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

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

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

Happy friday – and happy to answer any questions below.

Iceland’s Endless Light – chasejarvisRAW

After years of finger-crossing and well-wishing, I finally got the chance to visit Iceland on a commercial shoot a couple months ago. It was worth the wait, but I can’t say I’d want to wait that long again to return. Iceland was the definition of magical, and the light was to die for. And it went on. And on. We put in 16-hour days and grabbed a TON of shots and footage [see some of the behind-the-scenes stills from the shoot here], almost too much to cram into one short RAW vid. If you dig what you see, tell us in the comments below, cuz we’re considering putting together a Part II.

Once again I’ve got to give a shout out to ProFilm for hooking us up with Marteinn Ibsen and Arnaldur Halldórsson, two incredible local producers who drove us across their land to all the must-see and must-shoot spots. Our time with them serves as a lesson to anyone heading abroad for travel or a shoot: get in with some locals early or ahead of time to get pointed in the right direction, particularly if you’re short on time.

As is customary these days, we took to the air, chartering helicopters and flying affordable drone quadcopters too. [Stay tuned for a special chasejarvisTECH episode featuring some ill-fated experimentation with the DJI quadcopter and a roll of gaffer's tape.]

Music by Big Chocolate.

How to Sell Yourself Without Selling Out [RE-WATCH the Legendary Marc Ecko on chasejarvisLIVE]

Let’s face it… it’s a complete myth that your work will just “be discovered” and that your personal brand just “happens.” These are topics that simply cannot be reduced to sound bites and can’t be left to happenstance. In case you missed last week’s LIVE broadcast of chasejarvisLIVE, we brought on brand luminary Marc Ecko and spent a full 90 minutes uncovering the core principles of Marc’s 20-year-long rocket ship of a career as an artist & entrepreneur.

Some top takeaways from the episode:

_Compete with your ideas – not dollars.
_The system will try to make you think you are not an artist – be a creator anyway.
_You can be a great artist AND a great entrepreneur
_By definition, a Community is about what you ARE, but also about what you AREN’T
_Creativity is a messy process. You have to be comfortable with the mess.
_It’s not what you make – it’s how you make people FEEL.

Marc is the man. He is THE Marc Ecko — the hugely successful graffiti artist-turned-entrepreneur whose Ecko Unltd and Complex Magazine brand platforms (which started in his parents’ garage) are now worth more than a BILLION dollars. Marc came on the show to help you and me understand personal authenticity, personal brand and how to apply them in your life and career. We also got an insider’s look into his new book, “Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out “ – which – if you can afford the $15 bucks should definitely purchase. I read it cover to cover on a single flight SEA to NYC last week and I’m on my second read now. LOTS of nuggets in there.

Here’s a few BTS shots from the episode:

How to Sell Yourself Without Selling Out [Legendary Marc Ecko TODAY on chasejarvisLIVE, Oct 9]

20131009 cjLIVE Marc Ecko Home Page Graphic

UPDATE: The LIVE broadcast is TODAY October 9 – 11am SEA time (2pm NYC -19:00 London) – mark your schedules and flip your dial to http://www.chasejarvis.com/live. My guest — the legendary Marc Ecko — will give you the most important tool kit that an artist can know outside one’s craft —> how to sell yourself without selling out.

Let’s face it… it’s a complete myth that your work will just “be discovered” and that your personal brand just “happens.” These are topics that simply cannot be reduced to sound bites and can’t be left to happenstance. We’ll go a full 90 minutes and uncover the core principles of Marc’s 20-year-long rocket ship of a career.

Why Marc? He is THE Marc Ecko — the hugely successful graffiti artist-turned-entrepreneur whose Ecko Unltd and Complex Magazine brand platforms (which started in his parents’ garage) are now worth more than a BILLION dollars. The same Marc Ecko who conceived, shot + starred in the controversial “Still Free” video that made its interweb rounds back in ’06 and featured a hooded Ecko sneaking across a guarded runway to tag the above words on AirForce One (it was actually a replica). But – again – Marc isn’t coming on #cjLIVE to tell stories about tagging antics – he’s coming to help you and me understand personal authenticity, personal brand and how to apply them in your life and career. We’ll also get an insider’s look into his new book, “Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out.”

WHO: You, Me, Artist/Entrepreneur Marc Ecko + a worldwide gathering of creative people
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Wednesday, Oct 9, 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

chasejarvis_markecko

HELP US PIMP THE SHOW AND WIN STUFF.

We’re giving away two prizes before the show:

1) signed copies of Marc’s new book and
2) $200 free @creativeLIVE course credits

To enter, just help us promote the show starting RIGHT NOW.

Send out a creative tweet OR Facebook post (pointing back to my Fbook page so we can find it) promoting the show and be sure to INCLUDE #cjLIVE + @marcecko + the short url to THIS blog post.

We’ll select a few of the best ones at the beginning of the show, give you a shout-out, and one of these great prizes.

DURING THE SHOW.  THIS IS BIG!!!  You’ll have to tune in to find out more. But I can say we’re giving away

@BorrowLenses discounts

AND…wait for it… the NEW GoPro Hero3+ (estimated retail value of $399.99)

JOIN US IN THE STUDIO.
Want to be part of the live studio audience? We’ll invite the first 20 people who send an email to production@chasejarvis.com to join us +1 guest. You’ll receive a confirmation email with attendance details if you’re 1 of the first 20.

Peep the Unlabel book promo here:

How to enter here.  Official Contest Rules here.

Underwater iPhoneography – The Gear I Used to Find Nemo

While in Belize a couple months ago, I took the opportunity to field test a new iPhone case designed for action sports photography + video. (I’m a big fan of field testing new tech/gadgets; see my out-of-the-box successes with the DJI quadcopter—> here).

Without getting in the weeds here, let’s be honest. We’re not aiming for the Oscars with this footage, but I’m not gonna lie… I quite frequently need a little breather from all the high end work that I’m focused on doing. Not everything needs a $150,000 Phantom camera to be good or fun. You with me? Good. Then ENTER—>The Optrix XD5 — a waterproof housing for the iPhone 5 that gave me a nice 175 degree wide-angle lens and control functionality while coasting from reef to reef. It couldn’t have been easier or more chill to use… I’d recommend this to family vacationers and pros alike who dig the occasional goofing around with some gear. Watch through the end of the video to see a few super basic stills I was able to take on one very very short swim about the reef.

Note: the video above was shot on an iPhone housed in the same XD5. Totally passable, in my opinion. And an idiot-proof design, as the video reveals.

Check out the Optrix line of iPhone housings.

For more behind-the-scenes action from my Belize assignment, you can go here, here + here.

Music by Small Face.

Photoshoots with Flying Cameras, Bulldozers & World Class Athletes [plus Other Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Antics from my Aspen Campaign]

Snow cats. Flying cameras and world-class athletes.  Couple-o-sunrises. One of the most unique locations I’ve found in my career (a coal mine?!) and a superfun campaign for one of the top mountain destinations in the world…here’s behind the scenes for my most recent campaign to drop –> Aspen.

ChaseJarvis_20130313_CJ_Aspen_3_AAA1167_Edited_2rev

This past March, you might have caught wind of my live updates while shooting the 2013-2014 campaign for my friends at Aspen/Snowmass ski resort. In the midst of the controlled chaos of a high-altitude photoshoot, while obsessing over the weather, we were able to share a few the scenes photos. chasejarvis_aspen
Today we’re dropping “ChaseJarvisRAW: Aspen/Snowmass Behind the Scenes” timed to coincide with the launch of the campaign in action sports magazines worldwide. We’re also sharing those ads below (See below for a few examples with the original photos) before they land in magazines and on billboards worldwide.

As is always the case with a project of this scope, the story behind the final imagery is something I enjoy sharing via the photos or videos themselves.

Last March, we rolled into Aspen with a fast-n-light crew of six of my Seattle-based team to join Aspen’s marketing + media teams and their creative agency Factory Labs) To produce this video and the images below, we coordinated around 45 people and quite the pile of gear in an unpredictable, high-altitude, always-changing environment over a span of 5 days. Standard challenges apply

Working in an alpine environment can be difficult, but there’s another challenge to shooting in Aspen: telling a unique story about one of the most written about, filmed and photographed places on Earth. So we ventured north from Aspen into the Roaring Fork valley looking for a new angle. And we found it.

Backstory on our unique location and how it tied to the campaign. Aspen Skiing Company is one of America’s most outspoken corporations on climate change, and it backs up its talk with innovative efforts to both mitigate its own pollution and to model climate-friendly business practices. That’s smart, forward thinking for an industry that depends on consistent snowfall for its survival – so we incorporated this into on of our shoot locations….
ChaseJarvis_Davenport20130312_Aspen_1_AAA9873 So here’s the crazy part – Aspen’s newest addition to their sustainability program is based at the Elk Creek Coal Mine. How does that make sense you say? Here’s how it works: First, Aspen BUILT & OWNS A system that captures methane emissions vented from mine (a mine that has been under operation for a long time – no going back on that) and uses this gas to generate electricity, which is fed into the grid. NOT the coal, but capturing the energy put off by the off gassing. By preventing the methane—a greenhouse gas twenty three times more harmful that carbon dioxide—from entering the atmosphere, the project eliminates three times the carbon pollution that Aspen Skiing Company creates each year. Boom. If that’s not thinking outside-the-box then I don’t know what is. It also happened to be a perfect place to find a unique photograph. So we went to the mine to capture a gritty, industrial snow shoot with this, what I consider a unique backstory, about how Aspen is being inventive around how it invests in clean power.

Shooting on location in the mountains comes with the usual crazy challenges: cold weather, even colder hands and feet, crazy wind, scorching sun and altitude, but shooting at a coal mine with skiers and snowboarders – that was a first for me as a professional and a wicked creative way to tell this great story. And were the bulldozers, cranes, choppers and other nifty things we needed to build the shoot.

But that is what makes Aspen great – they do things differently and allow the artists that work with and for them to operate that way too. While some of my previous BTS videos show that originality, we wanted the focus of this video to be the ways we captured the photos, the people, the athletes and the action. We skied, hiked, snow-catted, ate, drank, danced, piled gravel and pipes and laughed our way through this job – a helluva a lot work, but even more fun. Hope you enjoy. Here are some of the images and the final ad creatives:

chasejarvis_coalmine_aspensnowmass

Chasejarvis_coalmine_aspensnowmass

ChaseJarvis_chrisdavenport
ChaseJarvis_Dav_BurntMountain_Powder_NovResortGuide_FINAL

If you’ve ever wondered what we use for a video and photo shoot like this…here are the essentials on our GEAR LIST:
[Available from Adorama]

// (2) Nikon D4 bodies
Nikon 14-24mm f2.8
24-70mm f2.8
70-200mm f2.8

// BTS camera kit:
Canon 5D MarkIII, 16-35mm f2.8, 24-105mm f4, 70-200mm f4, 35mm f1.4

// Sony F3 35mm f2, 50mm f2, 85mm f2
// Kessler CineSlider
kessler pocket dolly
kessler electra drive for timelapses

// (1) Octa-copter

// (7) GoPro Hero 3s – strapped to my head, my leg, to an octo-copter…and more.

// Broncolor Scoro 3200S
(2)Broncolor Unilite 1600,

Some other nuts and bolts from the shoot that are not obvious from the BTS vid, but that you might be interested to know:

// The Elk Coal Creek Mine/Aspen initiative is the first project west of Mississippi to turn coal-mine methane into electricity,

// Among the many shredders we worked with is legendary Chris Davenport, one of the best skiers of all time. Chris has climbed and skied all 50+ 14,000 peaks in Colorado in one year and recently skied off Everest. Follow him here @steepskiing. Total badass. Consummate pro. And he’s in Washington DC lobbying for climate solutions as you read this.

// We shot the entire campaign and video in 5 days

// Aspen is releasing a 6-part series to go with this campaign video – tune in here.

Also – final note. MY GOODNESS is the band responsible for the rocking tunes in the video. Three songs in the video: Check your Bones, Lost in the Soul and Cold Feet Killer. If you dig the tunes, you can listen to an entire live performance they did shot by cjLIVE here in video form, and you can also stream the performance on soundcloud here. Please enjoy – take a listen, and share with your friends.

Learn more about My Goodness here - http://www.facebook.com/MyGoodness

chasejarvis_chrisdavenport ChaseJarvis_snowboarder_aspenchasejarvis_Aspen_Photoshoot

chasejarvis_aspensnowmass

Chasejarvis_AspenSnowmass

GoPro Hero3+ is the Fairest of Them All

GoPro’s Hero3+ dropped like a bomb today, splitting atoms and shattering computer screens with some of the most bad-ass footage yet seen. The new Hero3+ is GoPro’s sexiest iteration to date, with some notable improvements over its predecessor. Lest you Hero2 or Hero3 owners think this money ill-spent, consider these upgraded features that you’ll get with the Hero3+:

_20% lighter + smaller (case)
_30% more battery life
_4x faster WiFi (built-in)
_Auto Low Light feature, which automatically adjusts frame rate to maximize quality
_sharper lens
_SuperView movie mode allows you to shoot 1080p (1920 x 1080 video resolution) w/ the Ultra Wide field of view, so you can capture more of yourself and the beautiful landscape. Or a lion’s face.

There’s been some chatter from folks who feel wrong-done by GoPro’s “Apple-like” upgrade, but the truth is they’ve been pretty consistent in the time + release of new products and it’s not their fault if you just bought a Hero3. [Note to those who did: If you bought it from GoPro.com less than 30 days ago, the company *should* honor your return requests so you can get in the "+" game.]

Will I be adding the Hero3+ to my OCD-inspired GoPro travel bag? Definitely. I’m thinking I may need a re-do of my GoPro aerial footage experiment, too.

Why Go Global? The Legacy of Great Local Photography

Alice Wheeler, Courtney Army, 2002. Courtesy the artist and Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle

I feel honored to serve as an honorary Board Member at Seattle’s Photo Center Northwest, a nationally renowned nonprofit community arts center that offers classes, workshops, gallery spaces and exhibitions – with a focus on community access to photography. A long time friend and photography powerhouse, Michelle Dunn Marsh, was recently elected Executive Director and has helped bring together their newest show celebrating my local stomping grounds. I’m excited to introduce Michelle to this community here on the blog, our humble little stage to wax nostalgic and to give you all a taste of what’s behind the curtain at the latest showing. If you’re passing thru Seattle, the PCNW is at 900 12th St. This show is not to miss. If you’re on the other side of the earth – consider spending an hour at your local galley for some inspiration. I’m guessing it would do you right. Happy Friday everyone, and take it away, Michelle.

Thanks, Chase. One month into my tenure as executive director at Photo Center NW, I’ve been contemplating photography and its history here. A college professor once told me that history was the freest of all liberal arts, because “it asks only that you take it for itself.” That sounds so easy! But history, like photography, has many layers and viewpoints. Each time you examine it you may discover something different; and how you perceive it tomorrow can shift depending on time, and the weather, among other cosmic factors.

So. Photography. Northwest. Growing up in Puyallup, my experience of photography started with family albums, progressed to working on the junior high school yearbook where I first entered a darkroom, and culminated with work trade for a portrait photographer in order to share precious “senior pictures” with my friends. My experience of place was slightly more colorful—the Puyallup Valley was at that point still predominantly agricultural, and I hated both the raspberries and the daffodils that were perennial signs of spring, because they meant….a lot of weeding. A lot of work. Now I sometimes immerse my hands in the soil just to remember that. I have few photographs from those years to stimulate my recollections, but recently discovering an Asahel Curtis image from 1935, of a young woman picking berries, was, perhaps, better than a snapshot of my own. She looks elegant. But I know she is also tired. She looks happy (from the berries one consumes throughout the day, I like to imagine). But she was probably also pleased for the small income she derived from this delicate task in the years of the Depression. The facts of this photograph are limited—there is a woman, in a berry field, in Puyallup. The stories I can tell myself and you from those three simple facts could go on for hours. That is the subjective, enthralling power of photography. And the challenge with any single approach to history.

Bob & Ira Spring, a mountaineer rappels, 1950s. Sourced from Washington State Archives.

When your days begin in the shadow of Mount Rainier, you all too quickly settle into the ultimate, succinct phrase to describe Northwest perfection: “the mountain is out.” My challenge in appreciating landscape photography stems from my eager exposure to the occasional view of that peak. I have seen many photographs of Mount Rainier. I know without a doubt that the person making the photograph felt the gut-wrenching beauty and mystery of a momentary encounter in nature, but rarely does the photograph take me to the dizzy heights I feel seeing the mountain myself. Perhaps I place too much expectation on the photograph? But many other subjects, photographed, resonate with me for years, often moreso than the lived moment documented. Landscape as a genre is, for me, harder. And yet once in a while an image will come along (Mary Randlett’s Island Wave is one such photograph) that is undoubtedly a landscape view, and yet achieves in the print the transcendence I find in experiencing nature here firsthand. I was more familiar with Randlett’s portraits, so was truly delighted to absorb her simple, graphic approach to treelines, shadows, and water—essential components of this place.

My education in photography increased exponentially in my years at Bard College, and after, and through that exposure from across the country I continued to learn volumes about the histories and future of this region. Book projects have introduced me to Merce Cunningham, who came from Centralia, WA to Cornish College of the Arts and went on to transform modern dance; to members of the Black Panther Party, whose second chapter was in Seattle, and who left a legacy of free breakfasts and lunches for children, community food banks and health care clinics that still function on Capitol Hill today. A portrait of Morris Graves by Imogen Cunningham took me to the Northwest School of painting, and then to Cunningham herself, who I had only associated with the Bay area zeitgeist of twentieth-century photography. But no, her life and work began here—she picked up her first 4×5 at the University of Washington, and she always found a way to make significant work, regardless of the simultaneous demands of being a wife, a mother, a daughter, an assistant, a friend. Decades later I still struggle with finding time, as she did. And yet I am still compelled by the creative process to keep producing (books of photographs—I leave the hard work of the photographs themselves to others).

Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled (Makeup), from the Kitchen Table Series, 1990/2010. Courtesy the artist

Like Cunningham, Minor White also found his way from the Northwest to the Bay. He originally left Minnesota to head to Seattle, but ran out of money in Portland, discovered the camera club there, and stayed until his service in WWII. His affection for the region brought him back to workshops in Oregon until the last years of his life. From White’s history in Oregon I stumbled into the present, toward Carrie Mae Weems, who I worked with in New York but who grew up in Portland; Chris Rauschenberg, a pillar of the contemporary Portland scene, and Robert Adams, a sage of my photographic journey, who inspires me to do more for humanity, for the earth, and for photography simply through the quiet determination with which he lives his life. A shared affection for Adams and his work was obvious when I met Eirik Johnson (who, though from Seattle, also logged time in San Francisco—noting a pattern here?). After years away he and his family have returned to the Puget Sound. His Sawdust Mountain project is an authentic exploration of the complexity and beauty of this place. Eirik graduated from University of Washington, also the alma mater of my friend and colleague Isaac Layman. Both were taught by Paul Berger, who in his own studies was inspired by his one-time interaction with Minor White at a lecture in Rochester, NY. We often think of history as the past, but these intersections make it ever-present for me.

Jim Marshall, Jimi Hendrix, Winterland, San Francisco, 1968. Courtesy Jim Marshall Photography LLC

Legendary Bay-area music photographer Jim Marshall came to Seattle in 2010 for an exhibition at EMP that included his photographs of Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Janis Joplin, and yes—our very own Jimi Hendrix. Though I knew some of the local legends featured in the exhibit including Alice Wheeler and Charles Peterson, I met Jini Dellacio through that exhibit, and more recently made the acquaintance of Lance Mercer and Dave Belisle, who have had longstanding relationships to Photo Center NW.

David Belisle, R.E.M. Vote For Change Tour, 2004. Courtesy the artist

There is more. Photography and glass. Photography and industry. Photography because it is a modern medium, the language by which we speak today. Always more. But a photograph I will hold in my mind’s eye in the busy days and weeks ahead is Burt Glinn’s Seattle Tubing Society, 1953. We as viewers can sometimes immerse ourselves so completely in a frame that we cease to consider the photographer. I looked at this image many times, taking in the joy, the community, the experience of sun and trees and water (yes, I read those as sun hats, because they would be highly ineffective in the rain. Interpretation again). I laugh when I see this photograph, and laugh again realizing that the photographer must also have been in an inner tube, on the water, to achieve that particular angle. If that image reflects the spirit of the Northwest, then count me in. It’s good to be home.

Many thanks to the one and only Chase Jarvis for offering us an opportunity to share with you some of the photographs on our minds these days at Photo Center NW; most of the images referenced will be on view in our gallery beginning today, September 20, and up for auction at our annual fundraiser October 18. Learn more here.

—Michelle Dunn Marsh

Burt Glinn, Members of the Seattle Tubing Society, Seattle, WA, 1953. Courtesy the estate of Burt Glinn and Magnum Photos

Eirik Johnson, Tola, Lower Hoh River, Washington, 2007. Courtesy the artist and G. Gibson Gallery, Seattle

Mary Randlett, Island Wave, 1990. Courtesy Martin-Zambito Fine Art

Christopher Rauschenberg, Gunderson, 2012. Courtesy the artist and Elizabeth Leach Gallery

Isaac Layman, Hand on Pool Table, 2008. Courtesy the artist and Elizabeth Leach Gallery

Asahel Curtis, Picking raspberries in Puyallup, c. 1935. Sourced from Seattle Municipal Archives

The Biggest Photo Education Event in History – creativeLIVE Photo Week [Public Service Announcement]

This is it, folks. Er at least I think it is…the biggest single photography education event in history. Last February creativeLIVE drew 150,000 people together from 178 countries around Photoshop…and today’s kickoff aims to be much larger. PhotoWeek is 6 days of FREE, live instruction from over 50 of the photo industry’s leading instructors. creativeLIVE Photo Week has pulled together some of the biggest names in commercial, outdoor and wedding photography and devoted THREE separate channels to broadcast a nutty amount of instruction and inspiration your way.

It all starts TODAY, September 16, 9:00 PT. Mark your calendars. [Click for the full Photo Week schedule breakdown.]

ADDITIONALLY – you may have heard the news. In addition to its “normal” location here, you will also find this week’s superdope forthcoming epsiode of chasejarvisLIVE is being simulcast here on creativeLIVE as well. In this coming episode, we’ll be spreading the effing brilliant words and vision of Austin Kleon. If you know who he is – your mind just blew up. If you don’t, you should get the details on him and this upcoming episode here. Join us. SRSLY.

Here’s some cool promo’s. First one emotive, second one funny as hell IMHO>

Lastly, LOOKING FOR MORE THAN INSTRUCTION / HOW BOUT A LITTLE FEEDBACK? This is for you too. In conjunction with Photo Week, creativeLIVE is running the Photo Week Critique contest. This is your chance to have your work examined by professionals, live and on air. By submitting, you’ll also put yourself in the running for some nice schwag, including a Canon 5D Mark III. Check out the Photo Week Critique page for contest rules and instructions to enter.

**and if you don’t already know that i’m a cofounder of creativeLIVE, that’s strange, but I’ll let you know…in this case consider this your disclosure my dear friends…

Motion Sickness – How Not to F- Up Your Next Photo/Video Shoot

I’m big-time stoked to bring to my blog a heavy hitter in the world of adventure storytelling. Corey Rich has done commercial work for everyone from Apple and Adidas to SI and Outside. He has an eagle eye for the shot, both for still and motion, and I’ve invited him here to give you all a little what-for on the topic of transition from still photography to motion film [hint: it ain't about hitting 'record' and letting the talent do all the work].

Why Corey? Not only is he a bad-ass at what he does, he’s also going to be instructing a three-day course at creativeLIVE next week [deets below]. Check it out LIVE RIGHT NOW HERE.

Class is in session. Take it away, Corey.

Thanks, Chase.

So, you’re a still photographer shooting DSLR video for the first time? No offense, but you’re about to F— It Up.

The future of storytelling, for enthusiasts and professionals alike, is all about combining your still-image and video-capturing skills into a single dynamic narrative. Clients today don’t just want amazing pictures; they want amazing pictures AND amazing videos.

“No problem!” you think. “I’m a stoked-out photographer. I could nail the focus on a moving target at 200mm f/2.8, no tripod, blindfolded! I do exposure calculations in my sleep! What’s so hard about putting my camera on a tripod, sitting back and hitting the record button?”

Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re going to blow it. You will F— It Up (FIU)!

Sorry, but it’s true.

I was one of the most seasoned adventure and outdoor-lifestyle photographers in the business. And when the groundbreaking Nikon D90 (the first video-enabled DSLR camera) came to market, it changed my life. I immediately went out and purchased one, full of doe-eyed hope that becoming a filmmaker and director would be an easy transition.

Boy, was I wrong. Sure enough, capturing stunning motion footage, with great audio, all while making dynamic photographs, was as difficult as trying to hit a Mariano Rivera curve ball with a five iron.

Through a lot trial and error, not to mention working alongside some truly great filmmakers, I’ve learned a few things. Today I have more than a few successful still-and-motion productions under my belt, and I feel comfortable juggling the roles of photographer, filmmaker, and audio tech all at once—truly a three-ring circus act.

Check it out LIVE RIGHT NOW HERE.

Now I’m here today to tell you, photographer gearing up for your first still- and motion production, why you’re going to FIU. And hopefully after reading this … you won’t.

Corey, on location.

1) You’re going to run out of time.
You have a good sense for how long something should take. A trail-running shoot through morning mist? Two, three hours, tops, right? But when you add in the complexity of creating still images, capturing video and recording sound, inevitably your estimation of time will be way off. What you think will only take one hour will actually take three. By the time you’ve gotten your microphone levels adjusted, it’ll be noon and the opportunity will have evaporated along with the morning mist. [Corey is LIVE right now HERE]

Solution: Multiply time estimates by three: If you think something will take one hour, plan on it taking three.

2) Audio? More like Audi-NO!
Hands down, audio is the single easiest thing to botch. There are a million ways that you will FIU. I know, because I’ve done them all.

/ You will forget to press the record button on the audio recorder.
/ The distant, seemingly imperceptible noise in the background—the dog barking across the street, the refrigerator’s insipid hum, the airplane passing by overhead—will reveal itself to be a port-production nightmare.
/ The levels will be completely off and will require a lot of post-production work to boost it up.
/ You will mistake watching the levels with actually listening to the audio through a set of high-quality headphones, the difference being that levels only tell you how strong a signal is, not its quality.

Though not rocket science, audio is the easiest thing to screw up.

Solution: Budget yourself enough time and pay attention to audio throughout. Otherwise, I recommend hiring an audio expert to help you out. It’ll be one less thing to worry about, allowing you to put your creative energy where you’re most comfortable: looking through the lens.

3) You’ll give assistants jobs way above their skill level.
This is probably more of a universal problem than it is necessarily specific to just shooting motion. But as photographers and directors focused on operating our cameras, we will throw our poor, hapless assistants to the wolves by putting them in charge of, say, the audio (see above). You’ll toss your assistant a set of headphones and say, “Check the audio. It’s easy.” But they don’t know what they’re listening for. And inevitably they don’t hear the incessant crinkling of the subject’s shirt through the laval mic.

Solution: Assistants … love ‘em, hate ‘em, whatever. Either way, you still have to live with them. And if they screw up something tricky like the audio (which you’d also screw up anyway), remember that they are still making your life much easier in the long run.

4) You’re not Oprah.
When you’re conducting that all-important interview with your subject, what he or she says can make or break your film. However, it’s quite challenging to be a focused, attentive camera operator AND an engaging interviewer who can draw out those important, meaningful, storytelling lines from the interview subject. Most of the time, you’ll be so focused on composition, not botching the focus, and fretting about the audio to even hear the words coming out of your subject’s mouth. Formulating that next smart interview question will be challenging, if not impossible.

Solution: Have a list of questions you want to ask your interview subject in advance. Depending on the nature of the interview, you may want to spend a few moments with your subject going over the questions and conducting a mock interview before filming the real one. Otherwise, consider bringing in a journalist/writer to conduct the interview, leaving you free to focus on operating the camera.

5) You won’t have enough extension cords.
You’re doing great so far! You’ve found a sweet location outside for your interview. The backdrop is gorgeous, and you’ve thought ahead about where the sun will be when. Further, you’ve set up two continuous light sources to ensure your subject will be well lit. You’re so smart! One problem: the closest outlet is 100 feet away, and you only have a single 20-foot extension cord.

Solution: Bring more extension cords. However, because extension cords are so heavy and bulky, I never travel with them. When I arrive on location for a shoot, I always hit up the nearest Home Depot and buy 300 feet of industrial, orange power cords. If we can return them after the shoot is over, great. If not, we make our assistant happy by giving him 300 feet of cords, which, in all likelihood, the little bastard will try to rent to us next time we come to town.

6) When it comes to High Def, beauty is NOT in the eye of the beholder.
Many guys like chicks who don’t wear make-up and are just “naturally beautiful.” Turns out, that doesn’t work in the world of video. When you’re shooting a close-up of someone’s face with a full High-Def-enabled DSLR camera, most people’s faces reveal themselves to be ruddier and rockier than the surface of Mars. On a wide high-def screen, every imperfection of skin is exacerbated tenfold. Nobody in the audience will be able to concentrate on the lines being spoken if they’re too busy cringing at every inconvenient pimple, blemish and blood vessel popping through your subject’s translucent, pale middle-aged skin.

Solution: Don’t underestimate the importance of having a makeup artist. A basic powder and touch-up kit is mandatory equipment. Learn how to apply make-up, and do your subject a favor. They may not like it at the time, but they’ll thank you later.

7) You’ll cut the clip too short.
As still photographers, capturing decisive, singular moments is ingrained in our blood. We’ll press the shutter once, and in a fraction of a second we will have made an all-but final product. Video is very different. The tendency for still photographers is to shoot for a few seconds, recompose, shoot a few more seconds of video, and so on. But, once you get back to your computer, you’ll quickly realize that short clips don’t work and severely compromise what you can do as an editor.

Solution: A good rule of thumb is to never record for less than 10 seconds. Keep that red light flashing, and make sure the camera is rolling well before and well after the action/moment is over.

8) You’ll forget you’re rolling video and recompose the camera.
Again, another tendency we still photographers have is to be constantly recomposing our shots, always thinking of dynamic new ways to capture the same scene. Video is not one decisive moment. It’s a continuous series of seconds, unfolding naturally on the screen. Footage needs continuity to be beautiful and not jarring to the viewer. You can’t move the camera once you start filming to re-adjust the composition! Sometimes you’ll start rolling, you’ll realize the composition isn’t perfect, and you’ll just have to settle for a less-than perfect composition, because that’s better than recomposing and ruining your whole clip.

Solution: Think about your composition before you hit record. Consider if your subject will be moving within the frame; shoot a bit wider so the subject doesn’t actually fall out of frame. Above all, don’t recompose your camera while filming unless you make a conscious, meaningful decision to do so.

9) You’ll shoot vertical video.
Does this even need to be addressed? Have you ever seen a vertical television?

Solution: Mount your camera horizontally, and keep it there.

10) You’ll F— up the white balance.
As still photographers, we don’t usually pay much attention to the white balance. We shoot in RAW and, thanks to Adobe and our camera manufacturers’ software, we can easily fix the white balance before processing our images.

This is the not true with video. You have to nail the white balance in camera. Also, if you’re shooting with two cameras to get two different angles of the same situation, always do a white-balance check before recording. Each camera must be set to the exact same Kelvin setting.

Solution: Again, double check that the white balance is the same for all cameras. While you’re at it, make sure both cameras are set to the same frame rate: e.g., 24 fps and full HD.

11) Your sensor will be dirty.
I know some photographers cook and eat off their camera’s sensor, leaving pizza-grade smudge marks all over their images, which they then merrily clone-stamp into oblivion in Lightroom. However, there ain’t no clone stamp with video.

Solution: Keep your sensor clean and stop eating off the damn thing!

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Tune in August 26-28 to my creativeLIVE course, “Still and Motion: Storytelling on Location.” This three-day workshop contains 12 courses that I promise will save you 12 months of FIU!

“What We Do” – Chase Jarvis Brand Reel

Yes! We just wrapped up my newest brand reel – What We Do. The goal with the video was to invoke more than just the work — because we know it’s the work plus the people, AND the ideas that matter.

This one represents the last 18 months or so of jobs and personal work in more than 12 countries around the world. From sea to sky, great angles to Great White sharks, it’s a fun, quick little edit that I hope gives you a sense of What We Do. It also features a bunch of my favorite moments at my studio including cameos from chasejarvisLIVE with the likes of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Adrian Grenier, The Lumineers and Sir Mix-a-Lot, Tim Ferriss and others.

As part of my creative community, I hope you dig it. Share or shout if you do… (here’s link to your twitter account if it helps). And I humbly hope you have as much fun digesting it as we did making it.

[Music from my homies-- the superfly, inimitable gentlemen of Fresh Espresso - You Can Have It.]

Photogs Aren’t Good With Money– 9 Tips for Sticking to Your Photo + Video Production Budget

ChaseJarvis_productionWe artists often suck at managing productions and budgets. We all have to get thru that stuff in the early days, but if you are numbers/manager challenged, my first piece of advice is bringing a producer into your shoots as soon as you can make it happen. That allows you to focus on your craft. Having said that, my staff producer Megan has had a ripping series of posts going on, including this one aimed at those of you who are either managing these budgets yourself or moving into hiring your own producer. Megan is my awesome-sauce staff producer and almost entirely responsible for all estimating for incoming project requests, all line producing, making sure we stay on budget, helping me realize the creative vision and then reconciling (or capturing actual costs) once the project is complete. Safe to say she rocks it. While there are a thousand resources available online to help you write an estimate; you’ll want to listen to Meg – here she offers up some tips for staying on that all important budget during your production. And there are 3-5 more links at the bottom to help you even more w your productions. Best of luck – take it away Megan.

Thanks Chase. There are 3 main components to any photo estimate: creative fees, production fees + expenses, licensing + usage rights. The creative + usage fees will only be impacted by a change in scope of work or deliverables, so it’s really about keeping an eye on the production fees + expenses when you’re thinking about budget and planning.

The fact of the matter is that the more accurate your estimate is, the easier it will be to stay on track once the production is underway. As with most things in life, practice makes perfect, so stick with it. Here are my top 9 tips for staying on top.

1. Get clear:
Make sure you have a strong understanding of the project parameters before you start the job. Ask for a creative brief, shot list or any info that may help paint a clearer picture. The more you know in advance, the better equipped you’ll be to produce the job on time + on budget. Get it in writing – budgets and all the info you need (see later tip ;) – so you have something to point to while doing all the work).

2. Research:
This step is especially useful if you’re traveling but applies to everything. When you’re drafting the initial estimate, check out the going rate for flights, hotels in the neighborhood, per diem + mileage rates for the state you’re shooting in, car rentals, baggage fees, etc.

Booking talent? Call an agency or two and ask about day rates and availability.

Renting equipment? Call your local shop to make sure you know how much to budget for each piece – and make sure it’s available!

3. Plan ahead:
Regarding travel, keep in mind that flight costs generally rise as you get closer to your travel date. Try to book 2 weeks in advance to avoid getting gouged, or make sure your estimate is padded enough to account for higher rates.

Reach out to contractors early on to check on rates + availability. Most folks are willing to work within your budget constraints if they’re not super busy and if you’re transparent about the job.

4. Over-communicate:
Set super clear expectations with both your clients + crew. How long will the shoot day be (realistically)? Is there budget for overtime? If not, make sure everyone knows what the hard stop is. Provide crew with as many shoot day details as possible. Share scope of work, schedule, etc. so there are no surprises + everyone knows what’s expected of them on set.

One of the biggest mistakes I see from junior producers is that they fear talking about things that “might” happen or the uncomfortable cost issues that arise from evolving plans. This is not a good quality. Turn this kryptonite into a strength – be open and willing to chat about budget and all things like it — and you will have separated yourself from 90% of the cost and client management challenges. Be proactive.

5. Get it in writing:
See my note above. Consider drafting deal memos for contractors to outline the length of shoot day, agreen-upon rate + hourly O/T costs, should the shoot go long.

Client wants to add a shot? Have them sign a change order, outlining how the extra shot will impact the bottom line; don’t forget to include crew + location O/T.

Even the most basic stuff should be captured in an email so everyone is on the same page – and if there are any discrepancies you can always refer back to what you’d agreed to. In the biz they call this the paper trail.

6. Know your pinch points:
For those of us that have been doing this a while, we’re able to readily identify the places we tend to get in trouble. The most common areas are food + travel. You might have to get creative in order to stay on budget in these categories, but keep an eye out for places you might be able to make up any overages.

7. Keep a running tally:
Plug receipt totals into an “Actuals” column as you go, so that you always know where you stand. It will help you easily identify if and where you’re over budget, and where you have a little wiggle room.

Don’t let yourself get surprised. Always know where you stand relative to what you’re spending.

8. Allow for contingencies:
Be sure to include the fine print as part of your estimate (as a Terms + Conditions addendum), or as part of a larger contract. Identify who’s responsible for what, outline protocol for any major changes + how any disputes will be handled. For instance, if your shoot is outdoors, include a note about how weather delays will be handled.

Agencies will often issue a PO for the exact dollar amount of your estimate. You’ll want to know how to go about submitting an estimate for unforeseen overages (i.e. you arranged + paid for your client’s car to the airport, or you ended up shipping all product back to your client’s office).

There is an art to this. Practice makes perfect.

9. Be smart:
Your clients are hiring you for your creative vision. You may be able to offer some ideas your client hadn’t considered or find solutions to get the intended results at a lower cost. Pipe up. Don’t be afraid to propose a more cost-effective solution, as long as your client’s needs are met.

Want some more Production advice? Try these on for size:

10 Essentials to Go the Extra Mile [For Clients + Crew]
Deliver With Style – 6 Tips for Delivering Files to Clients
How to Prepare for Your Commercial Photo or Video Shoot

That’s all I got for now folks. Try keeping these things in mind on your next shoot, and let us know if they helped. Also, feel free to chime in with other tips or tricks that you’ve found especially useful – I’ll keep an eye on the comments and the social feeds with some answers. Until next time!

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