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Never ‘Work’ Again — On Following Your Passion with Photographer Ian Ruhter [When Dreams Collide]

They say that when you leave your old life behind and walk the path you’re meant to be on, be prepared to leave some friends behind, and be prepared to make new ones. This has definitely been the case on my own personal path. When I finally ditched the things in my life that everyone else wanted me to do and began a fulltime charge of my life’s dream of being an artist, it put my life on a collision course with energy, vitality, and some seriously creative / talented people who have both inspired me and strengthened my resolve to continue on this path. That’s not to say shit doesn’t get hard, and that there’s an unending amount of work…but it’s just one kind of work – the kind that draws you in – not the kind that sinks your soul.

One of those cool people I’ve met along the way is my homie Ian Ruhter, another man on a mission to be different, not just better. If you keep your eyes peeled here on my blog, you know that one of the ways he’s done that is through his most recent personal project titled “Silver and Light,” in which he creates photographic art using a wet plate process that dates back to the 1850s with a camera the size of a truck. I had Ian on the show last year to demonstrate his technique and teach me how to wet plat. (Episode at the bottom of this post)

Ian’s latest video posted up top, “When Dreams Collide,” he documents his journey before our meeting -across the past and present and up to his drop-in on #cjLIVE. This particular vid, while beautifully shot, really delivers on how he crossing all boundaries and bowled through all obstacles to follow his dreams. If you need to abandon your current dead-end path, it’s worth your time.

Follow Ian across these channels:

website
Instagram: ianruhter
Facebook
tumbler

Chase Jarvis TECH: Packing Photo Gear For Hiking [whether for a day trip or up to 19,030 feet on Mt. Kilimanjaro]

A few months ago I was fortunate enough to be part of an expedition to bring greater awareness to the scarcity of fresh drinking water experienced by many countries around the world. Called Summit on the Summit, the expedition was a 60 mile hike up Kilimanjaro and included some artists, educators and guides who shared my interest in this awareness project, including Mark Foster, Justin Chatwin and Beau Garrett.

I put together this short video to give y’all a glimpse of the gear I packed for the trek. I kept it pretty light and stuck to two main camera systems:

_Nikon D4 platform
_14-24mm
_24-70mm
_70-200mm
_Other Nikon Lenses

_Olympus OM-D platform
_12mm
_14-42mm
_40-150mm
_75-300mm

Other Gear:
_Manfrotto Support
_MacBook Pro + Macbook Air
_GTech External Hard Drives
_LowePro Bags
_Dakine Photo Brick

Watch the vid for the full deets on my tech choices for this amazing journey.

Those slick beats underneath the video are compliments of the one, the only mr BIG CHOCOLATE…here on iTunes.
Big Chocolate Facebook
@bigchocolate

The Results Are In! Photo Contest Winners Announced for the ThinkTank Giveaway

Thanks everyone for the overwhelming response and involvement in our Street Photography contest. We had a blast looking through the thousands of entries and have finally managed to wittle them down to our three favorites….plus five honorable mentions that we felt compelled to shine a spotlight on. Take a look!
[Winners - congrats! We will be in touch with you about your ThinkTank prizes.]

The Winners

Wojtek Lesiak

This photo embodies the spirit of street photography. Out in the world, traveling, fun and spontaneous. What makes it good is that the photographer saw something that no one else did. There are great parallels in the frame. Out of more than 2,000 photos this one caught me off guard and made me laugh aloud. The photo looked back at me.

;

Jeremy Givens


The photographer merged fashion and street for this photo. Breaking down the barriers between two genres in a “candid-posed” moment. Genre-bending. I love the reaction of the lady looking back while everyone else is trying to ignore the model.

Adrian Woźniak

The photographer saw an opportunity for a unique moment – one that would be very easy to overlook. The expression is gritty and raw. I couldn’t figure out where the man is even standing!? I like the shallow depth of field with the tack sharp face – it’s a really impressive technical photo while still achieving some mystery and wonder.

Honorable Mentions:

Steve Stanger

;

Anthony Delao

;

Dave Sundstrom

;

Dave Butterworth

;

Chris Johnston

;

Chase Jarvis 60: Macklemore

I’m grateful to have so many friends in the Seattle community who influence and inspire me. Among them – Ben Haggerty.

Known to the world as Macklemore, Ben and his talented musical partner-in-crime Ryan Lewis have been on rocket-ship ride to hip hop stardom in the last 7 months. They have been touring non-stop and sold millions of downloads their #1 hit song Thriftshop from the incredible album The Heist. They have appeared on Jay Leno, Saturday Night Live, Letterman, Colbert Report and all the other major talk shows and venues along the way. It’s been fun to watch. We were fortunate enough to have them on our humble little show chasejarvisLIVE back in October of 2011. After the show I caught up with Ben for this portrait. Enjoy the moment.

Macklemore is a talented and a wonderful human being who reminds us all to be honest, fun and grateful. To see what I’m talking about check out this blog post he wrote last week – here.

Kickstarter of the Week – Stop Motion Love Story: Interview with the 11 Year Old Director

I don’t know what you were doing when you were 11, but I know I wasn’t directing movies. Hell, I wasn’t even standing in front of that pool. Trinity Anderson, on the other hand, has jumped into the deep end and seems to managing just fine, thank you.

The 11-year-old and her father, Barry Anderson, are wrapping up production on her latest stop-motion film (a genre she’s been at since she was 4) and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help cover the rest of production costs. The film is titled Me & Ewe. It is a sheep love story.

I caught up with Trinity and Barry before her performance rehearsals (she’s also an actor) to talk a bit more about her project.

For the record, this is my first time interviewing an 11-year-old.

How did you get into movies and directing? How old were you and what drew you it?

Trinity: When i was 4, we went to Hawaii. I used to get up early, but where we were staying was right near a big cliff and my parents didn’t want me going outside on my own. So they got me a video camera to play with inside. I had Playmobils at the time and I used to make up stories and started using stop motion. I also really liked acting at a young age. When we go to California every summer I get to go to an Shakespeare acting camp. I’ve been doing that every year for a while now.  

Tell me a little bit about this project. What have been the biggest challenges? What have been the biggest breakthroughs?

Trinity: We had a lot of problems with the main tree in the film. As filming went on, the tree started to shed its leaves, so by the end we sort of had this giant dead tree. You can kind of see it in the film, but as it goes on we show it less and less. In the first opening shot it’s green and lush. As you watch it, it kind of dies on you. 

Our biggest breakthrough happened when we were shooting one shot and we ran out of battery. It was a long shot and we didn’t want to retake it. We were about to disassemble when we decided to see if we could recharge the battery while it was still attached to the camera. That worked, so we were able to continue.  

Barry: It was a Switronix PB70 external battery. We couldn’t have plugged it in and saved the shot had we been using a regular canon battery.

Nice. A technological breakthrough.

So tell me, how has this project help you grow as a director? What’s it like being in charge of a project and managing other people?

Trinity: This project was bigger than all the other projects. I’ve made little stop motion films with friends using the iSight on the computer, but this one used real props, real cameras. It is much better quality and we’ve spent a lot more time at at and it’s being shot in an actual studio. We’re planning to enter it in film festivals and put it online. So it’s just bigger than anything I’ve done.

As far as managing, well, we don’t have many people working on the film. Besides my dad there’s my great uncle and grandpa. My dad and I do most of the animated work, and we also have one other animation guy who is doing the background sheep. I pretty much told him what to do and he did it.

Barry: We basically spent a lot of time finding people who would put up with us.

In many ways this project is co-directed by you and your Dad. What has that been like? Has it been challenging making sure the visions are aligned?

Trinity: We have limited amount of camera angles, so there isn’t much decision there. We decide on which camera angle would be best and worked together to figure out the placements. My Dad helped a lot  with the lights. But otherwise it was pretty straightforward as to which lens we should be using. I guess I was in charge of placement of sheets.

Barry: Trinity wanted to be lead animator. We spent some time talking through the story and came up with some rough storyboards. We figured out what the scenarios would be. Once we had the story down, we agreed on things. It wasn’t a major Hollywood production — there were some limitations and once things fell into place and we put on the lens we got dialed it in. 

In the beginning I was tech guy at computer, making sure we weren’t going to fast to slow and Trinity was in charge of bringing the sheep to life on the screen. But once she got over her intimidation of the technology, she had no problem assuming that role, too!

Artists and creatives often get asked “who or what are your influences?” Influences can be other artists or directors, it can be books or a series of books, movies or a series of movies. Who or what are your influences?

Trinity: I always wanted to work in movies. For a short time I went through an archeology phase, but my Dad has always been directing movies, so really I’d have to say my Mom and Dad. Aside from them I really like Stephen Speilberg and his movies like Jaws, ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Indiana Jones. I also like It’s a Wonderful Life and some other black and white films like, Maltese Falcon, The Navigator and Some Like it Hot.

I really enjoy comedy. Movies that aren’t funny aren’t my favorite. Buster Keaton has been an influence for me. I do some circus performance and he’s really made my comedy better. 

Do you have a particular favorite stop motion director of film?

Trinity: Nightmare before Christmas. But I also really like A Town Called Panic. It’s a French film. It uses a real unique animation form. It’s different and it fits the story. 

I also like the Fantastic Mr Fox. The models are good and I love the voices of the actors. Also the score is beautiful. Our test score is mostly taken from that movie. It was done by Alexandre Desplat [who did Argo]. We actually sent him an email to see if he’d do the score for our movie, but we haven’t heard anything yet. 

Wow. Let’s hope he comes through. That would be something. 

We have a lot of gear heads who read the blog. They’re going to want to know a little bit about the gear you use in the film. 

Barry: For cameras we used two Canon 5D Mark II’s. We’re using Dragonframe software to do the actual animation. It’s been used in a lot of features. It’s powerful and not that expensive.

Trinity: It’s great because it’s not as complicated as some programs, but it’s not so simple that it can’t do all the things you want. It’s really the perfect medium. The other cool thing about the project is that most of the lighting is done with lights we got at Home Depot.

Barry: We used to 1K source lights with soft boxes, but every other light was a Home Depot light. We built a grid over the field and used everything from 15 watt up to 300 watt, both clear and frosted.

Trinity: And a lot of gaffe tape. 

To help Trinity and Barry finish their project, contribute to the Kickstarter campaign, here.

Here are some behind-the-scenes stills from the set of Me & Ewe. Enjoy:

Turn Love Into Money — Matt Schwartz’s 8×10 Polaroids Kick Instagram to the Back Seat

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The phrase “Old school” can’t do justice to New York photographer Matt Schwartz’s methodology. Lugging around an 8×10 Polaroid camera to shoot stylized surf-themed pics (that are pretty easy on the eyes) that could pass as faded stills from unused Endless Summer clips, Schwartz has eschewed the conveniences of the modern camera and smart phone camera apps for an approach that has never let him down. That he does it without commercial motivation may be exactly why he has had so much commercial success.

Matt’s story is hard not to love. When his first attempt at selling his work to an ad agency failed, he went completely DIY and hired his own models and bought his own props to realize his vision. That vision has since caught the eye of Billabong, Levis and Surfrider, to name a few. He has maintained the same process and style without conceding to more commercial demands (cue my always-running speech about personal work). It continues to pay off.

I reached out to Matt to share with you all a bit about his work and his vision.

Your work has long been lauded for its trademark style. What’s the process behind that style?

MS: I take 8×10 Polaroids, pull apart the film and rub the negatives onto watercolor paper. The process is called Polaroid transfer.

Your subjects are predominantly female. What’s the story there?

MS: They are prettier than boys. Ha. I actually shoot women for my fashion/whimsical shoots, but shoot men for most of my surfing images. There needs to be an attraction of some sort (face, hair, clothes, aura, etc.) for me to be inspired to photograph someone.

What are a few of your influences?

MS: I am influenced by the beauty of surfing, ballet, yoga and music. I love traveling around the world to surf towns and immersing myself in everything.

Are there artists whose work you pay extra attention to?

MS: I like Chaz Ray Krider (erotic photography), Leroy Grannis (surf photographer) and a bunch of random illustration (juxtapose). I pay more attention to music than photography or other art forms. I am so immersed in my own work that I need an escape through sound.

How do strike a balance between personal and commercial work?

MS: Currently all of my work produced is for the purpose of creating. Images that need to be taken. Once I fall in love with an image I end up including it in the collection of work being sold. A few companies such as Levis and Anthropologie have purchased work for their stores. I have also worked with some surf companies on commercial work. I am branching out into the commercial world more and more each year, though I am very specific as to who I work with. I have been fortunate with my work where I can say “no” to offers. It’s weird when you get to a point and you can just say no, while someone is offering a lot of money, though at the same time it would cancel out who I was if i did any job.

What makes these different from other Polaroids?

Everything, as each artist is different. I have never pressed the shutter on my camera thinking about selling my work. I shoot because I have to capture beauty. When my work started selling I was playing music in a band. All of images were and have always been taken from the heart. With music there was always pressure to try and get on a small record label or line up shows, etc. There was no goal with my pics. They were just a hobby. I guess that is why they worked.

Check out more of Matt’s work here.

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F*&$ the SATs – “I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate” [A Public Service Announcement]

Creativity is the new literacy, and I’ve got an anthem brewing over here… But what fires me up is that I’m not alone. So many of us are feeling this anthem right now. Times are changing. The old methods of memorization and rigid exams for a diverse student body is not working for today’s world. Those times were for the factory. But what now? The average US college student graduates with about $27,000 in debt. For what? Students in the arts graduate with the highest level of debt. For what? Student debt now outpaces credit card debt. For what?

The good news is, for those of us who came up through the traditional education system and always felt there was something off with that path, we are rapidly approaching a new era of freedom (wisdom) to learn about what excites you first…not “later” after you’ve been chewed up and spit out by the system.

Our attitudes around education and learning need to shift. It won’t happen overnight, but I applaud this spoken word piece.

suli breaks education

Photo Geeks + Space Nerds Unite — Beautiful, Never Before Seen 360 Degree Images of Mercury

Photo geeks and space nerds unite. Saw this and had to share it. This is the first time mankind has ever seen the planet Mercury in its entirety. Scientists used thousands of images collected for over a year by the MESSENGER probe to completely map the surface of the planet, taken at a resolution of 1km per pixel.

The yellow-orange sections are highly volcanic lava plains, and the dark blue areas are assumed to be minerals.

Watch the planet spin a complete 360 degrees and read more about the process HERE.

Serious credit goes to those slackers at NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and the Carnegie Institution of Washington for the images.

Stop Creating False Barriers Between You & The Photos You Want to Take [aka Going to the End of the Earth to Get the Shot]

Are you pursuing your personal passions to get the pictures you want, or are you letting…ahem…”too many obstacles” stop you?

Here’s a little inspiration. Using a weather balloon, a Gopro 2, a Multiplex Funjet and some other lo-fi equipment, David Windestål decided to get some first person footage of a trip to space. What he ends up with is an awesome video of the camera’s trip into orbit, and a ton of inspiration for the rest of us. Sure he could massaged the footage and edited differently / better. But whatever. In this post its the spirit that counts. Because truth be told, he’s doing cool shit. And you…?

The takeaway is this: you might not be as handy as David with a soldering iron, but it doesn’t matter, that’s not the point. The point is to stop creating false barriers between you and what you want to be taking pictures of…

Take that project that you’ve pushed off… decided is “too difficult” or “too expensive” or “too [whatever]” and hack into it. If you can find step by step instructions on how to send a camera into space with a couple of mouse clicks, what else might you figure out how to do with a little elbow grease and that good, ol’fashioned get-off-your-ass-and-do-it attitude adjustment?

21 Behind-the-Scenes Photos from an Un-Belizeable Photo Assignment

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If you’ve been following along socially you’re in the know that I’m on a commercial assignment in Belize that targets the life and wonder of the world’s water, lakes, oceans, etc. [...You might remember this video of the SuperPod of dolphins from the South African leg of this campaign with long time friend Mike Horn...]

In short, I can’t say enough good stuff about Belize. It’s seemingly impossible to take a bad photo here…even without the high-falutin’ tools that we’ve been using –helicopters, boats, diving rigs, etc)… If you just had your phone, you could slay it here. Anyway – wanted to share some quick behind-the-scenes shots that let y’all in on a little of what we’ve had going. [#HumbleBrag?!]

Lots of love for Ambergis Caye + Placencia. Costs in Belize are reasonable – especially given the epic-ness of the visuals. Special props to the great resort down south… Robert’s Grove. En route back to the USA now – but keep your eyes peeled for a few definitive RAW and TECH videos that we made while down there, based on your requests for more o’ that stuff. Hit me with questions about Belize or our trip – happy to help inspire / enable as many people as possible to learn about this fresh spot.

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Robert's Grove, Placencia

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Lazy Caye - Erik and I filming a TECH about our GoPro set up - stay tuned!

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Fishing out of Placencia with Elroy

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The Blue Hole from above

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My good friend Danny and his wife Susan have been cruising the Caribbean with their two children for 15 months. Their 50-foot catamaran the S/V Blue Kai was a great model too. Almost as good as Danny in this photo. www.svbluekai.com

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Walking on water to get the shot at Roberts Grove, Placencia

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Jerard doing some underwater work for the shoot - not a bad office

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Jerard and Clifford got after this little Hobie Cat. In fact, they flipped it about 5 minutes after this shot. #WorkingHardPlayingHard

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When working in tropical climes I try to keep my crew hydrated - with margaritas.

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Photo of the Week – Finding the Impossible Angle

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All you need to know:

_Yes – it really was that steep. What’s that old saying, “Measure twice, cut once?” Same applies for spending time finding the hard to find angle.

_That’s Jill Kintner on the bike. Badass.

Have a great weekend.

If You’ve Ever Asked Me To Review Your Photos, Here’s A Chance — Photo Contest + Camera Bag Giveaway

Photo by Erik Hecht.

[UPDATE: Just returned from a job in Belize and damn...you guys have been busy! 2,000 comments/entries in a week! I've been checking out the work -there is some great stuff. TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO SUBMIT AN ENTRY (April 24). Any entries after today (at midnight) will miss the deadline and not be considered. Standby for the judging - it's going to take me a while to get through all these! Thanks for paying attention!]

Hey photo friends, a few weeks ago my staff video guru Erik and I shared a glimpse into an ideal everyday walk-around camera kit. It’s a kit that Erik uses everyday and one that I beg/borrow/steal when not on assignment. Well the good folks over at ThinkTank took note of the love we showed for their Retrospective line of camera bags and sent the studio three of them to do with them whatever we choose. Just so happens we have plenty of camera bags already (2 of the exact models they sent us…), so we want to give these badass bags away to you. So here’s what we’re gonna do:

We wanna see your street photography. Your best everyday photos from being out in the world, covering the earth and actively pursuing the unexpected. Post links to your photos in the comments section of this blog post and we’ll pick 3 favorites and send the winners one of these slick camera bags. A few basic ground rules:

  • You must own the rights to the photos you’re sharing (this should be obvious).
  • You must be cool with us posting your photo (should you win) on a follow-up post announcing the 3 winning photographs.
  • Submit as many images as you want, but please only post direct links to single images, NOT galleries. Don’t make us sort through your portfolio to figure out what photo you’re submitting.
  • This should force you to use a little of your editing / curatorial skills too. Send us links to what you want us to review.

    We’ll leave the contest open for submissions for a week from today and then announce the winners in a follow-up blog post within 10 days of end of contest. Photos will be selected by composition, style, and overall merit as determined by us.

    Happy shooting. If you want to learn more about the bags you’re competing for, check out Erik’s blog post for his detailed thoughts on them, or take a look at ThinkTank’s website for the full specs. Here’s a peak at what we’re giving away. Rugged, stylish, downright awesome (valued at $157.60 each):

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    Official Contest Rules

    (Cy)Eyeborgs, Slingshots & Skeletons: 3 Minutes of Filmmaking Pays Out $200,000


    GE’s Focus Forward films are 3-minute documentaries featuring some the world’s most exceptional and innovative people presenting their ideas and inventions. Each year the project awards $200,000 to winners of the Filmmaker Competition, many of which have their 3-minute films premiered at Sundance. You’re gonna wanna take a few minutes and enjoy one or two of these.

    As an example — in the Grand Prize winning film — Neil Harbisson, who was born with achromatopsia (a rare condition that causes complete color blindness) works with another inventor to create the “eyeborg,” an invention that translates color into sound. He wears this device on his head and it literally scans the world for color and transforms it into musical notes through a pair of earbuds. He is considered the first recognized cyborg in the world. I’d say director Rafel Duran Torrent nailed it. [Best line from the winning film: "It is very human to modify one's body with human creations."]

    I’ve included the other four winners below. Certainly GE is aiming to connect the dots… their brand + innovation … but kudos to them for supporting supporting filmmakers to do it, and for rewarding them handsomely in the process.

    2nd Place
    The Artificial Leaf | Jared P. Scott + Kelly Nyks

    3rd Place
    Slingshot | Paul Lazarus

    4th Place
    Bones Don’t Lie and Don’t Forget | Kim Munsamy

    5th Place
    Mine Kafon | Callum Cooper

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