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Answers To 4 Good Questions, Including Why I LOVE/HATE Coffee [#cjRAW 10, #HeyChase]

Hey friends – Time is flying. We’re already at episode 10 of the new #cjRAW, and frankly speaking, I’m just getting warmed up.


Onto this week’s episode where I’m AGAIN answering YOUR questions, just like Episode 02..AAAAANNNNDD…. While selecting questions for this episode, I noticed more and more questions coming in were starting with “Hey Chase”… So that got me thinking … what if you/everyone just tags their questions with #HeyChase it’ll be easier for me to find YOUR questions to answer them in future episodes. So, starting today, if you have questions, please use the hashtag #HeyChase and that’ll help me pull them for future episodes!. Ok then. Without further ado, let’s get to those questions:

Q: How did you get over the fear of taking street portraits without being too intrusive?

Thing #1 - Previously on the blog, I wrote a 5-step guide to street photography, and there’s a bunch of goodness there. So check that out first and foremost.

Thing #2 - Smile when you’re on the street. Not a creepy, stalky smile, but a warm one. Simply having your camera out and giving a nod and a smile gesturing that you’d like to take a photo is a great early step regardless of the language.

Thing #3 - If you are in a place where you speak the language, a short, tight, dialog like … Hi, my name is _______ and I’m doing a project on _______ (or I’m an aspiring photographer) Can I borrow 20 seconds to take your picture? This is a technique my pal Brandon Stanton uses for his project Humans of New York. We chat a bit about it on an episode of cjLIVE. The main thing is, don’t be a creepy stalker person that takes a photo and then acts weird when someone notices. Start with a smile, and that will go a long way.

Q: What do you think about coffee?

So first thing is first. I love coffee. Love it. I can even say that I think I have abused it at different times in my life. But…when a few of you asked this question from episode 07 on my morning routine I did not mention it. Why no mention? I did not mention it because here’s the real deal: I don’t think it should ever be a daily requirement. Keeping in mind that “should” can sometimes be wishful. Personally coffee is my preferred morning beverage (in addition to water), but I sometimes I have tea, and sometimes I have nothing BUT water…and say I get that same buzz from exercise and without the caffeine. I’m not trying to sound saintly here, but I know from personal experience, research, and others around me that coffee as a must have (anything for that matter as a must have) is not desirable.

Q: Can you talk about a time where you realized you could not fly solo and needed to hire a team?

First, if you’re an individual / independent artist, hiring people as full time crew is a huge step. I look at it as being personally responsible for the income of another and their family, so look at it carefully to make sure you REALLY need that person and if there is the income & flow to support that long term. If not, hiring crew members on a per project basis is a really great way to go. You can budget rates into your projects, see how it is working with them, and start learning to collaborate as a team.

If you do have the ability to keep someone busy full time, then make sure you’ve connected with the right resources to make sure you understand the various nuggets in payroll, taxes, and other rules & regulations. Sounds lame, but those rules are there for a reason. Once you’ve done that, create a job description to set clear idea of what you’re looking for. Source people you trust by using your network, narrow down candidates to those who align with you & your business values, and have gone through an interview process that demonstrates they are competent to do the job & are one the same page as you.

Q: What tools are you using for being productive, keeping ideas, and inspirations?

Thing #1 - I LOVE, love, love Evernote. It’s an everything digital file cabinet that’s always synced to the cloud. You can take a picture, take a screenshot, record something and tag it. I’ve been using it for YEARS, almost since the beginning of time. It’s a great tool that I carry with me on my computer and phone. You can type notes, upload photos, and it even turn graphic documents into searchable type. For example, you can take a picture of a business card and the text becomes searchable. I use it for notes, reflections on mtgs, agendas the next mtg, notes from the shoot, brand ideas from something I saw, etc. I use it 10x per day minimum. Everyday.

Thing #2 -- I still love a great notebook. Moleskin, Field Notes or similar. Something I can carry around to sketch in and draw.

OK friends. There you have it. Links and other goodness from this Episode are below. Cheers.

Links from the Episode

Money + Business for Creatives with Ramit Sethi
Humans of New York
cjRAW EP07 – My Morning Routine

What’s Covered

Tag your questions #HeyChase [0:29]
How do you overcome the fear of [0:53]
What I think about coffee [2:56]
Transitioning from a solo artist to building a team [4:57]
Tools I use for being productive [10:48]

People Mentioned

Brandon Stanton
Kelly Starrett
Michael Bierut
Ramit Sethi
Tim Ferriss

I got PHOTO TIPS for DAYS – #cjRAW Episode 09 is HERE.

Photo geeks — this one’s for you.

Yes the new #cjRAW series covers a lot of territory — from how I taught myself French, why I’ve come together with a bunch of people to build CreativeLive, to why I meditate, to my morning routine and everything in between…but I’m also aiming to maintain the soul from which this series was originally born… and that’s photography. #NeverForget LOL

I’ve already dropped episodes featuring shooting in wet weather, and my religion around good ways not to break your lenses. But apparently your appetite for photo is insatiable and you’ve asked for more photography and filmmaking geekery. So, in your honor, I today drop episode which brings you 3 CRITICAL TIPS from recent work on location in Turkey.

1. Memory Card Management

While on location, your filled memory cards are gold, right? They hold all the goods. And if you’re anything but a rank beginner, you’ve got more than 1 of those pesky cards…in fact I bet you’ve got lots of them. Though we ALWAYS like to keep the shot cards VERY separate from the fresh ones, things sometimes get a little chaotic. So many of you asked what I do in these instances. My answer is simple. I build systems for dealing with cards and data… and the most basic of these systems is something you can use immediately…starting today. Short cut = there are lots of ways… from using gaffer tape to mark shot cards, to keeping them in their own special place away from everything else… but here’s something that works in a pinch = always keep shot cards (ie do NOT use or reformat) FACE DOWN in any card wallet or card storage device. That’s the basics, but watch the video above for a few more details.

2. Never Miss a Sunrise/Sunset

The weather app on your iPhone will tell you when “sunrise” or “sunset” will happen on any given day, but that’s really generic relative to any particular location when you’ve got hills and trees and any number of things to contend with… A scouting trip will go a long way to understand light at a location, but hundreds of you have asked me over the years how do I know exactly when the magic light will come and go. My answer, it’s easy. I cheat. I use technology.

You guessed it – there’s an app for that. I absolutely LOVE Sunseeker app, which will give you an augmented reality view of your location matched to the exact path of the sun at that spot. It’s genius and well worth the small amount of $. It saved my ass here and a zillion other times. There are other apps that do this, but SunSeeker is the one I use and trust.

3. Why Shoot 4K

4K is becoming more ubiquitous and more affordable every day. The latest version of GoPro Hero 3+ and 4, DSLRs like the Panasonic GH4 or even the latest iPhone have 4K capability. Sure there are reasons NOT to shoot it (cost, file size, who has 4k TV’s?), but there are more reasons now that ever before to embrace it – and my favorite of which is DEAD SIMPLE. The resolution give you the ability to crop or reframe a shot in post. This comes in handy a lot, especially for interviews and punching in a a subject. If you tried to scale an basic HD shot, the image may not hold up and you’ll start seeing grain. But with 4K, you can reframe a standard 1920×1080 HD shot with plenty of resolution to spare. Trust me. You’ll thank me later.

So that’s a wrap for you photo geeks. I’m always happen to appease requests for the #cjRAW series – in fact it’s you requests that are driving the content of each epsiode. So enjoy this one, don’t forget to step out of your comfort zone and watch the episodes BEYOND photography…and keep asking in the comments below, Facebook (have you seriously not liked me yet?), YouTube (subscribe for the goodness) or wherever for exactly what you want to see, and I’ll do my best to deliver.

Links from the Episode

Storytelling on Location with Corey Rich
Sunseeker App
Panasonic GH4

What’s Covered

Memory Card Management [0:52]
Never Miss a Sunrise/Sunset [1:32]
Why Shoot 4K [1:52]

People Mentioned

Ten Hundred

Corey Rich

How To Get UN-STUCK From Anything in Life That’s Got You Down [with Lewis Howes]

Ever felt STUCK with something in your life? Blocked, like you can’t get past this mental state, this hurdle, this creative block, this bad habit, this… Wait a minute. Why am I even asking that question? Of course you’ve been stuck before. We’ve literally ALL been stuck before. And by extension we all know how much it sucks to be in this state of mind. AND – on the flipside – how amazing it is when you can reclaim your life and get back to the things you want to be thinking, doing, and becoming. I’m obsessed with overcoming the mental blockers that try to keep me down – and I think it’s been a big piece of my personal success. Which is why I thought this little nugget might help.

ENTER: Lewis Howes.

My good friend Lewis Howes was in the studio shooting his newest CreativeLive course last week and I was able to snag him for a few minutes to chat about his new book and his amazingly simple, yet powerful process for reclaiming our lives and live our biggest dreams. In this episode, Lewis shares a powerful experience from his life and how- on reflection – it helped him overcome his biggest obstacles in achieving his biggest dreams for himself. Lucky for us, Lewis breaks this process down into TWO simple steps, and gives us an action plan for moving through our blockers. He calls the exercise his “Perfect Day Exercise” and it looks like this:

1. Create a Big Vision

What’s one thing that we clearly have the ability to do as kids that we usually LOSE as adults? Easy. The ability, or rather comfort, with dreaming big. As adults, our wildest dreams are tempered by a lot of other messages we get in life (mortgage, job, family, responsibility, etc – sound familiar?) and that can often cloud the real vision we want for ourselves. To break through this blocker, and to get clarity, Lewis prescribes the following… First, go out into nature. Not like a climbing expedition to Everest, we’re talking just spend 30-60 minutes outside. In a park, on a beach, under a tree, at the table out in front of your favorite coffee shop… and envision your wildest dreams. Dream big. It’s a creative exercise. Do not limit yourself and in the process, picture your PERFECT DAY. Think about all the things that you want in life — without limits. Be detailed. Think about the people you’re spending time with, where you’re traveling, the food, the experience, how you’re feeling, what you’re creating … dream big and don’t feel guilty about it. Then write.this.down. This is key, because even if you have 100 reasons why your big dream cannot happen, there is power in taking the first step… writing it down.

2. Create a Daily Itinerary

Thing 2…is once you have a vision, create a fantasy daily itinerary outlining blocks of time will fit into your big vision in to every day little steps. What would you do every day? What would your day look like if you wanted to live those big hairy dreams you thought up in step 1. Now be careful not to over think this part. This should be easy. Imagine big blocks of time for what you want most. Some small block for other stuff you love. Get in touch with yourself. And again – WRITE IT DOWN.

3. Baby Steps – but Get to WORK

From this simple recipe you now literally have the basic outline of how to get out of that rut you’re in. You should ideally be energized because you’ve literally just created V1 of your outline to a new life. NOW… start integrating those things, those moments… first something that just takes 15 minutes, then something that takes 30 minutes… then keep pushing. It’s super simple stuff I know, but if you are intentional with your calendar you will start seeing small progress to the things you want to be doing. How do I know this? Because I’ve done it. Countless times in my life I’ve used this technique to get unstuck from stuff in my life… be they small or large…it works. I even share a simple example in the video.

Setting an intention starts with a dream. Then writing it down makes it a little more real. Scheduling time give you a space to start to live it…and before you know it, you’re on your way.

So this little nugget of goodness and a bunch more is in Lewis’ new book, The School of Greatness which drops TODAY! Check it out – and buy it via that page I just linked to and receive some special prizes along with your order. He also has two awesome CreativeLive courses online, Start Your Profitable Podcast and How to Build and Online Business. Both are baller.

Links from the Episode

The School of Greatness Book
The School of Greatness Podcast
Connect with Lewis Howes [ website | facebook | twitter ]

What’s Covered

Who is this guy [0:38]
The key to success [1:13]
How to get unstuck. Where this idea comes from [1:37]
The Perfect Day Exercise: [2:10]
Step 1: Dream Big [3:15]
Step 2: Create an Itinerary [5:29]
The Recap [6:35]
My results by planning my day [6:51]
The School of Greatness Book [7:30]
The School of Greatness Podcast [7:36]

Virtual Reality + I Answer 5 Questions on the #AskGaryVee Shoooooow

Hey friends — quick blog post coming to you from NYC. Just wrapped an episode with my man Gary Vaynerchuk. Episode 154… wowza. I’m sure you remember him from one of my most popular #cjLIVE episodes back in 2013. It was great to connect. Thanks for having me on the shoooooow! Here’s a brief recap of the Q&A:

Let's get into the shooooow. #AskGaryVee

Q: If I pursue what I think my passion is, but don’t come close to achieving what I want, will I have wasted my time?

You gotta follow your heart, and that’s never a waste of time. I spent the beginnings of life trying to do the things people wanted me but it was all crap. There’s only one thing, and that’s doing what you’re supposed to be doing in the world.

Gary brought up a good point, which is you also need to be real with yourself. If you want to be a needlepoint expert, but you want to make 10 millions dollars, those things just don’t line up. Gary said it best … reverse engineer yourself so you don’t have regrets. I’m a strong believer that we all have the answer inside ourselves. Do what you know you should be doing and if you’re not sure what that is, experiment until you do.

Q: Would you rather time travel 100 years into the past or 100 into the future and why?

Easy one. If I know everything I know now, then I’d definitely go backwards to capitalize on that. If I don’t know everything, then I’d go forward.

Q: In episode 122 you say at 22 to 24 don’t settle. What is the settling age? I thought you should never settle?

There’s living in the cloud of dreams, and there’s practicality. Sometimes the fact that you need to pay rent, eat, or other responsibilities cuts into making those dreams happen and you might decide to “settle”. But I think if you are serious about following your heart, you’ll use that practicality as a motivator to start doing the work. Nothing like doing the thing you hate to motivate you to do what’s necessary to make your dreams happen.

Q: Would you say the “T” in timing is way more important than the “T” in talent?

Hands down, talent. Though I truly believe there is no “talent” without (also) hard work to cultivate it. Your ability to do a thing, or as Gary mentions knowing when to do a thing, is all about talent. Timing or luck doesn’t win over the long haul.

Q: Star Wars or Star Trek? Or both?
Ahhh. I gotta say Star Wars here.

Fun times. Hope you found some nuggets of value in this. To close out the show, in #AskGaryVee style, my question of the day was …. Do you see virtual reality becoming popular in the next 24 months? Drop me a line in the comments below. As always, love to hear your thoughts.

My Morning Routine: 6 Things I Do (Almost) Every Day That Make for A Happy + Productive Day [#cjRAW 07]

FIRST: I believe deeply that our actions cultivate our mindset and – in turn – our mindset determines our life / success / outcome.

Experience tells me this. Whether from my background in art or sports or…hell…anything. As a result, I’ve long been paying attention to the habits (read: actions) that I do on a regular basis…which ones benefit me and which ones do not. In line with this, I’ve come to understand that a key subset of the days that feel the best and are my most productive, all have a certain similarity. For one, they are intentional. I’m in the driver’s seat for my life. Thing two, from the moment I wake up to when I’m out the door, I’ve found that when I do a certain / rough set of 6 particular things, my days are waaaaay more creative, joyful, and productive. In turn, this makes my personal, emotional, and professional life better as well.

So I’ve whipped up a quick video above (shot in my kitchen) to outline these 6 things, the WHY behind these 6 things, plus a handful of add-ons that are like frosting on the cake of my day. My goal isn’t to be prescriptive in this list (have a bunch of things you do every morning? Pls share in the comments!), rather my aim is to tell you what I’VE come to know helps me crush…and be a better person. Do I miss some of these things every day? Absolutely. I’m so far from perfect with this stuff, it’s laughable, but the fact remains that I put a lot of effort into kicking off my day with these few things. So without further ado, here’s my listicle with a bit of additional context for good measure….

#1. Sleep

It’s hard to say this is a morning routine thing, because it’s really PRE morning routine, but it’s so critical to ensure I kick off my day right that I had to put it here as number one.

For a long time – I’m talking YEARS – I was a person who certainly wasn’t afraid of espousing that I didn’t need a lot of sleep. I probably went about 10 years on about 5-6 hours of sleep per night. I felt like it was genetic and I had a ton of energy (which is true), but one holiday season a couple years ago, as an experiment, I headed to Hawaii and decided to have ZERO schedule on vacation. What would it be like to literally let my body sleep as long as it wanted. Knowing that I’m not a huge sleep lover, I wasn’t afraid of the negative side of oversleeping…I was just going to let this one play out. I even used earplugs as an aid, borrowed from lots of airplane experience. The result? Holy cow. I slept 14 hours a day for 6 nights in succession. And it wasn’t the sleep that actually felt “good”. It was the in between times. I felt smarter. Happier. More creative. etc etc. You get it. In short, I felt completely different then I had the previous 6-8 weeks I was working 20 hours a day. Since that holiday season, I’ve started tracking my sleep and aim to say in bed for 8 hours a day. Right now some of you are saying “WTF?! Not possible. I’ve got X or Y or couldn’t do this because ABC [list all your reasons].” Fine. I get it. But I’m just telling you what I’ve been up to for the last 18 months, what the science says, and what I’ve been able to accomplish through some intentional effort. I can’t say that I’m perfect – there are still lots of nights I don’t get 5 hours of sleep, let alone 8 hours bed, but I gotta confess that getting more sleep has dramatically helped me.

#2. Drink Water

Considering the human body is around 60% water, it’s no wonder that drinking at least 64oz a day can make you feel better. I kick off my day by drinking 20oz of cold ass water. Why cold? It’s good for you. . Just try it over the next few weeks. I guarantee you’ll feel better, you’re skin will look better, and your body will literally just run better.

#3. Meditate

I’ve been on record for several years now sharing my experiences with meditation. Meditation and the resulting benefits, have probably been the biggest game-changers for me as an adult. Throughout my life I’ve tried a few different methods with differing degrees of “success” but it wasn’t until I found Transcendental Meditation that I really felt like I was receiving the greatest benefit. Again – I’m not aiming to be preachy here – just sharing what’s worked for me. It’s perhaps also worth noting that I am not at all religious in the classic sense. I consider myself spiritual (think that we are all connected and that life is a magical thing and the world a magical place), but I don’t look at meditation as a woo-woo thing, or a religious thing, or anything other than a healthy practice that connects our physical + mental worlds in a meaningful way. Again, I’m not advocating you use TM specifically — there are a lot of different methods out there …but it’s been hugely beneficial in my life and worth trying if you haven’t already. The science also, finally agrees with the thousands of years of practice, that meditation increases creativity, reduces stress, adds clarity and focus, and a lot of joy to the lives of many people the world over.

#4. Gratitude and/or Visualization

After meditation, each morning I can, I’ll go into a 1-5 minute gratitude and visualization practice. For gratitude, it’s not always being thankful for the big things, like grateful for my wife, my family, my career, health… but small things too, like a great run I had. The roof over my head. Even for the opportunity to experience fear or pain as a part of the richness of what it means to be human. From there, I turn my attention from gratitude toward briefly visualizing what I want for myself — in my day, week, month, or life. It might be related to the day, a problem I have to solve or a thing I want to be better at. I visualize – sometimes getting as deep into it as possible around other sensations, like feelings, smells, etc, what it would be like to have accomplished my smallest tasks or my biggest goals. This practice most certainly stems from my past as a competitive athlete (I played nearly every sport offered in school incessantly, grew up skateboarding, riding bikes, skiing, climbing, etc, even went to college on a soccer scholarship, was selected for youth US Olympic Development teams etc). In some of those higher end programs I was able to participate in earlier in life, we had mental coaches as well as our typical head coach…. and those coaches really helped us practice and understand the value of visualization. Overall, it was so powerful that I’ve carried that practice forward into my personal and professional lives with some success. Ultimately, IMHO, the combo of gratitude + visualization can be incredibly powerful medicine.

#5. Eat

Some version of breakfast is also an important element of my day. I almost never leave with house without eating something. With a busy day ahead, we need fuel to keep us going. What kind of food, how much food, etc can vary on a variety of circumstances, but depending on how much time I have, I subscribe to a few different programs… my fav thing to do is eat some protein + some vegetable down the hatch within 30 minutes of waking. This is a trick I learned from pal Tim Ferriss. But I also have a few other stand-ins, if having the perfect breakfast it tough. For example, if I’m in a hurry, then I might just go with getting some good fats in my body, like a half an avocado, or a teaspoon of coconut oil and some almonds. Or another quickie solution might be a protein shake + a spoonful of coconut oil. I occasionally dabble in the Bulletproof coffee schtick professed by Dave Asprey (his killer CreativeLive class is here) the rare times when I’m eating lighter. But my overall POV is that getting some clean (ie not processed and not bloaty carbs) in the morning is a good thing.

#6. Move

Lastly, I love to start my day by getting my blood flowing. Note that this does not need to be a big deal. My “blood moving” criteria is quite a low threshold. Yes, that might be a quick 3-mile run, but it also might simply be a brisk 1/2 mile walk to the coffee shop up the street. If I’m on the road and living out of a hotel as I often do, I will tolerate a treadmill or an elliptical trainer, but 9 out of 10 times my far an away preference is to get outside. Moving my body and connecting with fresh air, whether its in rain or shine, is a huge catalyst to my day. Again, it’s not really about burning calories at all…the main thing is to get the blood pumping, get the body moving and the brain engaged.

So that’s the baseline… but now here are a few quick hits of bonus material. These are a little nuanced, but since so many of you have asked about my morning routine, I thought I’d add some more meat on the bone for those that want it.

Bonus Stuff

Some other things I like to do:

  • END IT COLD :: I mentioned above that cold is good for you. Science says it, and my body agrees. How do I get my dose? Well, at the end of my normal shower, I like to turn the water to ice cold for the last minute. As cold as the shower will go. Sometime this is so cold it makes me laugh out loud. Eye poppingly cold. Shivering cold, cold cold. It’s uncomfortable for about 10 seconds… but then, wow, it gets you awake real quick. Something changes. It kicks my physiology into a different gear and brings about feelings of well being and joy. (it should be noted that I hated cold water with a passion for the previous 20 years. Now I can’t get enough.
  • MAKE MY BED — Learned this from my wife Kate, who picked up the practice at a zen monastery she spent a little time at… I’m not militant about this, but it’s a nice thing to feel organized and get an early check off the ‘ol list. It removes clutter from my mind as well. It’s tidy. Most of me isn’t tidy, but it’s nice when my bed is.
  • BRUSH THEM TEETH — let’s not forget hygiene. But I don’t say the obvious here just so you don’t get rot mouth or go breathing some nasty mouth on your friends… I say this because I love the feeling of a Sonicare toothbrush on my teeth. Again, it’s the little pleasures. ;)

So that’s about it. My morning routine takes me 90 minutes or less. I intentionally organize my schedule to protect this time. Yes. Life happens, and sometimes you over sleep, you have to be somewhere, that gremlin in your head is telling you a billion things to do…. I just try get the most of these things as I can and that helps me start the day in a positive way.

WRAPUP – So What’s Explicitly on my DO NOT DO list?

Checking my effing email. Do not check your email in the first bit of your day if you can at all help it. Rarely are there work things in your life that have to happen in the hours between 6 and 8am. Email is usually simply a petition for your time and attention, that doesn’t require there to be any real NEED for that petition. This is why I’m as militant as possible, to wake up at a decent time and bang out my morning routine without getting sidetracked. It’s worth noting perhaps that even after I get my morning routine wrapped up, the first thing I do STILL isn’t check my email. I try to first attack the most important thing on my list for that day — that one domino that I can tip over which, if accomplished, will a) help me consider the day a success and b) likely tips other dominos over or remove them all together.

Again – video notes below if its helpful. Thank you for sharing this info with people you love or who need to see this stuff. Let me know what you do in the comments here or on any of my social channels – i read it all. Gratitude and much respect…

Links from the Episode

Transendental Meditation
Blue Bonnet Whey Protein
The 4-Hour Life: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise

What’s Covered

Kick your day off right [0:44]

1. Sleep [1:06]

2. Drink Water [2:06]

2.5 Dexter the Cat [2:29]

3. Meditation [2:35]

4. Gratitude Practice & Visualization [3:11]

5. Eat [3:52]

6. Move [5:09]

Why a morning routine is important [5:37]

Bonus Material:
–Cold Shower [6:25]
–Make my bed [6:41]
–Brush your teeth! [6:52]

What would you like to see in future episodes [7:02]

People Mentioned

Tim Ferris

Photo Backpack Genius — Keep Your Camera + Lens Gear Secure [ChaseJarvis RAW #06]

PROBLEM: I can’t count how many times I’ve seen this classic scene: you’ve walked away from your gear bag, not paying close attention and someone goes to move it and OOPS … the bag LOOKED closed, but it was actually still open and now sh*t is going everywhere. You’ve got $2,000 lenses bouncing on the concrete..

SOLUTION: Here’s an very simple tip that will increase your on-location camera bag kung fu skills and make sure this stupid mistake never happens to you. NEVER. In short, there are only two states when setting your gear bag / pelican / backpack down…

cjRAW Episode 06: Photo Tip to avoid damaged gear on location

STATE 1 — OPEN so you can access gear quickly
cjRAW Episode 06: If your backpack is open, make sure it's visibly open to prevent camera gear damage

STATE 2 — Closed AND Zipped
cjRAW Episode 06: If your backpack is closed, make sure it's zipped shut to prevent camera gear damage

NEVER And I mean NEVER leave your bag, your backpack, your Pelican case, your laptop case….NEVER leave anything closed and unzipped. Why? Put bluntly, if you’re working with a crew or assistant or a world in which someone besides YOU (or hell i’ve even seen amateur photographers do this to themselves…)they won’t mistakenly try to move your bag while it’s still open and risk your gear falling out. Trust me – I’ve seen this 100 times…. cjRAW Episode 06: Protect your camera gear by keeping your gear bag closed and zipped

Thank me in the comments.

#Hugs and best of luck out there.

In This Episode, I Reviewed YOUR Photos [ChaseJarvisRAW #05 is here!]

Hey all — Another glorious episode of cjRAW is here! Can I just say that I’m having so much fun making all this content – and to be back on my game! Thank you for all your well wishes, support and sharing.

Also thank you for the oodles of comments & photo submissions across my social channels for photo critique! Given your overwhelming response, I decided to not just review one, but SEVEN photos. And even if your photo was not selected, I bet dollars to donuts you’ll find some tasty tidbits to consider the next time you pull out your camera.

And- oh – be sure to hang tight to the end of the episode as well…as I’ll discuss how you can get your photos reviewed on the show in future episodes AND some ways easy peasy ways to get other people to chime in and evolve your work through constructive feedback.

In the meantime – here’s just a sample list of stuff I discuss when reviewing your images in this episode… (LMK in the comments what’s working for you and what you’d like me to do differently next time).

Zero in on Your Subject

Every shot tells a story. The most powerful photos zero in on their subject by removing the less important details that distract from it. Use composition, light, natural lines, focus & blur, to direct the eye to the elements more important and remove the rest.

Consider Body Position

If the subject of your shot is moving through the frame, take a look at their body position. If they are the subject of your photo,  you’d ideally want to see the majority of the athlete, or a really nice shape that creates visual interest & context.

Placement of subjects in a photo

Look for opportunities for your subjects to stand out from their surroundings through camera angle or position. Ideally, try to keep them separated from the background so they are not lost or engulfed by other elements. Make sure they don’t intersect with the background in weird ways…(i.e. stuff sticking out of the subject’s head.)

Use the rule of thirds

A simple, yet powerful tool that can affect the tone and balance of your photo. Artistic choice comes into play by either employing it or breaking it. Lines, for example, can frame a subject, draw the eye toward convergence or create tensions through a blocking or cutting off feeling.

Wide Angle Lenses

Use of a wide angle lens can cause distortion on the outer edges of your frame. If used in a scene with humans, the side-effect could be distortion of their bodies. You can minimize this by avoiding to place your subject near the edge of frame – and/or use photo editing software to digitally correct for this.

And there’s a bunch more goodness buried in the video. Dig in and LMK what you think.

Links from the Episode

My CreativeLive Course Pick of the Week: The Power of Body Language, Vanessa Van Edwards [14:37]

This is not directly photo related, but it’s something every photographer can use -> Social queues and techniques through subtle body language can help you communicate more effectively in client meetings, negotiations, and more.


What’s Covered

The Idea [0:27]

Karan Jeebun [1:03]

Crop the photo [1:17]
Remove other distracting elements [1:59]

Blake Johnson [2:34]

Initial Reaction [2:45]
Strive for tack focus in panning moves [3:15]
Body Positioning [3:44]

Bram Berkein [4:20]

Initial Reaction [4:39]
Hide the light source behind an object to avoid over exposure [5:18]
Subject Placement [5:47]

Krassy Dimitrov [6:11]

Initial Reaction [6:22]
Rule of Thirds [6:36]
Shoot what’s comfortable to the eye[7:14]

Preston Gervais[7:38]

Initial Reaction [8:16]
Show just enough detail [8:33]

Udell Jimenez [8:55]

Initial Reaction [9:02]
Using a wide angle lens [9:21]
Composition + Use of Triangles [9:59]
Exposure [10:18]
Storytelling [10:30]

Veronica Domeier [11:10]

Initial Reaction [11:23]
Composition [11:58]
Remove anything that competes with the main subject [12:17]
Exposure [12:31]

How to Get More Feedback Like This:

  1. Watch for future cjRAW opportunities [12:55]
  2. Your Trusted Circle [13:13]
  3. Trusted Source Online, Workshops, Courses [13:32]
  4. Professional Reviewers [13:56]

People Mentioned

Tim Ferriss
Casey Neistat
Michael Kenna
Zack Arias
Vincent Laforet
Sue Bryce
Chris Burkhard

3 Tips for Shooting Photos + Protecting Your Gear in Bad Weather, Rain + Snow [ChaseJarvisRAW #04 is in the House]

Most people don’t know this, but bad weather often means great (interesting) photos. So I almost never shy away from it. BUT I’ve heard LOTS of you whining rightly worrying about your camera gear when working outdoors in the yuck. Truth be told – I totally get it. The gear is spendy and unless you’re an active pro photog or…rich…you want to be careful.. Sooooo, based on your asking, I thought I’d address this challenge with a tip or three and a couple of affordable hacks that’ll help you stay outside and get the shot.

1. Get weather-sealed pro cameras that can keep out rain, dust, and other elements. I know they’re spendy as hell. But this is where that extra $ pays off in spades. They work. And when they stop working…they’ll usually fire right back up when they dry out…

2. The hack. Don’t want to spend the big bucks on the pro cameras, and you just got a “normal” dSLR. I get it. There’s nothing quite like the shower cap to suit most of your needs. Srsly. Check the vid.

3. OK OK, so you found a way to work outside but your lens got super nasty wet….and you’re getting streaky pictures and blowing thru lens cloths like it ain’t no thing? Here’s then how you PROPERLY clean your lens. (take it from me…)

Links from the Episode

Gear I use. This is the pro stuff

Music “You Can Have It” by Fresh Espresso:

BTW, CreativeLive is a good resource.

What’s Covered

Working with weather sealed cameras [0:39]

The Shower Cap [1:36]

Drying a nasty wet lens [2:22]

ChaseJarvisRAW #03 — How I Learn ANY SKILL + How You Can Too [plus, get me to review YOUR photos]

People ask me all the time if there’s one thing that’s changed my life the most, what is it?

No question it’s the ability to learn quickly…new skills whether they be for life, hobby, or career… Life long learning is quite literally what has created anything I would consider a classic “success” in my life. SO… In today’s episode of #cjRAW I break down my own learning process into 3 clear, easily repeatable steps. And then I go DEEP into each one of these steps…how to overcome some potential pitfalls, and how to stay on track.

    1. Getting Started – Use your curiosity about a topic to dig in & explore. More importantly get out and start doing. Doing something is better than nothing. It can spark new ideas, inspirations, and motivations that can help propel you forward.
    2. Mentors – Find relevant mentors through your community, people you follow or who inspire you, or via a scaled model where you can learn online…like
    3. Practice – This is core to getting better at anything. Rinse, wash, repeat. BUT it matters HOW you practice and with whom (details in the vid…).

Again, hope you enjoy the video where I break down all of the above steps into subcategories of their own, and then piece it all back together in a system for you. This is LITERALLY how I’ve learned to do almost anything in my life…from photography, to learning to take care of myself, my personal health, learning how to speak French, to learning how to direct moving pictures. It’s all in this little system.

REMINDER: If you’ve ever wanted me to review your work, here’s a chance. For an upcoming episode of #cjRAW, I’m reviewing your photos! Submit a link to (1) photo in the comments below or wherever you see this video by EOD 9/22 and I’ll pick some for review. (BTW I chat about it in just a little more detail here in today’s episode.) This is now closed for submission. Thanks for all the zillions of submissions! My crew and I are busy sorting out which of the submitted images I will review in an upcoming episode.

Links from the Episode

CreativeLive:  ⟶ Award winning online education. Check it out for education on Photography, Design, Audio, Crafts and Money/Life classes.

The world’s largest photo education week is happening right now. FREE to watch live, only pay for it if you want to own it…(and not gonna lie – it’s an amazing steal of a price. 30 lesson from top instructors for $199). It’s called Photo Week and it’s happening right NOW.

Music “You Can Have It” by Fresh Espresso:

What’s Covered

Getting Started [0:44]

Curiosity & Doing [1:26]
Inspiration [2:16]

Mentors [2:53]

Community [3:29]
Individuals [4:36]
Scaled Mentorship [5:57]

Practice [7:20]

Deconstruct / Reconstruct [7:47]
Repeat [8:36]
Iterate / Fail Fast [9:12]

CreativeLive PhotoWeek – Jump in! Join the Conversation. [6:20, 11:17]

Have your photo reviewed by me! Drop me a link [11:41]

People Mentioned

Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

Malcom Gladwell, Outliers / (re: 10,000 hours to skill mastery)

Ira Glass, The Creative Gap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is a quest ever really over?

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

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

What’s your next quest?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Chase Jarvis Ice Bucket Challenge BTS

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

To be clear we were just goofing from a production standpoint, but since there was some cinematic playfulness and we used a bit of photo tech for my icy challenge, I got a bunch of questions / comments from readers asking me to detail our production. So here’s a quick breakdown, including approach, gear, setup, settings + video editing, complete with BTS photos and a final parting shot. Follow-up questions & comments welcome…

First, since time and resources were limited we resolved to keep this shoot as low weight as possible. So even though we busted out some fun toys, the whole thing — concept, setup, shoot, edit, and post to the internet — took place in a matter of hours.

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

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

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

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

chase jarvis diagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

chase jarvis als ice bucket

And again…

12 Secrets for Unlocking Your Most Creative Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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