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

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.

Putting $21.5 Million To Work for a More Creative World

chase jarvis early creative live days

BTS selfie at one of the first creativeLIVE workshops with Vincent Laforet

Wanted to take a break for a hot second this morning — away from studios and airplanes and shooting photos in far away places — to make a special announcement and say a huge, ginormous thank you.

If you’ve been a part of this community for some time, then you already know that a few years back, myself and my good pal Craig Swanson, scratched out some ideas on a whiteboard, rallied a bunch of friends, and kicked off a dream to unleash the creative potential of millions of people worldwide — the creative potential that we all have inside us– by delivering the world’s highest quality creative education to a global community for free. That project was called creativeLIVE.

Now more than 3 years into that journey…that scrappy little company born from a gritty warehouse in South Seattle and based on the fundamental principle that we should ALL have access to world-class creative education regardless of age, gender, socio-economic status or experience level — has hit a handful of super-exciting milestones. We have now delivered more than 1 BILLION minutes of free creative education to more that 2 MILLION people in 200 COUNTRIES worldwide. We have 85 employees, more than 500 online courses and are producing more live educational content than anyone in the world.

And let’s be clear – these milestones and others we will continue to share in the near future are based entirely on YOUR belief, YOUR support and the support of our entire amazing, collective community. THANK YOU. Seriously. Getting teary-eyed thinking of how much you have helped my wildest dreams come true. It’s because of you that Pulitzer Prize winners, New York Times Best Selling Authors, Emmy nominated directors, cutting edge artists and the world’s top entrepreneurs have decided to hang their hat on creativeLIVE’s platform to share their knowledge. They have discovered through YOUR participation in cL that this community more than any other in online education wants to learn and grow together, have meaningful on and offline relationships and work to transform passions, careers, and lives….to make knowledge accessible, to enable skill-based learning, and -dare I say it- help make big and small dreams alike come true.

It’s with all this in stride that I’m proud to share with you today that creativeLIVE have raised $21.5 million dollars in a new round of venture capital financing from The Social+Capital partnership + Greylock Partners. Whoa! Holy crap that is a lot of money. What does this mean? What will cL do with this money? Put simply, we raised this money to better serve you, our community, to help us reach a new set of goals, and to take this platform to an entirely new level.

More specifically…. We have listened to you and have heard that you want more access to top experts in creative fields beyond photography. As a result, we have over the past year expanded into video production, art & design, audio & music, and business / entrepreneurship to help you pursue the skills and passions that you want to learn. We will continue to deliver this – and grow it Among other things, this expansion requires capital — money to bring in more of the world’s best instructors in these channels, money for new studios, new infrastructure, new technology and salaries for a kickass staff who wants to change the world. We want to build a category defining, long-standing company that serves its community in a way that no other education company ever has or will.

Here is the announcement in TechCrunch, AllThingsD, GeekWire, etc

In the last 15 months we have opened up new studios in Seattle and San Francisco and have hired world class people like Mika Salmi, Brent Ayrey and Rick Silvestrini. Mika was the frickin President of Viacom where he ran all 35 TV channels there including MTV and Comedy Central and other division including Universal Pictures! Brent came from Netflix where he built from scratch their game-changing streaming service that today makes up 20% of all internet traffic on any given day. In turn, we landed Rick from YouTube where he ran the curation and business around the YT homepage – which is one of the hottest pages on the entire internet. These are people who have “made it” elsewhere in life and have now turned their lives and careers toward creativeLIVE to be a part of a movement focused on growing a community and a product that democratizes creative education. We know that creativity is the new literacy. These people and others like them are the kinds of people that are building this company WITH YOU and FOR YOU.

What does this mean for me personally? Not much is different – other than an even more intense desire to pursue creativity for myself and others, to deliver value to you, to push boundaries and challenge less effective “old” ways of thinking, doing, and making. I will continue shooting photos like mad, directing films & shows & commercials all over the damn place, shooting chasejarvisLIVE and sharing all that stuff here on my blog and within my social feeds and wherever else is I can find a way.

I will also be going deeper into creativeLIVE, looking for new ways to synergize my life as an artist with helping drive the kind of innovation that you want to see…ensuring cL is built by creatives for creatives. I feel like I’ve learned enough for 100 lifetimes throughout this process already — getting to find out what makes me tick as well as rubbing elbows with all kinds of characters, from dirtbags (like me) to brilliant bad-asses to legendary billionaires and everything in between. And I have this distinct feeling that it’s just getting rolling. As I continue to learn, and stumble and succeed and fail, I’ll continue to share.

If you have questions or comments – please do share them below. I’ll respond below or wherever possible.

Huge thank you for making all of this possible. For deeming that yours truly and/or the creativeLIVE movement are worthy of your support. #gratitude

Everyone is creative.

10 Best Lessons I’d Teach My Younger Self

My dear friend Lewis Howes recently asked me a damn good question. If you could – what would you tell your younger self? My answer sucked. But he told me HIS answer and I thought his answer was a good one… So good in fact that I wished I’d had learned the lessons much much earlier in life. I tried to write this in my own voice, but since the list and story weren’t mine it wasn’t working…and so I’m stoked to have my good pal Lewis join us here to share some of his wisdom and inspiration. I’ve also peppered my $.02 as a photographer occasionally throughout the post below. In fact, I was recently asked this question in an interview: What’s one thing you’d tell your younger version of yourself? I answered: “Wash your hands.” And then added, “It’s okay to be the thing you want to be in life, and not what everyone else wants you to be.”
But otherwise, Lewis, take it away.

—-
Thanks Chase-man. The following is a true story that I shared on my blog right around my 30th birthday.

It was a warm Fall night outside Caffe Dante, my favorite Gelato spot in New York’s Greenwich Village, when I met her. The Italian waitresses don’t even ask for my order anymore. Shortly after I sit down they bring me my usual. I’ve had gelato all over the world, and to this day nothing compares to this little cafe. I usually go solo. Walk through Washington Square Park, enjoy the energy of NYC, people watch, and get my two scoops of gelato.

This particular time I sat outside at a table next to an older Italian woman and her little French Bull dog. I’m a sucker for dogs (especially cute little Frenchies because they sound like an old man snoring when they’re awake).I struck up a conversation with her because her dog kept licking my leg. We got into the Italian culture, travel, and how her husband is a famous artist who’se been commissioned to build sculptures all over the world. She talked about her grandchildren, and even invited me to see her husbands art gallery in SoHo. It was a pleasant thirty minute conversation. One of “those moments” everyone talks about when you live in NYC. She gave me her number and address to see her gallery, but somehow I lost both of those and forgot her name. One thing I did remember was an answer she gave me to a very specific question I asked.

“I’m about to turn 30 years old, and if you could go back and talk to your 30 year old self what advice would you give?”

She said, without hesitation, “don’t worry so much.”

She continued, “we try to create drama from nothing so often, but the things we think are major issues always pass, and we forget about them usually within a few months at most. Focus on loving more, and not worrying as much.”

Advice is always easier giving than receiving, but this is something that stuck with me, and it inspired me to share some lessons I’ve learned in my first 30 years of life. The post I did on my blog on my birthday had my 30 Lessons I Learned. Ive had some time to distill that list down to the most potent: My top 10 lessons.

1. Invest in yourself
Grant Cardone once told me to spend all of my money on investing in myself. Learn why this is important and why it’s a major focus for me now in this interview.

Movement is important especially when so many sit at a desk for 10+ hours a day. This causes serious aging, illness, and physical pain when you don’t move. CrossFit, playing team handball for the USA national team, and street basketball are my weekly activities. Do something you’ll have fun with and focus on moving every day.

2. Frame your goals
I started writing my goals down and framing the goal as if it already was achieved in my early 20′s. I was amazed when I started reaching these goals by the date I had listed on them. It was a daily visualization exercise, and it almost always works. I believe the things you put your energy towards the most, will most likely come true over everything else. Frame your goals.

cj: I encourage all you creatives out there to make a declaration of creativity and then proceed with the goal-framing.

3. Don’t let others dictate your life
If you don’t want to live a normal life where you go to a job you hate just so you can enjoy your weekends and get two weeks to vacation every year… then don’t do it. It’s as simple as that. Read The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss or other inspirational blogs about creating a lifestyle around a business you want to live. No excuses, just do it already.

cj: after the read, pop back up here and watch Tim Ferriss on chasejarvisLIVE for more inspiration on living a life you love:

4. Focus on relationships
You can accomplish anything with the right relationships both personally and professionally. People don’t care as much about what you know as they do on how much you care about them.

5. Feel your fears and do them anyways
My friend and sports psychologist Dr. Jeff Spencer told me this once and it stuck with me. Elite athletes feel fear just like everyone else, but they channel that fear to fuel their spirit and passion for competition.

cj: here’s a great example of channeling fear into supreme expression and creativity.

6. Eat clean & Sweat daily
I used to eat whatever I wanted and it didn’t matter as much when I worked out 6 hours a day. I still love my gelato from time to time, but I’m all about eating as much organic foods, experimenting with cleanses, and drinking green juice as possible. Focus on what works for you, but educate yourself on what you put in your body.

7. Attract great coaches
I’d be an angry, messed up kid still if I didn’t have amazing coaches and mentors. They knew how to get the most out of me and teach me about letting go of ego, working with a team, sacrifice, and so much more. The world is a better place because of great coaches. Find one for every aspect of your life and ask them to push you to get better every day.

8. Don’t let failure hold you back [Don't worry so much"]
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed”. -Michael Jordan You have to take the shot to succeed. And trust me, you’re going to miss. A lot. But if you’re afraid of that failure it’s going to hold you back. Take the shot.

cj: we sometimes let failure — and fear of failure — give rise to false barriers. Here’s what happens when you dispense with the barriers and create in the face of possible failure. Also – here’s a talk I just gave about this subject

9. Pay off your debts
Some debt is good for building credit, minimizing risk, and so on, but there are some debts that weigh most people down from truly following their passion and living an amazing life. Pay off the debts that weigh you down as it’s an amazing feeling once you do. Read this book by Ramit Sethi for help on this. (Alternatively, read this guest post by Ramit on Business Essentials for Photographers + Creatives.)

10. Be extremely grateful for what you have
I was a pain in the ass most of my childhood, always mad at the things I didn’t have. Things shifted drastically in my 20′s where I started putting an emphasis in gratitude. Focus on the good you do have, not the things you lack. Drop your attitude and make a gratitude list. It will do wonders.

cj: 100% agree on regularly adding to the gratitude list. Gratitude writing is one of the 5 types of writing that can make photographers more creative.

There you have it.

Well, since I always try to be the dumbest person in the room, I’ve learned to ask the right questions. The right questions ignite innovation, solve problems, create marriages and powerful partnerships, and help us live a better life.

Also, since I learn from everyone — especially my readers, I’d love to hear your answer to my question. It doesn’t matter how old are you, what’s one thing you’d tell your younger version of yourself?

##

Lewis Howes is an author, a former professional athlete (arena football), a current member of the US National Team Handball squad and a self-styled “Lifestyle Entrepreneur.” He also wants you to know that you rock. Seriously. Follow Lewis across these channels:

Website
Twitter
Facebook
Youtube
Instagram

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5 Crucial Thoughts on the New Nikon Df. Does It Deliver?

ChaseJarvis_Nikon DF_1
Wow. Two new cameras on my blog in one week (here’s the other one). I’ve never been a gear whore and don’t like dedicating too much real estate here to it, but I do like me some of these compact cameras. So here we go – quick like.

Nikon got the aesthetics right, that’s for sure. If it does nothing else, the new Nikon Df is going to make you look like a legit photographer from the 70′s. Even more so perhaps like a photographer shooting film (but you won’t be.)

Specs: Within the tasty leather, chrome, and gunmetal exterior of this Nikon Df hides…

// the legendary sensor from the Nikon D4 – my favorite still camera sensor of all time
// Nikon’s latest + greatest Expeed 3 processor
// Optical viewfinder with 100% field of view (thank god – not having this sucks)
// Full wireless capability [requires WU-1 wireless adaptor].
// We’re still waiting on the side of french fries, but this full-meal of a camera may just satiate even the hungriest of critics.

Yeah, but does it deliver?

Before we can answer that question (because I can’t – haven’t used it), I want to set my expectations. Because they are (were?) high for this little bugger. But when the hype is this big, the goods had better follow. So here’s what it has to do to get my five stars:

1, Ergonomics. I like how all the dials for shutter speed, exposure compensation, and ISO give you the option of being really hands on with setting your exposure. Shooting this way really increases my connection with what you’re creating with the camera. The Nikon DF looks like it’ll do a nice job of recreating (or perhaps simulating) that experience of “making” pictures like the cameras of old… That feel helps me be connecting to the art just a little bit more–ie slowing down a tad– than some of my other tools in my shed.

2. The size. The size is nice. Or rather, the size is nice compared to a D4 or pro body. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m on a gig I need the pro body to lean on, bang around, pound nails and otherwise be tough and sturdy. With this little guy? I prefer the portability, sorta. It’ll make a great vacation camera for jet setting photographers….unless you also like to capture video of your travels like I do. If you want video you need another camera, or an additional camera, and then the whole compact selling point is thrown out the airplane window with no parachute. So what gives here? I dunno. They made up a nice advertising story about “back to basics” with a “real camera” but rumor has it they couldn’t keep the guts cool enough to shoot video because mechanically that stuff takes up space. Jury is out. I like the purity angle, but it’s 2013…

3. The sensor. It has the same 16.2-megapixel sensor as Nikon’s pro-focused D4, which is the best still sensor of all time. There, I said it. It has ISO range up to 12,800 and expandable to ISO 204,800!! You can basically shoot this thing in the dark – let’s just hope it (or you) can focus in the dark. What good is the sensor if you can’t pull the trigger in focus?

4. Focus. It better be decent. Nikons have historically kicked everyones ass in this department. This better not be a let down. I hope the focus is fast and accurate. (Speaking of fast…we know it’s not fast in frames per second department. 5 ‘n’ change. Not bad. But not fast. Who cares really – that’s not what this camera is for.) We really do want the focus to be fast, however, if it’s to stand out from it’s peers. BTW, how is the manual focus mode? It better kick ass. I’m curious to see if there are any features to assist with this. There’s a lot of marketing around this camera pimping its ability to use all the old non-AI lenses, but the cameras from that time had focusing screens built for manual focus. Without tools like focus peaking, a split image screen, or a microprism screen, shooting with manual focus lenses might just be a pain in the ass. Let’s hope they get it right

5. Pro shit. I’m excited to see how “professional” the camera can be. Can I pound nails with this thing? Is it heavy and durable? We use a ton of different cameras for video, but the D4 is my go-to camera for EVERY SINGLE commercial photo shoot we do. Could the DF could come along on our shoots as a good BTS rig? Even in our BTS stuff we expect pro quality That would be nice if this delivered. I will always have a couple D4 backups, but for the solo photographer, the DF could potentially save pro photographers some weight and coin if (and only if) it can produce professional results in a pinch.

All this said, I can’t wait to get my hands on the Df and take it for a rubber-burning test drive. Good pals like McNally are oogling over it, but Joe would have to use a Nikon mobile phone if they had one, so take that with a grain of salt. Anywhooo. Stay tuned for a more meaty pile of feedback when I get my paws on this thing.

The Df is available for pre-order in four options. Check out the goods here:

/// Black body w/lens
/// Silver body w/lens
/// Black body
/// Silver body

ChaseJarvis_Nikon DF_1

A Hot Minute Hands-on Review of the Sony A7r

The field of affordable mirrorless cameras is widening, even as the gulf in quality between said cameras and DSLRs narrows. I’ve gone so far as to call them DSLR-killers in the past. A little tongue in cheek there, but wrapped in a nice dose of optimism. On the whole these rigs are lighter, more compact and pack a decent punch. They’re definitely the bomb for for street photographers and the kick the shit out of any point-and-miss er…point and shoot that is…without a doubt.

To that end, the not-yet-released Sony A7r [or Alpha 7r] and A7 magically fell into my hands last week prompting a brief but meaningful walk/shooting/note-taking session with my crew, the results of which I’m sharing here. Given that this little beauty doesn’t hit the market until December, what you’re about to read is one of the first true hands-on reviews. I can’t go into hand wringing detail about everything w the camera (save that for others), but this is rather my first quick impression. (And seeing as the bulk of my time was spent with the A7r, I’ve limited my notes below to that model.)

FIRST, THE UPSIDE:

1) The Tactile. The ergonomics are great and the grip is the perfect size. I carried it the whole time without a neck strap and never worried about it slipping out of my hands. Camera ergonomics are vastly under-appreciated IMHO – really important. I’m a stickler for it and this camera delivers on it.

2) Presence. The A7 is light, but not cheap feeling. It feels similar to the Olympus E-M5 in weight and dial placement, but easier to grip with better spacing in the button layout. Good lines.

3) Design. I dig the placement of the exposure compensation wheel. I could make adjustments easily and intuitively without taking my eye away from the viewfinder.

4) Focus. Focusing speed is acceptable but nowhere near groundbreaking. Norton’s E-M5 and Erik’s Panasonic GX7 a both seem to focus faster (this might be different on the A7 vs the A7r).

5) Image quality. Image quality is really nice, though we were only able to view and edit the Jpegs since Lightroom doesn’t support the A7′s raw files yet and only had the camera for a qwik spin. (also we can’t share our images since the camera is technically a pre-production model…sorry) The shallow depth of field on the 2.8 lens is dreamy. Getting a nice shallow depth of field in a camera this compact feels like cheating.

6) Looks. Aesthetically, the camera is very inconspicuous. In a short walk in a part, people stopped and commented about Norton’s silver retro looking Olympus E-M5, but nobody asked about the A7r. The murdered out black finish on the A7/A7r is stealthy for sure. This will be a nice nod for the street photographer in you, but will work against you if you’re one of those kooks who is trying to be …er…”impressive” with gear.

NITPICKS ON THE NEGATIVE:

1) Shutter. I’m not crazy about the shutter button. This is super nit-picky, but it’s sorta gummy. It takes a little too much pressure to fire the shutter. It feels to me like it’s likely to cause unnecessary camera shake, which could hurt photos taken with a slow shutter speed. AND…speaking of the shutter…it’s damn noisy. This camera is not sneaky.

2) Battery. The battery life is wack. I only had one, and I had the feeling right away that it wouldn’t last. I had to keep turning the camera off between shots, and that’s no fun. Hopefully Sony addresses this quick-like.

4) Boot-time. The start-up time overly slow. I seriously thought the camera might have had issues when I first turned it on. (this might be because the camera I was using might be a preproduction model???)

OVERALL SIDE OF THE EQUATION:

Anybody thinking about getting into the world of mirrorless cameras, or even mid-range DSLR’s, should take the Sony A7r and A7 into serious consideration. If you by chance have a NEX-7 then this upgrade is really really desirable since your glass can migrate with you.

Both models are available for pre-order here and here.

Scroll down for a more detailed look at the Sony A7r:

How Photographers Really Get These Shots [hint: it takes a village]

Just stumbled on this image of yours truly working for an advertising photo down at Smith Rocks, OR a few years back. I don’t do a ton of climbing photography – it’s pretty damn specialized – but when I get to, it reminds me a whole lot of why i like to climb. It really focuses your attention on the task at hand. While the handful of support crew who help make these shoots possible are a real blessing, my biggest appreciation during work like this goes to the athletes. Every safety measure is taken, but they certainly put themselves at risk to get the shot – often needing to make the same move a half dozen times to get it just right. #respect.

My biggest challenge in this case is multi-tasking while in position. I’ve gotta be communicating with the athlete, communicating with the crew, etc, and being my own assistant at the same time as focusing on the shot.  

Happy friday – and happy to answer any questions below.

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