About Chase

Chase Jarvis is well known as a visionary photographer, director, and social artist. He is widely recognized for re-imagining, examining, and redefining the intersection of art and popular culture through still and moving pictures. While commercial work for brands like Nike, Pepsi, Volvo, Reebok, Apple, and Red Bull have earned him recognition from the International Photography Awards, The Advertising Photographers of America, Prix de la Photographie Paris, and numerous other industry buzz centers, his recent push into personal work and fine art has rapidly gained the attention of curators and art critics, mainstream audiences, and celebrity circles worldwide. The online hub for Jarvis and his work is at http://www.chasejarvis.com. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/chasejarvis
Author Archive | Chase

How to Overcome NO & Beat the System — “Dear White People” Director Justin Simien on #cjLIVE Wed Dec 10

justin simien chase jarvis liveREMINDER: this show is TODAY Wed, Dec 10, at NOON San Francisco time (3pm NYC, 20:00 London) and is broadcast LIVE at http://www.chasejarvis.com/live. Tune in, join the global internet audience + live Q&A w/ Justin Simien. PLUS – I’m giving away a camera today too! Details below – see you soon.
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Years ago as an up & coming photographer, I got so damn sick of hearing NO, sick of hearing what I had to BE and what my work had to LOOK LIKE in order to “make it”. Now years later and after some modest success, I…actually, wait, who am I kidding…that banter from the world never really stops, regardless of success or achievement. So the question I started asking myself some time ago WASN’T “how can I avoid those toxic ideas” – but rather “how can I use those toxic ideas, the uncertainty they create, or even my own identity crisis as fuel for my biggest goals + aspirations?” How can I beat the system?

ENTER: Film director, writer, and the artist that everyone in Hollywood/the film scene is talking about right now…my newest hero, Justin Simien. More than anyone I know personally, Justin has centered his emerging career around overcoming the “you can’t do this / make this / be this” and around telling stories about the human condition–HIS condition. And he’s parlayed those efforts from a successful IndieGoGo campaign, to nabbing the Special Jury Award at Sundance, and now a nationwide theatrical release of his amazing (and controversial film) Dear White People — that is IN THEATERS RIGHT NOW (ah-ma-zing trailer below…)

Among a several other challenges –like identity, race, AND financing his dream– Justin was told his script couldn’t become a feature length film…and that commercial success “wasn’t possible” with “that kind of script”. But who’s laughing now? Justin is… he’s laughing all the way to award parties, the late night TV circuit, Variety Magazine’s Top 10 Directors to watch, and…to my couch for the next episode of #chasejarvisLIVE!

WHO: You, me, breakout filmmaker Justin Simien + a worldwide gathering of creative people
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Wednesday, December 10th, 12:00noon San Francisco time (3:00pm NYC time or 20:00 London)
WHERE: Tune into www.chasejarvis.com/live. It’s free — anyone can watch and we’ll be taking YOUR questions via Facebook and Twitter, hashtag #cjLIVE

A FEW KEY CONCEPTS WE’LL COVER ON THE SHOW
// How to use NO as fuel for your creative fire.
// How to crowdsource your projects from obscurity into success
// How to break free from the assumptions of others and claim your own identity
// The power of flipping the script and walking face-first into what people expect from you
// How to make conversation an integral part of your craft
// How to use your very own life experiences as the biggest accelerant to your art & career

WITH THAT IN MIND….HELP US REPRESENT THE SHOW AND WIN STUFF.
FIRST, in order to reach the largest audience possible, we’re kicking out a couple nice prizes. We’re giving away $200 worth of free CreativeLive course credits to two (2) people. Enter to win by sending out a creative tweet OR Facebook post including #cjLIVE + any url pointing to THIS blog post. Sample for cut + paste…

Overcome “NO” + beat the system! @DearWhitePeople director #JustinSimien on #cjLIVE here–> http://bit.ly/12wsJ5p

Promoting the show as many times as you can starting RIGHT NOW till the show starts on Dec 10. Winners announced LIVE on the show! Be sure to use the hashtag and/or point back to my Facebook so we can track all your entries.

SECOND, we’re giving away the latest and greatest GoPro Hero4 Camera during the live show to one lucky viewer – you gotta tune in to the live show to win….PLUS we’ll hook other people up with a bunch ‘o Dear White People posters signed by Justin himself. Again, you gotta tune in to the LIVE SHOW, day of, for a chance at winning those.

THIRD – JOIN US LIVE IN THE SF STUDIO FOR FILMING!!
Want to be part of the live in-studio audience? filming here at CreativeLive Studios in San Francisco?? Space is limited, BUT if you’re in the first 40 people, to submit THIS FORM we will email you back within 48 hours with instructions for YOU + 1 GUEST to come hang with Justin and me in person, take some photos, ask your questions, and generally have a ridiculously good time.

LASTLY BUT NOT LEASTLY… our fine friends at BorrowLenses.com –the place where I get all the rental cameras, lenses and equipment for my shoots — have kindly agreed to give all #cjLIVE fans 10% off this month. Use code “CHASE” now till yearend. Enjoy!

SEE YOU LIVE ON THE INTERNETS OR IN PERSON ON DECEMBER 10TH!!

justin simien dear white people chase jarvis live

Comfort Is the Enemy of Purpose: How to Pursue Life-Changing Risk

There is no force as powerful as pursuit. It’s a gritty daily grind — but it’s the only way to find out what you’re capable of. Twenty years ago, I ditched medical school and bailed on a PhD in Philosophy to pursue my own calling to become a photographer. Amidst a bunch of head-scratching and doubt from my family and peers, I abandoned a known outcome to dedicate my life to making art. This quest woke me from a sleep state, and has since catapulted me into opportunities I never imagined existed.I test myself by doing, making and being, NOT by checking off boxes or collecting diplomas. By navigating my life in pursuit of my vision, I have – at the core – created my own trajectory.

Over the years, I’ve been lucky to befriend many fellow comrades in adventure — and there’s few if any more prolific than globetrotting entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau. Chris’s discipline and insight are a constant source of inspiration for me. His blog , The Art of Non Conformity is a part of my daily routine, his early books are continual energizers for me, and he’s even joined me on the #cjLIVE couch before.

But today is an especially awesome day, because I get to share Chris’ new book with you on this blog, along with an exclusive interview with the man himself. That’s right, during the time he wasn’t visiting every country on the planet (!!!) or running my favorite gathering of humans (the World Domination Summit), Chris managed to write a game changing new book, The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life – and, although it just came out last week – it’s already a New York Times bestseller (no surprise there). I tracked him down between book signings (where he’s visiting 41 cities in the USA alone!!) and talk show appearances to chat about the relationship between pursuit and fulfillment.

Are you ready to be the hero of your own life? Then start by GRABBING CHRIS’ NEW BOOK HERE and then check out our Q&A below for a few actionable takeaways for finding your own life-defining quest.

Hello my friend! Congrats again. Please tell me and the good people here what inspired you to write this book? How did you know this was the next story you needed to tell?

I wanted to tell the story of real-life adventures and modern-day quests. I spent 10 years visiting every country in the world — but the best part was hearing the stories of other people who had also chosen to cultivate the value of adventure in their lives. I didn’t want to just write a memoir, in other words. I wanted to present an agenda: “a quest can improve your life, and here’s how you craft one.”

I love that term, “the value of adventure”. Is this a one-off idea, or are we having a cultural shift towards a new definition of happiness?

I think it’s fair to say that people are thinking differently about their lives. They’re understanding that with all the opportunities available to us, we should put our limited time and energy to good use. We should strive! We should live with urgency!

I’ve often gotten lost during my trajectory toward a goal. And looking back it has been because I’d poorly defined those goals. Your book cuts thru that nonsense (and the challenges that face most people) by making goals a “quest”. What defines a quest?

A quest has a beginning and an end. There’s something you work toward over time—and there are usually multiple stages or milestones along the way. Challenge is the essence of a good quest. It shouldn’t be that easy! Lastly, something unexpected usually happens along the way. You can’t help but be changed through the journey. A quest makes you a better person as you embrace the challenge and adapt to unexpected circumstances.

How do you begin to set “the right quest” – and even the right milestones for a quest — while also allowing room to learn from the unexpected?

You set a big, incredible goal that is also within the realm of possibility. It has to be hard but it has to be achievable. In my case, visiting every country in the world (193/193) was tough. It took ten years! But it wasn’t fundamentally impossible. I knew if I worked hard enough and found a way to overcome the various challenges, eventually I could see it through.

How do you recommend we build pursuit — be it of larger quests or smaller goals — into our everyday lives?

We can choose to live for something we believe in. We can spend our time on things we’re excited by *and* things that bother us. One of my favorite stories in the book comes from Oklahoma, where a young mother decided that she’d raise her family with an international perspective. She couldn’t visit every country in the world, but she decided to cook a meal from every country in the world. Over the three years that the project unfolded, her daughter grew up eating foods from all over and learning about life beyond her doorstep. Then other people started caring, following along with the recipes she posted online.

It became something much bigger than just a small project, even though it was something she could pursue from her home and without a lot of specialized skills.

Is a quest ever really over?

In some ways, yes. Every quest has a goal and a destination. It may be “all about the journey” but there *is* something you’re working toward that you’ll eventually reach. That’s why you should be prepared for the end!

That said, the act of “questing” itself is addictive. Once you go down the road of adventure, it’s hard to quit.

What’s your next quest?

For me, the next quest will be much more about community. I want to focus on serving people who are interested in living unconventional lives. I want to help them to form communities of their own and provide role models of others who’ve done remarkable things.

Ultimately, I think this kind of work will be far more valuable than visiting every country in the world. But I’m also grateful for the extended quest of traveling, because without it I wouldn’t have the community in the first place.

Well said, amigo… before I again recommend you pick up Chris’ book, I’ll leave you with one snippet that I’ve learned from Chris that’s different that all the other goal or quest-setting books out there.

According to Chris, here are the 5 key qualities of a quest:

  1. A clear goal and a specific end point
  2. A clear challenge
  3. A sacrifice of some kind
  4. A calling or sense of mission
  5. A series of small steps and incremental progress toward the goal

The key for me is the sacrifice. What is achievement without sacrifice? In the case of becoming a photographer, I turned my back on becoming a pro soccer player, a doctor, or a professor. There’s gravity is admitting that to one’s self, and for me it was understanding in advance that I’d have to sacrifice that helped me get thru the hardest parts.

So what is your quest? What will you sacrifice to get what you want out of life? Pick up Chris’ book for some inspiration and clarity on how to do this for yourself. It will be the best $11 you could possibly spend to get yourself un-stuck and on to the next big chapter in your life.

#Love.

Let’s Hang Out! WIN a Meeting with Me + $500 in Camera Gear + all of CreativeLive Photo Week for Free

UPDATE: The contest has closed and we have a winner! Steve Groves has been randomly selected – and he scores the 1:1 with yours truly, $500 from Adorama and the entire PhotoWeek 2014 from CreativeLive. Stevo: send an email to production@chasejarvis.com to claim your prize and get that consult scheduled. Everyone else: thank you so much for entering!
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I can point to a handful of in-person meetings that changed the trajectory of my career in photography. It’s with that in mind that I’ll ask if you remember the time one photographer scored a private consultation with yours truly + $500 and free photo education?

Well, let’s you and me hang out. Given that a)I think I might have some insights to get you un-stuck in your career / review your portfolio / make some recommendations on approach to creativity and business; and b)the last giveaway was a hit; and c)it’s frickin Photo Week right now… we’re going in for round #2. Yep – I’m giving away another 60 minute 1:1 consultation with yours truly, along with $500 from Adorama, plus all of Photo Week from CreativeLive which is 6 days worth of photo instruction from many of the world’s top instructors. How to enter? Everything you need to know is right here …

HOW DO YOU WIN? Once again, we’re using our favorite widget app to collect all of your entries. It does a few things really well:
1. manages all entries into a completely secure database and properly randomizes a winner
2. gives you info about how much time is left in the giveaway / how many entries there are etc
3. allows you to earn extra entries by participating more deeply in the community (tweeting, sharing, reading posts, etc.)

WHAT THE WINNER GETS.
1. A personal consult with Chase Jarvis. You know the drill. If you’re local to SEA or SF, we can do lunch or whatever. If you’re remote it’s a 60 minute Skype call, Google Hangout, or phone call with yours truly. We can talk about anything and everything under the sun — big ideas, portfolios, what your favorite lens is, how to start that business you’ve been meaning to start, etc. Or my favorite flavor gummy bear. You decide.

2. Gear. Adorama are being their usual badass selves and giving me $500 cash (gift card) toward anything on their site that I get to give to one of you. Ideal for helping you get that new lens, body, drone, or even sweet gear for mobile photography.

3. Education. CreativeLive is kicking in ALL of the classes from PhotoWeek — the world’s largest photo education event via best experts in photo & video education. If purchased separately, these courses would add up to more than $800 bucks.

To enter just fill in your info below and follow along. And note: this giveaway is live TODAY all the way through Sept 29th. Winner will be announced on Tuesday Sept 30 via my social feed and email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to all who enter! I can’t wait to chat it up with the winner and give out a handful of rad prizes. Hit me up with any questions or notes below or on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.

Looking for Just 100 Beta Testers — like YOU — for Mylio [New Photo Software]

UPDATE: this opportunity is now full/closed (sorry – that took all of 2 minutes). Thanks to all who showed interest. To those who missed out, I’ll let you know when Mylio is publicly available.
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One of my favorite things about living a life at the intersection of artist/photographer + entrepreneur/tech founder is that — through community, experience, network, and passion – I get access to a ton of the newest, emerging IDEAS & PRODUCTS from all over the world. And it’s always my goal to share as much of this with YOU as possible — whether thats the newest cameras, photo apps, gadgets or any number of startups I advise.

So that brings me to the point of this short post: I’d like advance help from YOU on a cool new product, not yet released. I’m advising photo software startup called Mylio (short for My Life Organized) and it is looking for just 100 beta testers.

But what is it? Mylio is an insanely intelligent photo management + basic editing system for photographers who want to spend more time enjoying their photos and less time searching through them. Put bluntly, the first time I used Mylio, I tasked it to organize the 25,000 snapshots across my iPhone, my iPad, and my daily laptop. In no time flat I was looking at images off my first iPhone that I hadn’t seen in years. Once buried images of photoshoot scouting trips to New Zealand and Asia, my old portfolio and my new portfolio were at my fingertips. I even found copies of some of my signature images, long ago buried on a backup of backup somewhere, or so I thought. In short, Mylio had organized my pictures from every corner of my life, my memory, and my daily devices (including more than 10,000 from my iphone alone) and I was viewing them. And it was fast.

But that was my experience. What will yours be?

Here’s how to be a part of this select group of early users: just go here, sign up, and download the application. You will receive an email if you are part of the first 100 and an invitation to participate in a special forum to leave feedback.

Yep, just simply visit http://mylio.com/download and enter your info.

Some top level bullet points about the service:
// Allows you to auto-magically manage, protect and adjust you photo library across multiple computers, tablets, external hard drives, network storage devices, and the cloud. Yes that means all your stuff at your fingertips, all the time.

// Lets you store edit both jpeg and RAW images (on all those devices…I know it’s nuts right? So yes you can edit Raw images on your iPad mini, or whatever)

// It’s designed to handle libraries with up to 250,000 photos without slowing you, your device or your network down, regardless of where you are in the universe.

// It’s for Macs, iPads and iPhones (iPhone 5) and…yes…Windows too.

// Integrates with Lightroom or Photoshop workflow too

SO, again, this is an opportunity to test an early product before it’s made widely available. You could have an amazing experience, or you could find some bugs and struggle to use it. That’s the point. But either way…above and beyond even the gratitude from me for helping out….the first 100 users will receive 6 months of free ongoing use of the product. So there’s that little nugget too. But really it’s way more about being on the test crew and playing around with cool new toys.

One last reminder, I am NOT involved in the daily activity of the company etc at all. I’m an advisor to this startup, so while comments and questions are totally welcome below, please direct your sharing and feedback about the Mylio experience to the Mylio team. Thanks and enjoy.

Behind-the-Scenes Look at My ALS #IceBucketChallenge Shoot [Complete with Gear, Details & Photos]

Chase Jarvis Ice Bucket Challenge BTS

Hi Friends. Hopefully you saw my #IceBucketChallenge video and donated or participated in the #ALS internet meme (and were able to keep sight of the real target of raising awareness + $$ for ALS!)

To be clear we were just goofing from a production standpoint, but since there was some cinematic playfulness and we used a bit of photo tech for my icy challenge, I got a bunch of questions / comments from readers asking me to detail our production. So here’s a quick breakdown, including approach, gear, setup, settings + video editing, complete with BTS photos and a final parting shot. Follow-up questions & comments welcome…
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Approach
First, since time and resources were limited we resolved to keep this shoot as low weight as possible. So even though we busted out some fun toys, the whole thing — concept, setup, shoot, edit, and post to the internet — took place in a matter of hours.

Photo Gear
_Main Camera: Nikon D4s with 24-70 2.8
_Camera settings = ƒ8 / 1/250th sec / ISO 200
_Manfrotto 057 Carbon Fiber Tripod (Ball Head-RC4)
_Additional Nikon D4 (for behind the scenes’ photos) with 12-24mm 2.8 on another Manfrotto tripod
_3x PocketWizard Plus III, 1x (Chase’s hand), 1x (On camera), 1x Lighting Pack.
_Broncolor Scoro Pack
_Broncolor Beauty Dish
_Broncolor 100×100 Soft Box
_Chimera M Soft Box
_3x Broncolor 1600 Unilite Strobe heads
***All this gear is detailed here on the gear page, with specs and prices avail here from our pals at Adorama.

Video Gear
_Panasonic GH4 for tight, slow motion 96FPS
_Panasonic GH3 for wide
_10x GoPros for the bullet time array
_2x Manfrotto 545GB Tripod (526 Head)
_3x LED Panels 100W each
***All this gear, complete with specs and prices avail here from our pals at Adorama

Other Gear
_12ft Black Backdrop
_20x25ft Black Visqueen
_10ft Ladder
_Water from the lake
_4x bags of Ice
***This was stuff we had on hand, except the ice which we got from a convenience store and the visqueen, which we picked up at a local hardware store.

Here’s a quick sketch and some photos of how we laid this all out, with the detailed play by play below.

chase jarvis diagram

The Details
_The main camera prepared for photos was a Nikon D4S with 24-70 2.8 rigged in a way it could be shot by yours truly using 3x PocketWizard Plus III, one in the camera set at Channel 1 (needs N10-ACC-D200 cable), one in hand @ Channel 1 as well, and one with the Broncolor Scoro pack @ Channel 2, the camera was shooting 9 frames per second, and the Scoro was able to deliver speed and power consistently.

_Video was shot using the GH4 for Slow Motion 96FPS at angle while GH3 was shot straight towards Chase.

_The “Bullet Cam” was a rig made using 10 GoPro’s affixed to 2x grip arms held by 2x light stands (similar to how we did in the Samsung campaign video) and then configured in a semi circle just below the video and still cameras. All of them were shooting video and were synced later with a clap! done prior to the action moment recorded. In post we selected one key action moment and grabbed a single frame from each only the same action frame were selected from the footage of them all for the final edit.

_A bucket of roughly 40 Liters of water was used with water from nearby Lake Union (so not to waste) and 4 bags of Ice (the first 2 melted rather quickly, so we re-upped with 2x more.)

_Lighting was composed of three lights for both photos and video. For video, 3 LED Panels at 100W Each, 2x behind and to my side for the Rim light / to backlight the water / define it off the black backdrop, and one at 45º angle medium/high in height on left of the subject for fill. And for photos we used 3 light positiioned very similarly to video lights to cut down on the variance in lighting schematic. We used 2 medium softboxes behind to the side for the rim light, and a beauty dish above me, centered (beauty is not the word I’d use in this case…). Strobes were powered using Broncolor A4S that delivered 9FPS consistently.

_For the set, we used 2x large light stands to hold up the 12ft Black backdrop, a 20x25ft Black Visqueen that covered almost the entire set’s ground to contain all the water, for that we raised the sides so the water would be kept inside.

Then we let ‘er rip, and you saw the results in motion. We pulled the edit together in Adobe Premier and posted to YouTube within a handful of hours, start to finish. Reminder the vid is here or embedded below to watch again / share

Quick edit of one of the still photos below. Thanks again. Hope you were able to donate and spread the word. Hit me with questions or comments below.

chase jarvis als ice bucket

And again…

Happy to Take on Some Ice Water for the ALS #IceBucketChallenge

I know, I know! I’m two weeks late for the #ALS #icebucketchallenge…I hate being late for an internet meme, but this is obviously way more/bigger/important than a meme… In this case, as you know by now, the world is raising awareness and money for ALS research. I’ve donated to ALS for not hitting my 24hr mark… and it’s never too late for a good cause, so bring on the ice anyway, per the vid above.

I explain in more detail about my tardiness in the vid above, but want to thank everyone who nominated me. Lots of lovely people/folks/groups throughout the innerwebs (thanks to Adorama, Kai and DigitalRev, Brian, several on the CreativeLive crew, and many others that justifiably beat me up via Twitter. I hear ya ;)

We banged out the video above and wrangled a few playful vid effects to keep it fun. And of course, I also get to nominate some folks to do this chilly challenge, so here they are below:

Actor and pal Adrian Grenier (@adriangrenier)
Homie Travis Rice (@TravRice) – the best snowboarding in the world.
And… hardcore Mike Horn (@ExploreMikeHorn) – the gnarliest active explorer on earth.

Get to it, you three, while I go dry off and warm up.

Lastly! I shot stills of my dousing. If you donate to ALS and share your receipt with me online in any way — even for donating a dollar — I’ll share with you the ridiculous image via a download or something so you can poke fun at me, privately or in public.

As always, if you have questions/comments on the video or anything for that matter… post em below. And forever feel free to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, and G+.

I have lost a family member to this disease, so it’s extra close to me personally. I can’t overstate how phenomenal the response to the #IBC has been – I hope you’re interested in supporting awareness and research has been piqued.And please, if you can afford it — ice bucket or not — please visit the ALS Association website and make a donation. Thanks and #love.

Aerial Landscape Photography Porn – Iceland Style

Over the years I’ve kicked out a bunch of vids shooting from the skies on commercial gigs, like here, here, here and here for starters. But occasionally, on the heels of a commercial assignment based out of a particularly stunning location, I’ll treat myself to some heli time shooting my ongoing aerial fine art project (personal work with dose of adventure). In fact, I’ve documented these adventures before — like here in New Zealand. I even did a how-to shoot aerial photography thingie here from Belize… but truth be told, all this flying never gets old.

And so it stands to reason that I’m rolling out another bit of aerial photo porn today in hopes of bringing a little joy/beauty to your day AND of course celebrating a quick hit to a gorgeous little corner of Iceland. Please enjoy. As always, taking your questions and comments below, answering those that I can muster.

Like more of these vids? Subscribe to my Youtube Channel here
Or signup for my weekly VIP email photo lovenote right to your inbox.

[And, lastly, before you eeeeeven dismiss this post/video and say “This is so outrageous, when will I ever get to shoot from a helicopter,” I’ll just say that every photographer who has ever shot from a chopper has said those same words at some point... only to find themselves at a future date pulling heavy G turns and shooting from a blue sky somewhere. You can probably even hitch a sightseeing ride for less that it costs to rent a lens for the weekend, so take it all with a grain of salt and enjoy. And, of course, a HUGE shoutout to my guy Big Chocolate for the beats.]

12 Secrets for Unlocking Your Most Creative Work

A lot of my breakthrough creative thoughts come to me when least expected. I’ve talked about “finding creativity” and “creative inspiration” all over the damn place… on podcasts like this and this (twice for example) or given a keynote on it here at SWSW.

That said, I’ve also learned from an entire life in the trenches as an artist what DOESN’T contribute to them (abusing myself, bad head space, partying too much), but more importantly, what does… I’ve learned that creative inspiration is something that can be directly CULTIVATED by putting yourself in a fertile environment. So I’m going to let ‘em rip. Here’s MY personal recipe — my day to day list — of things, states, and activities for cultivating maximum creative inspiration… and I’m guessing it’s different (and more achievable) than you think it is…

1. Keep a Schedule
This one is super counter intuitive to most — and why I’m leading with it here… For nearly my entire life I thought that schedules were meant to keep my creative self DOWN… that a schedule was the devil. That you had to live a life like Jim Morrison from the Doors to find creative inspiration. Come to find out that doing what you can to keep a schedule is supremely helpful for your creative brain. And I don’t mean 9-5… but I do mean some semblance of a schedule. Taking photos every day, writing first thing every morning, headphones on and painting from midnight to 2am every day…whatever works for YOU is what I mean. But the more you can schedule worktime, the better. Science tells us this, but so does my own lifetime of experience. The funny part? To this day it’s still my biggest challenge.

2. Meditation
I spoke briefly about this with Austin Kleon on cjLIVE and with Tim Ferriss recently, but trust me: it’s a doozy. Every day, I put 20 minutes aside when I wake up in the morning and before dinner at night to sit quietly and just be still. I practice Transcendental Mediation (TM), but I’m not recommending a particular kind in this post here… I’m just saying that meditation works. It’s made the single biggest difference in my life’s ability to perform at a high level and run the kind of gnarly schedule that I run. What’s the effect? Clarity. My ideas are more clear than ever before. You’ve heard athletes like Michael Jordan talk about seeing the game around them develop seemingly in slow motion? Well that’s what happens to the chaos of a packed life when one meditates. This are infinitely more manageable, things are less prone to get me off my game — and … here’s the kicker… my creative thoughts come more freely. I find it 100x easier to get into that creative “flow state” I’ve talked about before and that science backs me on

3. Regular Exercise
Just like I thought schedules use to suck, I had no idea that being active contributes a huge amount to my ability to kick ass as a professional artist. Staying fit and getting your heart rate up during the day has even been shown in studies to increase creative connections and cognitive ability. When I’m in Seattle I go to this gym. When in SF, I see this guy. But given that I’m on the road about half the time, I’ll sneak in this 7-minute workout every day. Turns out that even just a daily 10 minute run can change my headspace.

3. Get Plenty of Sleep
Like a lot of creative types, I’ve had a tendency in life to do a lot of my work late at night, or to forego sleep in favor of staying out or waking up early to get a head start on the day. I used to be proud of operating on 4 hours of sleep — and I did that for more than 10 years — with gusto. I thought it was my tool for getting ahead. But, while there’s no substitute for hard work, sleep is nearly just as effective. This is something I’ve learned very recently. Sleep is like the wonder drug. And I use it as such. In the same way I use (but don’t abuse) caffeine, when things start getting sloppy in my life, I go to sleep. Seriously. I will carve out a couple nights for 10 hours of sleep… and voila. I’m back on my creative game. (This is an other subject I touched on with Tim Ferriss on his podcast.)

4. Take Breaks During Your Day — and Take a Walk
It’s been shown scientifically that there is a link between talking walks and creative boosts, and I’ve found this to be true in my own life, too. Although TBCITOTWY, I occasionally take walks without my phone/camera & think about photographs that I would take (saying to myself “that’s a photograph, that’s a photograph” while imagining what scenes might look like if I shot them.) But it’s even more important for me to take a walk and do nothing but observe. Observe the light. Observe other people, observe the world. Walking is also a kind of kinetic meditation, without pressure of having to produce. Talk a walk.

5. Get Away
I try to take small steps far away from work as often as possible. I’ll hit up the family cabin for a night, take a road trip, get out on our little boat for a few hours, etc., as often as possible. Sure BIG travel counts… like getting away on vacation, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about just a few hours, or an overnight… something to get you some physical separation from your stressors. For example, I got the idea for the Seattle 100 portrait project while lying in my hammock (on a break from work – where I went home for lunch and to chill out). I got the idea for doing the Best Camera app while up at our family cabin on Camano Island. Get some separation if you can, even if just for a couple hours.

6. Read More Books
As mentioned above, I spend a crazy stupid amount of time on planes, so I got into this habit of reading a LOT about 10 years ago. And I haven’t stopped. I intend to publish a reading list soon, so I’ll avoid going deep on titles here. But the point is to read… Get inspiration from others. My favorite genres are artist biographies. Second favorite = deep dives on any topic that I’m fascinated with at the time. Whether that’s the history of the internet or the psychology of creativity. Third favorite? New school books on business, and connecting your work with your life in a meaningful way. (Business wasn’t innate to me – everything I know, I read about or learned the hard way). Oh… one more genre….books that my friends write. I’m fortunate to have a wealth of friends who best selling authors and writers of great books. Couple recent examples = David duChemin’s, Ryan Holiday’s, and Adam Braun’s most recent books. I’ve also listed several books before that will recharge your creativity. More to come on this topic in future posts….

7. Learn to Teach Yourself / Hack Your Learning / Learn Online
It’s no secret that I got my start by teaching myself how to do what I do, but to this day, I’m an avid proponent of self-learning. Learning is not passive. It’s insanely active. In truth, that was a big motivation for starting CreativeLive, then taking that even bigger, so that YOU can have the opportunity to teach yourself -while following along with the top teachers and “do’er’s” and a worldwide community all your own.

8. Visualize Success
One of the best ways to stay creatively pumped is to do some visualization. It doesn’t have to be rigorous. I can be like letting yourself daydream. But it just so happens I do this with intention. I like to actively Remember why I started and think of what you want the end product to look like. One of my recent successful gigs — a campaign shoot for Samsung — was a literal visualization that came to me in a recurring dream. I kept picturing what this image from my mind would look like in real life (as you see in the video) and by the end of the shoot we’d made it happen. The point isn’t really about creating your dreams, it’s about believing you can be successful at whatever you choose to imagine.

9. Immersion in Other Forms of Art
This is a big one: it’s crucial to get perspectives outside your chosen career/hobby/job/etc. This is one of my biggest “secrets” (but that I’ve been sharing for a decade.) Most of the things I applied to my own career that set me apart, came from thinking about / using influences from things outside of photography. To learn light? I took up oil painting. To learn how to shoot sports, I looked at fashion. And the list is a mile long… One of the reasons doing #cjLIVE is so essential to me is that I get so much interdisciplinary input. I’ve had musicians, artists, designers, writers, speakers, travelers, entrepreneurs, business titans, and more — all sitting right on my couch to chat for an hour or more at a time. These are my friends. This is where I get my inspiration. Talking to people in other disciplines informs my art, my work, and my side projects. Not only that, but it inspires me to do things outside of my comfort zone… and things that are completely unexpected in MY profession. It helps me be different, not better.

10. Make Things Every Day
Science says it, and I experience it. When I’m making things everyday — whether it’s writing or taking a photo or doing some — ANY creative craft… your brain pushes into new neural pathways. Quite literally creativity creates more creativity. The rote act of doing your craft — or ANY craft — is a primer for more creative mojo. Do not underestimate this. (My keynote on that topic here.)

11. Find Adventure
Put simply, I live in 2 modes: the adventure mode and the quiet mode. Adventure — whether that’s travel or putting myself in danger, or “living large” or whatever floats your boat… Putting yourself in the mode where you’re being stimulated and taking information IN is a critical mode for me. And I’d be it will be for you. Get into adventures. And…. then see #12.

12. Find Quiet
In contrast to #11 above, great ideas do NOT come in the heat of battle. Science says this as does my own personal experience. When you’re out in the world seeking inspiration and adventure, you’re most certainly “getting ideas.” But it’s actually the synthesis of the inspiration and ideas of others that makes the real difference in what you OR your ideas can become happens in synthesis. It’s the connecting of ideas into new ones where your greatest accelerants will happen. And this requires some calm after the storm. It requires quiet. It’s why your best ideas happen in the shower or before bed or when you wake early… because there’s less noise in your world at that moment. Find more time like that. Trust me.

So, there you have it! Those are a few creative tactics that’ll up your creative game. I talk about this stuff a lot (and here’s another post on “creative habits” right here if you dig this stuff). As always, I’m sure you have dozens of your own tricks and experiences too. Of course feel free to share them in the comments below or on Twitter/Fbook/G+. I’d be all about learning some more creative ninja mojo from you as well.

LENSTOPIA Part IV — The Top 5 Lenses for Your Micro Four Thirds Camera (+ a few others)

Data tells me that more than 100,000 of you caught my earlier Top 5 Nikon, Top 5 Canon & Top 5 Hasselblad lens posts, but it’s intuition that tells me what many of you are really wanting is today’s post on Micro 4/3 and mirrorless lenses. And yes, I rarely write about gear since there are entire websites dedicated to that pixel peeping universe… but my hope is that this makes the few times I do write about gear more helpful and impactful.

I play the field when it comes to gear so that I can shoot with the best / preferred gear in any situation. And is was really that mantra that got me into this micro 4/3 world. It started out that I was annoyed at dragging my pro Nikon kit around for street photography and personal snapshots, so I jumped on the small camera tip for those uses. Then I hauled a mirrorless kit to the 19,200ft summit of Mt Kilimanjaro and thru the streets of NYC, and.. and… Then I… well you get the picture — I use these things a lot. So between yours truly, my video guru Erik, and my gear editor/research pal Sohail we’ve logged real work to aggregate our thoughts on these lenses with the hope that you get at least 1 or 2 juicy takeaways. The images are Sohail’s since he is more of a gear “tester” — and wrangling thru millions of images to find one of my fav’s with each lens would kill me. So there you have it. And remember a “top anything” list always stirs debate — but that’s welcome and appreciated. Think we’re off by a lens or two? Let us know — and why. Enjoy…


Okay, we’re gonna be up-front about this with you guys: we cheated. If you shoot Micro Four Thirds, you already know that there are a gazillion lenses in this world — far more than most people realize. Throw in adapters and suddenly, that pool more than doubles in size as you can add on Canon and Nikon lenses to the mix as well. So, yeah, we’re cheating. Cause there’s no way I can do just 5 …

The Voigtlander Lenses.

The Voigtlander 17.5mm, 25mm, and 42.5mm f/0.95 lenses.

The Voigtlander 17.5mm, 25mm, and 42.5mm f/0.95 lenses.

We did say we were gonna cheat, right? Well, these three lenses are easily one of the finest lens sets on the Micro Four Thirds platform. Put together, they represent the 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm equivalents on a full-frame sensor. and each one opens wide to an astounding f/0.95. No, that’s not a typo. f/0.95. Which means that most of the complaints about not being able to get good bokeh with MFT cameras are now officially put to rest.

Michio Fukuda, prepping for a shoot. Shot with the Voigtlander 42.5mm f/0.95.

Michio Fukuda, prepping for a shoot. Shot with the Voigtlander 42.5mm f/0.95.

These lenses are superb wide-open, razor sharp when you stop down a bit, and have one extremely neat feature that filmmakers will love. The 17.5mm (35mm equivalent) and the 42.5mm (85mm equivalent) both have aperture rings that can be “de-clicked” with a twist, so you can smoothly go from wide-open to closed-down while shooting video. The 25mm (50mm equivalent) was also recently updated to add the same feature, so if you’re looking to get that one, make sure you get the Mark II version.

While these are manual-focus lenses, they are surprisingly easy to focus, having a smooth, silky action to the focus ring that’s still firm enough to nail focus each time. Without a doubt, these are the best primes on the market for MFT cameras.

Details and specs on the Voigtlander 17.5mm Lens at here at Adorama
Details and specs on the Voigtlander 25mm Lens at here at Adorama
Details and specs on the Voigtlander 42.5mm Lens at here at Adorama

Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2

Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2

Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2

Coming in at a close second for our favorite primes on Micro Four Thirds is this new portrait lens from Panasonic. At f/1.2 it is only a hair “slower” than the Voigtlanders, but it adds two key features that the Voigts don’t have: Optical Image Stablization and Autofocus.

Images from this beauty are downright gorgeous; the rolloff from highlight to shadow is actually smoother than the Voigtlander 42.5mm and the image stabilization is good for a few stops. The cons: It’s 50% more expensive than the Voigtlander, AF is kinda pokey, and it’s much larger, physically. If you need the AF and OIS, however, this one’s still a bargain, as equivalent lenses for Canon and Nikon are even more expensive than this one.

Details and specs at here at Adorama

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8

The Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8 lens equates to a 24-70mm lens on full-frame cameras. As lenses go, this is the workhorse of the MFT platform, and it adds image stabilization to boot. Video shooters working with the Panasonic GH series love this lens; it’s often the first one they buy when moving the Micro Four Thirds platform.

This lens is one of Panasonic’s “X” series lenses, which means that it’s built to a higher standard that Panny’s other glass. Think of it as the equivalent of Canon’s “L” glass, and in keeping with that moniker, it’s dust- and splash-proof when paired with a GH4, for example.

Bixby Bridge. Shot with the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8. © Sohail Mamdani

Bixby Bridge. Shot with the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8. © Sohail Mamdani

Optically, this lens is a solid performer. There is some barrel distortion at 12mm, but that’s almost expected. There’s some vignetting at 12mm as well, but again, nothing a quick trip through Lightroom won’t compensate for – if you even notice it in day-to-day shots. It’s also pretty lightweight, despite the addition of image stabilization. If you’re looking for the one lens to buy for your Olympus or Panasonic camera, this would be it.

Details and specs at here at Adorama

Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8

Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8

Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8

This is the long portrait lens everyone seems to be lusting after, and with good reason. The Oly 75mm fills in an important gap in the MFT lineup, giving users a razor-sharp long-portrait lens in the 150mm range. The additional focal length lets you compress perspective a bit more and is optically one of the best lenses in the MFT lineup. Looking at a shot taken with a Panasonic GH4 and this lens at 100%, the level of detail it delivers is yummy. Price-wise, it’s not cheap, but it’s not stratospheric either. It retails for $899.

Details and specs at here at Adorama

Metabones Speedbooster for Micro Four Thirds

Metabones Speedbooster

Metabones Speedbooster

Here’s where we cheat again. The Metabones Speedbooster isn’t a lens, per se, even though it does have an optical element in it. It’s actually an adapter that opens up pretty-much all of Nikon’s lenses to MFT users. From the oldest AiS lenses to modern “G” lenses, this adapter can take them all and bring them to your Oly or Panny. You won’t get autofocus, but you do get manual aperture control, even on the new “G” lenses that don’t have an aperture ring.

Now, if all it did was that, it’d be cool. Maybe not worth the $400 price tag, but still, pretty cool. Except it does more…it slices, it dices, it chops, it mops…. In addition to adapting the lens and making the aperture controllable from the adapter, it also widens the lens and adds up to one full stop of light gathering capability. HUH? Yes. One of the primary complaints from folks who dislike MFT is that there are few wide-angle lenses for it. Panasonic “solved” this problem by introducing a 7-14mm lens (14-28mm equivalent), but now we have yet another solution in the form of the Metabones speed booster. Now, you can take a Sigma 10-20mm lens and adapt it to your Olympus, and instead of it becoming the equivalent of a 20-40mm lens, it’s still a 14.2-28.4mm lens. Metabones changes the crop factor of that sensor from 2x to 1.42x, making that Sigma actually wider on your MFT body than it would be on, say, a D7100. Throw in the additional light-gathering capability and you have an adapter that’s more than worth the $400 price tag.

Details at Adorama


The Bonus Round

Every time you turn around, there seems to be a new mirrorless platform is emerging. Nikon and Canon finally both kicked off their mirrorless camera production, and Fuji, Leica, and Sony now have their own bodies in the mix. Soooo…. we decided to take a look at a few of lenses that stood out to us on these platforms. Enter…

Fuji 56mm f/1.2

Fuji 56mm f/1.2

Fuji: The XF56mm f/1.2

A new high-speed portrait lens for Fuji’s fledgling X-mount mirrorless cameras, this lens is perhaps one of the largest primes Fuji has made yet. Even wide-open, it’s plenty sharp, and has bokeh that will leave you bokeh nerds salivating. AF is a bit slow (argh), but that’s almost to be expected from this class of lens, I think.

Details and specs at here at Adorama

Sony 55mm f/1.8 ZA

Sony 55mm f/1.8 ZA

Sony Full-Frame E-mount: The 55m f/1.8 ZA lens

One of the few new lenses announced for the Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras such as the A7r and the A7s, the Zeiss-branded 55mm f/1.8 is an odd duck. Sohail used it on an A7r and reported reasonably favorable results for sharpness and general optical quality. That could, he also noted, just be the A7r’s 36MP sensor, however, and he did note that the AF was (again!) pretty slow on it. Again – that could just be the camera itself, as the FEs are a bit slow to focus in general.

Details and specs at here at Adorama


Boom! This concludes our Lenstopia series. It’s been a hoot going through all of these systems. We bleed for you. All the links to Adorama will give you tons of product detail, price, etc. If you want to rent instead of buy, our pals at www.borrowlenses.com also rent a bunch of these lenses and will ship them direct to you. Huge thanks to both those fantastic companies for getting us all the gear we don’t already own, and some we do. Both of these companies are really lovely.

Big shoutout to Sohail, Erik, and the other gear support crew who have generally put up with being told to go test all of these lenses with (pretty) good humor. If you’ve got lenses for the MFT or other mirrorless platforms you think we should’ve mentioned, please, sound off below. Otherwise, get out and make/take some damn pictures.

Everything You Weren’t Taught About Taking Photos: How to Make an Image While Making Tough Decisions on Set (Amidst the Drama of it All)

chase jarvis naked juiceBackground Story.
This image was a part of a global campaign — print, OOH and digital – for Naked Juice in 2011. This image was one image in a series of 6 ads where the goal was to achieve what we were calling “the Naked Lens” — a superwarm, hard backlit look, complete with lens flare and jeweled tones throughout the image. While it might be an overused look these days — lens flares hadn’t yet hitting the mainstream for advertising. The idea was that this look, when combined across all Naked’s imagery, could be an “own-able” look for Naked. You can see a few other images from that campaign here or here on the agency’s site to get the gist of them together.

But I can already hear you — “so what’s so special about this shot, Chase? It’s just a guy walking down the beach with a surfboard!” Fair point, but ironically I chose this image specifically for that point. One of the most popular questions I get asked about photography is… “what’s it like to do X, or shoot with Y, in crazy location Z?” By and large people want to hear the sexy war stories of the profession — and there are plenty. BUT in high-end, broad reach advertising work you’re rarely asked to shoot the sexy or the impossible. More often you’re asked to shoot the “normal” under some unique circumstances… be those circumstances a special lighting situation, a special location, during a special type of weather, etc… and with 100 smart people (agency, client, everybody else under the sun) looking over your shoulder all the while — each with their own opinion on the best way to do something. That was the case for this image, and that’s why I thought it a more worthy share than another sexy war story. IMHO it might be a less sexy story, but it’s a better read and ultimately more valuable for takeaways because it’s more real than most of the shiz you’ll read.

Setup
Sometimes even the simple images are hard to get. We were setup on location in Malibu at a beach park we’d permitted after scouting the week before. Key challenge #1 = the weather was NOT good. Overcast, cold, with fog and broken clouds. Certainly no one expects you to control the weather and contracts are written with “weather days” etc, but that’s my point. It DEFINITELY contributes to the mood on set — to everyones mood. All of which not ideal when your #1 objective is a warm, backlit sun flare. To add some complications in there, it was our last shot to get, we’d nailed the previous 5 shooting in LA over the past week. There was a fair pressure to get it done… budget pressure. Nobody likes cost overages and you can imagine the costs of 30+ people staying for another day — client, agency, wardrobe, styling, art department, motorhomes, cancellation fees, etc etc. There was at least another $50 – $100,000 on the line if we didn’t get the shot.

We were all setup several hours early, and a lot of less experienced people on set (client’s do these shoots once or twice a year, the agencies do them a few more, whereas we photographers literally live in this stuff) and the people with the purse strings are getting fidgety. ["Why are we even here? It's cloudy weather! Shouldn't we scramble to another location and try to poach the shot down in Venice? My phone says its sunny down there."]

ENTER: 3 THINGS…
1. Patience. Scrambling 30 people to a new location that “might” be sunny, to shoot without a permit, is NOT a good idea. Parking alone is a nightmare, let alone all the rest. Besides risking getting shut down from the cops, nobody likes a scramble. Moreover, there is a phenomenon that you should be familiar with… it’s the phenomenon that quite frequently bites people in the ass: chasing light, i.e. “you can see it’s sunny right over there.” This sometimes plays in your favor with a smaller crew and a consistent weather pattern, but we had neither of those.

2. Sun Seeker App. Now I’m in no way affiliated with this $10 Sun Seeker app (and I’ve written about it before), but I use it every day of every outdoor photo shoot I’m on. In short, it’s a must have — it gives you the exact location of the sun in the sky at any given time. In this particular situation, when we’d scouted the location earlier we’d identified that our scene would be backlit the right amount for about 45 minutes before the sun went behind this hill just to the northwest of the beach we were on. BUT BUT BUT given the situation at hand I could tell that there were some breaks in the cloud happening right in the zone where the sun was going to be in an hour… and that — if things worked out perfectly — we might get a few minutes of sun just before it went behind the hill overlooking the beach (that you can see in the background of the image).

3. Making the Tough Call. They say that making hard calls in photography “goes with the pay grade.” But let’s be clear: most of the calls you must make on set — to shoot or not to shoot, to stay or move, to use this lens or that one, this model or that, this camera or that, do this or that or don’t — are based on gut and experience, and all of your gut and experience were cultivated with imperfect data. It’s a feeling combined with experience. Well, that’s what went down here. I had a strong hunch we’d get a minute or two of direct sun beneath the clouds and above the horizon, just right before it dipped away. I’d seen it happen 100 times, and that experience coupled withe the technology that told me where the sun was going to be AND the patience to always wait — to always give yourself a chance (see this post) to make the shot.

So, that’s what we did here. Amidst the voices from client and bystanders and agency and etc., I held the cast and crew at the location… and it worked. The sun turned on like a light switch, burning brightly and warmly for exactly 2 minutes. Not 20 minutes, not 2 hours. 2 minutes. But because we were ready (against everyone else’s desire… “its so cloudy its NEVER going to happen…”) we nailed the shot in a 2 minute window.

Gear & Settings
Camera = Nikon D3s
Lens = Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 ED-IS VR (at 78mm)
fStop = 2.8
Shutter = 1/1600
ISO = 800
Flash = none

Why I chose these settings
I needed the aperture wide open to get the light flare as I wanted it and I needed to be 1000% sure to freeze an action (at least 1/1000) and so that roughly dictated my ISO at 800 given the conditions.

Direction
In this case, my direction to the model was much more complex than you might think. First of all, it was very cold — probably in the 50′s and windy, so keeping him warm in between practice run thru’s was a must — can’t have a surfer all goose-bumped out. Second, in order to put him in the right spot on the horizon and in our frame he had to walk in a very unnatural part of the trail, while looking up and keeping a natural expression… no smiles, just contentment. So, the directions weren’t easy, but that’s what makes a pro model a pro. Seriously. Walk “normally” on this root-covered area just off the path with a perfect facial expression, carrying this surf board exactly this way, don’t look where you’re walking, and god forbid don’t look like you’re cold even though you’re wearing no clothes and it’s 50 degrees and windy as hell… aaaaaand now do that 50 times in 2 minutes while I unload 1,000 frames or so. THAT was the direction. #RequiredToGetTheShot

Post Production
In Photoshop we didn’t do all that much. Primarily some light balance between the hot sun and the darker elements (greens, etc.) in the front. The Nikon has great dynamic range, but we focused mostly on tweaking the balance between the brightest bits of the image and the darkest. We warmed it up a tad, we amplified the lens flare and we went a hair more to the jewel side of the tones in the image color to match the creative brief and the other images in the campaign. And Voila!

So there you have it. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter and Fbook with any questions. If you dig this blog post, I only share one of these every so often here… BUT I share one of these case studies every other week to my email list, with a complete breakdown of ever bit of the image making process. If you want to join the thousands of people who receive these special emails, do so on this form here. I will never spam you or share your info. #Respect.

Let’s Have Coffee! Join Me For a 30-Minute Online Hangout

chase jarvis coffeeREMINDER THIS IS TODAY! Don’t miss out. Grab a coffee, JOIN IN HERE on Google+ or HERE on YouTube, and ask some questions! You can also catch an embed down below. I’m all ears and a little bit of mouth… See you in a jiff…

BONUS ANNOUNCEMENT: My friends over at Adorama have made several special deals available as part of my Hangout today. Click on this link to head over to the special Adorama landing page to check out the specials! I’ll also have a $100 gift card to give away during the show, so watch out for that, too.

A lot of people offer to buy me coffee. It’s great. I love coffee and I love talking shop. Only hiccup is that there’s not enough hours in the day. Soooo… Join me for a cup of coffee (tea, beer, bourbon?) and let’s talk shop for 30 minutes via a Google Hangout on Tuesday August 5th. Here’s how.

Remember that contest I ran recently where the prize was a $500 from Adorama, 2 courses from CreativeLive and one-hour totally off-the-record conversation between me and the winner? Well, turns out that David Arthur was that winner and we’re talking on Tuesday August 5th. But here’s where you come in.

My private chat with David ends at 12noon Seattle time (3pm NYC, 20:00 London), but right at that time, I’ll kickoff a 30 minute public Google+ Hangout where you can join/follow the open conversation I’ll be having with you and whomever…taking any and all questions via Facebook, Twitter, carrier pigeon, smoke signal or however you can get ‘em across the wire to me. Ask ‘em day of…or can even ask them early in the comments below.

THE DETAILS
WHO: A worldwide chitchat via a Google+ Hangout
WHAT: Open Q&A that YOU can join or watch
WHEN: Tuesday, August 5th, NOON – 12:30 PM Seattle time (2:00 PM – 2:30 PM Central time)
WHERE: Tune in here my YouTube page, here here via my Google+ page

NOTE: I’ve done a handful of On Air Hangouts before, BUT never pulled it together myself on the casual tip…so cut me a little slack if it ain’t pretty ;) But I think I got this…

Any questions (about the process or that you want me to answer) leave ‘em in the comments, or keep your eyes peeled on my social feeds for deets in the coming days.

How to Turn ‘No’ Into ‘Yes’ + Get What You Want [An Essential Strategy That Will Get YOU Hired]

It’s fair to say that I’m obsessed with the human spirit. It is amazing, bizarre and lovely at the same time and it can accomplish unthinkable things in the face of the most harrowing odds, in the face of challenge, in the face of “never”. Which is why I believe in the following quote and the following story that relates to this quote. You may have seen this story ‘blow up’ on social a few months ago, but amidst reflection (and upon this great story and the short film about it), my interest in sharing this story compounded. So, as such, here ’tis….with some extra insights to follow that’ll help you win.

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

— Calvin Coolidge

This story opens with a man. A bizarre but fascinating man named Greg Packer — who had set out on an inexplicable journey to become the most quoted man in the news (I know, weird goal, but a seemingly impossible one as well)… but here’s the kicker: he pulled it off. Packer was so successful in his campaign in fact that the Associated Press eventually issued a memo to all its reporters to stop interviewing the guy.

Enter filmmaker friend Andrew David Watson who, when he discovered the Greg Packer story, had the brilliant idea for a perfectly ironic, smart, funny story to tell this Greg Packer’s story from within the media that he hacked. Essentially, tell Greg’s story in the news.

So Andrew pitched his story idea to a bunch of publications. No one bit. Not a one.

This is where – in a very meta way – the human spirit kicks in. Andrew shot the story anyway. And this is where the TAKEAWAY LESSON FOR YOU begins

Andrew cold emailed a rough cut to The New Yorker, they snatched it up right away. Turns out Andrew’s instincts were pretty spot on.

A month after his beautiful little piece published, The Most Quoted Man In News had over 100k views on The New Yorker and Andrew’s Vimeo page had almost half a million.

I never tire of these powerful reminders to pursue personal work, to tackle passion projects, even when the people who write the checks shut the door. In the past, I’ve told you to get used to hearing “NO” and to use it as a motivator. Now I’m telling you HOW. In Andrew’s case, he knew he had a compelling story to capture and he knew he had the tools to do the story justice.

Mark Schwartz did it with his 8×10 Polaroid, and now his work is used by Billabong, Levi’s and Surfrider. Joey L does it, and he’s now turning work away. Tim Ferriss was shot down by 27 publishing houses before the 28th said yes to his multi-million copy selling 4-Hour series of books. Jason Shelowitz (AKA Jay Shells) put up street art that he knew was going to get stolen, but something in his gut/heart/left brain said “do it anyway.”

The common thread in all of these tales of big time success is… PERSISTENCE. Someone told all of these people NO and they forged right ahead and made the thing anyway, and that thing became a successful stand-out piece of their careers.

To give you more insight, I reached out to Andrew with a few questions about this project and how he bounces back from rejection.

First, let’s hear just a little background on your Greg Packer project:

I first met Greg Packer back in 2008. I read a short article about Greg and decided to track him down. It happened to be during the World Series and Greg was in Philadelphia for the Phillies victory parade. I met up with Greg, filmed some footage of him at the parade and got to know him a little better. I thought Greg was a fascinating character but I just wasn’t sure how to make a film about him. I archived the material, kept the story on my ever evolving list of project ideas, and moved on with life.

Fast forward almost 5 years and I was digging through my note book and got thinking about Greg. My visual style and story telling skills had developed a lot in those 5 years and I all of a sudden could picture exactly how I would make the film. I called Greg and asked if he could come down to a studio in Brooklyn for an interview and he (of course!) was super into it.

The best part is the footage I shot in 2008 when I first met Greg, made its way into the final edit as archival material.

Let’s jump right into rejection. You knew you had a good idea. You pitched it, no one bit. How did you handle that rejection? More importantly, how did you handle it with integrity and turn it into resolve?

At this point in my career I’m used to rejection, it’s part of the process. Sometimes it comes down to the creative, but other times it comes down to elements outside of your control such as timing, similar content already under development, etc. I have pitched ideas in the past that I thought were amazing, but once I went through the pitch process, I realized they were not as rock solid as I thought. Other times, such as this project, even after being rejected I still had faith in the story and the passion to pursue it, which told me it was worth doing.

Can you remember the first time you turned a “no” into a project’s first step towards completion? Tell us about it.

A few years ago Etsy came to me and asked if I had any short film ideas that encompassed what their brand was about (handmade, economy of scale, etc). I pitched an idea about a very opinionated motorcycle mechanic I knew in Philadelphia. The producer at Etsy politely turned it down, saying they didn’t really see it working. However, it was a short film idea I always wanted to do and the more I thought about it, the more I just wanted to shoot it anyway, so I did. When I had an edit ready, I showed Etsy and they loved it. They decided to take it with next to no edit changes. The piece went on to get over 300k views, a Vimeo staff pick, multiple festival screenings and was one of Etsy most viewed pieces for a while.

When you resolved to make the The Most Quoted Man anyway, did you make it with the intention of re-pitching it? In other words, was the style, editing, etc. all chosen because you still saw this thing getting published in, say, the New Yorker?

Honestly, no, I decided to make the piece exactly how I saw it. I learned from past experiences that following my gut is usually better than trying to cater to a specific style thats not my own. “Most Quoted Man” is slightly different from other New Yorker pieces (with a lot more graphics and punchy music), however when they decided to take it, they asked for no editorial changes.

Rejection helps us refine our pitching process. How has it helped you refine yours? Can you tell us about some of your pitching success stories and why they were success?

I gravitated towards cameras at a young age because I find images the easiest way to communicate. I was never a strong writer, and I’m still not, so I find it ironic that now I often have to write out my ideas before shooting them. I have refined my pitches by making them as visual as possible, using a lot of reference photos and my past work to explain my vision. Just like anything, the more you do it the better you get at it, but I still have and will always be refining my pitch process.

The lessons we learn as artists can (if we let them) inform many other aspects of our lives. How does this lesson — not taking “no” for an answer — get applied to other aspects of your life (preferably in a positive way!)

Learning to not take “no” for an answer is essentially creative problem solving, which I have always applied to my life. Whether it’s where to live, how to move forward in my career, where to go to university, etc… there is no correct path to take. Feeling comfortable and confident to make your own decisions even if they go against conventional thinking, is just as important as an artist as it is in your everyday life.

You’re sitting in a room with a bunch of talented but frustrated creatives who are struggling to keep rejection from getting the better of them. What is the one piece of advice you would give them?

Rejection is part of the process. It will make you more critical of your own work (in a good way) and will test your faith in your ideas. At the end of the day, rejection is often just one person’s (or a small group’s) creative choice at that given moment. Sometimes it works for you and other times it doesn’t, but the best way to ensure you continue to get the opportunity (even if it means more rejection) is to continue producing the work you are passionate about.

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Nikon D810: Sharing My Initial Thoughts as Nikon Improves an Already-Solid Camera

Nikon D810 via Adorama

Photo geeks, gear heads, and camera nerds listen up! This post is just for you. Nikon today (or yesterday by the time I post this…) just announced the new D810, a consolidation of the D800 and the D800E. I’m a photographer and not a gear review guy, but I get a lot of requests from readers to weigh in…. should you get one? Should you pass? While that is much more of a personal question, my hope is to add a little value to the core camera geek’s potential purchaser’s day by sharing my initial thoughts. Keep in mind, I’m referring mostly to the ‘concept’ of the camera (is it a good camera in the line of pro / am lineup), do the specs make sense, and do I think it’s a good value.

So then, here’s a quick 2 cents… The D800 was a super solid camera when I posted about it two years ago, but the D810 adds a handful of meaningful upgrades to the system. Some of its improvements below:

_36.3 megapixel full-frame sensor (same as D800) but paired with Expeed 4 processing for sharper images, 30% faster
_up to 5fps still image shooting (7 if you’re in DX with a battery grip)
_1080p HD video at 60, 30, and 24 fps.
_noise-free images from ISO range of 64-12,800 (expands to ISO 32-51,200).
_Live View with spot white balance
_Built in stereo microphone for audio recording
_weight = 31.7 oz (roughly the same as the D800)
_Expeed 4 engine
_51-point AF (straight outta the D4s)
_Zebra stripes for exposure checking in video mode
_Uncompressed HDMI output with simultaneous recording to memory card (bonus)

This might look and feel like the same camera as the D800, but that upgrade to the Expeed 4 processing is going to make a LOT of the difference here (same processing system from the D4s I think!) It’ll allow for crisper shots at high ISOs and jettisons the low pass filter from earlier iterations of the D800. Not only that, but thanks to the updated processor, the D810 shoots slightly faster as well. Note: I have had ZERO face time with the camera, so I can’t go too in-depth on all the changes, but if they send me one, I’ll have more to say/share (BTW, I’m not counting on it. They got scared of me when I started using iPhones and Canon’s to shoot video… Golden boy to Anarchist :)

If you haven’t seen the pictures of it, she’s very, very similar to the D800, but check out images of the camera below in case you want to get an idea of what you’re in for.

The question I’m asked every time a new camera comes out… Chase, are you getting this camera? My answer in this case is no. But not that I wouldn’t want it… It just can’t replace my D4. It would be great wildlife or portrait shooter, but I do too much high speed action and need that 10 or 11 Fps. I also don’t need to chop up my sensor to get 36 megapixels… But I see why some people would love it. So that’s all for me on this quick hit. You asked, so I posted ;) LMK what y’all think/ first impressions/feelings and I’ll try to respond?

[Reminder that Nikon plays close attention to this blog, so your comments on this post — glowing or otherwise — might help inform Nikon about what you're thinking.]

Get all the juicy Nikon D810 updates and/or pre-order over at Adorama.

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