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Refresh Your Creative Juices — 10 Inspirations to Pull You Out of That Rut

The dreaded rut. That feeling of being exhausted of your precious creative juice. How to break out? For me, a change my scenery — specifically an amazing location for your photo or video shoot– has always been the closest thing to a magic bullet that I’ve ever experienced. Sometimes this means shooting in a different studio, at an abandoned building, a trip to the mountains or, gasp, even that blown-out building on other side of the tracks you’ve heard so much about. Even then however, it’s quite possible that even more drastic measures need to be taken.

I call it “Destination Inspiration.” Sometimes getting out of your everyday physical location is the shot in the arm that you need. This has saved me numerous times. If these following locations below don’t get your creative mind revving, then I can’t help you. Several of these spots I’ve been to before and drool over, others are on my must hit-list. Check them out, pack a bag, and get inspired. And before you wince about the cost of going to these places…skip your 4 dollar coffees at the coffee shop for 3 months and drink drip, cancel your cable TV subscription and look for a deal on airfare. The cost of taking a trip for your next shoot to revive your creative juices is much cheaper than the alternative – NO creative mojo. So here we go….

1) New Zealand. In all my world travel, few places compare in beauty to wait awaits the New Zealand visitor. Those of you who pay attention to what it is that we do know that I have a THING for NZ. In fact, I have stated it is my favorite place to shoot (although my recent trip to Iceland, see below, has me questioning that). From waterfalls and snow fields, to jungle and wild river beds – N-Zed is hard to beat. The people are some of the most adventurous and welcoming on the planet and shoots are consequently easy to produce. Its a haul – but worth the day in a plane.

2) Iceland. I recently returned from a shoot in Iceland and I can now say with authority that the country is straight up magical. I called it the “land of endless light” for the 18 hours of it we got every day. I’m talking the kind of light we photographers dream about at night. We spent the majority of our time tooling around the southern shore + hitting some super photogenic locations (thanks to hosts/guides Marteinn Ibsen and Arnaldur Halldórsson and local production company Profilm.). You’ll likely fly into Reykjavik, and if you rent a car hitting up Route 1 is a good bet to access some of the wilder beauty found here — it’s also called the Ringroad as it encircles the island. Wherever you go, be on the lookout for elves. The majority of natives believe they are real. I’d say snapping a shot would earn you some notoriety.

3) Antelope Canyon. Rather find somewhere in the States? Fly into Las Vegas or Phoenix (both are about the same driving distance) and head out to Antelope Canyon, which is on Navajo lands near Paige, Arizona. The canyon is actually two slot canyons (separated into “the crack” and “the corkscrew”, or “upper” and “lower” canyons), and both are amazing to walk through. If you’re looking for photos, get ready for a challenge. In addition to waiting your turn (Antelope Canyon is one of the most extensively photographed canyons in the US), taking the actual pics is tough, since the wide exposure range creates some problems as light is reflected off the canyon walls. Roll into town in May or April, when the temp is still bearable, and you still get a lot of daylight.

4) Hang Son Doong in Vietnam. Hang Son Doong sits near the Laos/Vietnam border. Its collection of about 150 caves boasts the biggest in the world, twice as big as Deer Cave in Malaysia. Check out the pic below by Dan Cunningham, and click the link to see more of his stuff. If the cave itself isn’t enough for you, there’s also a mini-jungle and a fast flowing river running through it. Plenty of natural wonder to spark some creativity. More than enough to fill some memory cards. Tours have just recently opened up, so check out some info here. And good news, if you want to stay awhile, Vietnam is crazy cheap-a 4 bedroom rental house can go for as low as $400 a month, and usually the most expensive beers available are a buck, with home-brews as low as ten cents a glass.If you aren’t careful, you’ll come for the cave, and stay for…ever.

Photo courtesy of Dan Cunningham


5) Belize. If you’re looking for somewhere a bit more tropical, check out Belize. I was there recently, and it was beyond incredible. For my friends in the states, Belize is a lot closer than you think. About 5 hours or less from everywhere in the US (besides HI+AK), so it’s a relatively short jump to crystal blue waters and white-sand beaches. Plane tickets aren’t too hard on the wallet, and the lodgings are pretty reasonable as well. Check out last month’s post here for a comprehensive guide on the what, where, when, and how.
chasejarvis_ambergirs_belize

6) Red Beach in Panjin, China. Feel like heading East? Take a train from Beijing (about 3 ½ hours for the fast trains, around 5-6 for the slower trains) to Red Beach. Weeds that are green during the summer turn a flaming red in autumn, giving you a view that you can’t find anywhere else. Go in September when the weather is chill and the Red Beach is the brightest. When you’re done checking out the beach, get your national geographic on and grab some shots of the 236 varieties of birds found there. Check out my play-by-play trip on the South China Sea from Shanghai to Hong Kong here.

Photo courtesy of Wikicommons

7) Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki, Japan. If you’re looking for some color, there are few places better than Hitachi Seaside Park. This place is covered in seasonal flower gardens, and if you time your trip right, it’s like the flower version of the 4th of July. You’ve got narcissus and tulips in spring , nemophila and roses in early summer, zinnias in summer and kochias and cosmos in autumn. If you’re not up on your flower names, just trust me that this all boils down to some of the most vibrant, spectacular colors you’ve ever seen, no matter when you visit. If you get tired of the flowers, Seaside Park’s got a BMX course, a cycling road, an amusement park and areas set aside to grill.

Photo courtesy of Katorisi

Arashiyama bamboo forest outside Kyoto, Japan. While you’re already in the area (well, the country at least) don’t skip this opportunity. Take the JR Sagano Line from Kyoto station (15 minutes, 230 yen), then take a 5-10 minute walk to central Arashiyama, then cruise through the towering forest. Get peaceful, get clear-headed, get centered. A walk through here is gonna chill you out, guaranteed. Rent a bike to get the full experience, and check out the cherry blossoms and small temples along the way from the station.

Photo courtesy of Casey Yee

9) Mount Roraima, Venezuela (but also Brazil + Guyana). Ready for some exercise? Make sure you’re serious. Next up is Mount Roraima, the highest of the Pakaraima chain of tepui plateau in South America. This is a backpackers dream. Most people make their attempt from the Venezuelan side, and hire local Pemon Indian guides from the nearby village of Paraitepui, which is reached by dirt road from the main Gran Sabana road between kilometer 88 and Santa Elena de Uairen. The path to reach the plateau is widely traveled and well marked, but once you get to the top of the mountain, it’s easy to get lost, due to a ton of trails and pretty consistent cloud cover. Paraitepui can be reached easily if you have a ride with four-wheel-drive, or you can hoof it in about a day. Do not try this with your Honda Civic. Once you hit Paraitepui, most hikers take two days to reach the base of the mountain, and then another day to follow “La Rampa,” the natural staircase path to the top. Spend a night or two at the top and check out a view of the stars like you’ve never seen, but make sure to plan for an another 2 days to get back.

Photo courtesy Paulo Fassina


10) Mendenhall Galcier, Alaska. I’ve saved one of the best (and most dangerous) for last. Fly into Juneau, Alaska and take a hike on the Mendenhall Glacier. Get up early to beat the crowd (try arriving at about 9am latest if you want some solitude), and hike up the western side (about three hours) to get to a point that overlooks the entire glacier. This hike is no joke, and you need to game-plan it hard. Even experienced backpackers are respectful of this glacier, especially if you are trying to see the ice caves beneath. These are unbelievably beautiful, but dangerous as hell since the ice is always shifting. Get yourself a guide, wear some layers, and get ready for a hardcore day of hiking and amazing views. Get a hold of “Above and Beyond Tours” for more info.

Photo courtesy of wikicommons ringbang

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

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

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

Class is in session. Take it away, Corey.

Thanks, Chase.

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

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

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

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

Sorry, but it’s true.

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

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

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

Check it out LIVE RIGHT NOW HERE.

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

Corey, on location.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What We Do” – Chase Jarvis Brand Reel

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s just say this video galvanizes my regret.

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

This is what it means to be committed.

You?

The Big Dogs Are Wobbling Like Drunkards [Time for Us Small Dogs to Sharpen Our Knives]

If you’re looking for your next creative breakthrough or if you’re in a job you hate and looking to make a change, this video from Dan Wieden of legendary Wieden + Kennedy agency in Portland is a worthy 15 min of your time. The intro is slow (a Portland love fest…) so skip in a few min if you’re watching the clock.

Here’s what’s in this video that I like:

- dan is a really likeable guy
- dan’s speech echoes my belief that creativity is the new literacy
- dan eloquently voices the idea that constraints & failures lead to creativity
- small is beautiful
- mistakes are the building blocks of knowledge

Take a look at some of the agency’s work over the years.

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

creativeLIVE chase jarvis summer sale

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

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

Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make.

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

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

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

chase jarvis travis rice

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

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

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

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

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

Asymbol Owl, by Hydro74 aka Joshua M. Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

Craig Kelly Mural, by Scott Lenhardt

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

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

5) Who’s this rockstar Alex Hillinger?

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

6) What makes "Art" in your opinion?

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

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

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

Red, by Chris Burkhart

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

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

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

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

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

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

Asymbol Website
Facebook
Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Have Dinner & Talk About Death [Kickstarter of the Week]

I didn’t talk about it much, but over the past month I lost two close family members in 48 hours. My grandmother passed away on Mother’s Day and my wife Kate’s grandmother passed away 2 days later. Neither was expected. As you might imagine, it was a crushing week (and following month) for our family. And now not a day goes by that I don’t think about them. More importantly, I’ve had a real chance to reflect on their lives — for which I wouldn’t change a thing — AND their deaths…for which I would change a lot.

In the USA in particular — but in many of the countries I’m familiar with — we don’t do well with death. We don’t talk about it enough, we don’t like to think about it and, consequently, as a culture we don’t do well with arguably the most important part of our lives…the final chapter. Did you know that 75% of people say that they would prefer to die at home, but only 25% end up doing so? Did you know that end of life expense is the number one reason for bankruptcy in the US? This is not dignity. This is terrible.

And that is the point of this kickstarter campaign by my dear friend Michael Hebb. We’ve done loads of collaborations together, like SongsForEatingAndDrinking, where we’ve hosted the likes of Macklemore and Pearl Jam guys and many others. I know the power of conversation around a meal – and have experienced the power of action rising up from the table. If anyone can start the movement to talk about death that will change our current approach, it’s Hebb. Michael, plus the University of Washington’s Masters of Communication Learning program, an interactive firm CIVILIZATION, Engage with Grace and some of the nation’s leading health and wellness organizations are working to fully launch their www.deathoverdinner.org, a project which will hope to jumpstart the national dialogue on how we End our Lives.

I encourage you all to join me in supporting it here. Much thanks and love.

How to Make Money Selling Drugs — A Public Service Announcement


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

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

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

For detailed theater and show time info, go HERE.

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

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

TAKE BACK YOUR LIFE. Building a Creative Career + Life with Renowned Author Chris Guillebeau on #cjLIVE [REWATCH]]

Are you ready to have that lightbulb moment? Yes? Then stop reading and hit PLAY on the vid above.

My guest in last week’s cjLIVE was none other than the globe trotting, “self employed for life” hacker Chris Guillebeau. In addition to being all those things plus the founder of the World Domination Summit (most amazing name ever for a creative conference…) he is a best-selling author of The $100 Startup as well as The Art of Non-Comformity. This show lit up the internet with responses to Chris’s explanation of the ACTUAL TACTICS that he has employed to help him achieve amazing success. Watch the above to hear:

_Why “Follow your passion,” sounds great – but that anything worth doing takes sacrifices.
_How to evaluate your life and quit your day job – and still feed your family.
_How Chris figured out how to travel to 193 countries by age 35. He is the first ever to accomplish this. [a few dignitaries have done it, but nobody of Chris' ripe age has ever pulled it off].
_This is all closer than you really think possible – once you get over the things that scare you

Over the years, through his remarkable books and friendship, Chris has given me an insane amount of clarity and some hefty doses of inspiration. Take your life back.

In addition to traveling and writing, Chris founded and organizes the World Domination Summit, an annual gathering of creatives held in Portland Oregon that runs the gamut from intellectual meet-ups and keynote speakers to hammock races and bollywood dancing. Sorry, ALL 3000 TICKETS are completely sold out, but that what happens when there are enough people who share your passions. (Note: I’m honored to be one of the keynote speakers for 2013.)

Here is Chris at last year’s WDS introducing a panel to discuss The $100 Startup and their own microbusinesses.

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60 Second Portrait – Ishmael Butler

Shabazz Palaces front-man Ishmael Butler was gracious enough to pose for this 60 Second Portrait back when he was on set for the cjLIVE episode with Ian Ruhter. Ishmael was one of the subjects of our massive tintype portraits along with Chris Ballew. Enjoy!

The Internet is Made of Cats — Here’s Proof That Cats Drive Creativity

An older Picasso with his furry companion.

As any regular Redditor knows, the internet is made of cats. They’ve been with us since the days of the Egyptians – although nowadays they have their own reality shows. What is it with these damn cats? As the collection of images below indicates, cats have played the role of creative muses in the lives of some pretty famous creatives, including Dali, Picasso and Warhol. [Warhol, it should be noted, once owned 25 cats, all of which he named Sam.]

Might the kitty companion be a key to unlocking the creative mind? I’ll posit that any loyal pet provides, at a minimum, a set of ears to bounce ideas off of and a second set of eyes to look upon your work-in-progress. Sure, feedback may be at a minimum, but at least you’ll be spared harsh criticism. [worth noting - there is a growing body of scientific evidence which shows that hanging out with a contented, purring cat can actually lower a human's high blood pressure, decrease stress, increase self-confidence and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. So there you go.]

Have a quick gander at some photos of famous creatives with their cats. Share your dorky cat stories if you’re so inspired . You may or may not be judged (but I will confess that Chris G and I swapped cat stories and photos last night at dinner, so you’ll be ok in my nerdy book….

[thanks, Flavorwire]

Dali with his ocelot, Babou. From Wikipedia.


Photographer Margaret Bourke-White and her Reddit-worthy kitten. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt.


Writer Jean Cocteau with his cat, Karoun. Photo by Jane Brown.


Illustrator Saul Steinberg shows his cat how to stretch out. Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson.


Georgia O'Keeffe poses with her pet Siamese cat. Photo by John Candelario.


Andy Warhol with his cat, Sam.


Photographer Edward Weston at his home, nicknamed "Wildcat Hill." Photo by Imogen Cunningham.


Artist Ai Weiwei with his cat Lai Lai. Photo by Ai Weiwei.

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