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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is a quest ever really over?

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

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

What’s your next quest?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#Love.

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

Chase Jarvis Ice Bucket Challenge BTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

chase jarvis diagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

chase jarvis als ice bucket

And again…

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Hang Out! WIN a Meeting with Me + $500 in Camera Gear + 2 Classes from CreativeLive

UPDATE: The contest has ended and a winner has been randomly selected! And the winner is… David Arthur! David: send us an email to production@chasejarvis.com to claim your prize and get that consult scheduled. Everyone else: thank you so much for entering! As always, we’ll do more contests in the future for you to win some rad prizes, so make sure to keep checking in.

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Since I started writing this blog in 2006, I’ve always emphasized creativity and education over gear. You’ve heard me say “the best camera is the one you have with you” (ahem…) once or twice. I’ve handed the microphone to friends like Ramit and Tim to help me shout from the mountaintops that a new fancy camera is NOT one of your photography business essentials.

But while ideas and education trump gear, gear is not irrelevant. I’m 110% aware how easy it is for me to preach creativity over the camera when I’m slinging the latest goodies – D4s, Hasselblads, and an Alexa. The right gear HAS actually made many of my photos, videos, etc possible. Literally.

It’s perhaps then, fair to say that progress in one’s photography career / path takes a combo of 3 things. Ideas, education AND some basic minimum of gear.

SSSOOOOOOOOOO…. It’s with all that in mind that I’m kicking off a contest/sweepstakes TODAY that packs all 3 of those things together. Yours truly, along with my friends at Adorama and CreativeLive are each contributing prizes — all 3 prizes which will go to one winner. That can you be you.

WHAT THE WINNER GETS.
1. A personal consult with Chase Jarvis. Yes, a 60 minute Skype, Google Hangout or phone call with yours truly. We can talk about whatever you want to discuss: creative ideas, business ideas, portfolio review, the World Cup — whatever — you name it, I’m yours.

2. Gear. Adorama is kicking in $500 cash (gift card) toward anything on their site. Grab a new iPhone for mobile photography OR apply that $500 to that Canon 5D that you’ve always wanted.

3. Education. CreativeLive is kicking in 2 free classes — online education from the world’s best experts in photo & video education. There’s also business, design, audio courses and more. Learn from Pulitzer Prize winning photographers, Emmy nominated directors, New York Times Bestselling authors. 2 courses valued at $149 each will be yours — for free.

SO, HOW DO YOU WIN? To help wrangle this giveaway, we’re going back to our favorite 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 (tweeting, sharing, reading posts etc)

To enter just fill in your info below and follow along. And note: this giveaway is live TODAY all the way through the 7th of July. Winner will be announced on July 8th via my social feed and email. Feedback welcome on the widget if you have any.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to all who enter. I can’t wait to chat it up with the winner.

[In the meantime, to start your gearmouth a salivating ... you gear-heads can check out this post: Don't Leave Home Without It Gear Kit.]

How to Charge What You’re Worth — Which is 3 to 10x More Than You’re Getting Today [with Ramit Sethi]

Ok, first thing first…if you’ve already made the move OR are even CONSIDERING turning your passion for photography (or video, or design, or writing or whatever) into a business, do your future self a solid and start following Ramit Sethi, right NOW. Visit his website. Read his blog. Sign up wherever it tells you to sign up. Because Ramit will teach you more about the business side of this industry than you thought you needed to know. His style direct, you’ll get tough love, but he’s great at helping us creatives (eg he has helped me more with my business chops than anyone else) get to where we need to be. He’s been on #cjLIVE before and he’s also shared some thoughts on raising rates.

But today he’s back by popular demand to share a simple one-two approach to setting your prices and upping your earning potential. Pencils ready? Okay, take it away Ramit.

Thanks, Chase.

I recently asked a photographer how she came up with her pricing. She said, “Well… I researched my competition and found that they had similar services, so I charged what they were charging.”

Does that sound familiar? Or worse, do you know people who charge less to “undercut” the competition or “get more business?

Here’s the problem with using “me-too” pricing: You’re signaling to your potential clients that you’re the same as everyone else. Why would they choose you when they can always find someone else charging $10 less?

How can some photographers charge 5x, 10x, even 100x what others do? Are they 100x more talented? Do they have 100x more experience? 100x better equipment?

No! The reason they can charge more is simple: Of course they’re good, but good isn’t enough. They’ve learned to position their services as a premium product. Today, I’ll show you how you can, too.

Step 1: Think like your client
Start by asking yourself, “What are my client’s top 3 problems? What are their concerns when hiring a photographer?” The equipment you use probably isn’t in their top 100 problems.

Clients care about themselves and their problems. By taking the time to make your proposal client-focused, you’re already ahead of 90% of your competition.

In an 90-minute interview I did with Chase, we cover tons of examples on how to use this idea. See the 24:00 minute mark where I share exactly how to “read their mind” using a simple technique you can do in the next 5 minutes.

Once you’re in your client’s head and can address their burning needs, price becomes a mere triviality.

THIS is how some creative people can charge 2x, 5x, even 20x what others charge. Yes, they’ve honed their skills, but being good isn’t enough. They know how to focus on their clients, not just their equipment.

Step 2: Use these words to say “no” to low-value clients
One key is learning how to be confident in your own value. Part of getting paid more is believing you’re actually worth more and saying NO to low-paying jobs. Sometimes, we feel grateful for ANY job, especially when we love what we do. This leads to accepting less than you know you’re worth.

The truth is, you’ll get more clients and better clients who respect and value what you do if you’re confident and stick to your rates. Check out this tested word-for-word script to see what I mean:

CLIENT: “What’s your hourly rate?”

YOU: “I’ve actually changed my business so I only do weekly engagements now. This helps me deliver more in-depth results (for example, helping a recent client do ____). The rate for that is $X per week, and that includes A, B, and C.”

CLIENT: “Can’t we just get you for a few hours?”

YOU: “Unfortunately not. I’d love to help but I focus on high-value projects, and those typically take a minimum of a week to understand and execute. The good news is I’ve never had a client who wasn’t happy with the results, even if they originally wanted me for just a few hours. And based on everything you’ve told me, we definitely have more than enough work to keep ourselves busy during that timeframe. The potential upside of Project X is very large.”

CLIENT: “OK, fine. Um… could you do $Y per week instead?”

YOU: “I typically don’t discount my rates except in special cases. If $Y is your budget, I’d be willing do it only if we were to remove either B or C from the project scope. Which would you prefer?”

CLIENT: “Never mind, we can do $X.”

YOU: “Great! I’ll follow up with you soon with next steps.”

Do you see what happened there? Many of us fear we’ll scare away clients by charging premium prices. In fact, low prices are a bigger red flag in your clients mind. Sticking to your higher rate communicates that you’re more valuable than the competition, so the client will lean toward hiring you.

You can even add value to your current clients while raising your rates. The key is to create a win-win situation for you and the client.

Check out this video on how to raise your rates and thrill the client, including a word-for-word script you can use when telling your client about the new rate. You’ll learn:

  • 1:00 — The 3 things you must tell your clients about a rate change
  • 2:07 — How to get clients excited about the upcoming changes (even if it includes a rate increase)
  • 2:30 — A simple way to ensure your clients love you, even if you have to part ways

So how did a graphic designer convince me to pay more? Instead of focusing on design-specific concerns like typography and alignment, he nailed my primary concerns as a client. Click here to find out exactly what those were in an interview I did on pricing here.

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For more information and help with negotiating your rates and navigating the ins and outs of creative business, check out Ramit’s CreativeLive course, Money + Business For Creatives. Make sure also to check out Ted Leonhardt‘s course on Negotiation for Creatives, Ann Rea‘s course Make Money Making Art, and CreativeLive’s entire catalog of business courses for creatives.

Master Your Fear & Find Your Voice [with My Homie Tim Ferriss]


Okay, so maybe you haven’t created your New York Times Best Seller that’s sold millions of copies, and maybe you haven’t won the Chinese kickboxing championship or hold the Guinness Record for most consecutive tango spins, but there’s one all-important thing that you have in common with my pal Tim Ferriss….fear.

You might think a wildly successful author and innovator doesn’t experience fear like a “normal person,” but as Tim revealed here, it’s exactly that emotion that is at the heart of his success. Of all the liquid gold Tim shared with me there are 3 important subjects that stood out. I mined these shiny gems to present here with some “homework,” to get you moving in the right direction.

1. Mastering fear: fear is a creativity killer
2. Finding your voice: your voice is a creativity stimulus
3. Giving it away: sharing your knowledge is essential to your professional growth

Here’s the first of three exchanges we had on these topics:

1. Defining Your Fear

CJ: I think it’s really, really important for the folks at home to know about your take on fear. It’s basically useful in any genre of any pursuit or passion. Talk to me about how you view fear, because there’s so much fear in the photo industry. People are afraid to make mistakes. They’re afraid to get called out. They’re afraid to do shitty work. They’re afraid to be called out on something and a lot of that keeps creative people in a little shell.

Tim Ferris (TF): Fear is a real driver, and it has been for me as well, in the past, whether it was in athletics or writing or academia, whatever it might have been. I realized that it’s a driver based on risk, and that’s when people define risk or should define risk as the possibility of an irreversible negative outcome. What I mean by that is just like most people fail to achieve their goals because they are poorly defined, most people are prevented from doing things based on fear because it’s poorly defined.

[We've all been told a thousand times that goals become infinitely more achievable when they have been written down in as much detail as possible. Defined goals are reachable goals. But defined fear? This was something new.]

TF: So what I tend to do if I find myself paralyzed or indecisive, is I’ll write down all the worst-case scenarios. I mean really get high def in the absolute specific worst-case scenarios. Then the second column is…anything I could do to prevent those specific items. Then, if they happen, what I could do to reverse those or minimize the damage from each of those outcomes. You find once you do that that the worst-case scenarios are very seldom as bad as you have envisioned.

It’s just the nebulous, dark phantasm of a bad outcome that prevents you from taking action. What you actually realize: oh, worst-case scenario, I go back to my last job. Worst-case scenario, I take a part-time job doing this. Worst-case scenario, I have to suck it up for a month or to do twice as much work with that one client I don’t like, and then this. Then it really doesn’t seem as scary and you can actually move ahead with it.

Brilliant. Actionable.

Just like most people fail to achieve their goals because they are poorly defined, most people are prevented from doing things based on fear because it’s poorly defined.

Your Homework on #1

You’re probably sitting on a great idea right now. Maybe it’s a short film project that requires you to quit the desk job and start an indiegogo campaign. Maybe it’s a photojournalism road trip across America documenting classic diners. It doesn’t matter. The point is you’re sitting on it. Why? Fear, probably. Right?

If this is you, here’s what you do:
List ALL the possible worst-case scenarios. be specific and then for each scenario list all the possible steps you can take to prevent that scenario.

Doesn’t look so bad anymore, does it? Boom!
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2. Finding Your Voice

When he set out to write 4-Hour Workweek, Tim knew he had great ideas, but we all have great ideas, right? For an author (or would-be author, as the case was for Tim) the challenge was turning those ideas into actionable advice and doing so in an authentic way. In other words, he had to find his voice. Turns out Tim’s approach is applicable across many disciplines:

TF: I first ended up with this really pompous like Princetonian shtick that I was doing. Shit, too. Like four or five-syllable words. That was horrible, so I scrapped it, and then I went to like Looney Toons/Three Stooges slapstick, which was also horrible. Scrapped that. So I threw away four, five chapters and had two glasses of wine and sat down and said I’m going to write this like I would write an email to my best friends. That’s how it started. That’s how I found my voice.

Great approach, right? Stop burdening yourself with the prospect of a worldwide audience. Present your work as if to your friends. This applies to writers, photographers, musicians, etc. You’ll be lest apt to force a voice that isn’t yours, and you’ll probably be less apt to see your creative cogs seize up under the pressure. If you have true and trusted friends, I’m betting the bank that you already have an authentic voice within that circle. Use THAT voice to tell your story, whatever it is.

Your Homework for #2

Look back through social posts, photos, your work etc. that you shared with or sent to friends and family and find the little ticks and tickles that are truly unique to your vision, your special sauce, your mojo. Now apply this to your future work.

Sounds simple, but it’s harder than you think. But you’ll thank me (us) when it’s done.
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3. Give [Some of] It Away

To a large extent we photographers make our living because of intellectual property rights. The idea of putting our best work on Flickr without our rights reserved is antithetical to what we know—or think we know—as businesspeople.

But Tim made a great point about releasing some of your best work “into the wild” even though there’s no promise and very little prospect for being paid for it. It’s about getting eyeballs on it:

TF: I have a friend, Eben Pagan, a really fascinating guy who’s built up a very successful online content business…and he talks about moving the free line. Meaning giving away, in many cases, your best content as a way to introduce people to your work and to drive people back to your other work. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone onto Flickr and found a photograph—now I’m not saying that everything needs to be Creative Commons—but I’ve wanted to introduce someone’s photograph to a few million people and I choose not to, of course, because it’s all rights reserved. Instead I go to Creative Commons search and then sort by most interesting and I always find amazing stuff. But I always credit and if you were to simply take let’s say two or three of your best pieces and make them Creative Commons, then people like me, and there are plenty of them, hundreds of them, would be able to use that to help promote you.

CJ: Yeah, and you know there’s a big, there’s a big discussion that’s been going on for years now, again, historically photography’s been a fear-based protective, very closed loop, because intellectual property is how photographers make their living. So that’s been a very dicey conversation, and I’ve been at the middle of it several times. I remember five or six years ago talking about Creative Commons with Larry Lessig…as the marketplace unfolds and emerges into this new era, photographers specifically are faced with a decision on how and where to share your work. So it’s interesting to know that you notice that stuff.

TF:…I was traveling with Matt Mullenweg at one point. Matt Mullenweg, genius of a guy, good friend of mine who is known as the lead developer of WordPress. Matt was largely responsible for a lot of that code base in the beginning days, and now runs WordPress.com and Automattic. Really smart guy. We were on the plane, and I remember being really stressed out at this point…because The 4-Hour Work Week was on RapidShare. It was on all these different Torrent sites, and I was like, “Oh, God, how are artists going to be incentivized and writers going to be incentivized to produce work if this is happening?” And he said, “The people who are downloading your stuff on Rapture are never going to buy your book in the first place. They’re not your paying audience, so you’re getting additional eyeballs on your work for free. They would never buy it anywhere.”

I think photography, we could get really futuristic about it, but I do think there are ways that photographers can maintain a better user experience with the paid version, whatever form that takes. So I’d encourage people to think of unleashing some of their best content into that wild, whether it’s Creative Commons or [the] pirated world, because those people aren’t your customers anyway. They’re not the people who are going to spend a $100,000 to get a blown-up print and put on their living room.

Give it away for free. I’ve used this platform to highlight passion projects left and right, from Jay Shells and his Rap Lyric Street Sign project to Andres Amador’s sand art. You MUST get your work seen by the world. And there will always be those who download/use/distribute your work for free, possibly illegally. But this is a risk you have to be willing to take in order to get it seen by those who WILL pay for it.

Your Homework for #3

Assuming you have some sort of body of work, it’s time to get it out in the world. And not the factory seconds, either. Here’s what needs to happen:

Identify 3-5 of your best photos/songs/poems and 3 websites where your work is most likely to be seen + distributed (Flickr, Soundcloud, etc.) Then upload your work under Creative Commons or otherwise.

Controversial? Only if you want to stay in your rut.
_____

And that’s that. You’ve got your assignments; you’ve got no more excuses. If you’ve got a hankering for a little more Tim Ferriss in your life, check out the full cjLIVE show below, which aired back in August of 2011. We also recently recorded an episode of Tim’s podcast in collaboration with CreativeLive. Check that out here. Otherwise it’s time to get to work.

Get Tim’s books The 4 Hour Work Week here and 4 Hour Body here and the 4 Hour Chef here.

Creatives, Geeks, Freaks & Voyeurs of the World — Join Me LIVE from SXSW!

UPDATE: this is TODAY! starting at 9am SEA time (11am Austin, 12noon NYC, 17:00 London) you can join into the conversation with your truly + the most creative minds from photo, design, tech & music. If I do my job right, you’ll get more insight in a weekend than at a semester of any college – all from people who have found success. LIVE at www.creativelive.com/SXSW. Ask questions all day at #UberLIVE or @chasejarvis.

—–
Certainly you’re in the know of famed South-By-Southwest (aka SXSW) – that two weeks every year where the creative, film, music & tech worlds all come crashing together in little ol’ Austin, Texas. I LOVE all that stuff, so I’m here all week and ….through the miracles of technology I’ve got 2 LOVELY THINGS to set right on your lap – both of which had better add a bunch of value to YOU, or else the next round of bourbon is on me.

THING #1
chasejarvisLIVE (my internet show) & creativeLIVE (my creative education startup) are having a man-child together this week in the back seat of a Cadillac Escalade. That is right, my LIVE show + the best in online education + the ridesharing service that has taken the world by storm are all coming together in one delicious collaboration to bring you LIVE-on-the-innnernetz, real-time interviews with the best + brightest luminaries from film, photo, tech & music worlds … all while rolling the streets of Austin in the backseat of an Uber. This is your free, front row ticket to join me and an insanely talented group of creative genius without leaving the comforts of your own internet connection, wherever that might be. Things are crazy here and this list is always in flux, but here’s a couple names you might recognize that I’m preparing to hang with and bring you their nuggets of wisdom & the inside scoop….

-Austin Kleon. artist and best selling author of Steal Like an Artist & his newest…Show Your Work
-Dana Brunetti. executive producer of HOUSE OF CARDS, the netflix original hit that has reinvented TV
-Kevin Rose. founder of Digg, Revision 3 & is now a partner at Google Ventures
-Brandon Stanton. photographer & creator of Humans of New York, the world’s most popular photo project
-Gary Vaynerchuk. entrepreneur, media maven, best-selling author and wine geek
-Kristen Chenowth. actress from Glee, The West Wing, BeWitched, and other stuff
-Steven Kotler. best selling author of Rise of Superman and guru for accessing & maximizing creativity
-Lewis Howes. Former pro athlete, entrepreneur, business coach & world record holder.
- and many many more…including..ahem..perhaps some surprise musical performances

Here’s where you can RSVP for the free #UberLIVE event, find more info, and watch the LIVE broadcast this Saturday & Sunday http://creativelive.com/sxsw. (srsly – you should RSVP)

WHO: You, Me, a handful of GENIUS people from SXSW + 100 countries tuning in worldwide
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A from the backseat of an Uber
WHEN: Sat & Sun, March 8th & 9th, 8am – 5pm Seattle time (10a-7pm Austin, 11a-8pm NYC time)
WHERE: Tune into www.creativelive.com/sxsw. It’s free — anyone can watch and we’ll be taking YOUR questions via Twitter, hashtag #UberLIVE, my @chasejarvis handle and @creativeLIVE too

THING #2
Heyyo. I’m giving a little keynote speech for this SXSW thingie on Monday, March 10th at 3:30pm (1:30 Seattle, 4:30 NYC, 21:30 London). Here’s the tasty link to that hot mess http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP18955. If you’ll be physically at SXSW, come join in, heckle me from the audience, throw tomatoes, or whatever. If you’re at home in your pajamas, rumor has it my keynote will be live-streamed, compliments of our friends at U-Stream, but I haven’t got a link yet – will update that ASAP when I get one and I’ll tweet to let you know.

Don’t forget to RSVP for #UberLIVE. And, as always, you can follow along here… Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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!

7 Lessons Anyone [YOU] Can Learn from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

macklemore grammysThe Grammys are a usually a lovely nightcap to the previous year’s music. Some celebration, some tension, a little drama and some nice performances. And whether or not you agree with where the Grammy Committee’s voting ended up in any category – one thing is for sure: 4 Grammy’s from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – who to this day are not signed to a record label – is impressive. And perhaps what’s more impressive IMHO is that they built their success on their own ethos, according to their own plan, from when there were no “opportunities” coming at them from every direction.

Am I biased because I’ve known these cats for a while…Yes. Probably. (disclosure they played #chasejarvisLIVE in 2011 and first performed some of the tracks a capella at a little dinner party at my studio [video]) Yes, they are they wildly talented (Ryan’s actually a great photographer too), but IMHO that’s not what made their meteoric rise to 15x platinum and 4 Grammys possible. What made it possible was certainly some real talent BUT it’s also a handful of things they know that YOU can begin applying to your life/career/passion right now. Here’s 7 things:

1. Freedom is More Important Than Money
Sure having some baseline amount of money is helpful, but there is no denying that the freedom to say what you want through your art, to call your own shots and control your own destiny is supreme. Had M&RL not kept their independence (and the key it to keep it gracefully – no need to be an ass…), they’d be nowhere near the success that they are today. Releasing a single about marriage equality on a hip-hop album? The “label” would never have “permitted” such a thing if they weren’t independant. So whose ass are you kissing right now that you shouldn’t be? I’m banking that if you kept your freedom (and kept it positive -i’m not talking about being a grump) that the rest will follow. And this isn’t just about money really either…I’m talking about all the upside.

I’m guessing that there are decisions you could be making to keep your ability to be nimble – to play to the beat of your own drum…to scratch your own itch (even if that itch is being in the service of others). Follow those freedoms, not the other stuff.

2. Setbacks are Temporary
When I first met Ben in 2009 he was living in his parents basement having just come out of rehab. He had found some local success with an earlier, locally released EP but soon found himself resting on his (albeit local) laurels, only to find that he was hitting the peace pipe and drinking cough syrup instead of diving into his work. He’s said on lots of occasions how low he felt – that he might never be able to make music again, but that he would give it everything he had with a fresh outlook on life. He found Ryan and boom. If you’re like me, there are setbacks everywhere. They never end. It might take living in your parent’s basement to realize your dreams. It always feels like I’m moving 2 steps forward and 1 (or sometimes 2) steps back. Shed the voices in your head that are keeping you down. Setbacks are temporary. They are meant to keep everybody else out, not you. The breakthroughs happen just when you think your at the end of the line. Trust M&RL on this one.

chase jarvis macklemore and ryan lewis3. Only YOU Are in Charge of Your Personal Brand
I remember when I realized HOW in touch Ben & Ryan were with their brand M&RL when the emailed me one day asking if I had a RED camera they could borrow to shoot their next video video. They’d had some good vids to date, but they wanted creative control – they know how they wanted their creative vision realized and they wanted to own it front to back. That was for the video shoot of Thrift Shop. Seems like they…um…pretty much nailed it (487 MILLION views and counting….). That they had a)the desire; b) the balls to go for their vision says it all. Throw in the fact that they put their physical CD is a box made of alligator leather for god’s sake and you get the point.

What are you doing to make your brand different – not better? I bet you can think of 5 things in the next 5 minutes that helps your brand stand out from the noise. When you finish that list, nail it to your bedroom wall and reference it often.

4. Have a Point of View
In a world of mass messaging, right and left points of view, and chest thumping me-ism, I see so many artists who are reluctant to let their true colors shine. They’re worried that having a point of view might alienate a subset of fans or followers. Well, that’s bullshit. Because the only reason you’d want fans and followers is to genuinely connect with a community of like minded people – connect your authentic self with theirs. Referencing #1 above – you think it didn’t take balls to stand up for a belief in marriage equality amidst the typical hiphop anti-gay mindset? Sure it took balls, but that’s wht M&RL believe and so they found it a perfect thing to write about – with confidence. I spoke to them about it here. THAT is called having a point of view.

I’m guessing there’s a few things in your world (I know there are in mine…) that you’ve been scared to put out there. Dimes to donuts that this thing you’re holding inside will be a huge benefit when you get out of your own way and share that thing, own that thing, have a point of view. The people that will care about that thing are the people you’ll want to connect with anyone. So what are you waiting for?

chase jarvis ryan lewis cjlive macklemore5. Collaborating with Your Friends is a Good Thing – surround yourself with good people
When M&RL put out The Heist, they made it local. They made it with their friends. The solo’s and featured artists on their album? Almost entirely local talent…friends, people they admired, and by and large people without name recognition. But that didn’t matter – they made their album and their art with their circle of friends. Their tour and merch manager Tricia is Mack’s fiancé. Why chase the party when you can make your own.

So instead of waiting around to collaborate with Bono – why don’t you collaborate with your best friend, your makeup artist pal, your uber-talented homie from around the way. Again, why chase the party when you can make your own?

6. Don’t Let Them Put You in a Box
When I first heard Ben’s rap – it put me off balance. “Whoa – this is different” I thought. Which is part of why it works. I noticed it. Throw in Ryan’s beats and the whole thing goes to a different level where your brain doesn’t quite know which box to put that in… Our brains are pattern recognizers – which is why when you don’t fit into a typical pattern you STAND OUT. One Grammy committee almost didn’t let their music be classified as Rap – they wanted it filed under Pop. It caused controversy. But it didn’t matter. Ultimately it got the rap nod and then…lo and behold…claimed Best Rap Album and Best Rap song, Best Rap performance. They just made music they wanted to make and then let the world comment on it. The rest took care of itself.

So many creatives have spent too much time studying their peers our neighbors and reading the rule books written by others. Here’s a little secret – those people who wrote the rule books did so to keep you out. Break those rules, ditch that box as best you can.

7. Community is King
In their Grammy acceptance speech, Ben opens with [paraphrase] “Wow, we’re on this stage…And we could never have been on this stage without our fans.” This is true for the Grammys, but it’s also true for life. M&RL have connected with their audience in a way that I’ve rarely seen in this age of pop culture. It’s authentic, it’s humble, and it’s hard working.

The same can be said for your approach. I’ve said it here and here before: Things don’t make things happen, people do.  The world of achieving career success is a world where community is front and center – whether you’re building your own business as an independent artist or you’re making a dent from within the machine of a bigger company.  Your friends, supporters, fans, network – however you define it – is a huge is a requirement to unlock your future. What are you doing to build your community? In what ways are you giving back and asking for nothing in return? Don’t just reach up…be sure to reach sideways and down as often as you can muster.

Much respect to M&RL. Now I recommend we all get back to work at tackling our dreams.

chase jarvis macklemore ryan lewis

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…

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DigitalRev TV uses a GoPro to Fake my Hasselblad Masters Photo

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

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

I decided it was time to turn the tables.

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

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

Chasejarvis_DigitalRevTV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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