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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.

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!

We Are Not Our Toys. Or Are We?

Ragnar - Iceland

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

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

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:

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 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.

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 It’s free — anyone can watch and we’ll be taking YOUR questions via Twitter, hashtag #cjLIVE

The first 30 people to email 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.


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 ( included.

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 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.

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


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.


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.


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.


On your 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.


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.


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.



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


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?

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

[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

Survivorman Les Stroud: Produce the Creative Work & Life You Want [Jan 30, 11am PST]


UPDATE: The LIVE broadcast is January 30th – 11am SEA time (2pm NYC -19:00 London) – mark your calendars and flip your dial to

Les Stroud combined his love of the outdoors as a professional survival instructor with a passion for film and photography and created a new genre of television with the highest ratings in the history of both OLN Canada, the Science Channel US, and among the most popular shows ever on Discovery Channel US. But more importantly he created the life he wanted to live through his own creativity. As the only producer in the history of television to produce an internationally broadcast series entirely written, filmed and hosted alone, Les is a seriously accomplished creative. And obviously, when he is alone in the wilderness, life hangs in the balance of good decision making. One wrong decision can make the difference between living and dying. The consequences are well-known to Les, who has spent a lifetime surviving everywhere from the Amazon jungles to the vast Arctic tundra. But what about the decisions he has made as a creative? What decisions did have to make to pursue his dreams and share his vision? Tune in to find out.

WHO: You, Me, and a LIVE conversation with internationally known ‘Survivorman’ Les Stroud.
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Wednesday, January 30, 11:00am Seattle time (2pm NYC time or 19:00 London)
WHERE: Tune into It’s free — anyone can watch and we’ll be taking YOUR questions via Twitter, hashtag #cjLIVE

Think YOU couldn’t do this or something like it? Think again. By following his passions, Les is the autonomous star of a show which is licensed for broadcast in over 120 countries worldwide and millions of people tune in to each episode. Join me n’ Les on the couch in my studio to discover:

_How to face and overcome your fears – in a survival situation and when it comes to your creative work
_What it’s like to negotiate with a cable network and the pitfalls to look out for
_Why you should pursue your creative vision and live the life you want
_When to outrun a 1500lb Bull Moose – and what not to do when you see one in the wild
_What it takes to survive for 10 days alone stranded in the middle of the Norwegian winter
_How to combine passions into your creative work

See you on the Wed the 30th. LIVE from my studio… In the meantime, here’s a teaser for Les’s new show:

If you want to be part of the live, in-studio audience, send an email to with “Les Stroud” in the subject line. Winners will receive a confirmation email with attendance instructions. Bonus points for tweeting about the show and sending folks here.


Pre-Show Contest:
For a chance to win: Send out a creative tweet promoting the show with #cjLIVE +@manfrotto_tweet + the short link to this page ( included.

_Les Stroud 10″ SK Mountain™ Ultimate Survival Knife – Carbontitride Titanium 440 Steel, Non-Stick Drop Point Blade, Survival Sheath with Survival Features

_Les Stroud Ultimate Fan Package:
-Les Stroud signature harmonica, Stranded DVD & Les Stroud cooling bandana.

But you’ll have to tune-in to find out how.

Special thanks to our sponsors who help make this show possible – please follow them and let them know you appreciate the free content that they help us deliver. Respect.
Manfrotto: @manfrotto_tweet
liveBooks: @liveBooks
HP: @hpprint
Broncolor: @hasselbladbron

Also, our friends at liveBooks are offering special starter package deal for a photo website, exclusive for chasejarvisLIVE fans, here. Check it out.

View Official Contest Rules here.

Emerging Talent: Niki Feijen’s Interiors of Intrigue [and What Pro Photographers Need To Learn From Non-Pros]

ChaseJarvis_EmergingTalent_NikiFeijen_AmyRolloI was first introduced to Niki Feijen’s work via Amy Rollo who helps me with the Best Photo Locations pieces on my blog. I saw his stuff and, naturally, poked around to learn more about him. Ironically, one of my favorite parts of Niki’s backstory is that he’s not a professional photographer. He has a day job, and photographs his passion – urban exploring. And then something occurred to me: while it may be unconventional thinking, I believe deeply that pro photographers have a lot to learn from those who are not professional. Remember when your next photo wasn’t an “assignment” for a “client”? There’s something healthy about his. The following is Amy’s interview with Niki. The simplicity in approach is eloquent and noteworthy IMHO. Enjoy…

Amy Rollo: Every one of Niki Feijen’s intriguing shots could be featured ANY Best Photo Locations list.  With Tim Burton-esque scenes, intrigue draws you into these realms, yet we’re all terrified of what we may find around the corner. He brings us on a tour of abandoned hospitals, mansions, and churches. At first glance many of his images seem filled with life, sunlight bouncing off of smooth surfaces. Upon closer inspection you notice the decay and rot in every corner.  “Lonely” is certainly a word to describe some these settings, but that sense feels temporary.  Like the family who lives here just went to the movies, but they forgot where they lived and their stuff has been waiting a few decades for their return. Naturally, I had to ask Niki what exactly makes him tick…

Amy Rollo: I understand that you’re not a professional photographer. Do you want to become one?

Niki Feijen: Well to be honest, I don’t think that my kind of photography could work out to be a full time job. If I want to become a professional photographer and do this full time I will need to step away of doing just urbex [urban exploring] photography.  I will have to master other directions, too. I would have to take assignments and I think it would drive me further away from the whole urbex thing. Besides that, I have an awesome job which I love.  In the meantime I can fully practice my crazy hobby. I’m currently in progress of assembling and publishing my very own book. I do not think I have the time and opportunity to do that if it were a full time job.



Why is photography important to you?

Photography is a way to handle my urge to be creative. Since its a hobby I can do whatever I want. I have all the freedom in the world since I do not need to be here or there. I can make a crazy surrealistic shot or show the eeriness of an abandoned hospital. The tension and excitement of urban exploring is also a big fun factor. The rush you get when finding an entrance into a building that has been left behind for 20 years and is in a perfect condition is priceless.


What makes photography art?

Every photographer has their own creative vision. Every photo tells a story just like a piece of artwork. If I can capture a scene and I can transfer the atmosphere of that scene to an audience, I have succeeded. If I can move the audience with my photographs and trigger their emotions, I think that is art.



Talk to me about photo gear, your perception, and your approach

Technology goes so fast right now and there is still the big Nikon / Canon which-one-is-better “war” going on. I don’t think that there are any bad cameras anymore. It’s still the photographer that needs to make the photo and it really doesn’t make that much of a difference with what brand you use. I am very happy with my Nikon D800,  but if i did not have all the Nikon lenses I could just as well have taken the Canon 5D Mark III. I truly believe that mirrorless cameras will have the future though. The flipping mirror is from the 20th century and it is time to move beyond that. The mirrorless camera already has a lot of advantages.  Look at the FPS rate for example. Already they shoot more than 50 frames a second and the whole thing fits in your pocket. In a few years they will have larger sensors and the mirrorless camera will be mainstream. In 10 years we will buy a bulky retro DSLR on ebay to put on display.

 Who or what influenced you to become a photographer?

I have been photographing since I was a kid. Fascinated by the shots of the World Press photo and National Geographic photographers like James Standfield. I wanted to be like them.  When I got my first camera I tried many different directions like concerts, landscape, portraits etc. Many years later i discovered urbex photographty and nothing appealed to me more as that. Trey Ratcliff introduced me to HDR and when I discovered the combination of urban exploring and HDR by the works of Andre Govia, I was hooked. Even today there are a lot of photographers that inspire me. Lee Jeffries for example is a master in black and white portraits. No one can transfer the emotion and pain of a person as well as he can.


 What makes a good photographer?

I don’t think you can define “good photographer”. What is extremely good for one person can be the exact opposite for somebody else. It’s the same thing as Art.





Check out more of Niki’s work on his website and follow him on Facebook.

Drug Abuse Portraits: Haunting Before & After Drug Addiction Photos by Roman Sakovich

London photographer Roman Sakovich has hit a nerve – many nerves that is, including mine – with his recent portrait series titled “Half”. Thru some simple but astute post production, Sakovich combines the two halves of a person…on the left ‘before’ addiction & abuse, and on the right, after, at full throttle. Certainly the studio photos have been enhanced, but the results don’t waver. Simple photographs, compelling + robust narrative. Signs of good art. #Respect. Great series, Roman.

Visit Roman’s site is here. [caught this via PSFK + Hypenotice]

Learn How To Learn Anything, Hack Any System & Be Your Best: Tim Ferriss on creativeLIVE

UPDATED AGAIN WITH A TREAT: SPECIAL OFFER: This is LIVE right NOW. Buy the Tim Ferriss creativeLIVE course #4HourLife and get a free copy of Tim’s new book. Click for details Sale ends today! (somewhere around a $35 value …book + shipping)

UPDATE: Tim is LIVE NOW… both today and tomorrow. Tune in here at

Short version: renowned 4-hour-everything guy Tim Ferriss is gonna be on creativeLIVE next week for 2 full days of badass, actionable inspiration and instruction. Go here for details.

More detailed version and how this relates to you: One of the most important characteristics in making one’s way through a creative career or any entrepreneurial endeavor is learning what’s most important and executing against it. What do I need to know and how do I acquire that skill, be it learning how to light with strobes, make a music video, dominate at Photoshop OR…. literally anything else. In short, you want to learn how to learn. How fast you can learn, grow, be in the system while simulataneously hacking it is, in my humble opinion, crucial to success in any field.

Enter, my pal Tim Ferriss. Tim takes all this to the next level. I’ve personally learned more from him about ‘how to hack learning’ than anyone else. You’ve probably read or seen one of his previous #1 NYTime Best selling books (4 Hour Work Week + 4 Hour Body) OR seen him on one of my most popular chasejarvisLIVE’s ever (I taught him how to build a studio set and then he photographs a bikini model), but the real news I want to share with you here is twofold:

1. He has a new, super badass book coming out in 2 weeks; and

2. More importantly he’s bringing this new book + BOTH previous books to life in realtime on creativeLIVE (the online learning channel I co-founded) next week. Two full days of live, interactive learning with Tim and host of world class experts. Not gonna lie to you, I’m canceling all other obligations and will be sitting in the soundstage during the entire broadcast.

I’ve seen the syllabus for the course, it’s insanely inspiring and ambitious. I’m an excitable guy, but I’m rarely as hyped as I am for this workshop. Learn how to learn anything from the meta-learning expert. The course is live on creativeLIVE on November 14th + 15th. Check it out here if you want more info or to register to attend online.

You can order the book here from Amazon. Check out Tim’s blog here.

Here’s his creativeLIVE pitch:

[the book trailer video was shot by my pal, director Adam Patch. Head on over to the trailer on YouTube here and leave a comment if you dig.]

tim ferriss on creativeLIVE

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