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A Good Interview. Photography + Entrepreneur Stuff [ Tearing Down Walls - A Podcast with Jenni Hogan]

I had the distinct pleasure of being a guest on Jenni Hogan’s “Next Big Thing” podcast a couple weeks ago to talk a bit about my life path(s), pivot points and the way that creativeLIVE is systematically re-shaping access to the best education.

For those who don’t know Jenni, she’s a super smart, sharp journalist who has a passion for connecting with like-minded people who impact, inspire and inform. Equally at home in the worlds of tech, media and fashion, Jenni pressed me on my origins as a creative, from my early pivots away from school and PhD’s in philosophy of art to my career as a photographer and entrepreneur.

In these days of media sound bites, those of us who are lucky enough to get a stage rarely get to give lengthy accounts of our experiences. This is a more lengthy account.

What we discuss:
-beginning as a photographer
-how “making it” is really not “making it” at all – just another chapter
-my #1 iTunes app from 2009 (Wired, Macworld, NYT top app) Best Camera – and what I learned
-how creativeLIVE came to be
-how creativity is the new literacy and cL is a big part of that future.

Big thanks to Jenni for having me on the show. Here is the complete podcast, below:

We Are Not Our Toys. Or Are We?

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A recent NPR story “Why Politicians Want Children to be Seen and Heard” spoke to the effectiveness of children as political messengers. Federal gun law supporters use images of children to play on the emotions of the masses. “Save Our Children” and all that jazz. Annoying as hell to get ‘used’. But real. And effective stuff, no doubt.

Children have long been the fodder of photogs. Back in January I shined the bloglight on Danny Goldfield, who spent seven years photographing children from over 169 countries — all of whom happened to live in New York City. The portraits are heartwarming and powerful for their diversity and depiction of the innocence and resilience of youth.

Flashback also to the World Press Photo of the Year. The cries of anger and sorrow captured in the faces of a group of men carrying two dead children.

Which brings us to today’s work, with a twist. Gabriele Galimberti’s “Toys Stories” project took 18 months and brought him everywhere from Malawi and Zanzibar to China and the Ukraine. His concept was simple enough: capture children from around the globe, posing with their favorite toys.

Despite the obvious socio-economic differences apparent across the subjects captured, Galimberti observed a thread common to every child he shot:

At their age, they’re pretty much all the same. They just want to play.

We are all the same, right? Well, interestingly, Galimberti did find one difference of note… that the children from more affluent backgrounds tended to be more possessive of their belongings, requiring a bit more coaxing and persuading from the artist to get them to share. Of the children from poorer countries, Galimberti had this to say: “In poor countries, it was much easier. Even if they only had two or three toys, they didn’t really care. In Africa, the kids would mostly play with their friends outside.”

You can connect the dots on that one – I’ll say nothing.

Regardless, here’s a fantastic sampling of Galimberti’s work below. Please pay him a visit to view the project in its entirety here. #respect.

Bethsaida - Haiti


Stella - Italy


Pavel - Ukraine


Tangawizi - Kenya


Ryan - South Africa


Shaira - India


Norden - Marocco


Niko - Alaska


Kalesi - Fuji Islands


Davide - Malta

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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So You Want to Be a Commercial Photographer? Here’s How… [Joey L on creativeLIVE]

Update: It’s official now, I’m dropping in as a guest on JoeyL’s show TODAY at 10:45 Seattle Time (1:45 NYC; 18:45 London). Join us – ask questions. I just was sent over the topics he’s going to grill me on and I haven’t given an interview this in-depth about commercial photography in more than a year. Tune in HERE to watch…

Occasionally I hand pick certain people that I’d like to see on creativeLIVE. Joey L is one of those people — and starting NOW, AND for the next 3 days, he’s going to be sharing everything he can muster about his approach to commercial portrait photography and personal projects. Specifically he will be walking photographs from concept, thru lighting, posing, shooting and post production…and doing it all LIVE (so you can ask questions) and FREE.

Why did I choose JoeyL?
Here’s 3 reasons you should watch:
1. Few photographers today know how to make the pictures they see in their mind. But Joey can do this as well or better than any long standing pro – he turns his vision into reality. In truth this is one of the hardest things for people trying to “make it” as a photographer, and Joey shows you how.

2. Professional photography is more than just capturing the image. This is the simple secret that few people know. It’s about 3 distinct steps… planning for the picture, taking the picture and then making it come to life in post production. In this course, Joey walks you thru all 3 steps with flair.

3. Combination of hard work and technical execution. Most photographers I see in the world have one of these keys, but not both. You can’t succeed with just hustle and yet having shitty technique. And you can’t succeed by being a genius technician without any hustle. JoeyL exudes both of these, and you’ll be able to learn the balance of these in action by watching him.

So check it out. (I’ll be roaming around off set for 2 of the 3 days, maybe even drop in. Hope to see you.)

Resister FREE here to get updates and info about the class each day
Just drop in LIVE here anytime here.

joey L on creativeLIVE

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?

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.

(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

Take My Art! Jay Shells + The Rap Lyric Street Sign Project

Documentary makes the impermanent permanent. It’s a satisfactory compromise for street artist Jason Shelowitz (AKA Jay Shells), whose ‘Rap Quotes’ project has the longevity of a fruit fly or a sand castle at low tide.

Inspired by many rappers’ tendency to work the streets, blocks and parks of their upbringing into their lyrics, Shells decided to turn those shout-outs into official-looking street signs and hang them up at those specific street corners and locations. So the line “I’m blacker than midnight on Broadway and Myrtle” from Mos Def’s track ‘Champion Requiem’ got printed on a sign and hung at that street corner, a section of Brooklyn where the rapper grew up.

If you watch the film, you can see Shells is only securing the signs with hand-tightened nuts and bolts. He openly acknowledges that most of the signs likely won’t even stay up through the day and doesn’t care. Quite the opposite in fact. Imagining some hip hop fan coming across the sign, Shells says, “Fuck it, it’s my gift to you. Go take ‘em.”

Watching the video, I’m just as taken by the artist as I am the art. There’s an exhilaration — a giddiness, almost — apparent in Shells as he bounces from location to location, climbing his little step stool, snapping photos and thwarting the police. His creative energy is contagious – that my friends – is the energy that you give off when you make something you care about. Irrepressible.

Rap Quotes is a reminder to make stuff. At least part of you has to say feed the beast, fuck the money or you’ll never get anything off the ground.

The Irreverence Episode (aka NOT GIVING A F#$%) — Author Julien Smith + Musical Guest MY GOODNESS on #cjLIVE [RE-WATCH]

We had TWO amazing guests on the this episode of chasejarvisLIVE, which aired Wednesday, April 3, 2013.

Julien Smith is a NY Times best-selling author, CEO, voice actor and radio broadcaster. To fully enjoy his appearance on our show, you need to stop giving a f*#k right now. Not about your work, but about what other people – the haters, the doubters, the “experts”, your boss, your classmates – think. I went man crush when I read his post The Complete Guide to Not Giving A F*ck and The Short Sweet Guide to Being F*cking Awesome. I hit ‘like’ on Facebook, along with 53,839 other people (seriously) and promised myself to have him on the show that day. N.G.A.F. will set you free and put you on the path to being truly awesome. It will help you do your best work and be your most creative, most true self. A heavy dose of this is what you need.

Julien reviewed his message with us:

FACT NUMBER 1. People are judging you right now.
FACT NUMBER 2. You don’t need everyone to like you.
FACT NUMBER 3. It’s YOUR people that matter.
FACT NUMBER 4. Those who don’t give a f#$% change the world. The rest do not.

NOW…. Guest #2 is the perfect accomplice to Julien and his mantra, except these guys do it with music. We tipped you off to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis …had ‘em on cjLIVE before they went quadruple platinum… Tipped you off to The Lumineers before they hit the Grammys (among others)… In this episode, we offer yet another tip…the meteoric rise of Seattle duo, My Goodness. Drums, guitars, and some heavy effing vocals, it’s garage punk Black Keys on fire.

As you might imagine, this episode was a whole lot of fun. Check it out.

Here are some behind-the-scenes photos:

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Special thanks to our sponsors who help make this show possible – please follow them and let them know you appreciate the free content. #Respect.

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The Only Subject You’ll Ever Need. Ever

Marcin Sobas has a body of work that speaks to a photography maxim: Nature is still the best subject. The endless cycle of birth, growth, death and rebirth; the arc of the sun and the moon in a 24 hour period; the play of clouds and fog as both filter and subject — your window could look out at a tree on a hill and you could find a million different ways to capture it in a photograph over the course of a year.

A hobbyist, Sobas benefits from his sense of timing and his appreciation for Nature as Subject. His misty hillsides and above-the-cloud compositions are quintessential landscape shots: just the right light, just the right fog, just the right angle.

I popped a few questions the artist’s way to learn a little more about his approach.

Why the fog and the green as subjects?

MS: I have always been fascinated by fog. Mists are mysterious and you never know what will emerge from them. On green fields, the light is discovering their form at a right angle. Some places then look magical.

Do you do commercial work? If not, do you want to?

MS: At the moment, I treat it as my hobby. I really respect commercial work and I’m open to any suggestions and any cooperation.

What is your process?

MS: It all depends on the air and weather conditions. The foundation is good light and then the process is easy.

Can you dive into the kind of gear do you use?

MS: My main equipment is Telelens and sometimes a wide lens. I’m working on a Canon.

What’s your favorite location you’ve shot at thus far?

MS: From the places that I have visited, my favorite is Tuscany in Italy. But for the moment I have not visited too many places.

Anything else you’d like to add?

MS: The whole world is beautiful and amazing. I would love to visit both America and my dream is New Zealand.

Check out more of Marcin’s work here.

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