Diary of a Shoot, Day 9 – That’s a Wrap!

Perfect Dawn

Sunrise on the Wilson Range bodes well for our last chance to shoot.

Up at 4am. Walk out onto my deck in the cold dark air and look up. Stars.

It’s on. We’re gonna get this.

5am call time rallies the cast and crew. We’re wheels up at 6am. Convoy of 6 SUVs heading to meet the snowcat for a lift to the top of Telluride Resort with all our gear. We’re packed in the back of the snowcat like sardines, but it’s sorta comfy. These people are my friends. We’re warm despite the freezing temps in the back of the open-air rig. Puffy jackets and knit hats. We’re sticking together. Whole story + photos after the jump. Hit continue reading…

Quick meeting before we jump aboard the snow cat.

Hopping aboard the snow cat.

Brrr. Onboard the cat, but spirits are high.

Spirits are high – wrought with anticipation. We’ve gone over the creative needed to wrap this shoot a hundred times. We’ve rehearsed in foul weather and on dry land. We’re ready. On the production side of things, we’ve also done the math. If we can get up top, nail the few remaining video shots that require sunshine before the lifts open to the public at ten and get off the mountain by 11, we’ll still have time to catch our plane out of Montrose, CO by 4pm. This saves the client umpteen thousands if we can pull if off. We’re all gunning for victory.

When the snowcat pulls up to the lodge at 7:30 atop the mountain at 12,000 feet, the sky is a deep blue, but the sun has not yet risen. There’s a line of warm yellow light building atop the peaks to the east. It’s clear above us but clouds are already building to the southwest, blowing gently our way. Wispy, milky kinds of clouds that threaten our job. This will be a straight up race.

Unloading the cat uptop. A precision production.

We’ve got a handful of shots to nail in between when the sun hits our location at 8am sharp and when the resort opens up and the general public steamrolls into our production at 10:15 am, forcing us to stop. Between the 7:30 mark of our arrival an 8am when cameras roll, the summit of this mountain is a fury of energy, people are scurrying all over, checking shot angles, wardrobe, battery charges, and more. We’re assembling cine-cranes and cameras. It’s gotta be sub 20 degrees, but no one feels the cold because our blood is running hot.

We’re shooting the day’s first shot within 5 minutes of the sun hitting our location. It’s a long lens shot, critical focus, steady. Half a dozen takes, check focus, double check focus. Download to workstation, triple check. Bam. Onto the next shot. Steadicam. Scott nails it in 4 takes. Critical audio. Bam. Completely authentic. Erik captures it, plus another long lens focus pull. I gotta call it what it is: we’re on fire.

Sun coming over the ridge starts to grace the peaks on the other side of teh valley.

As we’re ticking off our shot agenda, the time is ticking away and those clouds headed are way are building. And i’m not over dramatizing this. I’m in disbelief right now that the entire 9 day shoot will in part be measured by whether or not we nail these shots before the clouds sweep through the sun.

Onto the jib shot. Camera locked and loaded. Jib swinging. Couple takes on one shot, couple takes on the next shot. Operator Travis nails it. Just then Tom with Telluride resorts reminds us that we’ve got 15 minutes till the lift kicks over into mountain operations hands and prepares for the public in another 15 beyond that.

The next 30 minutes go by in a blink. Talent is completely on point. The production is screaming on greased wheels, down to the minute. It’s a beautifully-choreographed dance, where everybody knows the moves.

In the moment after I call cut on the final shot, the crew goes quiet for a second. We all look around at one another. The pause is my cue. I yell out the three words the means we’ve done it: “That’s a wrap!”

Hugs, fist bumps, yelps and hollers all around. You couldn’t manufacture this little drama in your head and you couldn’t cut through it with a knife. Giant exhale. The clouds sweep in before we’ve packed up even the first camera. It’s gone milky, but we don’t care. #Winning.

Although our primary goal is accomplished, if we’re still to succeed in our secondary goal of catching our plane in a matter of hours, we’ve still got to get 20 people down 3,000 feet and 100 miles across Colorado. My Executive Producer Connie and AD Jason have known it all along, but I haven’t told you folks at home this little secret yet: me and my crew have got a call time for day 1 on another shoot in at 7:30am tomorrow at a soundstage back in Seattle. 1,500 miles from here. Suffice to say, we’ve got to get crackin.

We tear of the mountain on our skis to save time. 3,000 feet of quad burn, but the snow is great and the vibe even better. Once at the bottom, we tear off our gear. Quick shower and reconvene to pack all the gear that the shipping expediter will pickup and deliver to us back in Seattle. Mission critical gear needed for tomorrow gets packed in backpacks that will be carried on to ensure nothing goes awry.

Steak sandwiches and Cokes-in-bottles to go at a great little spot called The Butcher The Baker before rolling out of Telluride. 90 Minutes to Montrose Airport. Rental car return. Jumper flight to Denver on Embry Air jet. Feels more like a roller coaster. Denver – Seattle United flight 407 is on time out of gate B31. Wheels up and headed out. Should be home by 10pm

…only to get up and do it all over again at 7:30am call for another client tomorrow. And so it goes. Thanks so much for following along.

This site is usually cool. i go here evaryday.

andrew says:

it was great to share-in this shoot with you all… any chance you could post the final stills and videos for this campaign on the blog?


charlie says:

I haven’t checked in to your blog in quite a while Chase (our second daugther was born nine weeks ago, we renovated and moved into a house right before that), so I’ve missed a lot. This series of posts leaves me saying, sort of under my breath, “wow”. What a fantastic journey. So cool, so crazy. Just the way life should be, right? Keep sharing, I’ll keep reading and watching. Thanks again.

Francesco says:

Hi, I’m an italian fan! After all tihs night work you did before going sleeping I would know if it’s possible to see some shot. I don’t think yon can post them here, but do you know if your purchaser will use them in publicity and where I can find it? thank you!

Sanjay Ringh says:

This reads like a college English class assignment to write like Kerouac.

Steve says:

Thank you very much for sharing this adventure. For those of us stuck in Midwest office buildings, dreaming of the good life as a pro photographer, it was great to get an inside look at all of the work and preparation it takes to be a working photographer.

Jeremy Hall says:

Absolutely loved following along this adventure. Thanks so much for making time in your long, busy days to write these posts.

Danielkphoto says:

Congratulations :) It was great to follow your week of shooting :)

Great stuff chase was allot of fun following along, and I have to admit I am slightly jealous actually very jealous you get such cool assignments. Though I have to admit here in Dubai the weather is more often on our side.

Jeff B says:

That last ski down must have been incredible. I was in Jackson Hole 2 weeks ago skiing and I cherish my last run of each day. But that last run after this 9 days of insanity must have been amazing! Once in a lifetime!

Well done Chase!


Jeremy says:

Someone should make a documentary film of one of your big campaigns like this. I would watch the hell out of that.

Absolutely beautiful shots and great writing to go with them!

Simon H (UK) says:

WOW!!! Really enjoyed the roller-coaster ride Chase. This would make a really great film….ie an hour or so on “the life of a photo shoot” or something to that affect.
A question – how did you actually go about bagging this deal? Did you approach the company or did they come to you? How did it all work even before that first alarm call went on the first day for your flight?

Cheers from the UK!!!


Jesse says:

How you find the time and energy to write all this up after such an exhausting day is beyond me. You must have mad reserves of energy! Congrats on nailing the shoot. Looking forward to your future photo-adventures. Keep it up!

Ryan Bates says:

Thanks for the adventure Chase. – A testiment to how important your crew is.

Pepijn says:

Unbelievable! You and your crew must have nerves of steel! Man I would be wrecked of the worries. the responsibilities. anyways, wow good job.
– please do share the commercial photos + videos with us when it is finished
– were you not even once insecure? what if….
– what about the rest of your crew? how did they experience it?

thanks for sharing, it is almost like an exciting book that you read.

Dani says:

Thank you for sharing all of the details, etc. with us!! What a blast it was to keep up with you on the adventure! Glad it all worked out and hope today’s shoot is going well.

Ana GR says:

That was stressful work!
I loved reading the real inside work, I got hooked waiting for the new post to arrive everyday!
Can’t wait to se the result photos.

Alex Ö says:

Amazing! Glad you made it after all.

Good luck with the next one, once more from the top…

Arni says:

What a roller-coaster indeed! Thanks a lot for taking the time to share this!

Matt Kay says:

What an awesome series – thanks so much for sharing this with us!

fas says:

Yes cant wait to see the end product.

dak says:

This is incredible… what a buzz… thanks for sharing you’re underbelly!!

Grunge says:

Thank you so much. Feel like I’ve been there with you. In a former life, lived that kind of excitement non-stop. It will keep you young, my friend.

SC says:

Loved every bit of following you and your crew through this. Very inspiring!! Would be good to see the results when they become available to public.

Chris says:

It is truly amazing how much work and effort and collaboration goes into these big commercial shoots.

A very eye-opening on the ground account of it all. Thanks for sharing Chase.

Dmitry says:

Thank you very much for the experience that you all pass! this amazing journey that we’ve done with you!

Awesome read Chase…thanks ever so much for sharing with us once again.

Fab insight into a comercial shoot and something so few of us ever get to experience.

Looking forward to the next to the next opportunity you get to share with us.


bimal nair says:

cant express ho happy I am that you all nailed it the way you wanted it. Hats off darlings! You guys are the champions (like a handful others alive on earth). Congratulations Chase and team and the entire crew!

ediheld says:

thanks again for sharing, it was very interesting to read! glad to hear it all worked out..

i hope this wasn’t the last diary of a shoot post!

Sarah M. says:

Many thanks, Chase, for sharing your diary with us. I looked forward to your post everyday and found much food for thought and inspiration. Keep rockin’ it and I’ll keep reading.

Aziz says:

Congratulations on getting it all finished!! And thanks for sharing the experience.

Break a leg with tomorrows shoot :)

Rob says:

Hey Chase, Awesome account of an awesome journey! Loved following along, looked forward to the update each day. You bring so much energy to everything you touch and it’s contagious! Can’t wait to see the results, your daily pics we’re awesome!!!

Simply blown away………..

R. Y. Kiddin says:

Geesh Wally, I wuz really worried he wuz really gonna make a mess of this! And public and all!

Yeah right. Whatever! Posts here are just as staged as the shots he produces!

Butch says:

You’re a madman! Absolutely loved this series of posts. Had me checking in every day!

crosby says:

sounds like something out of a movie, good job, good life

What a story! Thanks for bringing us along for the ride!

Valgas Moore says:

Incredible! What a ride!

nate parker says:

epic! best photoblog serial ever! great success and thanks for taking us along with you!

Now that is the money shot!

Callum says:

Awesome Chase, thanks for writing!

Well done. Thanks a lot! Chookas on the next shoot!

Sean Kelly says:

Chase, thanks for sharing the ride. It was an epic read for an outsider to your industry. I was asking myself a couple of days ago when the weather went south, I wonder how much buffer between gigs you leave, and how much time for post production and delivery to the client. What I didn’t expect is that you get to have 1 night rest on your own bed before repeat! :-) Much kudos to you for your posts!

What a nailbiter!

this was a fan-freakin-tastic telling of events! Thanks for taking the time each night to fill us in and give us a vivid ringside seat to the action, your crew, and what goes into a day’s work :) congrats to you all and thanks for keeping us inspired!

mother nature + the human spirit = always an unbeatable saga.

xoxo, Christa

Anne-Marie says:

Congratulations, Chase! Well done! Never a dull moment! Thank you for letting us follow you and your team so closely, it’s been a great joy to read and the photos in your blog are awesome. Of course :-)

I hope you go into zen mode and get some deep relaxation before your 7:30 am call tomorrow. Enjoy!

You guys are INSANE!!! This is amazing and I’m happy nature was on ur side…great post and thanks for the dedication to keep up with this the entire way…Your behind the scenes photos need a gallery of their own.

Ted McAusher says:

WWWWOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a read!! Thanks Chase!!

Chris Sharps says:

Have to say after reading every post for the last 9 days that it’s been just awesome to be able to keep up with what your up to!

A big thanks for divulging all your information and showing us all what it’s all about. I’ve really enjoyed the posts this week and really hope that you do something like this again!

Glad it all worked out in the end! Can’t wait to see the shots/vid’s

And cue rapturous applause! :cheer:

Great story Chase and glad it had a happy ending (didn’t doubt you for a second!). :thumbs:

jeff says:

LOVE this stuff!

einarparker says:

Jeeezzzz man it’s better to read than to watch any action packed movie!
Thanks Chase for sharing, thanks to your crew.
I have been thinking all day about you guys, just to come home and read that last post with a Wrap!!!
Thank you guys again!

Costas says:

I am also guilty of clapping hands and exclaiming loudly at the end of this, even if I am halfway around the world and it is none of my business.

Having suffered delays, down times, unexpected problems and many many obstacles, I always remember a friend who says “champion becomes he who picks himself up one more time after everybody else has given up and stayed down”. My friend is an athlete, but this applies to every ascpect of life.

Blake says:

Thanks Chase.

Rich Siberry says:

Damn, feels like the end of a favorite TV series. Think you can lean on the execs and squeeze out another season? I’m gonna miss the drama.

Leigh Catley says:

All I can say is wow! You had me captivated from the first post. You made me feel like I was there while all the time being jealous of your amazing experience.

It’s not often we get to understand the effort and team required to accomplish what looks so simple when published. I love the perspective you provided on the journey.

I hope there will be an opportunity to see the end result!

Thanks for taking the time during the hectic schedule to create your posts.


Perry Melat says:

Wow. Just love this Chase. You’re so insightful and real about what’s going on. Keep it up brother!

Jack Pope says:

Amazed by the production details, thanks for doing this,

jan says:

My goodness. Chase this was good shit :)
Maybe better then “Inception”.

Incredible and what top level of professionalism and team work !! Hope you have lots of success with the pics and a very satisfied Client. I am on for this blog again. Love it !!

Also I cannot believe you have this energy – and not only for this week – but on and on and on …..

andrea says:

Where was I?? Ha, I live in telluride and just heard about the shoot…too bad i couldnt work with you guys..good stuff..

would love to help on other projects!!

Christian says:


For me this was one serious good posting (count them all in of course!) and wha a joybto read. For me personally the best bog post in a long time.

Gorgeous pictures and how did the other shoot go?

Nils says:

Great posts! I really enjoyed reading all the stuff you wrote about your trip.
Would be great if you do this again for on of you next shoots. Really cool to read
about your style to work and all the fun you and the crew had. Even though it was obviously very stressful.

Just keep on moving and producing such great stuff.

Best wishes from Germany

CallumW says:

I’ll ask the question no-one else has yet….. ;)

On such a neat schedule, what would have happened if the weather wasn’t on during the final day:
Would the shoot be re-scheduled?
Would you stay on to finish the job and push tomorrow’s back?


Awesome! So glad God blessed you with great weather and everything worked out to get you finished and out of there in time! :c) THank you so much for sharing this adventure with us! I was REALLY happy to read it all worked out in the end! Happy shootings, Chase! :c)

Dave Deibert says:

I gotta say it’s kinda a bummer that this is done. I’ve been looking forward every morning to catch up with you and the gang. This is he first time I’ve added my two cents to your blog, so it goes to say that you’ve impressed me, inspired me, and just overall got me really excited about taking photos. Thank you doesn’t seem nearly enough. Lets do this again. SOON.

Nicely done! I felt the emotional roller coaster here on the east cost up until the final moment.

Chase, what an insane journey! Thanks for sharing!

Caleb says:

sick man, this pwns. Ive been following every day, cant wait to do your job :) also, could scott pop back over to the play by play editing page! i had a question about the processing! that would be amazing!

Enzo says:

Thank you so much for sharing this with us all. It’s been thrilling to read all the efforts, the energy you all have to spend to get the work done.
High five from Italy, well done!


Larry Eiss says:

Chase. PLEASE do this again. Please!!

Keep it up ! My positive vibe is with you !

I can’t wait to see the results !

Carl Licari says:

Only now Trey will people begin to realize the work, commitment and stress involved in what it really takes to fill your photographic shoes. They see the glamor and bling of completed projects but now have a condensed summary the production.
It takes a special individual to see it through…..successfully.

Bravo Dude!
Carl Licari

Sawyer says:

That was an exhilarating ride. I was getting chills just thinking about the intensity of those last few hours. Thanks for taking us all along for the ride.

Scott Nickell says:

Thanks for a great 9 days Chase. ENjoyed it a lot. Can’t wait for more.

Chris says:

These blog posts were epic! Really great! You must be absolutely dead! And to have to do it again for another client tomorrow! Make my 6:30am get ups and 6pm with full on school in between seem tame! Great job :)

Wes Jones says:

This was awesome Chase. Words are not able to explain the feelings I’ve gotten from reading along throughout this entire thing. Believe it or not, I started to clap at the end of this post as to see it all come together for everyone involved was amazing.

Nick says:

Have loved reading these the past week, can’t wait to see the end result. Keep up the great work man. Always an inspiration.

Gary says:

Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Ric says:

Simply awesome! Loved these daily posts and can’t wait to see your final production!

Mike says:

Totally got shivers reading the bit leading up to “That’s a wrap” Congrats to everyone involved. Seemed like a hell of a journey.

Allen says:

Thanks for taking the time to post man! That was really cool! Sounds like every days an adventure out there. Keep up the good work!!

Brice Ferre says:

You guys are nuts !!!! But the good kind of nuts.
I truly enjoyed every bits of this adventure and wished I could have been with you all in the snow. I know the feeling of nailing a shoot at the latest seconds, it feels like you’re Michael Jordan and you’ve scored from the middle of the court when the whistle goes….
Priceless. ;o)

Looking forward to your next adventure…

I can’t even imagine the feeling of how relief you all are right now. It was such an amazing ordeal, that we all got to experience through all your posts (Thanks Chase for not giving up on us even though I know that sometimes it wasn’t easy). What an endeavour of blood, sweat and tears – Emotions running high and sometimes low, but victorious at last! Although I’m not surprised, I congratulate you all for such an amazing achievement and “Winning” mother nature’s race!!

Pete says:

Cool. Congrats. Loved the series…do it again!

Paul S says:

Thanks a lot Chase! This was a great series to tune into each day.

Rob Reid says:

Can’t thank you enough for taking the time to share Chase! You’re living the dream, but kind enough not to hoard it. I agree that I’d love to see this blog continue with a glimpse into the post! Great job

a3 says:

Once again… amazing stuff. Congrats on the wrap.

Henrik Joensson says:

Congratz! Great work and a miracle crew. Looking forward to seeing the end product.

Bernie says:

@Chase or @Scott: any chance we’ll get to see the post process too? I know final images can’t be released until the client uses them, but you’ve gone this far in a BTS, why not go all the way?

Todd says:

Amazing posts. I was glued to twitter everyday waiting for an update. I am currently a photography student in canada. This is all the inspiration I will ever need to get me though the rest of school. Thanks so much for sharing this.

AJ says:

Love the entries Chase. However, as much they captivate me, I would love to see (or read) more technical information about the shoot.

Keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

sam says:

awsome series of posts, cant handle how cool it is

Michel Sandy says:

Another inspiring journey Chase. Thank you so much for taking the time to knock these out every night. I really needed this at a time when I might have been slipping a bit in my craft. You continue to inspire and push the boundaries.
Whenever I am on a production and feeling like it’s time to give up, I will think of this past week and how you shared an incredible story with us every day. No matter what.

M. Sandy

joop says:

Congrats on a successful week of shooting! It’s been awesome following you guys along!

This has actually made my day for the last week i oe these little posts and i miss your podcast! so inspiraational and interesting!

Awesome. Thanks for sharing.

Craig Fraser says:

epic 9 day shoot, was great to be onboard through the journey. cant wait to see what the hell you were doing up there??? when will you post results??

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