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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Have Coffee! Join Me For a 30-Minute Online Hangout

chase jarvis coffeeREMINDER THIS IS TODAY! Don’t miss out. Grab a coffee, JOIN IN HERE on Google+ or HERE on YouTube, and ask some questions! You can also catch an embed down below. I’m all ears and a little bit of mouth… See you in a jiff…

BONUS ANNOUNCEMENT: My friends over at Adorama have made several special deals available as part of my Hangout today. Click on this link to head over to the special Adorama landing page to check out the specials! I’ll also have a $100 gift card to give away during the show, so watch out for that, too.

A lot of people offer to buy me coffee. It’s great. I love coffee and I love talking shop. Only hiccup is that there’s not enough hours in the day. Soooo… Join me for a cup of coffee (tea, beer, bourbon?) and let’s talk shop for 30 minutes via a Google Hangout on Tuesday August 5th. Here’s how.

Remember that contest I ran recently where the prize was a $500 from Adorama, 2 courses from CreativeLive and one-hour totally off-the-record conversation between me and the winner? Well, turns out that David Arthur was that winner and we’re talking on Tuesday August 5th. But here’s where you come in.

My private chat with David ends at 12noon Seattle time (3pm NYC, 20:00 London), but right at that time, I’ll kickoff a 30 minute public Google+ Hangout where you can join/follow the open conversation I’ll be having with you and whomever…taking any and all questions via Facebook, Twitter, carrier pigeon, smoke signal or however you can get ‘em across the wire to me. Ask ‘em day of…or can even ask them early in the comments below.

THE DETAILS
WHO: A worldwide chitchat via a Google+ Hangout
WHAT: Open Q&A that YOU can join or watch
WHEN: Tuesday, August 5th, NOON – 12:30 PM Seattle time (2:00 PM – 2:30 PM Central time)
WHERE: Tune in here my YouTube page, here here via my Google+ page

NOTE: I’ve done a handful of On Air Hangouts before, BUT never pulled it together myself on the casual tip…so cut me a little slack if it ain’t pretty ;) But I think I got this…

Any questions (about the process or that you want me to answer) leave ‘em in the comments, or keep your eyes peeled on my social feeds for deets in the coming days.

How to Turn ‘No’ Into ‘Yes’ + Get What You Want [An Essential Strategy That Will Get YOU Hired]

It’s fair to say that I’m obsessed with the human spirit. It is amazing, bizarre and lovely at the same time and it can accomplish unthinkable things in the face of the most harrowing odds, in the face of challenge, in the face of “never”. Which is why I believe in the following quote and the following story that relates to this quote. You may have seen this story ‘blow up’ on social a few months ago, but amidst reflection (and upon this great story and the short film about it), my interest in sharing this story compounded. So, as such, here ’tis….with some extra insights to follow that’ll help you win.

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

— Calvin Coolidge

This story opens with a man. A bizarre but fascinating man named Greg Packer — who had set out on an inexplicable journey to become the most quoted man in the news (I know, weird goal, but a seemingly impossible one as well)… but here’s the kicker: he pulled it off. Packer was so successful in his campaign in fact that the Associated Press eventually issued a memo to all its reporters to stop interviewing the guy.

Enter filmmaker friend Andrew David Watson who, when he discovered the Greg Packer story, had the brilliant idea for a perfectly ironic, smart, funny story to tell this Greg Packer’s story from within the media that he hacked. Essentially, tell Greg’s story in the news.

So Andrew pitched his story idea to a bunch of publications. No one bit. Not a one.

This is where – in a very meta way – the human spirit kicks in. Andrew shot the story anyway. And this is where the TAKEAWAY LESSON FOR YOU begins

Andrew cold emailed a rough cut to The New Yorker, they snatched it up right away. Turns out Andrew’s instincts were pretty spot on.

A month after his beautiful little piece published, The Most Quoted Man In News had over 100k views on The New Yorker and Andrew’s Vimeo page had almost half a million.

I never tire of these powerful reminders to pursue personal work, to tackle passion projects, even when the people who write the checks shut the door. In the past, I’ve told you to get used to hearing “NO” and to use it as a motivator. Now I’m telling you HOW. In Andrew’s case, he knew he had a compelling story to capture and he knew he had the tools to do the story justice.

Mark Schwartz did it with his 8×10 Polaroid, and now his work is used by Billabong, Levi’s and Surfrider. Joey L does it, and he’s now turning work away. Tim Ferriss was shot down by 27 publishing houses before the 28th said yes to his multi-million copy selling 4-Hour series of books. Jason Shelowitz (AKA Jay Shells) put up street art that he knew was going to get stolen, but something in his gut/heart/left brain said “do it anyway.”

The common thread in all of these tales of big time success is… PERSISTENCE. Someone told all of these people NO and they forged right ahead and made the thing anyway, and that thing became a successful stand-out piece of their careers.

To give you more insight, I reached out to Andrew with a few questions about this project and how he bounces back from rejection.

First, let’s hear just a little background on your Greg Packer project:

I first met Greg Packer back in 2008. I read a short article about Greg and decided to track him down. It happened to be during the World Series and Greg was in Philadelphia for the Phillies victory parade. I met up with Greg, filmed some footage of him at the parade and got to know him a little better. I thought Greg was a fascinating character but I just wasn’t sure how to make a film about him. I archived the material, kept the story on my ever evolving list of project ideas, and moved on with life.

Fast forward almost 5 years and I was digging through my note book and got thinking about Greg. My visual style and story telling skills had developed a lot in those 5 years and I all of a sudden could picture exactly how I would make the film. I called Greg and asked if he could come down to a studio in Brooklyn for an interview and he (of course!) was super into it.

The best part is the footage I shot in 2008 when I first met Greg, made its way into the final edit as archival material.

Let’s jump right into rejection. You knew you had a good idea. You pitched it, no one bit. How did you handle that rejection? More importantly, how did you handle it with integrity and turn it into resolve?

At this point in my career I’m used to rejection, it’s part of the process. Sometimes it comes down to the creative, but other times it comes down to elements outside of your control such as timing, similar content already under development, etc. I have pitched ideas in the past that I thought were amazing, but once I went through the pitch process, I realized they were not as rock solid as I thought. Other times, such as this project, even after being rejected I still had faith in the story and the passion to pursue it, which told me it was worth doing.

Can you remember the first time you turned a “no” into a project’s first step towards completion? Tell us about it.

A few years ago Etsy came to me and asked if I had any short film ideas that encompassed what their brand was about (handmade, economy of scale, etc). I pitched an idea about a very opinionated motorcycle mechanic I knew in Philadelphia. The producer at Etsy politely turned it down, saying they didn’t really see it working. However, it was a short film idea I always wanted to do and the more I thought about it, the more I just wanted to shoot it anyway, so I did. When I had an edit ready, I showed Etsy and they loved it. They decided to take it with next to no edit changes. The piece went on to get over 300k views, a Vimeo staff pick, multiple festival screenings and was one of Etsy most viewed pieces for a while.

When you resolved to make the The Most Quoted Man anyway, did you make it with the intention of re-pitching it? In other words, was the style, editing, etc. all chosen because you still saw this thing getting published in, say, the New Yorker?

Honestly, no, I decided to make the piece exactly how I saw it. I learned from past experiences that following my gut is usually better than trying to cater to a specific style thats not my own. “Most Quoted Man” is slightly different from other New Yorker pieces (with a lot more graphics and punchy music), however when they decided to take it, they asked for no editorial changes.

Rejection helps us refine our pitching process. How has it helped you refine yours? Can you tell us about some of your pitching success stories and why they were success?

I gravitated towards cameras at a young age because I find images the easiest way to communicate. I was never a strong writer, and I’m still not, so I find it ironic that now I often have to write out my ideas before shooting them. I have refined my pitches by making them as visual as possible, using a lot of reference photos and my past work to explain my vision. Just like anything, the more you do it the better you get at it, but I still have and will always be refining my pitch process.

The lessons we learn as artists can (if we let them) inform many other aspects of our lives. How does this lesson — not taking “no” for an answer — get applied to other aspects of your life (preferably in a positive way!)

Learning to not take “no” for an answer is essentially creative problem solving, which I have always applied to my life. Whether it’s where to live, how to move forward in my career, where to go to university, etc… there is no correct path to take. Feeling comfortable and confident to make your own decisions even if they go against conventional thinking, is just as important as an artist as it is in your everyday life.

You’re sitting in a room with a bunch of talented but frustrated creatives who are struggling to keep rejection from getting the better of them. What is the one piece of advice you would give them?

Rejection is part of the process. It will make you more critical of your own work (in a good way) and will test your faith in your ideas. At the end of the day, rejection is often just one person’s (or a small group’s) creative choice at that given moment. Sometimes it works for you and other times it doesn’t, but the best way to ensure you continue to get the opportunity (even if it means more rejection) is to continue producing the work you are passionate about.

###
Follow Andrew David Watson on these channels:

website
twitter
instagram
vimeo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO, HOW DO YOU WIN? To help wrangle this giveaway, we’re going back to our favorite widget below. It does a few things really well:
1. manages all entries into a secure database and properly randomizes a winner
2. gives you info about how much time is left in the giveaway / how many entries there are etc
3. allows you to earn extra entries by participating more deeply in the community (tweeting, sharing, reading posts etc)

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

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

Your Side Project Is Your Next Big Win [legendary Swiss Miss on #cjLIVE Wed Jun 18]

REMINDER: this show is TODAY Wed, June 18, at NOON San Francisco time (3pm NYC, 20:00 London) and is broadcast LIVE at https://www.creativelive.com/live5. Tune in, join the global internet audience + live Q&A w/ Swiss Miss. Details below!

UPDATE: JOIN US IN THE STUDIO. Want to be part of the live studio audience? Check it –> This is a special remote episode of #cjLIVE coming to you LIVE from the CreativeLive studios in San Francisco!! Do you live in the bay area and wanna have special access to Tina and yours truly? We just released a few more seats. Send an email to production@chasejarvis.com – you will get a response about seats and details for you +1 GUEST!
[Sorry.... the in-studio audience is over capacity. Join the newsletter on this page if you want to get advance notice for the next show.]
___

ENTER: Swiss Miss. Tina Roth Eisenberg (aka Swiss-Miss.com) is a force of nature who knows that “your side project is your next big win” more, better, bigger, stronger than anyone I know. Tina’s blog has been an inspiration to me since 2005 and was one of the original blogs I referenced when deciding to start my own…way back in 2006. Put bluntly, Tina is one of the reasons I got started sharing online…and NOW she again leads by example, having created probably a half-dozen business WHILE SHE’S BEEN A DESIGNER WORKING IN THE TRENCHES! Funny thing? Those businesses are now global powerhouses in their own right. AND she’s coming on #cjLIVE next week to tell us all about it.

Moreover, we’ll be LIVE from Design Week San Francisco in collaboration with the AIGA to bring you this amazing look into one of the most progressive creative / entrepreneurship minds on the internetzz. Ever heard of Creative Mornings? That global series of breakfast lectures for creatives – now in nearly 100 cities worldwide? That’s Tina (btw here’s my CM talk comparing Macklemore with Ansel Adams). Ever heard of Tattly? The hottest, most playful temporary tattoo site on the planet – doing exlusive deals with MOMA and designers like Sagmeister? That’s Tina too. Or maybe you’ve used a little tool called Teux Deux to plan your day in lists. Yep – Tina. Co-working space in Brooklyn called StudioMates way before co-working was cool? That’s Tina too. It just doesn’t stop – nor does she. And she’s coming on #cjLIVE to give us all her secrets. Taking your questions via #cjLIVE, live on the day of the broadcast – a global gathering of creative people. An all-access discussion and interactive Q&A. Get the deets here:

WHO: You, Me, creative phenom Tina Roth Eisenberg + a worldwide gathering of creative people
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Wednesday, June 18th, 12:00 noon SF time (3:00pm NYC time or 20:00 London)
WHERE: Tune into https://www.creativelive.com/live5. It’s free — anyone can watch and we’ll be taking YOUR questions via Facebook and Twitter, hashtag #cjLIVE

At the bottom of this post, I’ve included Tina’s SXSW keynote that should give you a good idea of what she’s all about, but here’s a list of just a few of the details we’re going to try to cover in our 90 minute episode next week:

// Making everything you work on a labor of love
// The risk and reward of an eternally entrepreneurial spirit
// Why side hustles are key to getting noticed and doing the kind of work you want to do
// How and why it’s important to cultivate a supportive community

MY THOUGHTS ON PERSONAL WORK??? Let’s face it – you know I’m a diehard advocate of personal work. Most of my biggest career accomplishments beyond nailing a good campaign here and there – certainly the biggest game changers for me — have been “side gigs” that have become either huge or at least interesting – occasionally both. Sharing behind the scenes photos/videos/looks into the ‘black box’ of photography (back when there was no such access) helped put me on the map. Best Camera – the first photo app to share images to social networks, recognized as ‘app of the year’ in Wired, iTunes, Macworld, the New York Times and helped kick off the mobile photo sharing craze was a side project born from a desire to share MY photos with the touch of 1 button. CreativeLive was a side project cooked up on a whiteboard between myself and my co-founder Craig Swanson. Turns out there’s a pattern to this stuff and turns out you can and should be cultivating these so called “side gigs” or “side hustles” or “passion projects” because they have tremendous power to catapult your career, your beliefs, your life into a whole new realm.

Check out this interview with Tina as well to get a really good idea of what she’s about if you need a primer.

PIMP THE SHOW AND WIN BIG.
If you’ve watched #cjLIVE before, you know how we do! If you’re new around these parts, well you’re in for a treat… We’re giving away $200 in CreativeLive course credits to TWO lucky winners!

Enter to win by promoting the show as many times as you can starting RIGHT NOW till the show begins. Send out a creative tweet OR Facebook post including #cjLIVE + @swissmiss + any url pointing to THIS blog post. Be sure to use the hashtag and/or point back to my Facebook so we can track all your entries. We’ll select 2 of the best ones and give you a shout-out at the beginning of the show, along with access to the $200 creativeLIVE credits.

WE WILL ALSO GIVE AWAY MORE TASTY PRIZES DURING THE SHOW… but you gotta tune in to the show to find out what we’ll be giving away in real-time! I know, it’s a tease. But you’ll be glad you tune in no matter what.

JOIN US IN THE STUDIO.
Want to be part of the live studio audience? Check it –> This is a special remote episode of #cjLIVE coming to you LIVE from the CreativeLive studios in San Francisco!! Do you live in the bay area and wanna have special access to Tina and yours truly?? First 25 people to send an email to production@chasejarvis.com will score seats and be notified this week about the details for you +1 GUEST!

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


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

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

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

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

1. Defining Your Fear

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

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

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

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

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

Brilliant. Actionable.

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

Your Homework on #1

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

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

Doesn’t look so bad anymore, does it? Boom!
_____

2. Finding Your Voice

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

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

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

Your Homework for #2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Homework for #3

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

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

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

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

How to Capture Creative Gold When You’re at the End of Your Rope — Literally. [Interview with Jimmy Chin]

There are two types of photographers who impress the hell out of me.

One is the wartime photojournalist, who puts his or her life on line to document real stories and images behind the world’s most dangerous conflicts. [I've written about it before -- Would You Die for a Photo?]. Without their work, truths get lost, and the stakes are as high as they can get.

The other is the extreme photographer. I’m not talking about the “adventure photographer” here, the guy who snaps sunset shots of a pride of lions from the safety of his Range Rover. No, I mean the photographer who captures the athletes and adventurers who are pushing the absolute limits of sport in remote and difficult locations. It’s a bit obtusely self reflexive as I often get lumped in with this action sports crew…but there is another level beyond that, I promise. These are the photographers who must both be artists behind the lens and possess the same talents being captured in front of it.

When an alpinist wants to climb the deadliest route in the Himalayas and needs someone to document it, he calls the extreme photographer. When a world class skier tackles an exposed, committed descent in the French Alps, she calls the extreme photographer.

These days, the man who often gets that call is a friend of mine, Jimmy Chin.

If you follow photography, chances are good that you’ve heard of Jimmy Chin. If you’ve ever browsed a National Geographic or Outside magazine, it’s very likely that you’ve come across Jimmy’s work. (In fact, Jimmy is featured on the cover of this month’s Outside magazine.) Jimmy is entering his 15th year as a member of The North Face Athlete Team, he played a key role (both as filmmaker and actor) in Sherpa Cinema’s latest film “Into the Mind,” and he once survived an avalanche.

I reached out to Jimmy recently asking him to share a little more with us about what makes him tick.

Humble Beginnings

Before he was a photographer, Jimmy was an outdoor adventure junky. He spent a good chunk of his early days living the self-proclaimed “dirtbag” life, living out of his car and bouncing between skiing and climbing.

One day in the Yosemite Valley, an aspiring photographer friend handed Jimmy his camera and showed him how to use it. When the friend went to sell photos from that roll, the company bought only one image, and it happened to be Jimmy’s.

Chase: You’ve come a long way since selling that first image in Yosemite. Tell us about the steps you took from that first paying gig to taking yourself more seriously as a photographer.

Jimmy: In the beginning, it was all about going out with friends and shooting for fun. I just wanted to make great pictures, beautiful pictures. I didn’t think I’d ever make a living as a photographer. It was just something I really fell in love with and did. As I paid more attention to photography, studied photography and photographers and met more photographers, I really began to see the potential of photography as a creative outlet, as a career, as tool to tell stories, as a lifestyle, as another vehicle to see the world.

There were a few turning points for me. Shooting Conrad Anker for The North Face was my first paid gig. That was huge. And the fact that Robert Mackinley, the photo editor [for The North Face] at the time, loved the work and actually published it, was a big boost in my confidence and was also intoxicating. Jane Sievert from Patagonia also started to publish some of my work. I was over the moon that I actually got a picture in the Patagonia catalog. This was essentially the start of my commercial photography career. Rob Haggart, the photo editor from Outside Magazine, also threw me a bone and let me shoot a few things for Outside. He pushed me to look at a lot of photography outside of the adventure and outdoor space. That was a really helpful nudge.

About that time, I also met David Allen Harvey, Jodi Cobb, Bill Allard and a few other Nat Geo photographers at a photo seminar. I got to hang out with David for a few days and he completely opened my eyes to a new way of shooting and new way of thinking about shooting. I remember seeing him shoot for one minute and thinking to myself, “Oh, that’s how you do it.” He smiles, he builds instant rapport, he makes people feel comfortable, and then he dives right in. I’ve tried to embody his approach to editorial photography ever since.

I’ve always been a proponent of “if you’re going to do something, do it right.” I applied that across all aspects of my shooting — planning, setting up shoots, getting up early, working with athletes and models, working with clients etc. Just being a pro about it.

This shot of Charakusa in Pakastan, taken using his first roll of film in a proper SLR camera, marks the early stages of Chin's career as a professional photographer. ©Jimmy Chin

Beyond 10,000 Hours

By know we all know the 10,000 hour principle made famous by one Malcolm Gladwell. To become great at something, you have to put in 10,000 hours doing that thing. Practicing. Learning. Taking risks. Making mistakes. When I step back from this whole blog and view it from the stratosphere, sometimes I think it’s all about helping other photographers get to that 10,000 hours. Because it’s that important.

And that’s one of the things that most impresses me about Jimmy. The photography and filmmaking work he consistently produces reflects that of a professional who has achieved a level of mastery. But that’s in addition to his skills as an adventure athlete, which are also world class. I’m talking about a wide range of adventure athleticism — everything from rock climbing and alpinism to skiing and snowboarding. The man is among a very small club of people who have climbed and skied Everest from the summit, and Jimmy did it while taking amazing photos of the journey.

Chase: People want to know how a person can get so good at two things that require a serious investment in time and energy: adventuring (which in your case includes skiing, climbing, mountaineering, etc) and photography (and now filmmaking). How were you able to master the latter without formal education?

Jimmy: I did a lot of reading and research about filmmaking but ultimately it was about going out and doing it. I made a lot of mistakes. In fact, I’d say I learned 9 out of 10 things by making mistakes. I also had some incredible mentors who helped me along the way. I sought them out and created opportunities to work with them in the field. You can learn more in one hour with a good mentor than you can in months of research and/or trial and error. I also don’t think I am a master of anything. I know I will be the eternal student, and that type of attitude helps.

Off the wall. Chin

Chase: Tell us briefly about the mentors in your life. How instrumental were they to shaping your path and providing you with education and wisdom?

Jimmy: Many of my biggest life lessons have come from working with or being with incredible mentors. I feel really fortunate that a few amazing people took me under their wings — David Breashears, Rick Ridgeway, Galen Rowell, Conrad Anker, Rob Haggart and countless other people who believed in me. That being said, these opportunities and mentors didn’t just get handed to me or show up out of nowhere. It took a lot of initiative on my own projects and expeditions to create the opportunities. I think people need to see that you have the drive, ambition and potential before they want to invest time in you. I guess I’m now at the age where I am always looking for talented young people to share experiences with. I think it’s kind of a natural progression in life, to be mentored and to mentor others.

I also think it is a two-way street. I get a lot of inspiration and learn a lot from younger generations. I like to think I did the same for some of my mentors. I think that is the beauty of mentorship.

With good mentors, you get to see someone doing something they’ve been honing for 10, 20, 30 years. You get all of their knowledge condensed and shared with you and hopefully, you get to learn from their mistakes and successes. Then you get to add your own perspective or style or ideas to it. It’s incredible.

©Jimmy Chin

Death Defier

The extreme side of Jimmy’s profession presents its challenges. To get the shots and capture the story, photographers like Jimmy must push the limits just as far as the athletes they capture. Sometimes those limits push back.

In April 2011, Jimmy was swept up in an avalanche while skiing with a friend in the Grand Tetons. Here’s an excerpt from his journal entry of the event:

“Hope fades and fear rises. It is a dark time. I feel speed, velocity, power, forces unnatural for a body to experience. Then comes the weight. It pushes down. It compresses. It is more and more and more and more… It is unbearable. I hear myself roar from a place I knew a long time ago. It is primal. It comes from my stomach and into my chest. I hold on to my body. Bracing, bracing, tightening for impact. The impact never comes, but the weight gives me no release and I feel my chest compressed and crushed. No chance to breathe. No chance to expand my lungs. It is dark and it is dark.”

[For the full account, go here]

Chase: You had a pretty well-known brush with death when you survived an avalanche. How did that experience shape your path?

Jimmy: The avalanche definitely changed my risk calculus. It could be my age and experience too, though. I know I am more conservative now than I was 10 years ago. There is a ton of criteria that I look at when it comes to more dangerous or intense shoots — like who I get to have on my team, how experienced they are, what the risks are, what are the consequences, etc. It needs to feel right, and that often boils down to the people involved in the shoot. For set-up ad campaign shoots, portraits and lifestyle shoots, it’s obviously a lot more casual, but if it’s a heavy shoot and it’s not the right team, yeah, I’ll definitely second guess it.

I’ve definitely taken a few risks to get a shot. I’ve walked both sides of the line, where in some instances I’ve taken a bigger risk than the athlete to get a shot, and others where the athletes are definitely taking a bigger risk. Shooting while skiing on the Lhotse Face of Everest is one of those instances where it felt like I was dealing with a bit more than the skiers. Skiing it was pretty intense to begin with, but stopping and trying to set my edges and balance on an icy, 5000-foot, 50-degree slope at 25,000-feet to pull out my camera to shoot probably added another level of risk than just skiing it. On the other hand, when I’ve shot Alex Honnold free soloing a couple thousand feet off the deck in Yosemite, I’m not exposed to nearly the same level of risk as he is.

Alex Honnold free soloing in Yosemite. ©Jimmy Chin

Balance and Ambition

These days, Jimmy finds himself in the middle of the biggest adventure of his life: marriage and fatherhood. Even as the demand for his skills are greater than ever, he makes time for his wife, Elizabeth Chai, and his daughter, Marina. He also splits his “down time” between his home in Jackson, Idaho, and an apartment in New York City. Between family and regular assignments, he carves out time to work on a personal project that began back in 2008, after a failed attempt to ascend one of the few remaining unclimbed peaks in the Garhwal Himalayas. Three years later Chin return with fellow mountaineers Conrad Anker and Renan Ozturk and successfully summited Mount Meru, a 20,700-foot vertical wall known as Shark’s Fin. (The feat earned the men the Golden Piton by Climbing Magazine for Best Big Wall Climb of the Year and was voted the #1 ascent of the year by Rock and Ice Magazine).

Chase: Tell us about balancing life and family with work. What does the equation look like these days?

Jimmy: I think experience and time overall has shifted the needle in terms of risk. But, yes, having a family will likely change the level of risk I am willing to accept. I’m not just calculating risk for myself anymore. I will always want to push the edge and step outside my comfort zone, but there are a lot of ways to do that, particularly as a creative. Will there still be cutting edge expeditions in my future? For sure. I’m just going to be a lot more picky about the objectives and who I will go with.

I think you can still push the edge, but focusing on better planning, decision making, choosing expedition partners carefully and keeping it all in perspective — i.e. knowing when to call it — are all part of evolving and refining. At some point, you’re supposed to get smarter and better at how you do things. Hopefully that will be true for me. You also see enough shit go down and eventually you learn when to check the ego at the door. Of course, you can talk about all of this and then there is just plain bad luck sometimes. That’s a tough one. I guess when it’s your time, it’s your time.

Chin is routinely called upon to capture extreme athletes performing in hard-to-shoot venues, like this wing-suit BASE jump from Half Dome in Yosemite. @Jimmy Chin

Chase: What’s next for Jimmy Chin?

Jimmy: I’ve been working on the MERU film for several years between jobs and assignments, so long-form filmmaking is definitely on my mind these days. MERU has been an incredible passion project for me and really opened my eyes to the power of feature-length documentary films. I really dove in deep on MERU over the last 10 months. I’ve been working with my wife Chai on it. She’s an incredible filmmaker and has directed several award-winning documentaries. She won the Tribeca Film Festival Best Documentary when she was 23, and she has been producing and directing films since.

I’ve also had the privilege to work with Bob Eisenhardt, who is a world class editor. I’ve been learning a ton working with both of them. Right now, I’m focused on working with a composer to finish the score, and we’ll be moving in to color and mix shortly. So I guess I would say finishing MERU, and getting it out is what’s on the immediate to do list.

I’ve been working on a couple bigger film projects lately. They are hugely rewarding on one hand, but it’s also really reminded me about the beauty and simplicity of the still image. I will always love photography and will undoubtedly be focused on shooting stills again in the upcoming years. I like the diversity of working in both mediums. Shooting for National Geographic is always an honor and a privilege. They really push you as a photographer. So, I am always looking for projects or assignments to shoot with them.

This shot was taken in 2008 during the failed attempt at the famous Shark's Fin route on Meru in the Himilayas. Chin would eventually return 3 years later and successfully complete the entire route. @Jimmy Chin

You can follow Jimmy across these channels:

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Scroll down for more of Jimmy Chin’s work.

©Jimmy Chin

©Jimmy Chin

©Jimmy Chin

©Jimmy Chin

©Jimmy Chin

©Jimmy Chin

Daring Greatly to Unlock Your Creativity with Brené Brown on #cjLIVE [Wed, April 9 @ 10am PT/1pm ET]

 Brené Brown Chase Jarvis LiveREMINDER: this show is TODAY Wed, April 9, at 10am Seattle time (1pm NYC, 18:00 London) and is broadcast LIVE at www.chasejarvis.com/live. Tune in, join the global internet audience + live Q&A w/ Brene, or just in by to say hey. Details below!
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I can say with clarity that the most defining moments of creative/professional success for me have required overtly pouring my most honest, imperfect, afraid, guts-and-all parts of myself into my work. In short – those successes were built on vulnerability – on being real. They were built on daring greatly. What do the viewers/consumers of your art really want? YOU. They want to see YOU. And in seeing YOU, they see themselves.

And so, we’ve got the perfect guest for #cjLIVE – a woman who might just hold the keys to the thing that’s been holding back your unbounded creativity…her name is Brené Brown. You’ve probably seen her on the TED stage (millions of views), or perhaps as a regular on Oprah (they’re pals), and at damn-near every bookstore (where Daring Greatly is a best-seller). But it’s not necessarily for all her accolades that you’ll want to tune into #cjLIVE this coming Wednesday April 9th. You’ll want to join our LIVE broadcast because you’ll have full access to Brené in a way that few other forums can grant — interactive Q&A with you from wherever on the planet you might be (via my Twitter and Facebook) and she just might have the keys to unlock the thing that’s been holding back your creativity. It was the missing link for me – and I’m guessing it’ll help you too.

WHO: You, Me, Bestselling Author Brené Brown + a worldwide gathering of creative people
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Wednesday, April 9th, 10:00am Seattle time (1:00pm NYC time or 18:00 London)
WHERE: Tune into www.chasejarvis.com/live. It’s free — anyone can watch and we’ll be taking YOUR questions via Facebook and Twitter, hashtag #cjLIVE

This won’t be a marketing lesson or a therapy session, but it will be be THE shortest path between your most authentic self and the professional/personal hold-up-the-mirror, tear-down-the-barrier “success” you crave. Hello, the new you.

A FEW KEY CONCEPTS WE’LL COVER ON THE SHOW
// Vulnerability does NOT equal weakness – it equals strength (the world’s best artists are living proof)
// How to cultivate creativity, “gratitude” & “worthiness”
// Personal + professional transformation happens when we ask the hard questions
// Explosive creativity happens when we have the courage to share our struggles
// How to harness the space between our aspirational values (what we want to do, think, feel + become) and our practiced values (what we’re actually doing)

And another big announcement. For those of you who know and love CreativeLive… The chasejarvisLIVE show is now broadcast on the CreativeLive network too! They are the world’s largest live streaming education company, has been featured all over the place like in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time, CNBC, Fast Company, etc etc and we are joining forces to incorporate an even larger worldwide audience.

WITH THAT IN MIND….HELP US PIMP THE SHOW AND WIN STUFF.
In order to reach the largest audience possible, we’re kicking out a couple nice prizes… We’re giving away $200 worth of free creativeLIVE course credits to two (2) people.

Enter to win by promoting the show as many times as you can starting RIGHT NOW till the show begins. Send out a creative tweet OR Facebook post including #cjLIVE + @BreneBrown + any url pointing to THIS blog post. Be sure to use the hashtag and/or point back to my Facebook so we can track all your entries. We’ll select 2 of the best ones and give you a shout-out at the beginning of the show, along with access to the $200 creativeLIVE credits.

WE WILL ALSO GIVE AWAY MORE TASTY PRIZES DURING THE SHOW… including signed copies of Brené’s book. You gotta tune in to the LIVE SHOW for a chance at winning those.

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 of your choice. You’ll receive a confirmation email with attendance details if you’re one of the first 20.

SORRY: The in-studio audience is already overbooked.

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I’m doubting many people chose “be more vulnerable” as their resolution for 2014, but here’s a Ted Talk Brené gave about the power of vulnerability that may prompt a re-think. One of the most popular TED talks of all time…:

Hands-on with My Favorite Still Photography Camera

Hello camera geeks, gearheads and… well… those of you who just want the best tools for your trade. You heard right, I’m back with another unboxing, this time of the hotly anticipated Nikon D4s — generously sent to me to by my friends at DPReview for a hands-on first impression, and it’s available from my homies/gear partners at Adorama. So here goes…

First impressions: that familiar Nikon gold box looks pretty much like all the Nikon boxes I remember, going all the way back to the F5 (that was a film SLR – remember those?). In fact, the only time I can remember Nikon changing its SLR — “D” or otherwise — boxes was for the Nikon Df, which was flat, matte black, and kinda cool looking. This makes sense – as the chassis for all these top-of-the-line pro cameras have basically been the same or very similar for a decade.

Get past all of the standard straps, warranty cards, manuals and trinkets where… wrapped in cellophane, the D4s has the same heft as the D4 I’ve carried around for a few years now, just with that fancy new “s” after the name.

Nikon D4s and Nikon D4 comparison - front view

The “s” models are typically feature updates, not body or appearance changes, so the size and ergonomics of the D4s are basically identical to its predecessor. There are a couple of touch-ups; the control sticks on the back have a bit more texture to them and the battery door is shaped differently, but that’s about it. If you want to be super-picky about it, the D4s is 60g heavier than the D4.

Does that add up to new features? The short answer = a few nice upgrades that add value to the camera.

Power up this sexy beast and you notice right away that the screen looks a bit nicer than the D4’s display. That might be because mine’s been through a few knocks and bumps, but for those of you keeping an eye on specs, Nikon has added the ability to fine-tune the color on that LCD. Nerdy but nice to have when showing clients over your shoulder.

What else? Well, trigger that shutter and you might be able to detect one extra frame in that burst every second. Nikon has upped the max number of frames the D4s can take per second with autofocus active from 10 to 11. And the buffer is larger.

Nikon D4s and Nikon D4 comparison - rear view

And speaking of autofocus, Nikons says their focus algorithms have been tweaked to accommodate that extra frame per second, and is less likely to get distracted by objects crossing in front of the camera. There’s also something called the Group Area AF, where you can designate a cluster of 5 points to focus on, rather than just one. The guys over at DPReview have more details on this, but any improvement to AF is good news.

There are plenty more changes on the inside, but that new sensor is probably the one that’s got everyone’s attention. Nikon has redesigned the 16MP full-frame CMOS sensor and it’s now capable of — hang on to your pants, folks — a whopping ISO 409,600 in Hi4 mode. Daaaaaamn.

That is NOT a typo. I checked.

Of course, 409,600 ISO is going to be pretty noisy, but hey, you’re going to get those shots of the inside of your lens cap now!

For video shooters, that new sensor has one more trick up its sleeve; combined with the new Expeed 4 image processor, it can now deliver 1080p video at 60p. That’s right – slow motion has finally come to the Nikon flagship. At freakin’ last! Also, if you shoot timelapses, the maximum shot count has gone up to 9999 from 999 and there’s a new smoothing feature for you as well. I don’t even know what that means, but I’m told it’s an improvement. Let’s just go with it.

If you were hoping that Nikon would ditch the XQD slot for another CF or even an SD slot, you’re out of luck; the XQD slot is still there. One bit of good news with regard to storage, though; you can now record video to internal storage while at the same time capturing it via HDMI to an external recorder, something that wasn’t possible earlier.

So there you have it. These are the tweaks that caught my eye — there are, as I said in the video above, a handful of others. The guys at DPReview do the whole multi-page review shebang, so you should really check out their definitive review. I’m just a 15 year pro with a passion for great cameras, not a lab geek. Those guys can really get under the hood. Hopefully, a combo of their detail and my gut and experience is a balance that helps you decide if this upgrade is a worthy one for your hard earned coin.

Final thoughts: this thing is every bit as solid as Nikon’s other flagships. I like it when cameras get upgrades. This is not a revolutionary update — the “s” series don’t fall into that category — but it’s a solid update nonetheless. The internal improvements make it even more useful to speed junkies and videographers, and the insanely high ISO will continue to make it even more appealing to photojournalists, and the other little changes like the battery, buffer, and RAW size improvements are quite welcome too. I am adding 2x of these to my gear bags and relinquishing their predecessors to the camera heavens (actually to the used market ;) )

As always, thanks for watching and head to Adorama here for more info. And feel free to add your thoughts about what you saw in the comments below, on my Facebook page, Twitter, or Google+.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you keep your work fresh and new?

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

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

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

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

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

Website
Facebook
YouTube

Scroll down for more of his work:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unlock Your Creativity: 7 Stages To Experiencing “The Zone” + Why It’s Good For You

rise of superman chase jarvis creativity flowThere are times when the work is easy. When it’s 3am and there is a connected feeling, when ideas flow effortlessly. When the inner critic who otherwise stunts creativity gets gagged, bound and shoved into a dark closet. And then there are the opposite times. When the feeling of being “blocked” or stunted creatively is powerfully frustrating and the inner critic rages supreme – where nothing of value seems to find its way to the surface.

Whether trying to break a creative block or sustain a creative flow, we have been searching for a secret on this topic for centuries. And unless you’re completely new to this blog, you’ll know that unleashing the creative potential in everyone is a lifelong mission of mine – both personally and at scale (ala creativeLIVE). I’ve given some talks on how I believe creativity is the new literacy and anything we can do to further creative forces – I’m all for it.

Today, however, I’d like we’re on the verge of something great. Getting unstuck using science. In this upcoming book The Rise of Superman (Amazon link here), author and personal friend of mine Steven Kotler breaks down the science of this state of mind, the science of ultimate human performance (called “Flow”)

YOU know what flow feels like. You’ve felt it creatively when amazing ideas flow like water, in life when everything is just right, or perhaps in sports where you’re “in the zone”. THAT’S flow. So what actually happens in our brains when we achieve this feeling of effortless creative energy? You might be surprised to find that there is a sequence and a science behind this “zone” of flow that you we can actually tap into with regularity, and in Rise of Superman, Kotler sets out to decode exactly this. He’s been releasing a series of trailers and interviews with artists (me!) and elite athletes (Dean Potter, Travis Rice, Danny Way, others) and has uncovered some common threads to their own experiences with Flow.

For all our benefit, I reached out to Kotler with a few questions about Flow and his upcoming book. The interview below is our back and forth…Enjoy.

CJ: How did you come to the idea of flow?

There’s two answers here. The first is this is not my idea. Flow research dates back to the 1870s. There’s 150 years of really hard work that has gone into this topic. Thousands and thousands of researchers have worked on it. I just stumbled into that lineage. The story of how that happened is told in my second book (West of Jesus), but the very short answer is that flow states saved my life. Literally. I spent 3 years in bed with Lyme disease and the doctors had given up on me. No one knew if I would ever get better, but for complicated medical reasons they had pulled me off drugs—so there was literally nothing anyone else could do for me.

But it was a series of flow states that brought me back to health. It was radical and rapid. I went from like 10 percent functionality back to about 80 percent in under six months. I wanted to understand how this was possible. I mean, on the surface, it seemed crazy. An altered state of consciousness beats back a chronic autoimmune condition—like how the hell does that work. So, some 15 years ago, I decided to find out. That’s where all this started for me.

CJ: Where does the term “flow” come from, and is there actually a definition of flow?

The technical definition of flow is “an optimal state of consciousness where we perform our best and feel our best.” But the reason these states as called “flow” is because of the sensation conferred. When you’re in flow, every action, every decision, leads fluidly, seamlessly to the next. In other words, flow feels flowy.

CJ: Is flow on a progressive scale, or are you either in or out of flow? My own experiences say it feels like a scale…a progression, but what does your research tell us?

When University of Chicago psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi did his groundbreaking research on flow, he discovered there are seven different attributes to the state. This is essentially a checklist of things experienced in flow: intense concentration on the task at hand, the merger of action and awareness, the loss of a sense of self, the distortion of time, etc. And flow is progressive. It exists on a spectrum that is sort of like emotions. With anger, you can be mildly irate or deeply homicidal. The same is true for flow. When only a few of these categories show up, we’re in a state of “micro-flow.” When all ten show up at once, we’re in “macro-flow.”

[To go deep on the 7 Stages, how to get there, and what that unlocks, pickup the book here.]

CJ: Your book connects some very diverse terrain: action-sports, creativity, business, and neuroscience. How did you realize that flow crossed between them all – what’s the thread?

This wasn’t actually my realization. Very, very early flow researchers (back in the 1870s) believed they were looking at an experience brought on by high risk behavior (the action sports category), but, in the 1940, famed psychologist Abraham Maslow discovered the flow experiences are a commonality shared by all successful people. Then, when Csikszentmihalyi got involved in the 1960s and 70s, he discovered the state is ubiquitous. Everyone everywhere has access to flow. So flow applies in pretty much every domain. But this isn’t a business secret. Companies like Toyota, Microsoft, and Patagonia have flow woven into their corporate philosophies. A lot of the really innovative things that companies like Google and Facebook do to manage their knowledge workers comes down to flow science. Flow is everywhere in business—it’s just that most people are unaware of it.

Here’s a 3 minute video interview of yours truly and Steve Kotler about flow and creativity. You’ve felt it before, but you wanna get back there again, don’t you?

CJ: I’ve read the advance copy of the book. I’ve sat for interviews w you, etc. The book is really focused on action sports, but flow is certainly present in so many other areas – ie the creative process — as well. Tell me about that.

Flow is arguably as well-linked to creativity as it is to athletics. As a writer, I would be absolutely unable to function without flow. Every idea I’ve ever had for a book has come out of a flow state. Every article I’ve ever written that has won awards was written in a flow state. To put this in scientific terms, in recent years we’ve begun to look under the hood of creativity. We now know that the three key mental functions that produce the most creativity are mental risk-taking, pattern recognition (our ability to link ideas together) and the size of the database searched by the pattern recognition system. Flow massively amplifies all three functions. It jacks up our ability to take risk by making us feel less fear. It amps up pattern recognition and expands the size of the database the pattern recognition can search. This is why studies have shown people are far more creative in flow. It’s a huge boost. In work done at the Flow Genome Project, we found that most people report being 7x more creative in flow—that’s a 700 percent boost in creativity. More importantly, at Harvard, Teresa Amiable discovered that not only are people more creative in flow, they report being more creative in the days after a flow state. Thus flow doesn’t just amplify creativity in the moment, it literally trains the brain to think more creatively over the long haul.

CJ: One of the core arguments of your book is that the chemistry and function of the brain actually change during flow. How does portions of the brain shutting down help me be more creative?

Flow is causes by profound changes in neurobiology including something known as “transient hypofrontality.” Transient means temporary. “Hypo” is the opposite of “”hyper,” it means to slow down or deactivate. And frontality is show for the pre-frontal cortex—i.e., the part of your brain in charge of higher cognitive functions—shut off. One of the areas deactivated by flow is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This part houses your inner critic—that relentless, defeatist nag that is always part of waking consciousness. When the inner critic shuts off, we feel this as tremendous freedom, as liberation. This is fantastic for creatives. It means the portion of the brain that is always judging creative ideas—shooting them down before they get off the ground—is turned off. This allows you to move from idea to idea far faster.

CJ: You have compared the chemicals released in your brain during flow to some of the most addictive drugs in the world. Does this mean that people have similar feelings in flow that they might experience on drugs?

That’s a really interesting and complicated question. Flow cocktails five of the most powerful neurochemicals the body can produce and each of these neurochemicals have a drug analogue. For example, when you snort cocaine. All the drug does is cause the brain to release copious amounts of the neurochemical dopamine. Well, dopamine is released in flow. So are norepinephrine (speed), anandamide (marijuana), endorphins (heroin) and serotonin (ecstasy). You actually couldn’t produce this cocktail with drugs. Trying to take all those drugs at once and you’re going to end up drooling or dead. But the brain does it naturally. So yes, being in flow is an altered state, just like being on drugs. Does flow feel like any one of these drugs—not exactly. It actually feels a lot better. Moreover, while being addicted to drugs can lead backwards, being addicted to flow—because the state requires meeting challenges and learning new skills—leads forwards.

CJ: In your book and communications, you talk about this concept of “flow hacking,” or doing things to help trigger a flow state. Do you mean that people can create flow in their own lives?

For certain. Flow has 15 triggers—that is, pre-conditions that lead to more flow. Anyone can pull these triggers.

CJ: Besides jumping off a cliff on skis, what’s one trick you might use to help you get into flow?

As I said before, flow has 15 triggers and risk—or what we call “high consequences”—is only one of them. But even here, within the high consequence trigger, their possibility. For example, sure, you can jump off a cliff and take a physical risk. But you can also use emotional risk, social risk, creative risk—it doesn’t matter. It’s also very individual. A shy guy needs only to cross a room to talk to a pretty gal to pull this trigger.

But the most important thing to know is that flow follows focus. This is why people recommend always following your passion if you’re chasing flow. Why? Because our brain pays way more attention to stuff we’re passionate about. Put differently, a lot of what we call “flow hacking” is really ways of tricking the brain into paying more attention to the here and now.

CJ: I understand that you do a lot of consulting with business leaders on how to facilitate more flow in their workers.

Yes, I have done a fair bit of this work. My partner in the Flow Genome Project, Jamie Wheal, has done far, far more. The flow triggers we’ve been talking about are really accessible—it is not hard to design businesses around them.

CJ: Now that the book is releasing, you’re going to continue to work on flow research through the Flow Genome Project. Can you tell us a bit about that?

The Flow Genome Project is an international, trans-disciplinary organization dedicated to decoding flow. As you pointed out above, we do a bit of consulting, but our core focus is to seriously advance flow state research. We’re also in the process of building Flow Dojos—dedicated flow research and training facilities. But the most important thing to know is this is an open source project. The goal is to hack ultimate human performance. This is relevant to everyone—who doesn’t want to be able to perform at their best. Thus, we want everyone involved. Go to our website, sign up for Flow Hacker Nation, and get involved.

If you’re hungry for more, jump over to The Rise website to peep all the material Kotler has assembled there in preparation for the launch of the book in early March.

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

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

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

WHO: You, Me, Photographer Brandon Stanton + a worldwide gathering of creative people
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Wednesday, Feb 19th 11:00am Seattle time (2pm NYC time or 19:00 London)
WHERE: Tune into www.chasejarvis.com/live. It’s free — anyone can watch and we’ll be taking YOUR questions via Twitter, hashtag #cjLIVE, and my the ChaseJarvis Facebook Page

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

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

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

To help wrangle this prize, we’re trying out a new widget below. It does a few things really well:
1. manages all entries into a secure database and properly randomizes a winner
2. gives you info about how much time is left in the giveaway / how many entries there are etc
3. allows you to earn extra entries by participating more deeply in the community (following on social channels, sharing, etc)

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

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

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

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

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The Camera Rental Package you could win is either….

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

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

OR ………..

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

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

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

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