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

For Photographers & Musicians: How to Shoot & Design Award Winning Album Cover Art

ChaseJarvis_!!!

We may be in the age of digital downloads (behind that link is a nice present for you), but musicians and the designers behind them still care deeply about their cover art. After all – whichever way you slice it – that image evokes a narrative about the music, the artist and/or the album. So I was flattered — and immediately on board — when Mario Andreoni of !!! (pronounced/also written Chk Chk Chk) asked if they could use the above image for their album cover, Thr!!!er.

Little did I know how big of a splash (yep, I went there) the cover would make. It was nominated for Best Album Cover Art of the Year along with steep competition from the likes of Daft Punk, Elton John, and the Flaming Lips.

As a photographer who loves music – I confess to LOVING to shoot these things. You might recall a photoshoot I LIVE streamed a couple years ago while creating THIS controversial album cover (where the blog post got more than 1,100 comments). I’ve also pointed to some other favorites here. But regardless, in light of the nomination, I reached back out to Mario with some questions about shooting and selecting album cover art. I wanted to know a little more about how they found my photo as well as learn more on their process of deciding on album art in hopes that those of you who shoot music (or make it) might pick up a touch of inspiration or at least a hint or two. Also, I couldn’t resist – as a long time fan of Chk Chk Chk, I had to ask what was up with their band name… The big Q-n-A follows:

First, can you tell us about this new album from a musical perspective?

Having a new producer (Jim Eno from Spoon) and a new songwriting partner/bass player (Rafael Cohen) were the two most significant changes. Songs were still “lived in” through demos, jamming and road-testing, but Rafael’s “pop” style and Jim’s sonic sense helped push us into new territory, which is what you want when making a new LP… or at least I do.

How did you find this this particular photo? Where did you first see it?

Years ago, I saw a poster in a dodgy Brazilian touristy shop of someone or something plunging into the ocean. I loved the mystery, you couldn’t tell exactly what was exploding into this VAST body of water. The feeling of that image really stuck with me.

At the time, I didn’t think to ask if the shop would sell it to me. It appeared to be a permanent fixture on their wall. I thought I might be able to find it, or something like it, on-line, which ended up being much more difficult. I underestimated the amount of “plunge” shots on the internet.

Anyway, I caught a thumbnail of your shot one day and it gave me a similar feeling, and it was totally unique. I think you could tell through my initial contact that I felt like it would make the cover special. It sort of became the cherry on-top of making THR!!!ER.

Is it unusual to find a photo that already exists that you want to use, as opposed to commissioning work?

I tried to explain the idea to our label (Warp) and while we MIGHT be able to commission, it’d be a gamble, and there just weren’t time and resources to do it. I subsequently fell into several Tumblr holes looking for something we could use.  There are a lot of great, and not so great, shots out there.

What was it about the diver shot that grabbed you? 

The splash. It’s a good one. Visceral. I also dig the detail as well as the ambiguity in it. I’ve had several people ask me what is making that plunge.

[Chase's note - hey photog's and musicians alike, this is your key here... he used the word "visceral." There is RAW STOPPING POWER to this image. Of course they added to this with their design as well - the tie in with 3's, the !!! and the orientation of the diver. In other words, you see this image and you are compelled to stop and take a closer look, regardless of your awareness of the band or even the content of the image. IMHO this is the golden nugget of this post - to ask yourself when shooting/concepting/planning your album cover shoot. Will this photo turn heads and get people to pay attention? If yes - continue. If no, go back to step 1 and devise a new concept.]

OK, gotta ask. As a long time !!! fan, what’s the official/unofficial story behind the name !!! and how does this theme of threes show up in your work [album art modified to show 3 divers instead of the original single]?

Using !!! as our name/symbol came from the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy.” At one point in the subtitled dialogue, three clicking sounds of the mouth translated to !!!. One of us suggested we use the three clicking sounds, but not everyone could do it, so we co-opted it into using any three repetitive sounds, (aye aye aye, uh uh uh, etc etc etc), but keeping the translation !!!.

Our first few releases just had !!! on the cover, this is PRE-internet, and it was never a problem for us. You just put it at the front of your record rack!

Post-internet, our first big label (Touch & Go) asked that we supply a subtitle/spelling, and “chk chk chk” was how most people pronounced !!!, so there you go.

I guess the repetitive imagery is a hold-over from the intent behind !!!. The fact that you can actually form the diver image into a ! is more of a cosmic/happy accident.

Any details you’d like to share about the process of creating the album cover?

We toyed with a ton of variations: single/multiple images, different colors, placement, etc., and I have to give James Burton and the people at Warp a huge amount of credit for helping pull the final image together. I mainly just provided (many) opinions. The image itself is already bad-ass, placing three of them next to each other maintained our “theme” and fortunately made a compelling record cover.

For the benefit of those who are trying to license artwork, would you explain anything helpful from your perspective as licensee?

I think that whether it’s working with someone musically/artistically, it’s best to go directly to the source. Be honest about how you’d like to work with them and be fully prepared to be told to “f*ck off” & move-on.

We’ve been lucky enough to work with people that would seem “untouchable,” and knock-on-wood, it’s worked out for the better more often than not.

Is the One Girl/One Boy Video &Contest still going on?  Will you please tell us a little about the contest?

Yeah!  This was Nic’s idea. We couldn’t have Sonia Moore, the woman that sang on the LP, tour with us, so Nic thought it’d be interesting if we established a “contest” where people would record a video demo singing Sonia’s parts, and if chosen, they would come up on stage and sing with us when we swing through their town.

The kicker has been that we don’t rehearse. We just call the winner up when it’s time for the jam, and just about every time, it’s a home-run. It all works out.

To purchase !!!’s album, go to Bleep.com.

Find tour dates at the band’s website.

Follow them on these social channels:
Twitter
Facebook
Tumblr

[Check out ChkChkChk's video for their tune Californiyeah below...and have a lovely day]:

I Want to Give You $50,000 and Be Your Mentor for LIFE

We are living in the Age of the Artist. Never before in history has it been this easy for creatives to create, for artists to make their art. Yet still the masses are filled with those who postpone their artistic dreams. I say the worst thing you can do is postpone.

But some people just need a bigger carrot. So I went hunting and found a prize for you. Actually, I teamed up with my friends at Shopify and am offering YOU a chance at a check for $50,000 and my promise to be your mentor for life (or until you kick me out). Yes. This actually means we will be friends.

If you’re late to the party, here’s how to enter [in 3 easy steps]:

1. Go to the Shopify Build a Business page
2. Choose your category (I’m mentoring in the Art & Photography category, but choose what suits your artistic dream)
3. Start selling and kick your business into gear.

I figure the end game can only be 1 of 2 options:

1. You win the contest, $50,000 and a mentor for life; OR
2. You don’t win, but you’ve built that business you’ve always dreamed of, and it’s now a REAL THING that makes you money and channels all that creativity you never knew (or perhaps always knew?) you had.

If ever there was a win-win scenario, this is it.

So you’re not into Art & Photography? Fine – I don’t care. I means just as much to me that you follow your dreams. Read on, because Shopify certainly has your interest category covered. Maybe you’re into Music, Electronics & Gadgets, Jewelry & Crafts, Health & Beauty, Food & Beverage, Fashion & Apparel, or Sports & Recreation. Any of those ring some bells?

Your full mentor list to choose from depending on the above category.

// Lil Jon (hip hop legend)
// Tim Ferris (4 hour everything)
// Tina Eisenberg (aka swissmiss)
// Selita Ebanks (model & health star)
// Gary Vaynerchuk (wine & food guru)
// Damond John (founder of FUBU – star of shark tank)
// Mark Cuban (billionaire entrepreneur/owner of Dallas Mavericks
// Arianna Huffington (media maven)
// and yours truly

Here’s how you win:

If you start a business with Shopify and have the most sales in your category over a particular window between NOW and MAY 2014, then you win. Pretty simple. The longer, more detailed version of all that is here on the Shopfiy site. There is plenty of time to kick ass and sell your heart out, but the time to start is NOW. Oh ya…if you win, I’ll fly you back to NYC and had you the 50 GRAND myself.

chase jarvis mentor build a business shopify

DigitalRev TV uses a GoPro to Fake my Hasselblad Masters Photo

Each time I have the good fortune to work with DigitalRev TV and my friend Kai Man Wong something memorable happens.

For example, you might recall the time that Kai and DigitalRev TV dragged me around Hong Kong with a Lego Camera on one of their infamous CheapCamera Challenges. The highlights included surprise runway models, aggravated kung fu fighters and eating pig’s anus on the street. Most recently Kai and his hilarious crew parodied my Facebook profile photo for Fake A Big Shot. The resemblance was, um, striking?

I decided it was time to turn the tables.

I showed up in Hong Kong to give Kai and the DigitalRev crew a taste of their own medicine. A CheapCamera Challenge of my design: To re-create a photo I shot with the Hasselblad H3D. This was a $25,000 piece of equipment in 2007 when I shot the photo. I gave him 8 hours … and a GoPro Hero3PLUS ($399) to get it done.

Here’s how the the final product compares to my original. What do you think? Check out the video above to see how he did it.

Chasejarvis_DigitalRevTV

Thanks to Kai and the whole DigitalRev TV crew for working on short notice and being such great sports. Subscribe to their channel here.

10 Gifts for Photographers + WIN a Sexy Sony a7 Camera

UPDATE – Happy New Year to all who entered my camera giveaway over the last month…AND a big congratulations to MARK BEHRENS, the winner of the brand spankin new Sony a7. Thanks to everyone who participated and to our homies at Adorama + Sony. BTW, for those of you who signed up for my email list — I’ll be in touch with soon more exclusive content and opportunities to connect.

Good morning friends! I get lots of emails, tweets & Facebook posts from all over the world – husbands, wives, partners, girlfriends of photographers looking for gifts for the creative loved ones in their lives. I know the gift-giving paralysis that can come from not having a few solid ideas for the creatives / photographers (photofiles?) in your life….so in an attempt to be a help to my gift seeking friends and answer all those emails in one fail swoop…. I’ve wrangled a little gift list ranging from $20 to $4000 (yikes!). I’m not big on shopping events but I do appreciate some well-curated suggestions, so rest assured this list is focused enough that any one item won’t disappoint and broad enough that there are things for literally every photog.

Annnndddd… in acknowledging that buying cameras and gear can be expensive and painful (sometimes prohibitively so…), I wanted to offset that with an opportunity for you to win a VERY tasty new camera for free… Remember that super hot Sony a7 camera that I was ranting about last month? Well, thanks in large part to support from Adorama for hosting this, they are allowing me to give away one of these delicious Sony Cameras along with the 28-70mm Sony lens.

To help wrangle this giveaway, we’re trying out a new widget below. It does a few things really well:
1. manages all entries into a 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 (watching vids, sharing, reading posts etc)

To enter just fill in your info below and follow along. And note: this giveaway is live all the way through the 28th of December. Feedback welcome on the widget if you have any.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens

This is a seriously great all-around lens for your kit. Don’t let that low price fool you. The 50mm 1.8 one of the best kept secrets in photo gear. The lens body is plastic, but it still kicks tons of ass. I have had this lens since it first came out – even replaced it with the same thing once when I dropped it into a lake.
Price: $109

SanDisk 32GB Class 10 ExtremePRO SDHC Memory Card

Another quality little stocking stuffer for any photographer. One can’t every REALLY have too many SD cards, unless you’ve got a collection of 50 1GB cards, in which case it’s really time to poke your eyes out consolidate. The Class 10 checks all those boxes that a photog is looking for in a memory card.
Price: $60.95

SanDisk ImageMate All-in-One USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader

For just a few bucks more, you can throw in this all-in-one card reader as a goes-with gift for the above. [If you want to get creative, pull the SDHC card out of the packaging and pop it into the reader before wrapping.]
Price: $32.95

PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver

A quality trasceiver is a must-have for any aspiring photographer. The freedom to move your flash around opens a lot of doors for more creative illumination of the shot. And at under $150, you’re not breaking banks.
Price: $134

Think Tank Airport Security V2.0

For the traveling photographer who wants a safe and secure way to transport all that gear, this Think Tank rolling solution should more than do the trick. Comes with combo zipper lock and the steam-sealed raincover keeps your gear bone dry.
Price: $364.75

Promise Pegasus J2 Thunderbolt 512gb

I love this portable thunderbolt drive. It’s about the size of a smartphone and it’s super fast on the read and write speeds. It will also run without the conventional power adapter, making it perfectly for off-the-grid shoots.
Price: $499.00

Joby Ball Head + Gorillapod SLR-Zoom

For playful but solid support on the fly, nothing beats Gorillapod with the Joby Ball Head. These are great little numbers for attaching GoPro’s and other smaller cams for a sweet little time lapse.
Price: $79.95

Sony Alpha a7 Digital Camera, with FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens

I had the chance to play with the a7, and let’s just say this is a no-questions-asked, “I love you (or yourself ;) ” gift. No regifting or returns to worry about on this one, that’s for damn sure. Great design, great quality, compact and sexy as all get out.
Price: $1,998.00

Think Tank Retrospective 10-GR Small Shoulder Bag

Two Think Tank prods in one list? What’s up with that? Think Tank rocks, that’s what. THIS is how you carry your every-day camera kit around, people. Like the travel bag, this one has a nice rain seal on it for those infrequent Seattle showers.
Price: $165.75

Broncolor Senso Kit 22

This is a big-ticket gift, make no mistake. But there really is no price you can put on good lighting. I wouldn’t recommend this for the teenage son or daughter on a flavor-of-the-month kick, but it’s a no-joke upgrade for any aspiring commercial photographer.
Price: $4734.00

DJI Phantom

I’ve toyed around with the DJI Phantom quite a bit. The weight-bearing limitations do more or less count out super high end camera loads, but the aerial footage you can get with a GoPro will really take that budding videographer’s footage to the next level.
Price: $679

And always, if you’ve got some gift ideas of your own you want to share, sound off below – I may add your suggestions to this list.

On Location: Hong Kong is Wet but Wonderful

As some of you accurately guessed from this pic I posted to Twitter last week, we’ve been rocking out in Hong Kong for a shoot, adapting to an uncooperative weather situation (rain – lots of it), hanging out on the water and dining on some pretty dynamite dim sum.

A few of you wondered if we were hooking up with our friends at DigitalRev. Maybe to do another lego camera shoot or show them how to really fake a big shot. Well my lips are sealed for the moment, although a pic below should put one of those questions to bed.

Stay tuned for more BTS action from this trip and enjoy some of the stills below:

The food has been all-time good. Dim sum, anyone?

Look who we found in Hong Kong. Our friends Kai from Digital Rev TV…good things transpired. Keep your eye on that channel to find out the scoop.

Crew elevator shot.

While the weather on this shoot has been less than ideal, Hong Kong has proven to be an incredible location. Roll with the punches and new opportunities present themselves.

DJI Drone Fail Over Iceland Waters – chasejarvisTECH

WARNING: CONTENTS OF THIS VIDEO MAY BE OFFENSIVE TO SOME, ESPECIALLY PHOTOGRAPHERS WHO HAVE FELT THE PAIN OF GEAR LOSS.

In the days before my trip to Iceland, I had the chance to play with the DJI Phantom, an affordable, out-of-the-box quadcopter for budding aerial videographers. As I establish in that test flight post, the footage you yield from the DJI Phantom + GoPro combo may not be pro quality, but it’s perfectly serviceable for BTS material, AND it gives a person the opportunity to cut their teeth on a rig that comes in under a grand (or just slightly over, if you include the camera).

Ever the hacks, we tried to circumvent the GoPro limitation and mount a Sony RX 100 II, for three reasons:

1. The RX 100 II has image stabilizations (many commented on the shakiness of the GoPro footage on our first test flight).
2. It has a nice sensor and shoots RAW images.
3. Built-in Wifi. Our plan was to use the iPad Mini with the Sony app and control the camera shutter from the ground.

Seem pretty reasonable, right?

When you watch the video, know this: It brings us no joy to lose expensive gear, ever. I don’t encourage people to go out and perform needless hacks and unsanctioned upgrades, especially if you’re not insured, like we were. In our case we had a legit interest in yielding some higher end footage with a DJI Phantom we had invested in.

Couple UPDATE points… any assumption that i was just goofing around at tourist site just plyaing with my camera couldn’t be further from the truth. we had chartered the entire site for the shoot, been out on boats there at the site earlier – were working with the management there, paying high fees to be there with permits for very specific objectives. We also sought to potentially recover the unit out of concern for the environment but were discouraged from pursuing that option because of danger to divers due to swift current, big tides and huge floating chunks of dangerous ice.

Thanks again for going on this journey – and others – with me. And I hope you don’t mind my sharing all the stuff – even things like this that suck.

Get Off Your Ass & Get Noticed with Gary Vaynerchuk on #cjLIVE [re-watch]

What a way to end 2013 for chasejarvisLIVE. The show was amazing. Gary V brought the heat to discuss how you can break through the noise of the internet and get your work noticed. Are people not clicking on your photos? Are you you getting lost in the detritus of the internet? I’ve done a bunch of stuff with Gary like this, and this, and have wanted to have him on #cjLIVE for more than 2 years. But I had no idea what I was in for. Gary dropped the serious know-how. And he sat on my lap. That was a first for the show.

Gary also brought his new book to talk about. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook (one of the best titles ever?) does a deep dive on some of the tactics and philosophies he has employed in his own career. It’s a great read. I give it a quick review here.

And when I say “great career,” I’m understating. Big time. Gary V is a hustler like no other. He built a $50m online business before he turned 30, then he latched onto the new web and was trumpeting the virtues of community + content before most people knew what the hell was up, then he wrote 2 New York Times best sellers about it. He’s also going to own the NY Jets. Seriously. Keep watching that channel.

Check the re-watch above, and then go pick up a copy of his new book. Or pick up two, and stuff one in somebody’s stocking.

chasejarvisTECH: Three Timelapse Toys

Timelapse shots have achieved ubiquity, yet it’s still a technique I get asked about on the reg. I’ve touched on the timelapse How-To in past posts, but I’m touching base again with a new look at what has become must-have.

I love using timelapse in my work. Alternating between real time, slo-mo and timelapse contributes to the temporal tug on the viewer, which keeps them present and guessing. Cloud movements and dipping suns over beautiful landscape is the norm, so we’re always looking to change up our style and try something a little different.

Adding camera movement is one way to do that. In the vid above, we use a slider, a motor, and a 5D to pull back and reveal some stunning Icelandic beauty. Keep the last in mind as I break down the equipment we used, because I come back to this again and again: more than the gear in your bag, it’s your vision and execution that matter most. In our case, we had Iceland’s ridiculously photogenic land and light working in our favor. Scouting the site, we found a cool ice formation and decided on a shot you don’t see daily. I’d say the gear we use is secondary. Which is why I’m mentioning it second.

Anatomy of a timelapse:

_Kessler Pocket Dolly v2.0
_Kessler Elektra Drive – set to slowest speed in “continuous mode.” The Elektra drive is the motor that moves the camera up/down the dolly, giving the shot movement.
_Intervalometer – set to shoot a picture every 3 seconds. We let that baby go for about 20 minutes.

Add’l equipment:

_Canon 5D Mark III
_Manfrotto support
_Viking 12 oz

You can see how we integrated timelapse footage into our Iceland edition of chasejarvisRAW. If you want more Iceland in your life, check out some of the stills that convinced us to put Iceland in our list of 10 Spots to restore your creative juices.

Music by Small Face.

Get Off Your Ass & Get Noticed with Gary Vaynerchuk on #cjLIVE [Tues, Dec 3 @ 10am PT]

Update: The show was amazing as Gary V brings brought the heat to discuss how you can break through the noise of the internet and get your work noticed. Are people not clicking on your photos? Are you you getting lost in the detritus of the internet? Gary dropped the serious know-how. And he sat on my lap. That was a first for the show. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook his new book that does a deep dive on some of the tactics and philosophies he has employed in his own career. It’s a great read. I give it a quick review here.

This show was a great finale. And I can think of no better person to wrap up this year’s lineup than Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary V’s energy and vision is infectious. He is a hustler like no other. He built a $50m online business before he turned 30, then he latched onto the new web and was trumpeting the virtues of community + content before most people knew what the hell was up, then he wrote 2 New York Times best sellers about it. AND… lucky for us, he will be our private advisor / mentor / coach for 90 minutes on the next episode of chasejarvisLIVE on Tuesday, December 3rd at 10am Seattle time (1pm NYC, 18:00 London time). Specifically, we’ll talk about how to tell YOUR OWN STORY and get noticed in a crowded, noisy world. Because… let’s be honest… telling stories is what we do as photographers, artists, and entrepreneurs. It’s how we get traction in a marketplace and how we stand out from our peers.

I’ve done a bunch of stuff with Gary like this, and this, and have wanted to have him on #cjLIVE for more than 2 years. That all comes to a head in a matter of days as we discuss his upcoming book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook (drops TOMORROW – get a copy and do your homework) about how to stand out in a crowded market. This book was written for us.

WHO: You, Me, Social Media Marketer Gary Vaynerchuk + a worldwide gathering of creative people
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Tuesday, Dec 3, 10:00am Seattle time (1pm NYC time or 18:00 London)
WHERE: Tune into www.chasejarvis.com/live. It’s free — anyone can watch and we’ll be taking YOUR questions via Twitter, hashtag #cjLIVE

There’s a video at the bottom of this post that hits some highlights… but some more detail on what we’ll cover…
_The reason we love our parents is because they loved us first. Every single company should take this advice.
_Think of social media as the Internet. I can’t think of anyone betting against the Internet in 2013.
_We’re sharing things in our lives today we wouldn’t have picked up the phone to talk about 10 years ago.
_If you do not care about the end user immensely, especially in the next few years, your brand will die.
_There’s no reason in 2013, to do shit you hate. NONE.

HELP US PIMP THE SHOW AND WIN STUFF.
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.

To enter, just help us promote the show starting RIGHT NOW by sending out a creative tweet OR Facebook post (pointing back to my Fbook page so we can find it) promoting the show and be sure to INCLUDE #cjLIVE + @garyvee + the short url to THIS blog post.

We’ll select 2 of the best ones at the beginning of the show, give you a shout-out, and access to the $200 creativeLIVE credits.

WE WILL ALSO GIVE AWAY MORE TASTY PRIZES DURING THE SHOW…
We’re giving away THREE $100 gift cards to BorrowLenses ALONG WITH 3 signed copies of Gary’s new book. You have to tune to the LIVE SHOW above to find out how to win.

Contest Rules here.

JOIN US IN THE STUDIO.
<<UPDATE: The studio audience is at capacity. To have a better chance at scoring a seat, join my email list on this page – I always notify that list first.>>
Want to be part of the live studio audience? We’ll invite the first 20 people who send an email to production@chasejarvis.com to join us +1 guest. You’ll receive a confirmation email with attendance details if you’re 1 of the first 20.

ANNOUNCING: My Latest TV Documentary Project “Portrait of a City” with PBS

A few years back you may recall I dove head-first into a project that explored my home city of Seattle. I interviewed, photographed, and filmed the movers, the shakers, and the changemakers to better understand the culture of my city’s beating heart. 106 influencers in total, across almost every creative discipline — music, food, theater, athletics, activism, education, you name it. I went on to publish a 250 page fine hardback fine art book, gallery show, a line of wine, a line of chocolate bars, sold out of nearly everything and donated all the money to charity. We called this project Seattle 100 (<-- bunch of photos). Here's the original launch blog post.

Like the city it covered, that project has continued to evolve. So today, I’m stoked to share with you here the arrival of Portrait of a City, a new documentary TV project I concepted, directed and co-produced with the help of my friends over at our regional PBS station, KCTS 9. In this show and series of short interstitial interviews we take a look at how music has shaped the character and culture of Seattle. From bands like Nirvana to Macklemore, I dug into innovators past and present, asked them to share their reflections, ideas, and passions for this unique force within our community. You’ll hear from KEXP music curator John Richards, cellist Joshua Roman, actor Sarah Rudinoff, DJ Riz Rollins, music impresario David Meinert, SubPop Records’ Megan Jasper, musician John Roderick and more.

Check out the KCTS online schedule to find out when Portrait of City is running on the boob tube near you or -if you don’t live in the region- watch it above.

Here are some regional upcoming air dates:

Thursday, November 28, 10:00 pm on KCTS 9 HD – Seattle/Yakima
Thursday, November 28, 10:00 pm on KYVE 47 – Yakima
Tuesday, December 17, 11:30 pm on KCTS 9 HD – Seattle/Yakima
Tuesday, December 17, 11:30 pm on KYVE 47 – Yakima
Tuesday, December 31, 09:30 pm on KCTS 9 HD – Seattle/Yakima
Tuesday, December 31, 09:30 pm on KYVE 47 – Yakima

And keep your eyes peeled for more interstitials to be released over time… the one that’s in circulation now is an interview with red hot homie Macklemore.

The filming seems utterly simple – which was the goal – but it was a little more complicated to get the look we ended up delivering. Keep your eyes peeled for a behind-the-scenes outline of the unqiue way in which we filmed this with 2 matching cameras, some teleprompter magic, and various other smoke and mirrors. Below are a few of those characters featured in Seattle 100 and Portrait of a City: Michael Hubb, Megan Jasper, John Roderick and Dave Meinert, along with some snaps of the gallery installation from the launch of the project.

chase jarvis seattle 100 portrait of a city

gallery opening - photo thx to buildllc.com

chase jarvis seattle 100 portrait of a city gallery

seattle 100 launch - thx buildllc.com for the photo

chase jarvis seattle 100 matt dillon

chase jarvis seattle 100 director lynn shelton

chase jarvis seattle 100 the blakes

chase jarvis seattle 100 ra scion

chase jarvis seattle 100 weirdo jeff jacobsen

chase jarvis seattle 100 book cover

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook – Gary Vaynerchuk Tells You Why No One’s Clicking on Your Photos & Helps You Fix it

Gary Vaynerchuk steps into the chasejarvisLIVE studio next week for our final broadcast of 2013.

<<UPDATE: Damn good fortune that you are reading this, because Gary V is on chasejarvisLIVE this Tuedsay Dec 3. You can participate in the live show too – get your questions asked, etc – by tuning in from wherever in the world you might be. For free. We’ll go deep. Details here.>>

In preparation for Gary Vaynerchuk’s upcoming appearance on #cjLIVE on December 3rd (here’s the details), I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of his latest book Jab Jab Jab, Right Hook …which I promptly devoured DE-VOW-RDD! in a single cross-country flight last week

Three things you should know:
1. This book is for real. I’ve read 100 of these sorts of books by all the top people. This book kept my attention for 4 hours straight specifically because there are real, actionable steps in there about how to better tell your story (about your photography, your art, your business) in a noisy social world. It used to be that the internet was a freeforall for us artists. There was less noise. Now everyone and their mother has their stuff online – which is great – but it makes it harder to get noticed. This book will help you cut thru that noise.

2. JJJRH is laid out the most approachable way imaginable. I slog my way through books that talk about brand and business — stuff I need to know about — but it’s normally so damn dry. What I’ve come to love about Gary, and this book in particular is it is written for hustlers, by a hustler—people who are passionate about their work and making their way in the world. I didn’t go to business school. I’m an artist for godssake. So the critical reading I do that provides reminders about how to stand out from a crowd had better be approachable or I’ll drop that book faster that you can spell Gary V’s last name. The skills that it took to “make it” 10 years ago are different than the skills it takes to “make it” today. JJJRH delivers in a way that makes sense. It’s hands on, no BS, in terms that matter to you.

3. Let’s be clear…Gary is a f*cking maniac in the best of all ways and this book reflects not only his maniacal, hilarious side, but the side that understands creativity and gives you the medicine with the candy. There are real, important, career/direction changing nuggets in these pages. The upcoming episode of #cjLIVE featuring Gary (in between appearances on the Today Show and Ellen and all that other high falutin’ shiznit – he’s coming to Seattle to be with you and me)—as his only “book tour” stop in Seattle. I’ve wanted him on the show for years because in part he represents the future. He represents people like you and me who weren’t “supposed” to be contenders, who weren’t “supposed” to make it on paper…but are on the eve of making our dreams come true. JJJRH is not about boxing or hurting your buyers. Simply put (form the book) “There is no sale without the story; no knockout without the setup.” Define the knockout how you will. It can a sale, a follow, a retweet. But the story leads. The story compels the desired action. And in this noisy, noisy world, getting your story heard above the din is not something you want to leave to dumb luck. This book is a great setup for your next chapter as a creative.

Overall this book is perhaps the best $16 bucks (ebook… 17 something for hardback) you can do for yourself right this minute. Here’s an Amazon link to learn more / buy. See you on December 3rd here.

LENSTOPIA – The 5 Top Lenses For Your Camera, Part I: Canon

So you just dropped an entire month’s pay on a super nice camera body. Ok. Take a breath. That was a big jump, and we want you making smart moves going forward. Yes, the lens is important. And yes, you can spend 10x what you just spent on a body on good glass. But before you go cashing in that 401k to buy one of each (dear god don’t), soak in the knowledge below. We shoot almost EVERY camera brand for one thing or another. Nikon for stills. Canon dSLR for video. Hasselblad for high end studio / fashion, etc etc. So my video guru Erik, yours truly, and my gear editor pal Sohail decided to put together a little series of blog posts. Over the next weeks we will break down the top lenses from several manufacturers, with an eye on application. If you know what kind of photography you want to do [or are already doing], there’s a great lens or two for you.
—-

“Which lens should I buy?” is a question I get just about as often as “which camera should I buy?”, and in both cases, I respond with the same two words: “It depends.”

Yet despite that rote answer, there are a few standouts from each major manufacturers that can be cited as their “top” lens. We’ve had the (somewhat dubious) privilege of using pretty much all of them, and we’re going to present the five best lenses for each platform we use on a frequent basis. This is a four-part series, and we’ll be publishing them in the following order:

  1. Canon
  2. Nikon
  3. Hasselblad
  4. Mirrorless cameras, including Micro 4/3, Sony E-mount, and Fuji X-mount.
That said, we’re starting today with Canon – our default dSLR video rig but you can consider the below advice for stills too.

Canon

100mm f/2.8L IS Macro

Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro

Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro

This is perhaps my favorite single lens of all time. When the folks over at DPReview did a review of this lens, this was the first sentence of their conclusion:

Just occasionally a lens turns up which delivers such implausibly good results in our studio tests that I have to go back and repeat everything, double checking all settings to make sure I haven’t done something wrong.

This lens really is that good. You start with a hybrid Image Stabilization system that compensates for horizontal and vertical shifts as well as lens direction, then throw in an 9-bladed rounded iris that makes for dope bokeh. Add optics that give you the some of the most razor-sharp images you can imagine, and you have a knockout combination.

And if you’re looking for a good portrait lens at the same time as a solid Macro offering, look no further; the 100 L Macro makes for an tidy portrait lens as well.

Buy it here.
Borrow it here.

Image from a work in progress series of still lifes. Shot with a 5D Mark III and a 100mm f/2.8L Macro. © Sohail Mamdani

Image from a work in progress series of still lifes. Shot with a 5D Mark III and a 100mm f/2.8L Macro. © Sohail Mamdani

85mm f/1.2L USM

Canon 85mm f/1.2L

Canon 85mm f/1.2L

The “Magic Canonball” [sic] as it’s come to be known, is perhaps one of the most popular portrait lenses, ever. If you’ve got the coin to drop on it, the Canon 85mm f/1.2L has some of the creamiest bokeh we’ve seen. It’s also one of the largest 85mm lenses outside of the Zeiss or Canon Cine versions. That front element even makes the posers look like pros.

Sohail once wrote of this lens, “You could shoot a portrait in front of a dumpster and as long as you shot it at f/1.2 or f/1.4, all you’re going to see is some soft, blurry shapes in the background that give no indication that you’re in that nasty alley behind your local convenience store.” That’s completely true, but be aware of one thing: I’ve often gotten a subject’s eyelashes in perfect focus, while their irises are soft. Be aware.

Then why would you buy an f/1.2 lens? Because, to quote my homie Zack Arias, “The optics in faster lenses are ‘typically’ much better than in the slower lenses. f13 can still yield a better image from a pro fast lens than a slow kit lens. Not all lenses are equal once you get past f8.”

Buy it here.
Borrow it here.

Canon 24mm f/3.5L TS-E II

Canon 24mm f/3.5 TS-E II

Canon 24mm f/3.5 TS-E II

Tilt-shift lenses are strange ducks, but they are, without a doubt, some of the coolest lenses to play with. I used to shoot action sports with them in the early 2000′s and it would blow the minds of art directors and editors everywhere. Get to know them well and you’ll find yourself using them for all kinds of things you didn’t know you could pull off with them. (But don’t overuse them or you’ll be “that guy/gal”

That said, it’s not the Canon 24mm f/3.5L TS-E II’s tilt-shift functionality that we love this lens for (though have used that extensively). We dig it because it is one of the sharpest 24mm optics that Canon puts out. And that makes it a go-to landscape lens on the Canon platform as well. It’s fun. Even wide-open, the lens is tack-sharp. Close the aperture down a bit and you’ll kill the tiny bit of purple fringing in your stars overhead, and sharpen up that image even more. Then use the shift functionality to ensure against converging lines and viola! You’ve got a killer combo in your hands.

One last thing to keep in mind here – this is a manual-focus lens, as most tilt-shift lenses are. Bad eyesight? Get glasses or pass on this sucker.

Buy it here.
Borrow it here.

Taken with a 5D Mark II and 24mm f/3.5 TS-E II lens

Taken with a 5D Mark II and 24mm f/3.5 TS-E II lens

Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 Mark II

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 Mark II

While it was certainly a workhorse, the original Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 was getting long in the tooth, and enjoyed a love-hate relationship with many a photographer. On the one hand, it was the ideal mid-range zoom, had a fast aperture, and was the first lens most photographers, pro and aspiring, bought. On the other hand, it suffered from less-than-stellar optics (compared to the current crop of lenses from Canon) and was notoriously soft in the corners. When Canon announced the new version of the 24-70, the first thing that hit most folks was sticker shock. The lens retailed for a groan-inducing $2300 (street price), far more than its original counterpart. Worse, there was no image stabilization included, despite the high price. Add to that the fact that Tamron had just introduced a 24-70 f/2.8 with Vibration Compensation for about half the price, and the photographic community was ready throw rotten tomatoes at Canon’s money-grubbing tactics.

After the fervor settled down and folks started to realize that the optics on this new lens weren’t “pretty good” they were “Superb, almost flawless -DPreview.” This was born out by even the simplest of tests – shooting an Edmunds resolution chart with the old and new models side-by-side. People began to rave about the build quality, the flare resistance, the quick and accurate focusing, and sure enough, Canon turned what could’ve been a liability into a new legend.

Buy it here.
Borrow it here.

Canon 600mm f/4 II

Canon 600mm f/4 II

Canon 600mm f/4 II

Got about $13,000 lying around? That’s how much this baby from Canon is going to set you back (though of course, you could rent it for a lot less).

But for those needing a long, fast lens (wildlife photographers, for example), this is about as good as it gets in the Canon lineup. Pair it with a 1Dx and you’ve got what is easily one of the finest long lens combos we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing with. It’s a good 3 lbs lighter than the Mark I version of this lens, which honestly does make a good bit of difference when you’re lugging this down a rough path to get to that perfect vantage point. Moreover, Canon has improved the autofocus speed and accuracy on this lens. On tests with the 1Dx and the 600mm Mark II, Sohail shot about six or seven bursts of between 8 to 17 shots each, and each time, I’d have no more than one shot out of focus. For someone who photographs birds more as an amateur passion, getting this sort of accuracy is nothing short of remarkable.

This is, no doubt, a specialty lens, and requires a few accessories to go with it, such as a sturdy tripod, a gimbal head, and a fast camera at the small end. But get all those in place, and the first time you fill your frame with a swooping bird as it comes in for a landing, or a tiny hummingbird hovering in mid-air, and you’ll find that it’s well worth the cost and hassle.

Buy it here.
Borrow it here.

Great Egret touchdown. Shot with a 1Dx and a Canon 600mm f/4 II

Great Egret touchdown. Shot with a 1Dx and a Canon 600mm f/4 II

That’s it for this edition of Lenstopia. In the next installment, we’ll take on the best Nikon has to offer.

Gear provided by BorrowLenses.com - where still photographers and videographers can rent virtually everything.

More Than CONTENT, It’s COMMUNITY That’s King [aka How To Cultivate Online Relationships & Stuff That Matters]

You’ve heard the drum beat for a decade – ever since the innernets really started popping… “content is king”. As a content creator (both in front and behind the scenes) this has, of course, always made me feel great about my chances to succeed in cutting through the noise online. Pump out good content and you can make your mark. Welllll, I’ve come to know that this target is a moving one…and that, while content is the most TANGIBLE thing for us creative types to latch on to, I’ve come to revise my position over the past year or so that it’s actually waaaaay more that COMMUNITY that’s king. For one, the purpose of making and sharing content, is really to cultivate COMMUNITY (in this case you’re probably here because we’re all of the creative + photography communities, right?!). Whether it’s to feel good about what you’re making, get critiqued, make a living, expand your understanding, etc. For two, the pure act of making stuff is an amazing gift, but community PLUS content can definitely act as a better lever to drive your life/career/hobby/professional experience forward. In short, there are important things to know that’ll help you understand how to cultivate online relationships that matter.

So that gets me to a conversation I recently had with good friend, Brendan Gahan. As a long time agency strategist and super creative guy, Brendan has crafted (social) media campaigns for some of the biggest brands and media companies in the world including Pepsi, GE, and Virgin, to name a few. In 2012 he was named by Forbes as one of the “30 under 30: Brightest Minds in Marketing’. But that’ not what makes him qualified. Why he qualifies in my book is because he GETS IT.

In the recent past Brendan was also a guest on creativeLIVE with Ryan Holiday where the twitter feed and chat rooms went nuts when he was dropping knowledge bombs. Sooooo, I’ve chatted him up in such a way as to inform, share, bestow wisdom on us here in THIS HERE community that’s been growing for nearly a decade. The guy knows his stuff and he’s been a great resource for me and my work, his no BS approach will help you connect the dots from concept to execution. Take it away, Brendan. -Chase
________

Thanks, Chase.

“Community is king.” What does this mean?

In the times before the interwebs, when you wanted people to know about something you had to go through very clearly established and familiar forms of media:

- NEWSPAPER – RADIO – TELEVISION – PRINT

In a sense, these outlets acted as gatekeepers, and production of content was limited to people who could afford distribution through these channels.

Now communities gather on social platforms that make that sharing and connecting easy, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Chase understands this better than anyone – he’s built a reputation, business, and prestige based on the marriage of his art as much as the power of his audience.

Maybe you’re a singer and you have a new album.
Maybe you’re a photographer trying to generate customers.
Maybe you’re a theater and you have a new show coming up.

Regardless of what type of creator you are, you’re a marketer – and as such you face many, many challenges. Executing a social media campaign is one of those challenges, and before you draw up plans and start spending your budget, you should understand the lay of the land.

I get asked about social media and youtube marketing constantly. I’ve spent the last eight years working in the space. The framework I’ve outlined is the backbone I’ve applied to hundreds of social campaigns and shared with many of my friends. It’s constantly changing at every level and there’s always more to know.

This article doesn’t dig into the latest tools. This is not a list of 83 Tips. This is about excellent fundamentals and will help you get started on building your own audience regardless of your end goal.

I recently dug up an email that I wrote for a friend, but have since copied and pasted to share with others a dozen times or so whenever anyone else asks me for advice.

A QUICK NOTE BEFORE WE BEGIN:

The info below is helpful, but I’m assuming you’re two steps deep into the basic communication framework. I’m assuming you:

1. Already have a deep understanding of your target consumer, and
2. Know the story you want to tell.

This article addresses the functional steps that will help you get your message or content in front of your target audience. This article does not help you craft that message. If you don’t understand your consumer and the story that will resonate with them, nothing I share below is really going to help you.

So let’s break it out.

SOCIAL MEDIA 101
Where does all this start? You start with the three categories of media that are possible to generate online: Earned, Owned, and Paid. In laymen’s terms these are typically categorized by:

1. Earned Media – Buzz you generate (i.e., bloggers talking about you)
2. Owned Media – Distribution through the channels you operate
3. Paid Media – Ads/awareness you buy

1. EARNED MEDIA
Within the earned media space and engaging online influencers, take a three-step approach:

1) Identify Relevant Targets
2) Establish Incentive (i.e., what the benefit is to them)
3) Engage (i.e., reach out to them via email, phone, etc.)

Identify
If you know your target well you should have a good idea of what they’re already reading online. Use the sites you know as a jumping off point and identify additional, relevant sites with SimilarSites.com (which does exactly what it sounds like – recommends similar sites). Also, when you’re on a site you you’ve deemed relevant, visit the sites in the blogroll – most blogs and sites focused around the same topic help cross-promote one another. Also review who they’re communicating with and following on Twitter lists (I’ve outlined how to do this in the slideshare embedded in this post). If you’re really starting from scratch, you can search for blogs by entering the topics relevant to you using any of these sites:

http://blogsearch.google.com/
http://www.icerocket.com/
http://alltop.com/

Blogs are incredibly powerful, but a platform often overlooked is YouTube and online video creators. YouTube drives massive engagement – oftentimes moreso than blogs, tweets, facebook, etc. Just take a look at the average number of comments on videos – engagement is through the roof. To identify relevant YouTube ‘influencers’ simply search YouTube to see who’s already evangelizing your brand, product, topic. Nine times out of ten, their contact info can be found in the ‘about’ section of their channel. You can also view a directory of creators at vidstatsx.com.

It’s incredibly important to note that you want to focus on relevancy and engagement over reach. A blog with 10,000,000 monthly uniques that is mildly relevant is less valuable and far less likely to interact with you vs one that has 1,000 monthly uniques and covers your topic exclusively.

As you’re researching, you’ll want to collect data on who you’ve identified on an Excel sheet for each influencer, blog, site – entering summaries of their web presence for you to review and consolidate (Tim Ferriss has a great guest post on this process). I typically break this out into five basic sections (but you can tweak to suit your needs).

_Name

_Contact info

_Why they’re relevant

_Relationship (you or someone you know, knows them)

_Average engagement (comments, shares) per post

Once you’ve collected your list I recommend you review it and force yourself to whittle it down to the 5-10 most relevant outlets. This will ensure you’re focused on relevancy; you won’t end up sending a ton of spam, and that you’ve thought through your approach.

Incentive
When you reach out to people you want to answer the questions:

Why should this person share my story?
What value am I bringing them and their readers, viewers, followers?

It’s important to approach them with something that will incentivize them to post – make it easy for them to say yes. Can you offer them an exclusive trial of your product, interviews with the founders, etc.?

What can you do to make it worth their time to check out your product/brand and write about it?

Engage
Bloggers, YouTubers, and digital influencers get pitched constantly and its best to either have a relationship (ie your friends or acquaintances with these thoughtleaders in your space) or if at all possible get an introduction. Form real relationships with people that are of interest to you and the rest will fall in line. That said, I understand that it isn’t always possible to be best buds with everyone. So, when reaching out to people make sure to make it as custom to them as you can. They’re a person – use their name (not the blog’s name) when addressing them, call out articles relevant to them, etc., and don’t sell too hard.

I recommend a tease/intro email that hints at what you’ve got. Then, as soon as possible, escalate to a phone call. This allows you to become a real person and start building a real relationship vs. just being another email in their inbox.

PITCH TEMPLATE

Hi (Name),
I wanted to reach out because (insert brief explanation of what you’re doing – for ex, launching an album). I thought it might be relevant for (Site) because (insert example of similar stories covered by blogger in the past – for ex, they covered a similar artist and the post performed well). Any chance you’d think it would be a good fit?

I’d love to hop on the phone (insert time) if you think its something you’d be interested in (insert reference to incentive – for example, you could potentially provide a sneak peak to the demo before launch). Just let me know!

Best,
(insert name)

Here are some other great articles on how to ‘pitch’ a blogger:

21 Tips on Pitching to Bloggers
Make it a Win-Win Situation
20 Tips for Pitching Bloggers

2. OWNED MEDIA
When managing online communities, ie your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc you can really break things out into two categories:

1. Pro-active communications: e.g., events/initiatives you can plan for, and
2. Reactive communications: Responding to the community or current events, and whatever is happening in real time

Proactive:
On the proactive side you’ll want to create content calendars highlighting relevant holidays, events, product launches, etc., that you want to capitalize on.

Then, you’ll want to plan what you’re going to say. Here’s a great example of a content calendar template you can use.

Reactive:
Obviously it’s difficult to have someone sit in front of their computer all day long to interact with commenters, so I recommend utilizing a community management tool, which allows you to track fan engagement and schedule posts. These are a few I recommend–

Facebook & Twitter:

Hootsuite

Crowdbooster

Bufferapp

YouTube:

Tubular Labs

On the reactive side you’ll want to create guidelines outlining the various do’s and don’ts for how you react to the community (particularly if you delegate some of your community management). To accomplish this you’ll want to create an escalation chart, as well as community guidelines to outline how you respond to people.

NOTE – I highly recommend you invest in a presence on YouTube. As the second largest search engine, YouTube is an incredibly powerful marketing tool and its getting better every day. In my experience, I’ve seen engagement on YouTube to be much higher than most other social media platforms. Check out my post on YouTube Marketing, a one-stop hub/cheat sheet for all things YouTube.

3. PAID MEDIA
If you want to grow your community or distribute content quickly, paid media can be a great option. Across Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, I recommend buying directly through the platform for small scale buys (i.e., less than $5k-10k).

Never use a service that makes bold promises, such as ‘1000 fans for $50’ – those are just bots/fake followers and aren’t going to provide any value.

Each platform has relatively simple self-serve advertising platforms – Twitter and YouTube being easiest (in my opinion) with Facebook’s ad marketplace being a great tool, but potentially cumbersome if you’ve never bought ads online before.

Here are the links to self serve ad dashboards for each platform:
Twitter
Facebook
YouTube

TRACKING
By now you’ve built up some buzz, begun to cultivate and manage your community and you want to understand how things are performing.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the analytics options out there and have difficulty differentiating the signal from the noise. There are a lot of great tools out there and each has their pro’s and con’s. I won’t go into the paid options here (although there are a lot of great ones), instead I recommend starting out some of the great free options out there, including PeopleBrowsr & Topsy.com for Twitter, Facebook Insights on choose. Wildfire’s social monitoring tool is great if you want to do some competitive analysis. For YouTube I recommend using VidIQ’s chrome plug in, and SocialBlade for competitive research.

BUILDING YOUR OWN COMMUNITY
The reality is, the basic stuff is simple — marketers, pundits, ‘gurus’, ninjas, et al tend to overcomplicate this form of communication. That does not mean that it’s easy – it takes a great deal of time and effort. However, with this info you can begin to generate awareness, manage your social media profiles and have a deep understanding of what’s working for you.

So what’s your passion, your goal, the community you want to cultivate and craft you want to promote? When you can effectively master the steps and processes I’ve outlined, you can build your business, gain recognition for your craft, and develop social media campaigns brands pay millions for.

Start at the fundamentals. Where is my audience spending time? How can I provide value to influencers to ensure I’m relevant to them? How do I engage my existing community and where can I amplify my efforts through paid media – then track success? It’s all there.

What is the community you are going to build?

Check out Brendan’s slideshare of this post below:

Visit Brendan’s blog to read more social media and youtube marketing strategies.

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