Diary of a Shoot, Day 2 — Mother Nature is Boss.

Telluride 2.

Chase, Scott, and Jason the AD scout the ridge in 50 mph wind.

In case you’re dropping in on this post out of context, you should read yesterday’s post and things will all make sense. In short, I’m doing daily ‘diary’ entries while working on a campaign for REI in lovely Telluride, Colorado in hopes of shedding some light on what photographers and directors types like me actually do on a daily basis while on these week-long or multi-week shoots… Read on if this is of interest.

If Day 1’s title was Travel, today’s title is Scouting & Planning. Keeping in mind that we’ve shot in these parts before, we’ve done our parts (like here, here, and here – a reference to Scott’s post series about scouting from last month…) and we’ve already reviewed images from a local location scout; we’re sitting pretty good. We’ve slotted 2 days of scouting and today’s mission is the first of those days, planning to spend it mostly poking around atop the Telluride Mountain Resort.

And since the lifts don’t open till 10am here in the spring, we’re on an uncharacteristically mellow call time of 9:30. I’m up at 8, cranking out a few dozen emails and keeping up with the rest of my life. Since I’m working away in my room, I forget to eat again and the provided crew breakfast meal, so snag a breakfast burrito and coffee en route to meet up with our small scout crew of 8 or so–yours truly, plus Scott and Erik, producers, scouts, a guide from the resort, and the two AD’s.

It’s downright balmy in town. Sunny. Hot. I’m shedding layers, but as we ride to the top of the mountain, the weather turns. It’s cloudy like milk. By the time we arrive up top……the wind is howling. We guessed 50+mph and had that confirmed later in the day, and augmented with the fact that some gusts were clocking 70. Do some calculations of 20 degrees air temp and 70mph wind and you get some pretty crazy wind chill factors. Way sub zero. It’s downright cold. Ice pellets from the hills below us pelt our faces. It sorta hurts, but in a sick outdoorsy sort of way, it’s kinda fun. Certainly no ideal for the task at hand, but the show must go on.

We click off our skis and boards and do a good bit of hiking with a local guide and mountain supervisor, on the jagged peaks overlooking the top of the ski area. We hike for 30 or more minutes at 12,000+ feet of elevation. Holy heart attacks, Batman. I’m feeling my flatlander Seattle lungs and heart a-thumping, but it feels good to get out and get the blood pumping. A little pain never hurt anybody. In lining up some shots for the coming days, the wind is so strong that I can barely hold the barrel of my lens across the wind without being pushed over.

Telluride 2.2

Telluride Mountain is pretty serious about their safety measures.


Suffice it to say that getting a steady shot is tough with a still camera and impossible with video. But we are getting what we need. Just the outline of the shot is enough for us to go on. We don’t need exact frames. Thank God this isn’t a shooting day. We’d be hosed. The wind, plus the closing out weather is painting a pretty grim picture.

Telluride 2.3

Looking for a horizon shot with an epic background. I think we found our spot. You have no idea how freaking windy it is at this point in time... Ripping.




Telluride 2.7

Sustained 50mph winds and 70mph gusts rip across Scott as he waits for the crew to buckle up.


[And you’re probably wondering about the gear through all this…. It’s fine. It’s tough. It’s professional quality. Battery lives are shorted and changing lenses without getting snow in those unwanted places is a biiiyatch, but it goes with the territory. Mother nature has little mercy on my rucksack full of electronics.]

But there’s always a bright spot in hiking around in this weather looking for your shots. And indeed, from atop that ridge, we spot a neighboring valley that looks to have some of the snow and mountain terrain we’re looking for. I ask our local production lead Tim if we can get over there to see it. “Only via snowmobiles, and it’ll take a couple hours to get us there from here,” he replies. But he’s game. He checks in with the Executive Producer boss Connie and they go talk over budget and logistics while the rest of us poke around up top for another 30 minutes or so and take a lap on the Prospect chair.

As we wrap up our scouting adventures up to, referencing shot lists, shooting sample snaps and assigning some locations to some particular shots, we reconnect with the producers at the lodge up top for some lunch. They share the good news that they’ve contacted the necessary people for us to access the neighboring valley with snowmo’s. Sa-weeet.

Note: Great producers are like magicians. With seemingly the waive of a hand, they can make almost anything happen. (see Kate’s recent post on shooting permits…) Creatives – never ever ever take that for granted. None of it. Ever. A great producer is gold.

Telluride 2.6

Planning session. I'm on the left literally drawing on a napkin. Local producer Tim Territo is on the right and (not) amazed at my beautiful sketches. And yes those are hard boiled eggs watching over us.

We grab some cold sandwiches for lunch at around 1:30 in the lodge up top and review our current status on some napkins, charts, maps and hand gestures. We munch some gummy bears, water and coffee for desert and immediately thereafter head for the base area where we’ll soon be whisked away by our super-producers to the next valley over.

By 4:00 I’m on a snowmobile along with 5 other scouters and a guide named Mad Dog. (He’s human, but just proudly sports the initials MD. A lotta years in Telluride have turned MD’s namesake to Mad Dog. It seems fitting – he’s a great guy. ) In under 30 minutes, after a trail ride through the trees, we pop out into our destination. Lo and behold, that 50mph wind has taken the clouds away and we’re now in full sun, surrounded by epic, spiny peaks and fresh snow as far as we can see. This is the spot we’ve been looking for. We drink it in. And we’re taking notes, photos, analyzing sunrise and sunset times and paths…we’re getting to the nitty gritty because we know we’re shooting here. It’s gorgeous.

Telluride 2.8

Singletrack snowmobile trail through the woods, scouting some more remote locations.



Telluride 2.10

Erik takes a liking to my goggles.


Telluride 2.11

Once we break outta the woods on our snomos, we find what we've been looking for...


After another hour hiking around there on foot/snowshoes, discover of a nice snow cave, and some other clowning around, we’re feeling good. It shows on frozen faces and some clowning around. We’re decidedly happy with what we’ve found. The sun drops behind a new set of storm clouds approaching on the horizon (snow on the way?) and we snowmobile back to the cars and head back to town. It’s 7 something PM.

Telluride 2.12

We also found a saweet-ass snow cave.


A quick change into street clothes and we’re out in town looking for some eats by 8pm. Our crew continues to trickle into Telluride via planes and cars…we now probably number around 20, building for a few days from now when the “real” work begins to our final number of about 30. Usually, as is the case tonight, we splinter into some smaller groups for dinner based on timing and tastes.

Erik, Scott and I duck into an Italian joint we know has good thin crust Neopolitan-style pizza. Three pizzas (sausage was the best), a Gorgonzola salad and a bottle of cheap red wine later, we’re nourished. We’re also deep in conversation about how we’re going to shoot a few of the pieces of this 30 second spot, scheduled to shoot later in the week. We’ve seen some locations and now we’re mapping what we’ve seen to our approved creative and all the details.

There’s a brief break in the spirited conversation. It’s 10:30 and there are cards to download (digital asset manager doesn’t get to set until tomorrow – damn…) and blog posts to write before bed. We bounce back to hotel. I’m awake till 2 working before I finally zonk. 8:30 call time for more scouting tomorrow.

I hope you’ll join me then.

46 Responses to Diary of a Shoot, Day 2 — Mother Nature is Boss.

  1. Panos March 21, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    NIce!!! love the cave photo with the light behind, got to give us more of that scenery :) Keep posting ! :):) Thank you !

  2. Abhi March 21, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    Q about the “digital asset manager”, whats his role? Is he just like a mailman to take care of all you CF cards from you portable work station to the office back at Seattle?

    Also, Do you mind discussing what the budget for this shoot might be? (approx range).

    And does the client provide a “recreation allowance” too? :D


    • Keri March 21, 2011 at 8:43 am #

      Search the blog for ‘Dartanyon’ as that is his role, and you’ll find articles and videos about workflow etc which show his role :)

      • Abhi March 21, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

        Haha, yea I thought it would be dartanyon. :)

    • Chase March 21, 2011 at 9:11 am #

      hi @abhi – yes the digital asset manager’s job is purely to manage the data from the shoot. all cards, harddrives, build aperture libraries for review, etc. A very important role to have on set when capturing as much data as we do.

      re: budget – sorry can’t discuss.

      re: recreation allowance. no. we do get per diem budgets for food and misc, along with crew meals covered. we have great support because we’ve gotta work quite hard to chase world class athletes around in tough conditions ;)

  3. Abhi March 21, 2011 at 6:38 am #

    By the way….Pics #4 and #6 …awesome.

  4. Patricia March 21, 2011 at 7:27 am #

    Great, Chase. Thanks. Love following this.

  5. jetgreen1 March 21, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    What lens did you have in play for the scouting work? (The pic of you with the camera and yellow gloves)


    • Chase March 21, 2011 at 9:13 am #

      that’s the 24-70mm 2.8. take a peek at the ‘gear i use’ section on the blog. http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/gear/

      • jetgreen1 March 21, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

        Sweet, Thats what I thought and remember you saying that that was usually a “go to” lens for utilitarian stuff.Thanks for the reply!


  6. Chris Giles March 21, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    Sounds like we’re shooting in Alta Lakes today. Have fun!

  7. David Dvir March 21, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    This is just fantastic. Very raw and beautifully written. There are spelling errors that just verify your fatigue in my mind. And the pain and work involved with the travel to this point seem rough but I know that it’s also a rush. Keep it up and thank you all for this.

    • Chase March 21, 2011 at 9:14 am #

      typing as fast as i can. thanks for bearing with me.

  8. Keri March 21, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    Another great post, very informative and interesting!
    I love shooting up in the mountains, the only problem is i have to fly for at least 10 hours accross the Atlantic to get to anywhere nice :)

  9. ediheld March 21, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    Great stuff, can’t wait for the next post!

  10. Normand Desjardins March 21, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    Love the read so much…

  11. David Haut March 21, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    Chase – mad respect for taking the time out to fill us in. One quick question …. do you shoot with gloves on? I’ve never been able to do it. Staying tuned in, as always …..

  12. Brian March 21, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    Nice work guys, stay warm!

  13. Stratos Agianoglou March 21, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    A great series and and an excellent breakdown of all that is happening. KUDOS for the courage to share with us all these.

    Kind regards
    Stratos A.

  14. Chris March 21, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    Really stoked to see this, and what an awesome campaign! Looks like you guys are having a blast out there.
    I just came back from a quick overnight trip an tried to do the same thing for my friends- document the trip in photos however we also had whiteout the entire time!

    A few of my shots are on my site and flickr if you feel like critiquing :D


    Cheers Chase!

  15. Andy March 21, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    It’s amazing that you’re sharing all this with us Chase, loving all of it. While I don’t have the ability (balls?) to attempt what you do, I love reading about someone actually doing it. Keep it up, it’s really appreciated :)

  16. Micah Zimmerman March 21, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    Hey Chase! What bag did you use while hicking? Is it a skiing photobackpack/hicking bag or just a skiing/hicking bag?

  17. diala chinedu March 21, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    WOW, I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, you really write great!!! I also love the photos. It goes will with the writing and it puts readers in your shoes. Thanks for the dedication you put into writing this each day…I’ll be looking forward to the next one for sure

  18. Jon March 21, 2011 at 11:48 am #


    Love it! Thanks again for putting this all together, it’s a great read. Classic Scott has to get a couple turns in too eh?


    What are the chances of you throwing low res versions of a few of your scouting shots into a quick/small gallery somewhere? I’m actually really interested in what you actually look for when scouting. Sometimes I find it hard to scout simply because i have a hard time projecting my own ideas onto the landscape around me. Seeing what you “see” at this stage would be incredibly helpful I think.

    Thanks again… easily one of the best blogs on the web, thanks for staying so relevant.

  19. Mathieu Wauters March 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    Really love the quantity and quality of these 2011 blog posts, Chase. Thanks for sharing this!

  20. J Rainey March 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm #


    I think this is how you really draw in the readers, photogs or not! This stuff is just so dang interesting and that you actually take the time to share everything is unheard of. I look forward to “being” with the crew every step of the way as you mix the two loves of my life (fresh pow-pow and photography) together and create works of art. I wish safety to each and everyone of the crew members out there. I know how crazy things can get in a moment’s notice. Can’t wait for the final products!

  21. Clifton March 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    need an intern!?

  22. Adam March 21, 2011 at 6:12 pm #


  23. Rob March 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    Hey Chase,

    Great stuff, really enjoying the play by play. We’re shooting out that way in a couple weeks for about 9 days.
    Really amazed you can muster the energy to share your great adventure! Could you share a few words about getting buy in from the client to share your behind the scenes adventure?I kinda remember you touching on this way back. Just curious………..

    • Chase March 21, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

      @rob. not much to say about buy in–the idea came up casually in a production meeting, I asked if it was cool and appropriate and they said yes. imho this is an easy yes for smart clients that have authentic brands. just another cool layer. do notice though that the focus of the post is about our creative activities, what we do generally and how we do it…the basic activities that happen on every commercial shoot, and nothing at all to do with specifics, confidential or proprietary info at all. its really the basic stuff that we do day in and day out that i believe is interesting only because its a relatively unseen, fun, challenging, and unique way to earn a living.

      • Rob March 21, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

        Just curious because our clients are so focused on confidentiality and yet have some great stories to share. We do a few projects that would be so interesting to show behind the scenes. It’s a great point that your coverage is from a creative perspective. I’ve been toying with sharing some behind the scenes stories and keeping in purely creative is the way to go.

        Thanks again for sharing

        • Chase March 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

          don’t get me wrong. confidentiality on certain stuff is a priority for everyone involved. it’s just that most of what I’ve learned people find interesting about what i’m able to share has nothing to do with the stuff that all the parties care about keeping confidential. i wanna share about photography and directing. what time we get up, what gear i use, how many meetings we have, what’s expected at the pro creative level, how far we go to get the job done well…etc. again – none of that is what most parties care to protect…that’s just nuts and bolts to them, but i think its worthwhile to people who do what you and i do in photography and filmmaking. those are the parts that i’m excited to be able to share and hopefully have value to all parties.

  24. Chris Floyd March 21, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    How does one just happen across a snow cave in the middle of nowhere? I’d be looking around for a few frozen bodies. :-). Great shots, feed us more. Soon!

  25. Benjamin Lea March 21, 2011 at 9:00 pm #


    It’s amazing to see all this BTS kinda stuff from you. The world you live and work in seems larger than life and so far out of human reach yet you so humbily explain every bit you can in great detail

    It’s wonderful to see how things work from within the Chase Jarvis camp – I always thought it was simply the cool kids that were cashed up with gear that got all the big paid jobs but you guys put in a lot of work and I can see how you’d all be worth every cent a client is willing to offer

    Truely an inspiration read – Keep up the great work and posts!

  26. Iz March 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    This is fantastic. Chase…Thanks for sharing I hope you will consider doing this for another future shoot.
    Keep living the dream.

  27. Jesus Hidalgo March 22, 2011 at 12:45 am #

    This diary almost feels like a great book that you start reading before going to bed and can’t put down! Keep the chapters coming!

  28. Michael Morris March 22, 2011 at 4:45 am #

    Thanks for the insight.

    How about a recommendation on a great pair of gloves, REI or other? :)


  29. fas March 22, 2011 at 5:18 am #

    Wow awesome pictures. Being a photographer is full of adventure.

  30. Paul Conrad March 22, 2011 at 6:13 am #

    I love the second picture. I used to live in Colorado, it was great living in a place where death was imminent if you screwed up. Thanks for the posts. I know it is hard to keep up with at the end of a long day, but that is why you are The Man!

  31. Iksa March 22, 2011 at 6:16 am #

    Thank you for such a detailed information … really loved it.

  32. Anne-Marie March 22, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    It feels just like going to Telluride, Colorado with you. Whew, thanks, keep it up….it’s hot & cold…great and exiting!

  33. bimal nair March 23, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    Am in, Chase! With tons of respect for all this sharing that you are doing just for the sake of a sneak peak for useless souls like me (who wont earn you a penny out of this), i really wish to tell u that am chewing every word u wrote, in between the ridiculously hectic schedules am towing here.

  34. Danielkphoto March 23, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Lovely blogpost, cant wait to read the following ones :)

  35. Danie Nel March 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    Exciting read, Chase. Tried something like that when I was shooting in Libya in 2009, but had to come and write it all up back here. Every night in the hotel I was way to knackered, and Tripoli was way to pretty from 10 stories up to look at a screen. (Ok, currently it’s a bit of a dog-bowl!)

    Respect for staying up till who knows what time to write this. Ta.

  36. Jay Huron March 24, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    Another request for what Gloves you can shoot while wearing them. Those yellow ones Chase is waring just look like leather work gloves, I doubt they are though.

  37. Giovanni Solari March 25, 2011 at 7:25 am #

    Hey Scott,

    What kind of goggles are those? I really dig the viewable area…looks like the periph is wicked wide. Good for shooting…do you recommend them.

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