. if it’s as a car mechanic, great. and if you’re not that person because you’ve already quit your crappy day job, then kudos to you. that line in the post wasn’t then aiming your way…

Brian Palmer says:

True indeed Chase!! How many photos are missed my not just going out and taking them… Love the simplicity of it!

Tobias Best says:

Awesome. Simply awesome.

gee says:

awesome…you put into words what I’ve been thinking :)
it’s inspiring me to get off my ass and do something creative…put into action what’s in my head! not just think about it but at least try it.
LOVE this post :) thanks chase

Prentice W. says:

Inspirational post. I totally agree.

Josh says:

Preach it. First week of May is mine.

Jeremy says:

Hear hear! I quit my day job (great job for the past 13 years) to do what I want to. Photography. I’m scared, but way more excited. I’ve never had this much fun in my life. Now, let’s find some clients…….

Thanks Chase for your inspiration! You have a huge influence on me, and you’re encouraged me to pursue what I know I want to be doing. Life is way too short not to.



Mark says:

I love your literary kicks in the pants….

Thank you Chase. A couple more shots of that high proof candor and I might just find the nerve…

Bellasqueeza says:

Great advice Chase! Very inspiring…..I plan on doing just that this weekend. Cheers!

Jonny says:

I quit my day job last June. Scary as hell, in fact, most frightening moment of my life.

However, a year later, somehow I have a gorgeous studio, 2 full time employees, some incredible clients, and some incredible projects.

Ok full disclosure, i’m more stressed now than ever, but I love doing what i’m doing…. every time i almost lose my mind because of lack of sleep, i remember how much I actually love doing what i’m doing.

For the record, it was the Photoshelter speech you gave last year Chase that is partially responsible for me taking the leap I did. “you’ll never make it as a weekend warrior”. Well, I stopped being a weekend warrior, and i’ve made it.

Brian says:

Jonny … interesting to read your comment. I’m a weekend warrior right now b/c I’m too scared to make the jump … I know I’d love to do pursue photography full time, but it’s so hard to walk away from money and corporate stability (although not so stable any more). I love reading notes like yours b/c it pushes me a bit more … closer to making the jump.

Brian Palmer says:

Congrats Jonny! Brian*, I’m chillin’ in the same shoes! Maybe this can be your year to at least put things in motion to leave your job [ I’m trying to get my ducks in a row now….].

Jonny says:


Thanks for the response! It was frightening, however I was sure to have my ducks in a row… I had some guaranteed projects at the time, some savings in the bank, and a business plan.

The biggest shift was that I was finally able to focus a substantial amount of time on both my craft and my business, which was the biggest and most beneficial shift.

The real key, however, has been really quite simple: Do good work consistently, people WILL notice. It was literally $310 worth of photography that was done well for the right client that has snowballed over about 8 months into a partnership on a 1.5 million dollar marketing contract.

Patience & consistency. Thats it :)

Ira says:


That’s an inspirational story. Can you suggest any good business plan resources?

Chase says:

congrats jonny. i’ll spread the word of your success if you help spread the word that I’m not crazy ;)

Jonny says:

Au contraire mon fraire… I’m quite convinced at this point that one must be quite certifiably crazy to be in this business.


Iwan W says:

Thanks for the post Chase :о)
This weekend promises to be a great one.

Sherri says:

Right on

“How many pictures will you let pass you by if you wait till you get a better camera, better lights, or better vision”? So poetic…! ;)

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