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Ecoliteracy + Stewardship — Chris Jordan’s Conscious Photography

Chris Jordan filming his latest project, Midway: Message from the Gyre. Photo by Center for Ecoliteracy.

My good friend and frequent guest Chris Jordan was named a featured speaker at the Center for Ecoliteracy’supcoming June 2013 seminar in Berkley. First-timers to this space should become familiar with Jordan’s growing body of work, which uses photography and film to capture and make personal the global issues that too often we distance ourselves from.

An on-going project of Jordan’s takes him to the island of Midway — alone in the Pacific more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent — where he has documented the life cycles of the albatross, the island’s de facto official bird. More specifically, Jordan has called attention to the death and suffering wrought upon the species by the trash that washes ashore daily — trash that, as the images show, finds its way into the stomachs of the birds, eventually killing them.

In a recent interview with Lisa Bennet, the director of communications for the Center for Ecoliteracy, Jordan speaks about the path which brought him to the present, about his mission and about his upcoming film, Midway: Message from the Gyre. I’ve grabbed a few of the exchanges to post here, but everyone should take whatever minutes necessary to read the whole interview, here.

Says Jordan of the albatross:

Their eyes, like those of eagles, are piercing and gorgeous. They’re huge and stunningly graceful, elegant creatures. They’ve been living on Midway for four million years and never had a predator. So they know no fear. You can walk right up and get so close that if they wanted to, they could peck at your face with their beaks. I got to witness and film babies hatching. And as I went and witnessed this, I realized there was an environmental tragedy happening there, and it was wrapped up in this envelope of exquisite beauty and joy and grace.

The carcass of a dead albatross reveals the cause of death. From Midway: Message from the Gyre.

Jordan’s reverence for the bird speaks to the importance that we, as photographers, can weave a greater sense of truth into our work when we regard our subjects with such respect — and even love. Later in the interview, we discover that much of his love for the albatross grew from an unfortunate incident on the island, which found him holding the remains of a baby bird:

That was a moment when I accidentally killed a healthy albatross myself. There were so many on the ground, and I ran over one with my bike. I jumped off and immediately got down and looked at her; she was gasping and choking up a bunch of orange liquid. She tried to move, and I saw that both her wings were broken. I think my bike had passed right over her body, and she suffered internal injuries. She took four days to die. I visited her over and over. It was an astonishing experience to discover how much it impacted me that I had inadvertently taken the life of this beautiful, innocent creature. I felt a depth of grief I never thought I had in me, for one bird on one island I never thought I would visit. I discovered that I had this tremendous amount of grief over this one little life I had taken, but there was really nothing more beautiful or lovable about that one bird than any of the other albatross on the island. I discovered that somewhere hidden in my heart, I must have that much love for every one of them.

Get over and read the full interview. And don’t forget to check out the trailer to Midway, which comes out later this year.

Re-watch my ChaseJarvisLive interview with Chris Jordan in 2011 and read up on our previous coverage of Jordan’s work.

The Largest Mobile Camera in the World — Ian Ruhter’s Wet Plate Photography

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Some of you who follow the blog and chasejarvisLIVE probably remember Ian Ruhter from last year’s season finale of the show. I wanted to let y’all know that Ian’s Silver and Light Project will be in Vancouver, April 2nd to April 16th. For more info on the Vancouver event go HERE.

For some background on Ian and why you should be paying attention to his work:
Ruhter and his crew shared his unique process of wetplate photography with a worldwide live audience – and me – along with his very personal story when he brought the world’s largest mobile camera to my studio and we shot several wet plate photos over the course of a 3-hour live broadcast. If you missed it, it’s one of my favorite episodes.

His project has attracted a ton of attention and is a great example of the power of personal work. He transformed his life to follow his dream to do something different in photography. He has been living the mantra of doing something different… not just better.

His personal artistic mission is for the creation of photographic art using the wet plate process dating from the 1850’s. His project “Silver and Light” is getting worldwide attention for both the story and the unique images he is creating.

Ian’s story is one that is reflected in the subjects he photographs, Severely dyslexic as a kid he found himself as an outsider challenged by many obstacles. It was his mother’s gift of an old film camera that got him started on a way to express himself and the path to his present project. In his previous career as a snowboarder Ian was a rebel, which helped lead him to his direction as a photographer.

His “American Dream” series has focused the largest portable camera in the world, a giant camera in a truck which he calls “The Time Machine”, on a cross section of others with a variety of challenges. His photographs present calm and dignified portraits that honour the subjects and tells their story. The narrative of Ian’s project and subjects are truly inspiring. Ian’s images of Los Angeles and the Mountains are one of-a-kind studies that are beautiful, mysterious, captivating and mesmerizing all at once.

Now, just up to the north from us in Seattle, Ian is at it again, sharing his passion and his amazing Time Machine camera. He is creating a body of work focusing on Vancouver, people and the stories he can find. He will also be participating in a series of talks to share his stories.

For more information on the project go HERE

The Irreverence Episode (aka NOT GIVING A F#$%) — Author Julien Smith + Musical Guest MY GOODNESS on #cjLIVE [TODAY 11am PDT/2pm EDT]

chase jarvis Julien + My Goodness Home Page Graphic
Update: We are LIVE RIGHT NOW with NY Times best-selling author, CEO, voice actor, radio broadcaster, and all-around awesome, Julien Smith and special musical guest My Goodness. Tune in to hear why not giving a F%&! can truly help you be more creative. Head over to the LIVE page.

TWO amazing guests on the next episode of chasejarvisLIVE on Wednesday, April 3, 2013.

To enjoy Guest #1… 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. Such is the inspiring message of NY Times best-selling author, CEO, voice actor, radio broadcaster, and all-around awesome, Julien Smith. 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.

He has tattoos, so you know you will learn from him. And not the “think out of the box” clichéd knowledge – but the kind that reminds you to be and adaptive human being. An irreverent, self respecting, and N.G.A.F. person. This information is going to help enhance your creativity, your vision, your personal freedom and help you lead the life you want. Here are a few facts, as outlined by Julien:

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 the went quadruple platinum… Tipped you off to The Lumineers before they hit the Grammys (among others)… Well, prepare yourself again for 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.

So this coming Wednesday should be a good bit of fun. Right here in my studio and live on the interwebs.

WHO: You, Me, Trust Agent Julien Smith + musical guest My Goodness
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Wednesday, April 3, 11:00am Seattle time (2:00pm NYC time or 19:00 London)
WHERE: Tune into www.chasejarvis.com/live. It’s free — anyone can watch and we’ll be taking YOUR questions via Twitter, hashtag #cjLIVE

The first 30 people to email production@chasejarvis.com will be eligible to be part of our in-studio audience (you +1 friend). You will receive an email confirmation if you’re one of the first 30.

HELP US PROMOTE THE SHOW AND WIN GEAR.

For a chance to win signed copies of Julien Smith’s books Trust Agents and The Impact Equation: Send out a creative tweet promoting the show with #cjLIVE + @julien + the short link to this page (http://bit.ly/WLMOLK) included.

DURING THE LIVE BROADCAST WE’RE GIVING AWAY MORE GREAT SWAG.
But you’ll have to tune-in to find out how to enter.

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

Help us welcome new sponsor Borrowlenses.com to chasejarvisLIVE and follow them on twitter @borrowlenses.
HP: @hpprint
Manfrotto: @manfrotto_tweet
liveBooks: @liveBooks (p.s. they are also offering special starter package deal for a photo website, exclusive for chasejarvisLIVE fans here.

Win $15,000 From Burn Magazine. Emerging Photographers Apply By May 5th.

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Photo: Matt Lutton/ Pristina, Kosovo


Need a little more change in the pocket (or a lot)? If you’re doing top-notch work, you may be in luck because Burn magazine is giving away $15,000 in grants for three photographers. Called the “Emerging Photographer Fund”, the grants will be awarded in three allotments; one photographer will win $10,000, and two others will get $2,500 a piece.

Initiated by legendary photographer David Alan Harvey in 2008 and awarded by the Magnum Foundation, the site describes the grants as “Designed to support continuation of a photographer’s personal project…[whose]…body of work may be of either a journalistic mission or purely personal artistic imperative. We just want to support committed authored photography of any ilk.”

A maximum of 25 photos may be submitted for a non-refundable submission fee of $25.

Entry deadline is May 5, 2013 at 6pm (EST), and winners will be announced in June 2013. Get on it.

Check out the exact rules and contest description HERE
Or to apply directly for the EPF grant for 2013, click HERE.

Skip the Fancy Gear — Give Me Vision. Surreal Environmental Portraits by Budi CCline

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Indonesia-based photographer and digital artist Budi “CCline” taught himself how to create these painterly photos. With nothing more than an old camera and an outdated version of Photoshop he brings to life a body of work that mixes the natural landscape with the local populations – human and animal, in a vivid, painterly style that is all his own. His work is a great reminder that it doesn’t matter what tools you use, it’s all about the vision. We reached out to CCline and my friend Amy took notes about his work and creative life in Indonesia. Insights a-plenty. Enjoy. -Chase

Tell us a bit about your background. How did you make the foray into photography?
BC: I graduated from the art institute graduate Indonesia majoring in visual communication design and then became a creative director for an advertising agency. I also painted using oil paints and canvas. The photography is just a hobby, but I try to ‘paint’ using photos.

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Your work is an amazing mixture of people and landscapes. Can you tell me how you find inspiration?

BC: My inspiration comes from nature and the environment around me. Incidentally, I live in a small village close to the fields and rice paddies. I also live in a society with people who are honest and humble.

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How does the diversity and beauty of the Indonesian landscape affect your photography?

BC: The Indonesian archipelago is a feast for the eyes. From the beach to the mountains and valleys to the inhabitants’ hospitality, there are many opportunities for diverse and interesting photos. If you have time, please visit our country.

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On your 500px.com portfolio, your images have a wonderful sense of atmosphere. What are you trying to convey in these photos?

BC: I’m just trying to visualize what I dream. Often I try to convey moral messages in my photos that can hopefully can be useful for others. I get many questions on technical issues. In fact, one of the strengths of digital through the technical possibilities is seeing the imagination and beauty come to life. Aesthetics is a universal language that can be understood by anyone because each of us loves beauty.

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Indonesia is a vast country that will be unfamiliar to most of our readers. What parts of the country do you think would be interesting to visit for photographers? What are your favourite places in
Indonesia to take photos?

BC: Indonesia is a tropical country right on the equator. Like most tropical countries, there are promises for many interesting photos. Most people are familiar with Indonesia through Bali, but
there are many more interesting locations to be photographed. The animals are interesting and suitable for macro photography, rivers abound, the inhabitants are friendly, and there is a diverse culture.
A favorite place? I think all the places could be interesting to be photographed. But I prefer photographing landscape and human interest. Incidentally, I live not far from Mount Merapi which is still active.

Is there someone who greatly influences your work?

BC: I try not to follow the trend of a person. If possible, I want to be a trend setter. I’ve tried a variety of digital imaging techniques and styles, but have settled on mine because I want to be tied to just one style only.

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How do you go about learning and improving your photography?

BC: With the help of the internet I was able to learn a lot from photography and digital imaging sites.

What kind of gear do you shoot with?

BC: Actually I am ashamed to mention my equipment since I only use Canon EOS 400D camera and for post proccessing use Photoshop CS3.

Check out more of Budi’s photos here.

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DOing + MAKING Always Trumps Talking About It. Cool Vid Here.

Superfun piece here. Reverse motion isn’t a new technique by any stretch, but it doesn’t need to be. Messe Kopp had a cool idea and executed it – turned out fun and cool. And above all, he went and CREATED something, versus sitting around talking about it.

Great example of being creative on a low budget. #respect

Check out more of Messe Kopp’s stuff here:

Facebook

You tube

The track is called “White Lies” by Fred V & Grafix, you can get the single here.

The Secrets of Surf Photography —- Chris Burkard Shares His Craft

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At 26 years old, Chris Burkard is living the dream of traveling around the world to shoot surfers in exotic places.  He’s been recognized for his work with some prestigious awards including a first place spot in the Red Bull Illume competition.  His images are a complementary mix of being right in the action and being removed from it.  At times the subject is a tiny speck in the grander landscape.  Other times the camera is enveloped in a wave.  I caught up with Chris to get some insight to what he’s doing and how he got there.

Could you describe your process? How do you end up with the striking images we see here?

CB: I guess my process has a lot to do with luck and preparation. I like to research and prepare as much as possible so when those unique unexpected moments happen, I’m ready. I also like to keep in perspective the work and the passion. To never let the assignment become more important than my photographic voice. My process seems to always involve a little bit of introspection. Am I just taking pictures to take pictures?  Or are these actually moments that mean something?
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How did you get your start in photography? How did you get to where you are now?

CB: I started taking photographs around the age of 19. I did a lot of art in high school and it seemed like a natural departure from painting, pen or ink. Photography for me was the perfect medium for expression. It was ideal for how I wanted to experience and document because I could take my art into any situation. The mountains, the ocean, social settings.

When I started getting serious about photography, I would shoot surfing locally, just friends. But my passion was for landscapes.  I would spend summers exploring the desert southwest and looking for a chance to expand my photographic eye. I sought out internships and shadowing opportunities and from there. Things just evolved and I’d like to think even though I have a distinct style now, that I’m still seeking to change and grow in my art.

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Do you have other influences outside of surfing and action sports? Whose work inspires you?

CB: So much of my work is based in action sports and outdoor lifestyle, but in fact the majority of my inspiration comes from landscape photographers and portrait work. I’m really drawn toward the work of William Albert Allard, Henri Cartier Bresson, and Edward S Curtis. I have such a strong admiration for people that really connected with there subject, whether a landscape or a culture. I have always aimed to have the same kind of connection with my subject. In the surf world and action sports realm I also have a lot of influences. Ron Stoner, Craig Peterson, Jimmy Chin, Ted Grambeau.

Ultimately I think I am the most inlfluenced by nature and the outdoors.

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You clearly have influences outside of the action sport world. Do you also work outside of the surf world?

CB: Yes.  I shoot a lot of outdoor lifestyle, music, wine, automobile. I love to branch out and shoot everything, and I love the challenge of new assignments. I’m usually pretty specific and only work with brands or companies that I feel are going to help promote my personal aesthetic or natural light and editorial style photography.

People always want to know about the gear we use – so I gotta ask – what’s in the bag?

CB: Nowadays mostly using Nikon, and occasionally some sony nex mirrorless cams.

70-200 and 16-35mm are in my usual lens kit. Also a 50mm and 400mm telephoto. And always a fisheye for work in the water.

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Where do you like to haul all that gear? What’s your favorite location?

CB: I love Iceland. I have been 7 times and already planning my 8th trip. Can’t wait. The place has a really unique type of light. It’s almost tangible. Like surreal beauty that seems to fill you. For me it’s the type of place I could move to someday.

Where do you want to go that you haven’t been?
CB: I would love to spend some time in Alaska. Really excited to explore some of the islands off the coast, especially Kodiak. For me, the more remote, the better. That’s where the adventure lies.

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Advice for aspiring surf photogs?

CB: My advice would be always aim to create a style that is recognizable. Something the viewer will know is your image without seeing the photo credit. I think it’s so important these days, especially with how many people are out shooting surf and action sports images to create work that is meant to last. Dont be so focused on logos or how good the action is, but more on the emotion in the image.

Anything else?

CB: “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”  - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Check out more of Chris’s work here.

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Follow Me: A Mysterious Beauty Leads You Around the World with Photographs

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Murad Osmann has put a really solid spin on the traditional “vacation album”. Already picked up by HuffPo, Business insider, and the Daily Mail UK, I nearly didn’t feature the work (not to mention the HDR tendency…), but I kept coming back to it for 3 reasons:

1. The concept is good.
2. The concept is simple.
3. We can all take note and learn something about executing good, simple concepts to create a body of work that gets noticed.

Murad explains how the first picture happened mostly by accident while on vacation in Barcelona with his girlfriend Natalia Zakharova. Osmann told the Post, “Nataly was a bit annoyed that I was always taking pictures of everything, so she grabbed my hand and tried to pull me forward,” he explained “that said, it didn’t stop me from doing photos while she was pulling me. So that’s how it all started.” Despite the “leading you by the hand” motif not being a ground-breaking, it’s just simply effective.
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As far as equipment, Osmann has a simple approach, telling The Post, “Equipment doesn’t matter. All that matters is the idea. Equipment is just helping you to achieve it.” Osmann went on to say that the photos were initially taken using an iPhone and the camera+ app, but that he now uses whatever equipment he has on hand. With his album going viral, and pulling in fifty-five thousand followers, it’s pretty obvious that regardless of what equipment he’s using, something is working here.

See more of Murad Osmann’s work here http://muradosmann.com/

The Power of Conflict Imagery — Commentary + Appreciation for the 2013 World Press Photo Contest Winners

Photo by Paul Hansen / World Press Photo

Paul Hansen of Sweden had his moving photo of a group of men in Gaza City carrying the bodies of two dead children selected as the 2013 World Press Photo of the Year. The photo, taken on November 20, 2012, was captured as the group was transporting the bodies to a mosque for a burial ceremony. The boys — two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and his older brother Muhammad — were killed when their home was hit by an Israeli missile strike. Behind the first line of men you can make out another body being carried, that of the boys’ father.

The jury-selected photo was announced as the winner this past February 15. I’ve been struggling with whether or not to call attention to this photo and several other “war & conflict” winners since that date…not because they’re not worthy, but because I’m human and this stuff carries powerful emotions on board.

Said Mayu Mohanna, jury member from Peru, of Hansen’s winning photo:

“The strength of the picture lies in the way it contrasts the anger and sorrow of the adults with the innocence of the children. It’s a picture I will not forget.”

I can’t forget it either – and nor can I forget so many of the conflict photos I see.

Certainly I know intuitively and also as you — this community of photographers — underpin this for our community every day… when featuring, sharing, “dealing” with war and conflict photos we have to treat them with a special reverence. [Sometimes those lessons are learned by fellow bloggers are witnessed by all of us...] For me, even the notion of selecting an image like this as a “winner” of anything makes me grimace – at a fundamentally human level. Certainly the timing and narrative of the image is of the highest quality, and, granted, the Press Photo Contest is not intended to glorify war and conflict or rejoice in the subject matter it presents, but deserved as it may be, given it’s many merits, I struggle to shake the image of a blue ribbon pinned to the bottom right corner of Hansen’s photo –or any such photo– because I’m human.

I, when pushed, can separate the work from the unpleasant message, and I’m able to champion the line “these images deserve to be seen by the world” but it’s always a struggle for me to take these in… And while I’m not a photojournalist by trade, we’re all photographers and related somehow by the power of the image, and we know that at least one of us can’t leave moments like these alone. So we do as Mohanna does, and we take the shot. For better or worse. For the spread of awareness or the spread of violence.

The rest is up to the global discourse.

[Fortunately, the World Press Photo Contest picks winners across nine categories - not just War and Conflict. So while I'm most moved by the war & conflict material, I've highlighted a selection the First Place Winners below. But don't substitute just these photos for the full array of work here on the WorldPressPhoto.org site. They'd love for you to visit them, and so would I. Hats off to them and the photographers worldwide who immerse themselves in this work.]

Winner, Contemporary Issues. "At the Dandora Dump." Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by Micah Albert / World Press Photo

Winner, Observed Portraits. "Little Survivor." Belgrade, Serbia. Photo by Nemaja Pancic / World Press Photo

Winner, Staged Portraits. "Daniel Kaluuya. London, UK. Photo by Nadav Kander / World Press Photo

Winner, Daily Life. "Football in Guinea-Bissau." Dulombi, Guinea-Bissau. Photo by Daniel Rodrigues / World Press Photo

Winner, Sports Action. "Joy at the End of the Run." West Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by Wei Seng Chen / World Press Photo

Winner, General News. "Aida." Idlib, Syria. Photo by Rodrigo Adb / World Press Photo

Winner, Sports Feature. "I Just Want to Dunk." Mogadishu, Somalia. Photo by Jan Grarup / World Press Photo

Winner, Nature. "Southern Cassowary." Black Mountain Road, Queensland, Australia. Photo by Christian Ziegler / World Press Photo

Winner, Spot News. "Interrogation." Aleppo, Syria. Photo by Emin Ozmen / World Press Photo

Reminder: more WorldPressPhoto.org photos here.

Insider Interview with Macklemore — Staying Independent, Humble + Going Quadruple Platinum

As many of you who are regular readers know, I am longtime friend (and fan of course) of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Ben (Macklemore) and I get coffee at the same joint. He has played dinner parties at my studio and he and Ryan deployed a magical performance on chasejarvisLIVE among other things over the years. But it is with a special appreciation that I’ve been attuned their meteoric rise to the top of the musical charts in the last six months. Quadruple MF’ing platinum, that is. For those who are counting, that’s 4 million copies of “Thrift Shop” alone… all without a label. Not only do these guys represent a great new era of conscious hip hop, but they represent the opportunity of the future for independant artists everywhere And I can say these guys are hard working, humble and dedicated to their craft.. unabashedly this success couldn’t have happened to better people. Well, last weekend those cats achieved their dream of being the musical guest on Saturday Night Live (video above). A few weeks ago, just a couple hours before a sold out Red Rocks show in Denver, my homie and manager Jerard sat down with Ben and his manager Zach Quillen (also a stellar gent) for an interview. Enjoy. -Chase

[Interview has been edited and shortened for print]

CJ: Can you tell us a little bit about this time in your life right now? This album’s only been out for five months and has sold hundreds of thousands of downloads. Thriftshop is double-platinum. You’re blowing up. (chase’s note… this was a month ago, and it’s already quadruple platinum now…)

Macklemore: It has completely exceeded my expectations of what I thought the project would do and what I hoped it would do. We sold 78,000 our first week. We were expecting to sell around 25,000 to 30,000.  It was a lot bigger than any of us anticipated.  Coming in at number two on Billboard independently is something that we are all really proud of. We decided to put out the album ourselves. And it kind-of worked. And we didn’t know if it was gonna work; we didn’t know what the, you know, what the reaction was gonna be.

I think that you have, on one side you have things like numbers that mark how far you’re going up, like, the hierarchical ladder of success. And you also have something which is the art. And wanting your art to resonate with the people that are hearing your art. The people, the fans that were there, the people that are hearing you for the first time, you hope that you have an album that garners critical acclaim as well as selling units. And you hope that you have both. And I think that, with The Heist, it turns out that, you know, we’ve had success in both of those areas. But the most important, for me, is the art. And that’s something that I am very proud of on The Heist. And I’m not saying that to be like, “Look what we’ve done. Ha!” I’m saying that because I’m still really fucking surprised that has happened. And you know, when we made “Thrift Shop”, we made the album, I didn’t think there was any chance that we would have a shot at commercial radio whatsoever. Like, if we didn’t sign a major label deal, literally in my head I didn’t think there was a percentage of a chance that it would take off at radio.  It’s weird to be recognized in public as kind-of like the “Thrift Shop Guy” right now.  I didn’t anticipate that. And once the record kind-of takes off to the level where it has, to where you’ve sold, you know, you’ve gone double platinum and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down… it’s very exciting but at the same time it’s a little bit scary. Like, “What the hell did I sign up for?”  “I can’t turn back now.” It’s a transitional period. And also life feels completely the same as it did a month ago or as it did three months ago. But in terms of where I’m at in my life…everything’s the same. And yet, the attention is such a different level and you’re still the same person. And yet you have the number one record in America. That’s bizarre and strange. So I’m adapting to that.

CJ: I like what you said about underneath all that recognition, for you, is really the art. And you first came to my attention through Chase. Back in 2009 or so you were on his show Songs for Eating and Drinking and you did a song that, at that point, was called “Air Jordans” and that’s actually on The Heist as –“Wings”.  You put your heart and soul into this album. Starting way back then, really busting this song out for, what I assume was, one of the first times.

Macklemore: It was THE first time. [I recall] I had forgotten about the event and I woke up from a nap and it was like fifteen minutes until it started. And I printed off the last thing that I had written which was “Wings”, which was then titled “Air Jordans” ‘cause I had just woken up from a nap and had no idea what to call it. Yeah that was the first time.

CJ: At that point, you had turned the corner in your career. You were a professional musician. You’re…

Macklemore: Nah, I was fresh out of rehab, living in my parent’s basement.

CJ: Okay, we’ll go back to that, but you had made a choice to be a musician. You were pursuing your craft full time.

Macklemore: Drugs and then art. [laughs] Nah, I at that point, yes, I had… you know, stopped smoking and drinking and I was just trying to get kinda get back on my feet.

CJ: The transition from that point to today is… is rather dramatic. Today you are double platinum (see earlier note) and then you were waking up from a nap. But underneath it is really your art and your craft. And I think that’s important for you know people who are interested in you and pursuing their own work That here’s Ben saying, Macklemore is saying, “Hey, even when you’re at the top you still have perspective on that.” Now lets take it back to your parents basement and how your work pulled you out of that time period in your life as well.

Macklemore:  To go back even further, I think I was then, and always have been the type of person that would have no moderation with drugs and alcohol.  Ever since I first started at fifteen years old. I also wasn’t the type of person that could create while being, you know, high on weed and drinking alcohol. And I smoked weed, once I was smoking weed it was like a wake-up-in-the-morning-’til-go-to-bed-and-pass-out thing. Wake up the next morning, smoke the roach, call the drug dealer and wake him up at nine o’clock. It was just that type of cycle. And so I wasn’t making music, and it continued to get worse. And I went to treatment, got out, and it was really kind-of a rebirth for me. I got another shot at this. And I thought, if this doesn’t work now, I’m gonna have to go and pursue something else. That’s a scary place for an artist to be. I always had this faith.

Somebody asked me recently, “What was it that kept you going when it wasn’t popping off, when you were broke? What was it that kept that artistic spirit going?” And for me it was this thing that if I did get sober, if I could get sober, that I knew I would have a career making music. I didn’t know that it would look like this; I didn’t know that it would look like what it looked like two years ago. But I felt like I could sustain myself off of my art. But getting out of treatment that was gruesome, dark. That  was a very dark and depressing time.year. It was very much, “If this doesn’t work I’m gonna go get a nine to five and do something that I probably am gonna hate doing and resent a good portion of my early twenties for not handling my shit.” And, very blessed the fact that it worked out.  And that’s when Ryan [Lewis] and I were making the verses to EP.

CJ: The guys here at The Business of Fun have this analogy that’s called the aircraft carrier analogy.  That there are five thousand guys that run an aircraft carrier. There only a  hundred pilots. But there’s this huge support system behind any of the things that are out front, the people that are out front. So you and Ryan are out front but your manager Zach is sort-of in the boiler room sometimes. It’s relevant because when you have a passion for something, you don’t necessarily have to be the MC; you don’t necessarily have to be the double platinum artist. There are people behind the people.

Zach Quillen: What Ben and I have in common there is that I was never gonna be satisfied or happy with a nine to five–a traditional nine to five. I got fired from like every job I had in high school for having an attitude problem. And it ultimately was that I didn’t wanna work for anybody but me. And always had a passion for music but not, you know, not necessarily the other things that you need talent-wise to be out front, be up at center. So this was as close as I could get. I wanted to stand as close as I could to people like Ben and use the talents that I had developed over the years to help them achieve what they want to achieve. And ultimately achieve what I wanted to achieve alongside.  I never saw any other option. And if you know anything about getting into the music business it’s, especially at first, there’s nothing glamorous about it. While Ben was performing in front of eight people in Omaha I was making like $22,000 a year living in New York City, barely coming up with money to buy groceries. It’s a similar path in that way – where you just have to love it. It has to be everything for you. I was totally fine to be broke in New York as long as I got to stand next to these super talented people that were making music, that were changing people’s lives. I didn’t care about really anything else.

CJ: There’s this perception of the glamour of it, but really there’s a grind. Whether it’s sport, or art, music, photography, how are you gonna be committed to it when the work  is really kicking you in the balls everyday?  And you guys both went through that.

Macklemore: That process it doesn’t stop. It… that never lets up.  I’m off like an hour of sleep right now coming from New York. And we do Red Rocks tonight, fly out at six o’clock in the morning which means that we’re back at the airport at four o’clock in the morning to catch the flight. It’s more of a grind than it ever has been. A lot of it isn’t fun. Still. But it is my life’s work. This is what I’ve always wanted. And you need to constantly be reminding yourself that as you evolve because, if you’re not grateful in those moments, like, sure I might’ve got an hour of sleep last night but I was on David Letterman. And I never thought in my life I would be on David Letterman.

CJ:  Can you share with us some of those influences today, and some of the things that helped bring you up, that you really paid attention to?

Macklemore:  I try to pay attention to art outside of hip-hop. I don’t do a very good job of doing that. But when I am paying attention to art that’s not just hip-hop, I am often times inspired in a way that I can’t get if I just go to like the same like four hip-hop blogs that I go to everyday. Yesterday I watched a concert film from David Byrne of The Talking Heads. And it’s this show that he did probably like in the eighties.  I didn’t know anything about David Byrne of The Talking Heads. Like I recognized some songs as I was watching this film, but… You know, he comes on stage with just like a boombox and presses play. And it’s just him with the boombox. And as the show goes on, you know, he adds a bass player, and a guitar player, and some dancers, and a drummer. And it turns into this whole, huge set–a huge production. And it’s watching things like that. Like great, great minds–people that are thinkers–that wanna challenge what a show looks like, wanna challenge the audience to really be engaged with them, with what they’re performing. And thinking about it in a different way. Like I think that, you know, I’ve been thinking about our show and not really happy with the show that we put on. I’m really happy with what we can deliver but I think we can do better. And I don’t know that I could do better if I’m only watching, if I’m only checking out hip-hop blogs. ‘Cause for the most part, like, rap concerts suck. You need to be inspired by other mediums. When I was writing The Heist I was taking walks in graveyards and trying to write at the art museum. Buying books and reading a couple chapters and putting it down and picking up a different book. Just trying to constantly be inspired by culture and just trying to get that spark that can lead to a new song. ‘Cause if I’m only listening to hip-hop music, if I’m only living my day-to-day life the same every single day, constantly, there’s no fuel to create something brand new. And that’s how I stay inspired.

You have to be able to experience life to have something new to write about. I don’t wanna write The Heist again. Like The Heist was a moment in time. I am a very conceptual writer. I can’t write those same songs again. I need to have new experiences to draw from to be able to put into my art.

CJ: [Question from live studio audience] If you could choose one song out of any of the songs that you have written for the world to hear, what would that song be and why?

Macklemore: I’d probably say, right now–and hopefully it will change ‘cause I write new songs and it evolves–but in 2013 it would probably be “Same Love”. THat song carries a message that I want to be heard around the world. And I think it’s an important message. It’s a message of tolerance, of equality, of compassion, of understanding, of pushing ourselves and our own bias and our own stereotypes. And I think that that’s my highest potential as an artist is to write songs–anyone’s highest potential–is to write songs that have an impact on society, have an impact on people’s lives, that can create dialogue within other people. You know “Same Love” is not a song that’s like you listen to it and I want you to immediately agree with everything that I say in the song. I don’t want you to feel that way out of any of the songs that I write. Everyone interprets music differently and messages differently. But what I hope is that it facilitates dialogue, that people listen to “Same Love” and then have a conversation. Or re-evaluate the words that they use, the language that they use. Or their, potentially their own, um, their own set of beliefs and retrace the lineage of why they are the way that they are. That’s essentially the greatest tool of music, is to… for us to examine who we are, find our truth, and evolve. And I think that “Same Love” falls into that category.

CJ: [Audience Question]Malcolm Gladwell talks about how if you really dedicate yourself to something and invest 10,000 hours you cmaster your craft. But he also really connects that blood, sweat, and tears, the passion, with kind-of this serendipitous opportunity, if you will, like a moment, a magical moment where the universe aligns and allows you commit to that craft.  Was there a moment or a period in your life that holds true to that ideal for you?.

Macklemore: Woah, yeah, That’s a great question. It kind-of gave me like a, uh… it brought up some emotion actually. There was a moment. I was, um, I was in treatment. I tried, as I said before, I tried my whole life to get sober. And I didn’t know how to do it. And always felt that I had  words to share with people. I didn’t know on what scale that would be. I didn’t know if that was like a hundred people or a hundred thousand. I didn’t know what that meant but I felt in my heart that I had something to share.  There was a monk And in treatment I had this moment. I was accumulating these tools to stay sober and part of the guy that was kind-of leading me through the steps in treatment was a practicing Buddhist monk. And we went to a monastery. And we were doing this kind-of this chanting and walking in a circle, walking in some figure eight circle. And you know earlier in my life I, when I got out of high school I couldn’t get into any colleges. No one would accept me. I cheated in school on math from sixth grade on. So I, when it came down to like the SAT’s, it’s a lot harder to cheat on the SAT’s. Looking over your friend’s shoulder doesn’t exactly work the same. I don’t recommend anybody doing that. I couldn’t get into  any schools. So I went to I went to India for a couple months when I graduated from high school. And I had this experience there of, I was like meditating on top of–this all sounds like really “Losty” and like very hippie but it’s just the truth. So I was meditating on top of a hill and I had this very serene peaceful moment. I meditated. And it was the first time I had ever done it where there was like no thoughts in my mind. It probably lasted for like two seconds, but I did it. And I’d been trying for a while. Mostly through hallucinogenics I was trying and that didn’t work.

So I finally like hit this point naturally and the first, thing that kind-of brought me out of this state of, you know, two seconds of kind-of just serene peace was this thought of, like, “This is so incredible. This is so amazing. What I’m feeling right now is the truth. This is my highest potential…” And then, “but you’re gonna go back to using drugs and alcohol.” And I was eighteen years old at the time. And it was a very depressing way to kind-of exit out of this moment. And I knew it. I was sober at that moment, but I knew I was eventually gonna go back to Seattle. Or it was gonna be a couple days later or whatever and I was going to go back. And when I was doing this chanting, you know, some, you know, probably eight years later, I had that exact same kind-of moment. And it brought me back to that place. And I was like, “I don’t need to go back anymore.” And then, “That’s it.” I didn’t come out of that like meditation space as I did before.  “I’m gonna go back. I’m gonna fuck up again. I’m gonna be a drug addict.” My thought was, “You don’t have to do that. And it’s your choice.”

That was my moment that I turned around. You know, since then it hasn’t been perfect. If you’ve heard the song “Starting Over” that’s obvious. But, my life changed in that treatment center. You know, I really have my life and my craft, and my art, everything that is good in my life, my relationships with my girlfriend and my family and my manager, and being present in this moment right here is all do to the fact that I’m sober.

So that was that moment.

CJ: Great question, awesome answer. I think we actually have to take you guys back. I think you’ve got something to do tonight. Thank you so much for making the time to come and talk to us.

Macklemore: Thank you. This is fantastic. I appreciate everyone for coming out.

ZQ: Thank you.

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[To see the video of the above interview go here]
And check out the folks who made this interview possible (doing some very cool things) at The Business of Fun

Join Me! LIVE in a Google Hangout from Aspen Talking Photography, Music, SXSW and more…. with Robert Scoble & Chris Davenport.

UPDATE: here’s a recording of our chat…above! Thanks to all of you who watched live.
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LIVE today at 9:30 PDT, 10:30 Aspen, 12:30 NYT, 17:30 London right here on the blog or on my YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/chasejarvis.

I’m smack dab in the middle of shooting next year’s campaign for Aspen (last years BTS video here with octocopers and wicked visuals) but had the morning off and managed to wrangle a couple friends for a live Google Hangout to discuss a bunch of questions that have come across my desk in the last week about the Aspen/Snowmass campaign (helicopters and photography), my new favorite music, the democratization of technology and a few other odds and ends that you will find of interest. Joining me is one of the key talent for my Aspen shoot, one of the world’s best skiers, Chris Davenport, the tech guru Robert Scoble (fresh outta SXSW) and the digital maven here in Aspen, David Amirault.

Reality Bender — Interview with Street Artist that Transforms Sidewalks into 3-D Wonderland

Regular readers here know I’m a big fan of street art. And when I find good stuff, I share it. In particular the work of Tracy Lee Stum have blown my mind of late – pushing the boundaries of what can be done with perspective and chalk, creating innovative new ways to expand the medium. Where most people see a piece of chalk and a stretch of sidewalk, Tracy sees yawning chasms, hidden underground cities, mythological creatures and ancient gods. To Tracy, it’s all a matter of perspective. That’s why I caught up with her in an interview below.

Anamorphic art (distorted perspective which requires the viewer to occupy a specific vantage point) is as old as the Renaissance. This new stuff from artists like Tracy borrows from that era and overlays a new urban canvas — pieces taking as “little” as 4 hours, or as long as four or more days. Nevermind that sometimes weather conditions will destroy a piece before it’s even finished.

CJ: At this point in your career, you have made art in many different countries. Is there anywhere you specifically like to work?

TS: Good question! I like working wherever I have an adequate surface, good weather (no rain) and a crowd. Certainly big cities are terrific for these works but I am also keen to travel to more 3rd world countries to introduce the art form to communities there. Art inspires and oftentimes folks in those areas don’t have access to what the 1st world population has. I’d like to bring my art form to those out of the way places.

CJ: How do you keep your passion for this specific medium alive?

TS: I’ve been doing this for a long time – 14 years! – so I do understand about keeping the passion going for the art form. I personally strive to find new ways of creating innovative images with different approaches to composition and design – a challenge keeps me going! And of course, there is nothing as satisfying as getting to the drawing phase, where color and line and all the methods you employ as an artist come into play. That makes it easy to stay excited about the art. Authenticity is huge for me and I push myself to stay authentic.

CJ: When you conceptualize a piece, do you have a specific scale in mind, or do you wait for the perfect space to create an idea you have?

TS: It’s a combination of these things – I usually have a sketchbook full of concepts (ideas come to me intuitively and I simply jot them down for later reference) and when a project presents itself, I will consider location, actual site, space, size, and interactivity needs. Scaling a painting to work with live participants is a fun challenge for me and one that requires considerable mental contemplation. I spend quite a bit of time going over my image design to make it work the best it can with a particular scale. Some designs demand specific spaces and those come to the foreground when a venue or site is offered that will accommodate them.

CJ: Do you create your pieces completely from your mind’s eye, or do you have a sketch you work off of?

TS: In the past I have typically used a sketch, albeit rough ones, to work from. I’ve also used a camera lens to view the site and imagine a likely image for the space. Lately though, I seem to find that approach somewhat restrictive and prefer to create on the spot. I may rough out an idea and once the properties of a good design are worked out, I forget the sketch and go with impulses I get while working on the actual painting. Often times, and this has been true throughout my career, I begin with one idea and then make significant changes to the design as I am developing it on the street. Again, I receive impulses and follow those absolutely – they always take me to a better result than staying with a rigid framework. I’m fairly fluent in the principles that govern 3d works so I feel fully confident to spontaneously create a design at any given time and place.

Thanks Tracy. More of this badass work found here… http://www.tracyleestum.com/gallery

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Transparent Cameras – Photo Gallery of X-Rayed Cameras

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

In the shuffle of airport security I like to sneak a peek over the shoulder of the TSA agent and catch a glimpse of my gear as it moves through the X-ray. Shaving kit, headphones, a book, my ipad and usually a camera or two. It’s cool to see a quick view of the inner workings of the things we carry. Even cooler when it’s your camera’s hidden internal magic.

Photographer Blake Billings has created an entire series of that moment with his X-rayed camera photos. Here are the things that are moving around inside the magic light box.

Can you identify the model/make of these transparent cameras? Any of your favorites in the series?

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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Copyright @Blake Billings, www.blakebillings.net

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