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Aerial Landscape Photography Porn – Iceland Style

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

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

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

The KEY Characteristic Shared by All The Most Creative People I Know — And It Can Be Yours Too

I’m a huge believer in making art for art’s sake. Taking photos that no one is going to pay you for. Shooting films that aren’t commissioned or funded. Writing words that the world may never read. I’ve said before that doing and making always trumps talking about it, but there’s also a difference between the doing and making that pays the bills and the doing and making that brings joy, that hones craft, lights creative fires, and that brings meaning to your life. This is personal work. This is creating simply for the act of creating.

For some, that creative work may lead to more “work” work. For others it is meant to be given away, shared with the world.

Andres Amador (pictured above) falls in that latter category and yet is hugely inspirational across ALL walks of artist-friends of mine. With nothing more than a rake as his brush and the beach as his canvas, he creates huge and beautiful geometric patterns on the sand – patterns that last only as long as the tide permits. (Patterns not unlike those made by snow artist Simon Beck, whom we spoke to some time back.) Recently the California-based creative’s sand art projects passed across my desk and I carried his inspiration around with me for several days – I simply couldn’t shake the concept from my mind. He’s clearly an artist whose work speaks to the emphasis placed on process – the act of making, with an acknowledgment of the value we derive from that making and from the ability to appreciate something – even something entirely fleeting.

After days of pondering, I arrived at the belief that it’s his approach / attitude / priority toward creating + making for the joy of creating, and having a point of view about that which was so compelling. And I’ve come to believe with great conviction that this is a characteristic shared by all the most creative people I know and the most successful artists – the process alone makes the juice worth the squeeze. Sure there’s other stuff at play, but all great artists take joy / pride / love / appreciate the making process. (Thx to my pal Rick for the juice/squeeze saying ;) )

Looking back – not all that far – I think this is what’s missing from 90% of the photographers who ask me to review their work. The awareness – through the work or the artists attitude toward his or her work – whether or not the work is for the works’ sake or some other masked reason. I think as art appreciators, we can smell the intention and it’s either authentic and hooks us, or it’s not.

Creating temporary art brings that right to the surface. And so as a maker of temporary art I wanted to find out more about Andres’s work. The results are the following interview. I tracked down Andres and asked him a few questions about his work and his process. My personal take-aways from my Q&A with him unlocked several key insights for me – check the interview below:

Andres, thanks for taking the time. You’ve really caught the world’s eye with your work. Certainly mine. Every artist has an origin story. Let’s hear yours:

I didn’t start pursuing arts with any seriousness until I was 28. I went to college studying environmental sciences. When I came home to San Francisco from serving in the Peace Corps in Ecuador, I soon became involved with the underground music and arts culture. My first trip to Burning Man marked a turning point. There I became friends with a group of people with whom I would go on to spend nearly 7 years exploring the arts. We formed a performance and arts troupe, living together in a run down building in the Tenderloin where we held arts and music events, bringing together a wide range of expressive styles. During that time the beach art began.

It happened during a trip to the Hawaiian island of Kauai. I went there for a month, bringing with me books to study ancient geometry. I was looking into the realm of sacred geometry in order to speak with people about the sculptural art I had been making for the past several years, creating large installations for festivals. The sculptures used geometric supports and I was often asked about their meaning. With a friend I made a 2 day hike to a remote beach called Kalulau Valley. With an intense backdrop of deeply gullied lush green hills on one side (the opening helicopter scene in Jurassic Park was filmed in this region) and a solid curling crystal clear wall of beach breaking waves to the other, I did an internal journey for several days. On one of those days my friend and I were playing in the sand with our walking sticks, doing calligraphy as we had seen in the movie ‘Hero’. That led to drawing designs, which led to drawing circles. The geometry I had been studying came to me and I started explaining what I had been learning- the circle representing the unity, the 2 overlapping circles representing the multiplicity, the 3 overlapping circles creating the triangle, the first 2 dimensional form, and so forth. It was though I was hit with a bolt from the heavens – I had a vision that I could do enormous designs such as I had been studying and I could picture exactly where I would do them, at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, with it’s wide flat beach. It was several weeks more before I could actualize what I had envisioned (the Kauai beaches being far too narrow and steep, with coarse grains that dry too quickly). When I got home, I immediately went out to the beach to see if my vision was true. The first run was a product in the moment, using my hand to make the marks. The next time I went back several days later it was with the tools I continue to use to this day and done near the cliff so I could look at it from above. The second piece was huge, I was off to a running start.

I imagine you feel an instinctive attraction towards the sea. Can you talk about that? When did it begin? How did it manifest itself?

There are two types of places I feel drawn to- the ocean and mountains, especially mountain rivers. I particularly love where the coast meets the mountains. The ruggedness, the drama. It was at such a location that the beach art was born. I have loved to explore coves, with their tumbled boulders and spire outcrops in the water, tidal pools and mussel encrusted reefs. I can spend the entire day at the beach. And I love to explore mountain rivers- huge piled boulders, waterfalls and pools, steep walls. Both locations are products of water, constantly moving water.

Growing up in San Francisco, I would often explore Land’s End, an area along the SF coastline with steep cliffs and hidden beaches. But it was not until the art on the beach that my life began to revolve more deeply around the ocean. Several years ago I moved inland, several hours from the ocean, to live on a family farm. My heart feels at peace on the farm, yet I feel the call of the ocean. It’s only been since moving away that I can recognize my desire to be near the ocean, where I have lived most of my life. My desire is to live near the beach again, perhaps in the Stinson area north of San Francisco.

There’s an inherent impermanence to your art, much like a Buddhist mandala. In this way it’s almost the complete opposite of a photograph. If our ideas and projects are our babies, how to you come to terms with the reality that your babies get routinely – and literally – thrown out to sea.

It feels more like my ideas are birds that I am setting free. It feels good to release them and allow them to be expressed and let go. Where do the ideas come from? Inspirations come from all around me, but it can sometime feel as though the ideas are simply moving through me, and I am their scribe. I actually find it a relief to actualize an idea, to get it out of my head and allow it life. I am then allowed to move on to the other ideas desiring expression. Having the ocean wash the work away can be frustrating when I am not yet finished, especially when I have worked hard and perhaps bitten off more than I can realistically chew. But the waves are also an essential aspect of the art in that they clean the beach and leave with me a freshly prepared canvas for my next visit.

I can’t claim to be a Buddhist but I have been influenced by its philosophy. The art is a focus on process over product. The act of doing the art brings me joy and whether or not a piece turns out as desired I feel complete with the experience simply for the opportunity to do it. The beach art has brought me into contact more than anything else I have done in my life of the impermanence of anything we can do, anything that humans can do, anything that ever exists. In the face of certain dissolution the question becomes, why do anything? My garage is filled with past arts. I can’t let them go, for they are dear to me. But the beach art I can’t hold on to. Knowing that the art can’t last has had me focus on the ‘why’ more than any other arts I have done. I find the ‘why’ to be the challenge and joy I feel in the doing of it. Its about being in the moment, which is a very Buddhist perspective. (as is non-attachment, of course!)

Although many incorrectly assume that much of the magic behind a great photograph is the combination of serendipity, quick thinking and a good eye, in fact there’s a TON of planning that goes into a shoot, and getting that single money shot. I think the readers would love to know how much of your art is preconceived – or planned – and how much of it is “go with the flow.” Talk process.

Good question. Of the hundreds of artworks I have done, there are only a couple of dozen that are truly beautiful images as photos. Not only are there the factors of happenstance of location, weather and lighting, the art itself may come out really great or may not meet my desires. I time the artwork to the tides, but I must also be aware of when and where the sun might be – the images are not nearly as vibrant after sunset, for instance.

Until very recently I have been relegated to the photographic vantage points that a location might offer me, which has been limited. This would dictate how the art could be positioned and the area I could use. Recently I have acquired the capacity to take photos from the sky via a remote controlled helicopter. This has suddenly given me the opportunity to truly utilize a location, to create an artwork that works with the whole landscape. I am just beginning the exploration of what this offers me, and I’m a bit giddy with excitement over the possibilities. Now more than ever I will be able to play with design placement and work better with the rising or setting sun to maximize the images I can capture.

Ultimately, it is ‘go with the flow’ as I must always work with what I am provided. There is very little control I can truly exert so I am always adjusting to the conditions present and making the best of what is happening.

How much location scouting do you do for your art work?

I do quite a bit of scouting. The tough part is that the only time I can get an accurate assessment of a location is during the kind of tide which I would actually do the art. So I am risking a good art day in order to check on a location. Thus I am ready to do art at the location and simply work with what I have available. Also, all beaches shift during the year. When I have a commission to do I often must scout a previously known location to see if it can still work for me.

While we’re on that subject, do you ever travel to distant beaches SOLELY to create your sand art?

Yes. I have traveled the California coast in search of good locations and there are several many hours away that I would go to for they are so nice. There is a lovely beach in Point Reyes with a waterfall emptying on to it that was several hours of walking to reach. And there is a huge beach, the largest I have had the chance to work on, south of Half Moon Bay that requires using a rope to assist in scaling down the steep hill and then a 1/2 mile walk to get to the starting spot.

On your website you advertise that you do commission work. Tell us a little bit about that.

I’ve done all sorts of work using the beach art. A big one for several years is creating marriage proposals. I might have rolled my eyes at that thought previously, but being part of such a moment is really quite special. I have done celebrations, working with guests to create together, and i have done memorials, helping to facilitate ceremonies. I have done several commercial commissions and am working on few at the moment, one being the creation of imagery for a clinic specializing in spinal care. I enjoy seeing how the beach art can be used, but the commissions bring me anxiety as I am unable to simply ‘go with the flow.’ When I am being paid there is the desire for payoff and the pressure is on.

How do you keep your work fresh and new?

There are times when it feels as though I am groping for what to do. But I have only to dip into my cache of ideas that I keep – photos of interesting patterns, cultural designs, and past sketches. I find that new directions are constantly coming to me. I am actually unable to keep up with the possibilities. The problem I sometimes face is that I seem to lack the time to develop the ideas as far as I would prefer. Also, the aerial photography capacity has me feeling like I have entered a new universe – the possibilities feel almost overwhelming. I have many years of exploration in the beach art, a lifetime, potentially, which is a comforting thought. Off the beach I have been using the same principles while using other materials. The main form this has taken is using straw, which is plentiful, cheap, and biodegradable. There is much to explore in this direction as well.

Is it possible for you to go to a beach, kick back and just relax?

Not really :-) Well, yes, when I know it won’t be a good tide day or the beach is not suitable. My recent trip to Mexico was this way often – the beaches were not so good for my purposes, so I stopped bringing my rakes.

I’m finding that there is a larger message coming through me. The success I have found in doing the art I do stems from engaging something that brought and continues to bring me joy in the act of doing it. I could never have set out to get to where I am with it. It was an outing by outing process which invigorated me and spurred me on to do more. I’m wanting to encourage others to follow that which brings them joy, regardless of the perceived outcome, for the process, the act is all that truly matters. It’s a lesson I bring to the rest of my life and I am grateful for its guidance.

For more of Andres Amador’s story and artwork, find him across these channels:

Website
Facebook
YouTube

Scroll down for more of his work:

HUMANS OF NEW YORK [Best Photo Project Ever] Brandon Stanton on #cjLIVE Wed Feb 19th — Plus Win 30 Days w A Dream Photo Kit

chase jarvis hony humans of new york brandon stantonREMINDER: this show is TODAY at 11am Seattle time (2pm NYC, 19:00 London) and is broadcast LIVE at www.chasejarvis.com/live. Details below – tune in & come say hi.
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I’ve personally nailed several large scale photo projects in my career…Personal work that I grew to a large scale project. And I’ve witnessed hundreds of great photography-based projects come to life in every corner of the world…BUT there may be none better than HUMANS OF NEW YORK, by Brandon Stanton. Seemingly overnight he took a simple photo project from inception to a global phenomenon with a worldwide audience of millions, plus turned it into a #1 New York Times best selling photo book, while staying humble & hardworking through it all. In order to follow his dream, Brandon quit a well paying day job and followed his passion …. with a certain savvy that can be learned by us all.

Lucky for us, Brandon will be our guest AND our private advisor / mentor / coach / inspiration for 90 minutes on the next episode of chasejarvisLIVE this coming Wednesday, February 19th at 11am Seattle time (2pm NYC, 19:00 London time) at www.chasejarivs.com/live. Specifically, we’ll learn the key ingredients for pursuing your YOUR OWN PASSION, how to stand out in a crowded, noisy world, and how to turn your dream life/project/vision into a reality.

WHO: You, Me, Photographer Brandon Stanton + a worldwide gathering of creative people
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Wednesday, Feb 19th 11:00am Seattle time (2pm NYC time or 19:00 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, and my the ChaseJarvis Facebook Page

***NOTE: if you are in Seattle or the PNW and can’t join us in-studio for the live broadcast, but still want to meet Brandon and have your book signed, we are hosting a reception / meet & greet / book signing immediately following from 12:30 – 1:30pm at my studio. There will be books on hand for sale. The address is 3333 Wallingford Ave Seattle 98103. Corner of Wallingford & 34th Street. Ground floor, Wallingford side of the building.

There’s a video at the bottom of this post that highlights HONY, but some more detail on what we’ll cover are here:
_How to conceive of a photography, art, or any project that matters to you
_What were the key steps to transitioning OUT of at 9-5 job and into a dream career
_How did Brandon teach himself to be a photographer?
_How to keep your dreams alive in the face of so much negativity and uphill odds

HELP US PIMP THE SHOW AND WIN THE MOST BOSS PRIZE EVER.
In order to reach the largest audience possible, we’re right now kicking off an amazing prize. To help jump start YOUR dream photo project, give you experience with the best gear in the business, or augment the gear you’ve already got, we’ve partnered with our pals at BorrowLenses.com to give you a chance to win a 30 day rental of a top professional camera body from Canon or Nikon, plus FIVE (5) amazing lenses. (details at the very end of this post). The equipment value is certainly more than 10 grand, and the rental value alone is more than $3000. The contest starts NOW and we’ll announce the winner on chasejarvisLIVE, Wed March 19th

To help wrangle this prize, 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 (following on social channels, sharing, etc)

To enter just fill in your info in the widget below and follow along. Contest rules in the widget. And note: this giveaway is live all the way through 12 noon PST during the show on 19th February.

UPDATE: THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR ENTERING! The winner has been selected–give a holla for Courtney Zerizef. :)

JOIN US IN THE STUDIO!!!!!!!!!
Want to be part of the live studio audience AND/OR get photos + books signed with Brandon?? We’ll invite the first 40 people who send an email to production@chasejarvis.com to join us +1 guest if you’d like. You’ll receive a confirmation email with attendance details if you’re 1 of the first 40. Champagne, donuts, coffee and other stuff will be there too.

And then here’s a lovely video that Facebook made about Brandon’s project.

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The Camera Rental Package you could win is either….

Canon 1D X or a 5D Mark III
16-35 f/2.8L Mk II
24-70 f/2.8L Mk II
70-200 f/2.8L IS II

PLUS The 200-400 f/4L with Built-in Extender AND your choice between the 85mm f/1.2L or the 50mm f/1.2L Primes

OR ………..

Nikon D4 or a D800
14-24 f/2.8G
24-70 f/2.8G
70-200 f/2.8 VR II

PLUS the 200-400 f/4G VR II AND your choice between the 85 f/1.4F or the 50mm f/1.4G Primes

Whichever you choose, also enjoy a 1 year complimentary membership to BorrowLenses.com, which gets you 10% off rental orders, cancellations with no fees, and drop shipment of items you absolutely need even if they are out of stock for us. A $100 value and you get a t-shirt, to boot!

Chasing a Photo for a Lifetime [chasejarvis RAW video]

When the Seahawks raised the Super Bowl trophy before my very eyes last Sunday I couldn’t help think that I’d been waiting a lifetime for this. But it was far more than being born + raised in Seattle that overwhelmed me – it was that I knew I’d captured a photo that I’d been chasing my entire life.

ENTER, the 12the man. Backstory courtesy of Wikipedia.
As most [American] football leagues allow a maximum of eleven players per team on the playing field at a time, referring to a team’s fans as the 12th man implies that they have a potentially helpful role in the game…The presence of fans can have a profound impact on how the teams perform…Thus these fans will often create loud sounds or chant in hopes of distracting, demoralizing and confusing the opposing team while they have possession of the ball; or to persuade a referee to make a favorable decision. Noises are made by shouting, whistling, stomping and various other techniques.

SO, while I’ve spent so much of my life steeped in athletics — from my middle school years as raucous little skate punk, to an athletic scholarship that put me through college, further still to a life spent in part making art around the lives and dreams of athletes from every corner of the globe — I had shot literally millions of images of the highest levels of competition known to humankind, yet I had never done any meaningful photography of… “the fan”.

NOW….armed with a lifetime of supporting my beloved Seattle Seahawks, as a kid in the 80′s when we could never beat John Elway’s Denver, to the 90s when my grandma gave me her season tickets and it was hard to get anyone go to the game with me let alone sit thru all 4 quarters (because we sucked), my team was finally headed to the big game. Never before in history was there a better time for my undertaking. SO, dreams do come true, and over the course of last weekend while 99.99999% of the cameras were focused on the field of play, I had the distinct opportunity to meet, wrangle, hang with and –most importantly photograph — hundreds, even thousands of “12th Man” Seattle Seahawk fans.

The following is a short vid we made along the way to share this all with you. Amidst the street photography, face paint and fan fare, be on the lookout for a floating BudLight hotel, a Foo Fighters concert, a muppet with a gun, a full court swish, a broken camera, cameos from Anchorman’s “Champ”, a bacon cheeseburger bigger than my torso, and –the man who made it– Epic Meal Time’s Harley Morenstein.

Big big ups to Big Chocolate + K.Flay for the beats. This song is so dope.
And double up thanks to BudLight for making all this possible. We had a blast, made some mischief, and made some art.

The final piece is a limited edition 36×60″ Giclée Print. Inquiries here.

chase jarvis 12th man

LIVE Shoot from Inside a Frickin’ Volcano [RENEGADE #cjLIVE -- this Friday, Jan 17]

chase jarvis jp canlis photo 3UPDATE: this broadcast is TODAY! Join us at 9:30am Seattle time (12:30 NYC and 17:30 London) here at www.chasejarvis.com/live as we hi-jack the live feed from the Museum of Glass and go LIVE from the biggest and best hot shop in the world… mixing the worlds of photography + glass blowing with yours truly and my homie JP Canlis. Of course, taking questions at #cjLIVE via Twitter and my Facebook.

Ok. So maybe it’s not an actual VOLCANO, but it’s just as hot. Read on…

My favorite part of the new world order is access. Access to behind-the-scenes ideas, information, and lives of others AND granting that access into mine. We all get to watch “the sausage being made” …as they say.

Well – access (and sausage) you will get this Friday January 17th if you tune into this SPECIAL EPISODE of www.chasejarvis.com/live between 9:30am – 1pm Seattle time (12:30 – 4pm NYC, 17:30 – 21:00 London) for a special “renegade” REMOTE edition of chasejarvisLIVE. What the hell? Exactly. While the “normal” #cjLIVE shows are broadcast live from my studios in Seattle with a guest and a crowd and some ideas (and occasionally some bourbon) this Friday’s episode is anything but that… In fact I’ll be sharing an exclusive peek into a fine art project I’m working on…in progress

Indeed, YOU are invited drop in for a glimpse of a collaboration between yours truly and my dear friend (and brilliant Seattle-based glass artist) J.P. Canlis. JP’s work is collected worldwide (including the likes of the Crowned Prince of Abu Dhabi). We will be at work and coming to you LIVE and in the heat of it (literally) from the molten hot magma hot shop at the Museum of Glass, the world’s premier glass museum and one of the world’s top glass art facilities in the world.

What you will see will NOT be a staged demo of any sort. Instead you’ll be dipping your toe midstream into an authentic artistic collaboration between yours truly and JP Canlis that we’ve been working on for the past couple weeks as a part of JP’s artist-in-residency at the museum. We’ll be engaged in a real-time, never before attempted (for all we can tell) creative process mixing my photography with JP’s molten glass. Yes, we don’t know what will happen. Since we’ll be in the hotshop – which is NOT my normal habitat – I will be primarily hosting the ramshackle affair WHILE I’M WORKING and taking your questions via twitter and Facebook in realtime during the process.

THE DETAILS
WHO: You, me, glass artist J.P Canlis and a worldwide gathering of creative people
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Friday, January 17, 9:30 am-1 pm Seattle time (12:30pm-4pm NYC time)
WHERE: Tune into www.chasejarvis.com/live It’s free — anyone can watch!

Couple disclaimers:
1. The entire process will be broadcast HERE at www.chasejarvis.com/live (aka the normal #cjLIVE location) for your viewing pleasure.
2. This isn’t meant to be a polished production – you will be along for the ride on a real project that will be sometimes exciting and sometimes not. This is authentic, non scripted access, with us in a new and very different location.
3. I will be primarily focused on chatting with you all via the live broadcast – explaining what I can – in real time. So as always, questions on Facebook + Twitter via #cjLIVE.
4. The awesome peeps at the Museum of Glass are letting us use their broadcast tech and facilities so it’s going to feel a lot more renegade than normal…just how we like it ;)

It will be very casual – feel free to come and go as you please. AND!!! if you happen to live in the Seattle/Tacoma area – you are invited to literally drop into the museum hot shop right there in Tacoma. There is are seats there where you can watch us in the flesh.

Couple BTS snapshots from earlier in the project…

chase jarvis jp canlis glass

chase jarvis jp canlis

chase jarvis jp canlis

chase jarvis jp canlis

chase jarvis jp canlis

The Artist as Athlete as Artist –> Travis Rice on Creativity + Art Galleries + Taking Risks

chase jarvis travis rice

Yours truly and Travis Rice getting motley at the...um...airport

The name Travis Rice has for some time been synonymous with the best snowboarder in the world. Literally, of that caliber. Which for those more inclined to the details, that means insane big mountain snowboarding and epic snowboarding films and photoshoots all over the world (watch him on #cjLIVE here). While “artist” may not be a descriptor that comes to mind when one thinks of Travis, I beg to differ. Individual sports like snow / skate / surf are are incredibly creative BUT ALSO…in case there was any doubt… Travis’ latest endeavor takes the artist part of this whole message to another level. You see, Trav recently kicked off an art gallery representing / showing artists, photographers, painters, etc, who focus on these sports…called Asymbol. There’s a physical gallery (in Jackson Hole, WY) + an amazing (affordable) online gallery here (but more on that later). Since I’m someone who came up photographically through the action sports genre myself, it’s clear to me that what Travis is doing is connecting the dots – tearing down walls, really – between athlete and artist. This approach is near and dear to me, not just because of my respect for his vision, but because in my early career I really thought I had to EITHER be and athlete or an artist – and it wasn’t until discovering the punk rock ethic of the early action sports scene that I realized I could be keep my jock-y roots and go deep into art – that I didn’t need to fit into stereotypes, I could be my own. Travis is amplifying that ethos with Asymbol. Now, given my schedule and T’s schedule, connecting in person to chat about this new project was no easy feat, but we managed to wrangle some time over a beer and a shot of whiskey at…an airport bar recently (really – so you’d better read this whole damn interview) to ask him a few questions that will interest you, my dear reader.

1) Alrighty man, tell us about your new(ish) endeavor Asymbol. What is the name all about too?

Asymbol is a gallery + art brand I started with Mike Parillo a few years ago. It’s about honoring and connecting with the art of board riding culture – from snowboarding to surfing to skateboarding. There are incredible working artists who’ve emerged from this creative culture and are in the process of transcending it. We felt there wasn’t a gallery that was really focused on it, so we made one.

The name Asymbol has sort of a double meaning. On the one hand, it refers to the symbolic nature of art and what it stands for in terms of pushing cultural boundaries and challenging our beliefs. On the other hand, it also refers to the act of assembly, in the sense of building community, making products and bringing people and ideas together for a common purpose.

Asymbol Owl, by Hydro74 aka Joshua M. Smith

2) How is this different than creative pursuits of the past for you? You’ve made movies, done contests, been a part of companies…how is Asymbol different?

Asymbol is different in that it’s really about creating a community of people around the art and the artists we’re working with. Making a film (like the Art of Flight) or putting on contest like Ultra Natural are super intense projects, but at the end of the day, they’re still projects. Asymbol doesn’t really have a definitive end – it just keeps evolving as the art and the community evolve.

It’s also different in that we’re focused more on artistic curation than raw artistic creation – that’s the job of the artists we work with. As I see it, our job is to find ways to build support for our artists and their art so that they can keep on doing what they love.

3) What do you hope to bring to the world with this new company?

I’d be happy if people spent some time on the Asymbol website exploring who these artists are and what messages and meaning they’re trying to convey through their art. What I love is that each piece tells a unique story — about the artist and what they were thinking and doing at the time they created the work. It might be a painting by Scott Lenhardt or a photo by Danny Zapalac that look nothing like each other, but the common elements are the stories that relate back to the culture of board riding.

One of the things we’re trying to do is make art more accessible. So much of our audience is younger and doesn’t necessarily think of themselves as fine art buyers, so we’re focused on innovating unique applications of our art on things like screenprinted canvas, t-shirts, laptop skins, water bottles and cases for mobile devices. These things still allow people to connect with the art very directly, but also serve a practical purpose. Plus, they just look rad. [my note --> feel free to buy some fresh stuff here.]

Craig Kelly Mural, by Scott Lenhardt

4) How do you run a business like Asymbol AND be a pro snowboarder? When do you sleep?

Sleep? What’s sleep? In truth, Asymbol is run by a small and dedicated team back home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I stay connected to them when I’m traveling, but my schedule gets pretty insane. It’s hard to have a conference call from the back seat of an A Star helicopter, but we’ve done it.

5) Who’s this rockstar Alex Hillinger?

Alex came into Asymbol last fall as my partner in the business. Mike and I met Alex through the art and tech conference he puts on every year called the GOAT, so his connection to Asymbol was a natural one. We really wanted to take Asymbol to the next level and we needed someone who understood what we were all about. Alex is crazy about snowboarding and art and his background in online business is really important if we’re going to grow Asymbol to where we all believe it can go. [another note from me --> for those who don't know, Alex has been a personal + professional advisor to me for years...helping make cjINC, #cjLIVE and even creativeLIVE work...hats off to him.)

6) What makes "Art" in your opinion?

That's a good question and I'm sure everyone has a different opinion about what makes art. For me, it's about being willing to put yourself out there and take risks. It's easy to sit back and say 'it's all been done before.' Artists don't let that stop them, they create ways to express their points of view that require them to get outside their comfort zones. Making art is risky and forces us to confront our fears of failure and of being misunderstood. I have a lot of respect for artists who don't play it safe. It may not always work, but it's really the only way to get to a place where it does.

7) What parallels do you see in art and sport? People always assume that one has to be jock or artist - is that true?

It seems to me that a lot of athletes gravitate to art as a means of self expression. Being an athlete involves taking risks -- especially if you're dropping into a spine for the first time, or riding a giant wave somewhere in the Indian Ocean. There's no reason there has to be a barrier between being a jock or an artist, and maybe that's one of the things we're saying with Asymbol. So many of our artists are also incredible athletes like Jamie Lynn or Adam Haynes. Parillo took gold this year at my luge course event, which was huge! The competition was fierce.

Red, by Chris Burkhart

8) Who are your influences as an athlete? Who are your influences as an artist?

There are so many — guys like Guch and Johan Olofsson and Craig Kelly who really pioneered big mountain freeriding. Terje and Jamie Lynn are still charging it today with style.

For artists, I’m way into the work of Andrew Schoultz, Carl E. Smith, Todd Glaser and of course, Mike Parillo who I’ve been collaborating with on graphics for years.

9) How is it running an art gallery in Jackson Hole, WY? Would it be better if you were in NYC or SF or something? Why or why not?

Jackson’s a big art town, it’s just mostly Western art of things like bronzed eagle sculptures and cowboys on horseback. I think it makes a lot of sense for Asymbol to be based in Jackson though. This place attracts people seeking to push the boundaries of athleticism and adventure that’s hard to do in a city. There’s an aspect of Asymbol that’s about freedom and openness that being in Jackson embodies in a lot of ways. It’s also nice for me in that Jackson is my home, so when I’m back from traveling, I can really focus on it without the distractions of a place like NYC or SF.

Thanks Travis. You are radical. Follow Travis across these channels:

Asymbol Website
Facebook
Twitter

What I’ve Learned in The Trenches– MY 5 Step Guide to Street + Snapshot Photography

A couple years ago, you may recall, during a month-long artist-in-residency at the Ace Hotel in NYC I took the opportunity to celebrate the snapshot — quintessential street photography — and I called the exhibit Dasein: Invitation to Hang. ['Dasein' is a German word used by philosophers to refer to raw human experience or the fundamental mode of "being there." I found that when applied to photography, the snapshot was the ultimate photographic expression of us simply, authentically being in the world / caught on film. ] The exhibit featured an ever-changing wall of snapshots, both my own and selections chosen from nearly 15,000 submissions across the globe.

At the core of the work what I found was my own sense of street photography – regardless of whether it was on the street, on a train, or backstage with the band. Point being that street photograhy – the art of the snapshot if you will – is about the moment. It’s about choosing to take the photograph. It’s about mood, and –quite often–it is about talking to strangers.

I was reflecting on that project this morning and wanted to share a bullet point list of things I learned that could be easily applied to anyone’s work.

chase jarvis dasein1. The Law vs Respect. When it comes to street photography, there is the law, and then there is etiquette. The laws permit us to take pictures of anyone in a public space [for which thousands of paparazzi thank the gods every day], even taking pictures of private property from a public space is fair game. But let’s face it. Do you really want to be ‘that guy’? Etiquette is an entirely different matter. And note that while it’s ok to take the photo – USING or displaying the photo later is an entirely different manner protected by laws, permissions, likeness, etc. But that’s another post.

2. Discrete but not creepy. While some photographers live by the “If you see a good picture, you take it” rule. I do not because I’ve decided that my role in life is to evoke the messages and emotions and thoughts that I want to evoke – not to simply document. This isn’t for everyone, but here’s how it translates into my work… I am discrete but not creepy. I often connect with my subjects. Your style will vary. Aside from the rare times I shoot candidly, my general mode of being is two fold. I either (a) quietly and quickly snap the photo; or (b) I say “hey, can I take your picture?!” with the camera pressed to my face OR simply a wave to get someone’s attention with the camera snugged up to my face. I click the shutter when they look up.

3. It’s all about the aftermath. Nine times outta ten when using the above techniques, my snapshot subjects either don’t know I’ve shot a photo or don’t care. But here’s the critical point IMHO – if they do care, or even if they lock on to you, take proactive action. Introduce yourself and say thank you. It’s almost entirely about the interaction AFTER you shoot the photo. And this is where non experienced photographers blow it. Sure it takes vision to get the shot – no questions there. But in keeping the shot and keeping your integrity as an artist operating in a grey space…. It’s 10% being before 80% after…. People will either warm up or blow you off and it’s your job to read them. How do you get good at reading this? Experience. You will quickly be able to read if someone is aloof and doesn’t care that you’ve snapped their photo, or if you’ve ticked somebody off. Moreover, connecting with subjects after the fact is often an amazingly insightful part of the process. I’ve heard amazing stories, been inspired, been awakened, and felt more human after talking with unknown photo subjects on hundreds of occasions.

4. When things go south. Rarely, after engaging with someone in number 3 above, the unknowing subject will react negatively. In that case, cut your losses. I always prefer to be a good human than to be unpleasant. On just a handful of occasions in my entire career (I can think of 2 in this sitting…) has anyone asked me to delete a snapshot of them. In this case – despite it being my right to have ‘taken’ the photo (NOTE – ok to ‘take’ the photo in a public space but not ok to later USE or display the photo by law without proper permissions…), I have–during both those rare occasions–deleted it with a smile and a shrug as I showed it to them.

chase jarvis gasmask bong nyc dasein

5. Some recommended don’ts…
–I don’t photograph the homeless or downtrodden without their permission or even better only after a long conversation where it becomes clear that a photograph is on the up-and-up.
–I don’t photograph young kids in the street that I don’t know without first connecting (eyes, nod, hand wave, etc) with their parent or guardian. Just don’t do it. Otherwise, you’re creepy.
–Don’t try to use snapshots commercially. Ever. You will get caught and you will be breaking laws.
–Don’t take your gigantic camera on the streets. It will wreck your chances at getting good imagery. If a Dslr is all you have, take a small, short lens and that’s it. Even better, consider being discrete with a point and shoot – or my favorite – the new mirrorless camera platforms. There are lots of reviews and stories about those here on my blog. Feel free to search for them.

Above all, IMHO use common sense and common courtesy as your guide. Sure – get sneeky, get gangster, get ‘the shot’, but you can do it without being a nut job. Plenty of other photographers have done amazing projects in the streets that are in your face, against people’s will and without warrant. My suggestion? Leave that to somebody else and focus on the pictures that you want to make through respect and hard work. You’ll thank me later.

[Here are some of my favorites from my NYC project. Got a street photography tale to share? Sound off below. Success stories and disasters both welcomed. Will try to get to any questions if you've got em.]

[Here are some of my favorites from my NYC project. Got a street photography tale to share? Sound off below. Success stories and disasters both welcomed. Will try to get to any questions if you've got em.]

Photographs Have Been Lying To You All Along — The Sordid History of Image Manipulation

With Adobe Photoshop looking ahead to its 25th anniversary, a handful of clever advertising pranks, and the recent exhibit at the National Gallery of Art on the history of photo manipulation [deets below], I thought we’d wax nostalgic for a hot minute on how far photography has come — and hasn’t come — from those pre-school days of cutting, coloring and pasting.

For those of us who love to wrench around in Photoshop on a good photograph…give it that extra somethin sometin…This is not news. But the fact IS that nowadays we inherently question the authority and authenticity of every photograph. This speaks to the ease with which any photographer today — professional or otherwise — can enhance, alter and outright mislead for fun or nefarious purposes through the use of the most simple digital tools. Those of us more savvy consumers + even the critics living in this digital world occasionally team up to provide the push back on the topic and identifying where have been crossed [see last month's post on the "un-airbrush photoshop hack"]. It’s a healthy and ongoing debate and a reminder to consider “truth” or “fiction” before adding that filter…

But that debate always gets a little tired for me, and as it does, I like to remind haters and lovers alike that image manipulation and other crazy shiz like this has been around since long before Photoshop. The visual past is still sordid, indeed. For example:

Photo via of click.si.edu


This portrait of Lincoln (arguably the most iconic Abraham Lincoln image we have) isn’t even Abraham Lincoln. It’s just his head, placed on Southern politician John Calhoun’s body. Apparently he didn’t have any “heroic” looking pictures, so they just stuck his head on Calhoun’s body, who, ironically was an ardent supporter of things Lincoln was ardently opposed to…

And if that’s not a guffaw, a simple search reveals a huge pile of examples like this or much worse. In the early part of the 1900′s, Stalin would have his political enemies air-brushed out of official photographs they had taken with him. If there wasn’t any photographic proof, then it didn’t happen.

Photo via of neatorama.com

As hacked press can be powerful tool for media’s manipulation of the public, the June 27, 1994 covers of Newsweek AND Time had two different versions of the same mug shot of O. J. Simpson. The Time cover makes Simpson look the part of a murderer — his face darkened and slightly out of focus, roughened to make him look more unshaven. The color saturation was also removed, making O.J.’s skin look darker. Matt Mahurin, the illustrator at Time Magazine who manipulated the photo of O. J., said he wanted the image to look “more artful, more compelling.” Looking at the images side by side, it’s not hard to see why many claimed Mahurin was using photoshop to make O.J. appear evil and threatening. In a word, guilty.

Photo courtesy of tc.umn.edu

There are also images like the one below, released in the weeks following the attacks on September 11th. It ended up hitting the public hard, even though it was a fairly obvious fake (the weather was wrong in the photo, the observation deck of the WTC wasn’t open when the planes hit, the plane in the picture is the wrong type). Most people were too pissed to look too closely and this picture stirred up a lot of sentiment on the web. Still makes me feel really yucky which helps underscores the point of my article here….

Photo via of urbanlegends.about.com

There are hundreds of examples of big time photographs that have been hacked into. And I’m guessing you can show me a few more of your faves (hit me w a link or two below if you care).

But if all that makes you feel uneasy…just take a deep breath. You’ve been looking at manipulated imagery your entire life. To grab some perspective that’ll chill you out, check out the online remnants of a recent exhibit at Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art featuring some 200 works showing how today’s digitally altered photographs are just a long line of manipulation from the 1840′s to the present era. And, if you happen to be passing thru Houston before August 25th, you can check it out at The Museum of Fine Arts.

Turn Love Into Money — Matt Schwartz’s 8×10 Polaroids Kick Instagram to the Back Seat

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The phrase “Old school” can’t do justice to New York photographer Matt Schwartz’s methodology. Lugging around an 8×10 Polaroid camera to shoot stylized surf-themed pics (that are pretty easy on the eyes) that could pass as faded stills from unused Endless Summer clips, Schwartz has eschewed the conveniences of the modern camera and smart phone camera apps for an approach that has never let him down. That he does it without commercial motivation may be exactly why he has had so much commercial success.

Matt’s story is hard not to love. When his first attempt at selling his work to an ad agency failed, he went completely DIY and hired his own models and bought his own props to realize his vision. That vision has since caught the eye of Billabong, Levis and Surfrider, to name a few. He has maintained the same process and style without conceding to more commercial demands (cue my always-running speech about personal work). It continues to pay off.

I reached out to Matt to share with you all a bit about his work and his vision.

Your work has long been lauded for its trademark style. What’s the process behind that style?

MS: I take 8×10 Polaroids, pull apart the film and rub the negatives onto watercolor paper. The process is called Polaroid transfer.

Your subjects are predominantly female. What’s the story there?

MS: They are prettier than boys. Ha. I actually shoot women for my fashion/whimsical shoots, but shoot men for most of my surfing images. There needs to be an attraction of some sort (face, hair, clothes, aura, etc.) for me to be inspired to photograph someone.

What are a few of your influences?

MS: I am influenced by the beauty of surfing, ballet, yoga and music. I love traveling around the world to surf towns and immersing myself in everything.

Are there artists whose work you pay extra attention to?

MS: I like Chaz Ray Krider (erotic photography), Leroy Grannis (surf photographer) and a bunch of random illustration (juxtapose). I pay more attention to music than photography or other art forms. I am so immersed in my own work that I need an escape through sound.

How do strike a balance between personal and commercial work?

MS: Currently all of my work produced is for the purpose of creating. Images that need to be taken. Once I fall in love with an image I end up including it in the collection of work being sold. A few companies such as Levis and Anthropologie have purchased work for their stores. I have also worked with some surf companies on commercial work. I am branching out into the commercial world more and more each year, though I am very specific as to who I work with. I have been fortunate with my work where I can say “no” to offers. It’s weird when you get to a point and you can just say no, while someone is offering a lot of money, though at the same time it would cancel out who I was if i did any job.

What makes these different from other Polaroids?

Everything, as each artist is different. I have never pressed the shutter on my camera thinking about selling my work. I shoot because I have to capture beauty. When my work started selling I was playing music in a band. All of images were and have always been taken from the heart. With music there was always pressure to try and get on a small record label or line up shows, etc. There was no goal with my pics. They were just a hobby. I guess that is why they worked.

Check out more of Matt’s work here.

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F*&$ the SATs – “I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate” [A Public Service Announcement]

Creativity is the new literacy, and I’ve got an anthem brewing over here… But what fires me up is that I’m not alone. So many of us are feeling this anthem right now. Times are changing. The old methods of memorization and rigid exams for a diverse student body is not working for today’s world. Those times were for the factory. But what now? The average US college student graduates with about $27,000 in debt. For what? Students in the arts graduate with the highest level of debt. For what? Student debt now outpaces credit card debt. For what?

The good news is, for those of us who came up through the traditional education system and always felt there was something off with that path, we are rapidly approaching a new era of freedom (wisdom) to learn about what excites you first…not “later” after you’ve been chewed up and spit out by the system.

Our attitudes around education and learning need to shift. It won’t happen overnight, but I applaud this spoken word piece.

suli breaks education

So You Want to Be a Commercial Photographer? Here’s How… [Joey L on creativeLIVE]

Update: It’s official now, I’m dropping in as a guest on JoeyL’s show TODAY at 10:45 Seattle Time (1:45 NYC; 18:45 London). Join us – ask questions. I just was sent over the topics he’s going to grill me on and I haven’t given an interview this in-depth about commercial photography in more than a year. Tune in HERE to watch…

Occasionally I hand pick certain people that I’d like to see on creativeLIVE. Joey L is one of those people — and starting NOW, AND for the next 3 days, he’s going to be sharing everything he can muster about his approach to commercial portrait photography and personal projects. Specifically he will be walking photographs from concept, thru lighting, posing, shooting and post production…and doing it all LIVE (so you can ask questions) and FREE.

Why did I choose JoeyL?
Here’s 3 reasons you should watch:
1. Few photographers today know how to make the pictures they see in their mind. But Joey can do this as well or better than any long standing pro – he turns his vision into reality. In truth this is one of the hardest things for people trying to “make it” as a photographer, and Joey shows you how.

2. Professional photography is more than just capturing the image. This is the simple secret that few people know. It’s about 3 distinct steps… planning for the picture, taking the picture and then making it come to life in post production. In this course, Joey walks you thru all 3 steps with flair.

3. Combination of hard work and technical execution. Most photographers I see in the world have one of these keys, but not both. You can’t succeed with just hustle and yet having shitty technique. And you can’t succeed by being a genius technician without any hustle. JoeyL exudes both of these, and you’ll be able to learn the balance of these in action by watching him.

So check it out. (I’ll be roaming around off set for 2 of the 3 days, maybe even drop in. Hope to see you.)

Resister FREE here to get updates and info about the class each day
Just drop in LIVE here anytime here.

joey L on creativeLIVE

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