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Action Sports Heroes as Art [Red Bull Illume Photo Contest]

chasejarvis_REdbulIllumeGeorge Karbus

Photographer: George Karbus / Athlete: Katerina Hamsikova / Location: White Sea, Arctic Circle, Russian Federation (© George Karbus/Red Bull Illume)

The popular Red Bull Illume photo contest is in its third year, and it is attracting deep talent. Photographers and their athlete subjects have combined forces to create some mind blowing imagery. Below are 13 shots that I just had to share. It’s hard to decide what’s more impressive in a many of these: the photo or the athletic performance. Early on in my career my work was almost exclusively dedicated to the world of action and adventure sports and as a result I had the pleasure of working with Red Bull on many photo shoots with many of the best athletes of the day. The folks at Red Bull have always been integral in helping showcase some of the most exciting and creative action sports photography on the planet as art.

This from Red Bull’s website:
“The Image Quest 2013 is the 3rd edition of the competition after 2007 and 2010. From tens of thousands of entries, 50 images in ten categories are selected by international judges and photo editors from renowned publications.

The overall winner will receive the new Leica S camera, while category winners will each receive a Leica X2. Other prizes will include broncolor’s new Move, their portable flash, and the latest strap system from Sun-Sniper.

At the end of August, the top 50 Red Bull Illume finalists will be invited to attend a grand ceremony in the city of Hong Kong where the winners will be unveiled. Once the winners have been announced these 50 finalist images then travel around the world as a unique and stand-alone photo exhibition. To showcase the illumination, the exhibitions always open at night-time only.”

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Photographer: Anthony Acosta / Athlete: Geoff Rowley / Location: Tehachapi, California (© Anthony Acosta/Red Bull Illume)

ChaseJarvis_TravisRice_ScottSerfas

Photographer: Scott Serfas / Athlete: Travis Rice / Location: Tordrillo Mountains, Alaska (© Scott Serfas/Red Bull Illume)

ChaseJarvis_RedBullIllume_Zakary Noyle

Photographer: Zakary Noyle / Athlete: Gabriel Medina / Location: Oahu, Hawaii (© Zakary Noyle/Red Bull Illume)

Photographer: Alexandre Buisse / Athlete: Mich Kemeter / Location: Taft Point, Yosemite, California (© Alexandre Buisse/Red Bull Illume)

Photographer: Alexandre Buisse / Athlete: Mich Kemeter / Location: Taft Point, Yosemite, California (© Alexandre Buisse/Red Bull Illume)

ChaseJarvis_RedBullIllume_Jeroen Nieuwhuis

Photographer: Jeroen Nieuwhuis / Athlete: Erik Journee / Location: Denekamp, Netherlands (© Jeroen Nieuwhuis/Red Bull Illume)

Photographer: Morgan Maassen / Athletes: Jake Marshall, Taylor Clark, Frankie Harrer, Colt Ward, Thelen Whorrell, Nolan Rapoza, Dryden Brown / Location: Tavarua, Fiji (© Morgan Maassen/Red Bull Illume)

Photographer: Jody MacDonald / Athlete: Gavin McClurg / Location: Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique (© Jody MacDonald/Red Bull Illume)

Photographer: Dimitrios Kontizas / Athletes: Hubert Schober, Kedley Oliveti / Location: Zakynthos, Greece (© Dimitrios Kontizas/Red Bull Illume)

Photographer: David Carlier / Athlete: Gary Edgeworth / Location: Lower Mesa Falls, Idaho (© David Carlier/Red Bull Illume)

Photographer: Christian Pondella / Athlete: Will Gadd, Tim Emmett / Location: Helmcken Falls, Wells Grey Provincial Park, British Columbia (© Christian Pondella/Red Bull Illume)

Photographer: Benjamin Ginsberg / Athlete: Bobby Okvist / Location: The Wedge, Newport Beach, California (© Benjamin Ginsberg/Red Bull Illume)

Flying Cameras On a Budget — My First Flight With Affordable Drone Helicopter + GoPro

Because there are few establishing shots that can compete with the one you get above 250 feet, I frequently take my shoots airborne. Whether it’s yanking the doors off a Bell Ranger traditional style or the…ahem…new school way of sending an 8-bladed octo-copter to do the dirty work, if it’s outdoors these days, aerial footage is, well, the new black.

Neither option mentioned above is cheap, however. I’ve been paying thru the mega-schnoz to rent A-Stars ($2000 + per hour) and such for years. And then was superduper excited in 2010 to go remote aerial at about half the cost of a real heli for this project launching the Nikon D7000 (here’s some more BTS with the same flight crew from a commercial i shot in Telluride…). But it’s still pricey. $2k – $5,000 per DAY or more. And although going the R/C route is the lesser of two budget busters, it’s still a rough lump to swallow, particularly if you’re just getting in the game.

ENTER the DJI Phantom, (picked mine up at Dronefly.com) the out-of-the-box R/C quadcopter.

Now before y’all jump into a tizzy that this thing isn’t close to the same quality – doesn’t do X and Y…I know those things. It’s ok that it can’t fly an Arri Alexa or do this or that other thing. BUT damn this is a great entry product that A) allows budget conscious folks the ability to fly a camera; B) makes some pretty solid footy for web videos and such; and C) is a helluva lot of fun to fly. All at fraction of the cost of any previously mentioned option.

Designed to fly the GoPro (you know I love ‘em in this video), this little rig comes in at under $700. Nothing to sneeze at, but chump change compared to what was available just 5 years ago. My crew has two of these little buggers now — and within 5 minutes I had achieved a comfort level great enough to try the stunt at 0:45, terrorize the other people at the GasWorks park in Seattle, and even chase a seaplane.

Although it’s not suitable for high end work (yet?), this is a nice budget breakthru. And truth be told it’s a fricking blast — I’ll be doing more soon. Perhaps…ahem… even on my next photo shoot in Iceland…

Commitment to Creativity — Dreamland with Bob Burnquist is Some Next Level Shit

I had a chance to photograph Bob in Brazil couple years ago for Oakley and we couldn’t pull it together

Let’s just say this video galvanizes my regret.

This is some next level shit, Bob.. The intro is humble. The middle is stunning. And gotta say from experience that the helicopter stuff after the 6 min mark is supremely impressive.

This is what it means to be committed.

You?

Creative Boot Camp for Your Summer Brain [a public service announcement]

creativeLIVE chase jarvis summer sale

This is a public service announcement that I think is valuable… I’m banking you know I’m co-founder over at creativeLIVE – where we’ve delivered more than 15 million viewer hours of creative education worldwide. (If you’re new, here’s stories about it in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, TechCrunch, AllThingsD, etc and stay tuned for my MSNBC segment coming in 2 weeks…)

This is a short-notice opportunity to take advantage of these long summer days –> Just got off the horn a short bit ago with the biz ops team over at cL and talked them into making creativeLIVE’s entire catalog of workshops discounted now through July 31 — some up to 50% off. That’s photo & video classes from your favs (joeyl, zack, vince, jasmine, sue, sal, tamara, etc etc), business classes for creatives, design, software training on all those damn creative apps the you love but drive you crazy, and lots of other goodness.

Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make.

Here’s a link to some of my fav courses of the sale (and click the big blue button over there to shop the entire catalog – all of which is discounted for the next 48 hours).

And the same deal goes for your friends. If you believe in what we’ve created at creativeLIVE — trying to make the world a more creative place — I would be humbly grateful if you shared the good word. Namaste (or whatever is better to say at the end of a post like this and happy summer camping for your creative brain).

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

chase jarvis travis rice

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

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

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

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

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

Asymbol Owl, by Hydro74 aka Joshua M. Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

Craig Kelly Mural, by Scott Lenhardt

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

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

5) Who’s this rockstar Alex Hillinger?

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

6) What makes "Art" in your opinion?

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

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

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

Red, by Chris Burkhart

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

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

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

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

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

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

Asymbol Website
Facebook
Twitter

15 Tips for Creatives to Get the Most Legal Bang for Your Legal Buck

Contracts can be a nightmare. I’ve never loved contracts even for a hot second, but fortunately I’ve surrounded myself with an awesome Executive Producer who really likes them — Kate (she’s also my wife), and a great lawyer or two. We know what a pain point this can be for creatives everywhere, so we sat down and pulled together a series of 15 tips aimed to help you navigate these messy waters. We know legal advice can be ridiculously expensive and is often hard to afford/want to pay for, however, in order to run a successful biz, the need for some legal work is inevitable… The trick is to find a balance between spending and managing risk.

To help strike that balance, here the list we use to keep our bills as low as possible and still meet that baseline of comfort.

1. Find a lawyer before you need a lawyer. While the task may sound daunting, it is way, way, way better to make the time early so you don’t feel rushed in an already stressful situation. Start by asking for recommendations from friends, industry acquaintances and local professional organizations and develop a short list of options. Then meet with a few attorneys to find the best fit. Take advantage of this initial meeting time to share your philosophy and get on the same page. This will save you time and money later. If at all possible, try working on a few projects together to see how it goes.

2. Find a lawyer that is a good match for your personality and your needs. When we were on the hunt for legal counsel, here was our list of wants:

_understands copyright, intellectual property and contract law,
_great at explaining law in layman’s terms,
_understands our business, budget and goals,
_has the necessary technology to work together (document compatibility),
_has time for us, and
_is pleasant to work with.

3. Understand how lawyers bill. Most lawyers bill in 15 minute increments, so keep your eye on the clock! This includes any and all time working for you, so that means reading email, phone calls or working on your project. Being prepared and organized will save you money. You will also be charged for miscellaneous items like making copies, sending faxes, editing documents, etc, so you may want to take over some of those tasks if it makes sense.

Some firms want you to pay an advance fee or retainer, where you pay a certain amount in advance and then are billed against that amount as work is completed. These types of agreements are common and pretty fair, but if you can avoid paying in advance, that is always preferred. If not, negotiate any prepayment as low as possible and never sign up for more time than you think you will use from the firm in a reasonable amount of time – these fees are nonrefundable.

4. Manage costs. Since writing legal documents is an art, there is no one definitive way to express an idea. That said, you can get in editing loops that could go on and on. To avoid this, it is really important to communicate clearly about your needs for every project.

Some other tips:

_provide a per project budget,
_ask for notification if your monthly bill exceeds a certain amount and
_provide some direction on the type of feedback you want

For example, some standard agreements are just that… standard, so I instruct our legal to look for red flags only (after I have read it). In other instances, we may be entering into a very unique type of deal, so we may need more customization. Even in the latter case, you should keep track of time to keep a pulse on the budget.

5. Take advantage of the resources offered by professional organizations. I especially love the American Society of Media Photographers. Among other great member benefits, they offer a wealth of helpful legal information including:
tutorials on bad contracts, copyright, releases, licensing, and more and sample forms like releases, contracts, etc. granted, you will want to customize/localize with your lawyer if at all possible, but it’s a great starting place that will save you time, money and headaches.

6. Create templates when possible. You will find that you use the same documents over and over and you should have solid versions/template of each that can be customized as needed. Start with standardized documents from your professional organization or law firm and work with your lawyer to make them appropriate to your business. Here’s a list of standard documents that would be helpful to have at your fingertips and customize:

_photographer agreement
_estimate, delivery memo, change order and invoice
_model release
_property release
_contractor agreement (for individuals you are hiring)
_non-disclosure agreement

7. Create systems. Whenever you find yourself encountering they same types of legal requests, see if there is a way to standardize or at least create a system for vetting the document so you don’t start from scratch each time. For example, we are often asked to signed Non-Disclosure Agreements before hearing about projects. Every client has their standard document, so I worked with our counsel to create a way for me to vet each before going to our legal. See our earlier post about NDAs HERE.

8. Use a term sheet. A term sheet is a short, bullet-point document, usually one-page, that summarizes the project and specifies the essential terms of your forthcoming agreement. This is a great way to go because it gets all parties on the same page in plain English… and FAST. This ‘cheat sheet’ is a guide to help the legal team translate the project into a formal legal format. Term sheets can be binding or non-binding… that means, enforceable by law or just clarifying. Either can work, it just depends on your needs.

9. Embrace the process. The longer I’m at it, the more I see the process around most legal issues as an opportunity to build a strong relationships with those we want to do biz with. The process gives both sides a chance –through good communication– to really understand the terms and expectations and avoid surprises later. If done well, everyone walks away feeling like they they are winning. And that’s a great way to start a relationship.

10. Understand your lawyers limitations. A lawyer only is as good as the information you provide them with and you know your business way better than your lawyer does. So, you have to work together to end up with a great contract. Think about the deal and make sure you have addressed everything you think is important. I always explain the project and ask myself: what is missing? I always ask my lawyer: what should I be asking?

11. Unravel the mystery of ‘boilerplate.’ Boilerplate is the standard parts of a contract that you almost always need, like confidentiality, severability, assignment, relationship of the parties, governing law and so on. It’s a great idea to work with your lawyer to understand these kinds of standard sections…AND you still need to read them every time! Seemingly small changes can have big impacts.

12. Take advantage of redlining. In word processing, you can track any changes made by either party as you are editing, suggesting changes and making comments. This redline shows up in a different color the document with a note of who made the change so that others can see the changes that have been made. It makes going back and forth on documents so much easier!

13. Ask questions/do the research. Use your lawyer, resources online and the process to educate yourself. As you start to understand more, you will be able to ask better questions and avoid pitfalls before you get too far down the line in the legal process. For example, you don’t want to wait until the contract phase of the process to find out that the client wants to hire you to do work for hire (they own the copyright) if you prefer to license your work (you own the copyright).

14. Evaluate risk. All deals have some amount of risk and and you want to mitigate as much as possible. A good lawyer excels at helping you understand your risk so you can make the best decisions… it’s up to you to make the call on what your are willing to sign up for.

15. Read and understand anything + everything you sign. This seem obvious, is essential and yet way too often does not happen. All deals have some risk and you must understand how much risk you are assuming. A lawyer is great for highlighting where you are exposed so that you can make an informed decision. I always pay special, bonus attention to certain sections, like warranties, representation, indemnification and copyright sections.

Bonus: A good thing to remember is that contracts are a good sign… it means that you have new business opportunities and that is exciting.

Hope this list helps you navigate around a few headaches and onto the creative stuff you really want to be doing. Good luck.

chasejarvisRAW: Sea to Sky Photo Shoot in Belize [Plus How to Pull This Off Like a Pro]

Quick share here….. a short while back I took my very first trip to Belize for what turned into a really, really (2 reallys – or now that’s three) high value, pain-free shoot. I’ve been so very lucky to have shot in some of the most spectacular places in the world — and just added Belize to that list.

We banged out a fun BTS vid to share some of the splendor, but also to give you a peek into some additional forthcoming BTS/helpful vids we’ll spin out that will add value to your future visits here, including aerial, underwater, and gear-packing / travel hacks. And if you’re thinking “Belize is so damn far away”…it’s not really. For USA’ers it’s closer than you think – only 5 hours SEA to Belize city (same as NYC), so every other desitnation in the USA, save AK + HI are even closer, and it transports you to a whole new world of blue green water, endless tiny white sand islands, and some of the most famous dive destinations on the planet. Our plane tix were pretty reasonable and lodging even moreso.

Enjoy the vid. If you missed earlier BTS snapshots from the trip and want to circle back there’s some here. And for those who are curious about how best to pull off the logistics of a trip/job like this, here’s a 4-part series on how to travel for photo + video shoots like a boss….

Part 1 – 10 Mission Critical Tips for Booking Photo and Video Travel – getting there
Part 2 – 12 Mission Critical Tips for Pre-Production – tips BEFORE traveling
Part 3 – 12 Tips for Travel Packing – tips on what to take
Part 4 – 8 Mission Critical Tips for Being on the Road

More soon – be creative until then. Happy to answer questions if you got ‘em.

How to Shoot [photograph] Fireworks

Happy Birthday USA!
Quick and Dirty Tips for Shooting Fireworks:

[If you want an in-depth step by step check out the video above from creativeLIVE]

1. Use a Tripod
You’ll want to make sure your camera is stable and secure. Check out some support systems here.

2. Remote Release
Invest in a remote release device. You can also use the timer shutter release function – but a remote release is the best option.

3. ISO
Shoot a low ISO. I recommend 100.

4. Focal Length
Timing is key with fireworks. You’re going to have to anticipate where the action is happening before it happens. This can be tricky if you’re shooting with a longer focal length and trying to stay tight. A wider focal length makes this easier, but experiment a bit. Zoom in and see if you get lucky. If you shoot wide, you can always go back and crop for the desired effect as well.

5. Aperture
Fireworks are BRIGHT. You dont need a really fast lens and the general consensus is that somewhere between f/8 to f/16 will work.

6. Shutter Speed
Shutter speed is going to be the most important aspect of your fireworks capture. A long exposure is what you’re going to want to go for. Shooting “bulb” with a remote release is the best technique. Hit the shutter as the firework is about to explode and hold it down until it’s finished. This could be a few seconds. At the same time,
don’t keep your shutter open too long. Remember: Fireworks are BRIGHT. Just because its dark doesnt mean that you wont completely blow out your photos if you keep the shutter open too long.

7. Framing
Get to your location a bit early. What’s in the foreground and background? Try to figure our where the fireworks are being set up and where they will end up in they sky. You will have to aim before the fireworks go off. If you are really on it – ask the folks coordinating the display for some advance information. This will be a big help. Consider your lens selection before the show start. Are you going to shoot horizontal or vertical? Dont forget how you’ve framed it up because when you’re in the dark, you might spend a lot of time looking directly at the fireworks display rather than through the viewfinder.

8. “No flash photography”
A flash will do nothing but crush your photos and leave you with smoke…turn it off or leave it at home.

Have a great Fourth of July and share some of these photos in the comments section for Thursday morning!

Super Camera — Arri Alexa is the Pro’s Best Friend [plus how I shot the Samsung video ]

You may recall a few weeks back I released a video of the behind-the-scenes action for a cool gig I was asked to create for Samsung around their Series 9 Color Premium monitors. It was a dream job in a lot of ways. For one, I got to literally photograph a re-creation of my dreams; for two, on jobs like that I get the opportunity to rub elbows with the best crew —cinematographers, editors, filmers, sound technicians, art directors, stylists, producers and beyond — PLUS the best gear too.

When I laid out the earlier blog post detailing everything about my Samsung shoot I took a question from a guy named “Ben” off the ol’ innernets:

“Great cinematic look in your Samsung behind-the-scenes vid, Chase. What camera did you shoot it with?”

So I thought I would take this opportunity to a)highlight our primary cine camera on this shoot– the Arri Alexa; b)introduce my fav DP, Chris Bell, who shot that camera on my Samsung job (and a lot of my other stuff); and c) refresh that Samsung video in case you missed it the first go round.

So in reverse order, here’s the Samsung vid shot primarily with the Arri Alexa (below). And then – in addition to our video review (above) I asked him to share some more knowledge & opinion and he breaks it down quite nicely… all of which you’ll find after the Samsung vid here. Thanks Chris!

First of all, Chris, thanks for slaying it for me on the Samsung gig. Second, thanks for the quick interview – really appreciate the time discussing the Arri Alexa. When did you first pick up the Arri Alexa and what were you using previously that it replaced?

The Alexa replaced a lot of cameras. My background is as a film shooter (16-35 mm). And we had various cameras to get a particular look. Panasonic had various cameras. The HBX200. There were cameras like the Canon 5D and even the Red One. I had a shop full of cameras and each was there to satisfy a specific client’s need. Alexa came along and, in a way, became the swiss army knife of cameras. It replaced a lot of those cameras. Everyone [clients] wanted the big chip look. Everyone wanted the shallow depth of field look. For one reason or another the cameras that I mentioned could not satisfy all parts of the workflow in a consistent way. Red was a raw camera – which is nice, but it needs tons of post production attention. That’s a challenge. And no one wanted to shoot tape anymore.

arri alexa chase jarvis blogThe Alexa came along and answered a lot of producers, editors and cinematographers desires – all at the same time. It does a great job emulating film…and film is still state of the art in many ways. It is still the benchmark that cinematographers use to compare against. The Alexa was really the first to mimic the dyanamic range of film. It appeals to so many because it has a look clients love – that filmic “look”.

Prior to the Alexa someone in the workflow — the cinematographer, the editor or the producer, had to compromise on something. These other cameras, while amazing in some way, had very limtited range. They had lots of compression issues and color source issues. They had very challenging workflow issues. Then the Alexa comes along and all of a sudden – the cinematographer is happy, the producer and editor are happy. That it shoots files that are ready to edit right out of the camera –and require no conversion–makes workflow a snap.

arri alexa chase jarvis blog 2And it’s super simple in lots of other ways too…It has great time coding for instance. These are little things. But on big productions – on the big budget work that demands reliability, it is the little things that add up for the professional. And ultimately, this camera can be relied upon. It’s been used on major Hollywood productions like Skyfall and Life of Pi. It’s increasingly found on the set for TV commercials worldwide. It’s being used for wildlife docs. For me, I work on a lot of different types of productions – from commercials to sport, to big brands like Microsoft and Samsung–and beyond, and it always does me right. In short, I think that Arri has done a magnificent job listening to its users when developing the product.

What is your favorite piece of completed work (–ahem besides our Samsung video–) using the Alexa, that you could show off with?
Here are two:
12th Ave Iron Film:
National TV Spot for Acer

What’s the best thing about the Alexa from a usage standpoint?
The best thing is that its a camera that makes a beautiful image without compromise – for anyone involved with the workflow. It’s a swiss army knife that works on any type job. ESPN shooters are buying Alexa. The networks love it because the files are immediately edit-ready. It’s SO easy to use. And it has become a standard. I figured I’d get a three year usage (digital has a short shelf life), but I’ll get at least five years out of this camera. Arri has these very long product cycles. That’s very important. It means I can go on a shoot and no matter who’s shooting – we are all shooting the same quality image. This is super important from the business standpoint. We need to have time to recoup investment – b/c its not a cheap camera [$90,000]. My criticism of digital is that it all turns over too fast. It’s getting silly. Every six months there is a new “must have” camera.

arri alexa chase jarvis blog 3How does the average joe get to play with one of these bad boys? Or do they…
The average Joe could go to the Arri website – there is a simulator. They update it every time there is a software update. You can learn the menu system online. If you want to see it in person – call local rental houses and ask if there is a good time to come in and look at the camera and play with it. They might be up for that to get a new customer. Some rental houses have workshops too. You could go to the trade shows. There are lots of ways to do it without dropping the $90,000 cold turkey. Most rental houses are open to educating people.

What’s coming next in this class of camera in your opinion? How can it get even better?

Moore’s law is always in effect. Digital imaging tech is moving very quickly – there is going to be a day where there is a base camera with ISO 5000 and it will shoot 5000fps and it will cost $5000. On your very high end – everyone is going to continue to attempt to emulate the benchmark: motion film. Dynamic range, how they handle highlights, lights and dark and how accurately they are able to reproduce color space. These are the Model T’s of digital cameras. There is a big revolution coming with color and contrast. We’re getting away from a lot of the compromise. Heavy compression, limited colorspace, limited dynamic range. Manufacturers are hearing it and producing new cameras. But I really wish they would slow down a bit and not reinvent the wheel every nine months. Having a standard is important too. It’s rather dizzying.

Thanks Chris! More details on the Arri Alexa here via the Arri Group.

How to Make Money Selling Drugs — A Public Service Announcement


Just a personal note to YOU from my homie, actor Adrian Grenier [Entourage]… He is stoked to announce the LA, NY, Seattle, Portland & Atlanta theatrical opening for his latest documentary film How to Make Money Selling Drugs. I have seen the movie – it’s fantastic. An interesting twisted approach to awareness around the causes and effects of the whole drug war enchilada…

If you’ve ever wondered about the failed, resource-sucking drug war (or you thought we were “doing the right thing”), do yourself a favor buy a ticket for this weekend’s theatrical opening here in the USA. Or, if you’re not in one of these locations (or not in the USA), it’s available for streaming/download on iTunes HERE.

From the IFC: “Subversive and satirical, this documentary offers a fresh take on a serious subject. Through investigative reporting and surprising interviews with subjects ranging from Susan Sarandon to Eminem and Russell Simmons, it illustrates step-by-step how to create a drug empire, from dealing on the corner to running a major cartel. Laying bare the inequities in the legal system and the ways that criminalization breeds violence, the film builds a powerful case for radically rethinking drug policy.” This fresh look explores the rise of actual drug dealers and exposes a $400 billion dollar industry that our government [and many governments worldwide] is happy to keep intact.

For detailed theater and show time info, go HERE.

Thanks for spreading the word for Adrian and yours truly. Any word of mouth/posts/social is greatly appreciated. Together we can shed some light on a dark corner of the world.

[You might remember Adrian's guest appearance on cjLIVE last April. Some great insight into the entertainment industry and what it means to be a creative in Hollywood. Well worth the [re]watch —> HERE]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

chase jarvis gasmask bong nyc dasein

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

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

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

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

What Sustains Creativity? [Plus a 24-hour Photo Marathon]


My friends at the Photo Center NW are always showcasing new work and ideas that help progress the craft of photography. I’m a huge fan (and an honorary board member) of PCNW and this is a cool event they are putting on that I wanted y’all to know about… and it’s happening THIS WEEK. A 24-hour photo marathon going down on the longest day of the year June 21 (that’s in 3 days). Rafael Soldi from the PCNW explains more and interviews two wildly creative photographers about what sustains their creativity. Take it away Rafael.

Thanks Chase. There is an oft-quoted line, supposedly from Pablo Picasso: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” In two recent lectures hosted at Photo Center NW, we heard from two very different photographers who shared commanding stories about finding their creative force. And sometimes, as we learned, a creative force needs to be defended from external pressures to follow a prescribed route.

What sustains creativity? What are the forces that keep artists creating, and photographers inspired to share their work? We were compelled to learn more about what experiences had shaped the creative work of these two artists: Diana Markosian is a documentary photographer who at age 22 earned the Reuters photo of the year award; Grace Weston is an accomplished artist who creates constructed narrative images in elaborate studio scenes. Their stories of “un-learning” traditional modes of producing artwork, or rejecting values associated with their field demonstrated that creative hurdles are ever-present, and that they can come from personal choices and external forces alike.

As the Photo Center embarks on Long Shot, a 24-hour photo marathon, we share these stories of personal growth, in hopes that other photographers will join us and share their perspective with the world. Long Shot invites hundreds of photographers to participate by photographing anywhere they are in the world on June 21, the longest day of the year.

Tell us more about how you evolved your work beyond what was “expected” from a photographic project to what you really were passionate about?

Grace Weston: It was not a fast transition. I got to a point where my more formal, out in the field, black & white work was no longer fulfilling me. I felt uninspired and had no idea what to do next. Suddenly embarking on studio work turned everything upside down and put me back at square one. I had a lot to learn, and STILL had no idea what I wanted to shoot. I headed into still life, and made some “romantic” looking pieces, which were sort of “in style” at the time. But beauty has never been enough for me in a piece. I wanted to tell something, and found myself drawn to narrative. Magritte inspired my first successful narrative piece. I always loved the narrative found in surrealism, with its nod to dream life and the subconscious. That first piece excited me and I knew I was on the right path.

Diana Markosian: I isolate myself by traveling to some of the most remote corners of the world, immersing myself in a world that is often foreign to me. I stay in these regions for long enough to become almost invisible to my subjects. I try to push myself to find projects, which I can follow through different stages. On a personal level, I try to surround myself by other photographers, artists and people who I admire creatively. This has been the best thing for growth, just always looking for smarter and more creative people to spend time with.

Could you address the kind of “re-education” that you underwent about your process?

Grace Weston: After years of more formal black and white photography in the field I had the opportunity to assist a studio photographer. It was daunting, but also thrilling to start with a “blank canvas” instead of the “treasure hunting” of my previous work in the field.

I didn’t really know if my work would fit in the fine art arena or the commercial arena. I greatly admired the work I saw in Communication Arts Photography Annuals and often I saw no reason why the work (especially the “personal work”) was not considered fine art. I found the rhetoric around the divisions between fine art and commercial work confusing, and unhelpful. I decided to ignore it, and do what I felt drawn to, what felt authentic to me, and see where it fit later.



Do you have advice for photographers who are struggling with the pressures of how to create work that resonates, and that is fulfilling artistically?

Diana Markosian: You have to photograph things you really care about, things that really interest you, not things you feel you ought to do. I don’t believe in waiting for assignments. Most of my work has been self-assigned. If you want to see the world, do it. When rejection happens (which is inevitable), don’t be turned off by it. There are editors out there who will love your work. Your job is to find them. In the end, everything has a purpose. Trust your life and believe in the work you do.
Grace Weston: Forget about the end result while in the creative phase. Please yourself. Do work that satisfies you, and addresses your own questions about the world, life, and expresses your viewpoint. At that point don’t worry about how it will be received, or if it resonates with others. If you are making work that is authentic to who you are, it’s likely it will strike chords with others. The LAST thing you should be doing while in the creative mode is thinking about others’ approval. Later on, you can reflect on what the work is about, where does it fit, who is your target audience. These are two different parts of the brain. The creative, right side of the brain does not need interference from the analytical left side while you are trying to cultivate your own voice.

Join Grace and Diana this summer for the Long Shot photo marathon on June 21. Anyone anywhere can participate, and at least one image from every participant will be exhibited online and at the Photo Center gallery on July 27. This marathon raises funds for our non-profit programs, including lectures and presentations from today’s photographers like Grace and Diana. Registration and participation is free (and so is creativity).

ChaseJarvis_DianaMarkosian

Photo: Diana Markosian

ChaseJarvis_GraceWeston

Photo: Grace Weston

ChaseJarvis_DianaMarkosian

Photo: DianaMarkosian

ChaseJarvis_GraceWeston01

Photo: GraceWeston

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

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

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

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

Photo via of click.si.edu


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

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

Photo via of neatorama.com

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

Photo courtesy of tc.umn.edu

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

Photo via of urbanlegends.about.com

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

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

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