Archive | Videos RSS feed for this section

Unlock Your Creativity: 7 Stages To Experiencing “The Zone” + Why It’s Good For You

rise of superman chase jarvis creativity flowThere are times when the work is easy. When it’s 3am and there is a connected feeling, when ideas flow effortlessly. When the inner critic who otherwise stunts creativity gets gagged, bound and shoved into a dark closet. And then there are the opposite times. When the feeling of being “blocked” or stunted creatively is powerfully frustrating and the inner critic rages supreme – where nothing of value seems to find its way to the surface.

Whether trying to break a creative block or sustain a creative flow, we have been searching for a secret on this topic for centuries. And unless you’re completely new to this blog, you’ll know that unleashing the creative potential in everyone is a lifelong mission of mine – both personally and at scale (ala creativeLIVE). I’ve given some talks on how I believe creativity is the new literacy and anything we can do to further creative forces – I’m all for it.

Today, however, I’d like we’re on the verge of something great. Getting unstuck using science. In this upcoming book The Rise of Superman (Amazon link here), author and personal friend of mine Steven Kotler breaks down the science of this state of mind, the science of ultimate human performance (called “Flow”)

YOU know what flow feels like. You’ve felt it creatively when amazing ideas flow like water, in life when everything is just right, or perhaps in sports where you’re “in the zone”. THAT’S flow. So what actually happens in our brains when we achieve this feeling of effortless creative energy? You might be surprised to find that there is a sequence and a science behind this “zone” of flow that you we can actually tap into with regularity, and in Rise of Superman, Kotler sets out to decode exactly this. He’s been releasing a series of trailers and interviews with artists (me!) and elite athletes (Dean Potter, Travis Rice, Danny Way, others) and has uncovered some common threads to their own experiences with Flow.

For all our benefit, I reached out to Kotler with a few questions about Flow and his upcoming book. The interview below is our back and forth…Enjoy.

CJ: How did you come to the idea of flow?

There’s two answers here. The first is this is not my idea. Flow research dates back to the 1870s. There’s 150 years of really hard work that has gone into this topic. Thousands and thousands of researchers have worked on it. I just stumbled into that lineage. The story of how that happened is told in my second book (West of Jesus), but the very short answer is that flow states saved my life. Literally. I spent 3 years in bed with Lyme disease and the doctors had given up on me. No one knew if I would ever get better, but for complicated medical reasons they had pulled me off drugs—so there was literally nothing anyone else could do for me.

But it was a series of flow states that brought me back to health. It was radical and rapid. I went from like 10 percent functionality back to about 80 percent in under six months. I wanted to understand how this was possible. I mean, on the surface, it seemed crazy. An altered state of consciousness beats back a chronic autoimmune condition—like how the hell does that work. So, some 15 years ago, I decided to find out. That’s where all this started for me.

CJ: Where does the term “flow” come from, and is there actually a definition of flow?

The technical definition of flow is “an optimal state of consciousness where we perform our best and feel our best.” But the reason these states as called “flow” is because of the sensation conferred. When you’re in flow, every action, every decision, leads fluidly, seamlessly to the next. In other words, flow feels flowy.

CJ: Is flow on a progressive scale, or are you either in or out of flow? My own experiences say it feels like a scale…a progression, but what does your research tell us?

When University of Chicago psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi did his groundbreaking research on flow, he discovered there are seven different attributes to the state. This is essentially a checklist of things experienced in flow: intense concentration on the task at hand, the merger of action and awareness, the loss of a sense of self, the distortion of time, etc. And flow is progressive. It exists on a spectrum that is sort of like emotions. With anger, you can be mildly irate or deeply homicidal. The same is true for flow. When only a few of these categories show up, we’re in a state of “micro-flow.” When all ten show up at once, we’re in “macro-flow.”

[To go deep on the 7 Stages, how to get there, and what that unlocks, pickup the book here.]

CJ: Your book connects some very diverse terrain: action-sports, creativity, business, and neuroscience. How did you realize that flow crossed between them all – what’s the thread?

This wasn’t actually my realization. Very, very early flow researchers (back in the 1870s) believed they were looking at an experience brought on by high risk behavior (the action sports category), but, in the 1940, famed psychologist Abraham Maslow discovered the flow experiences are a commonality shared by all successful people. Then, when Csikszentmihalyi got involved in the 1960s and 70s, he discovered the state is ubiquitous. Everyone everywhere has access to flow. So flow applies in pretty much every domain. But this isn’t a business secret. Companies like Toyota, Microsoft, and Patagonia have flow woven into their corporate philosophies. A lot of the really innovative things that companies like Google and Facebook do to manage their knowledge workers comes down to flow science. Flow is everywhere in business—it’s just that most people are unaware of it.

Here’s a 3 minute video interview of yours truly and Steve Kotler about flow and creativity. You’ve felt it before, but you wanna get back there again, don’t you?

CJ: I’ve read the advance copy of the book. I’ve sat for interviews w you, etc. The book is really focused on action sports, but flow is certainly present in so many other areas – ie the creative process — as well. Tell me about that.

Flow is arguably as well-linked to creativity as it is to athletics. As a writer, I would be absolutely unable to function without flow. Every idea I’ve ever had for a book has come out of a flow state. Every article I’ve ever written that has won awards was written in a flow state. To put this in scientific terms, in recent years we’ve begun to look under the hood of creativity. We now know that the three key mental functions that produce the most creativity are mental risk-taking, pattern recognition (our ability to link ideas together) and the size of the database searched by the pattern recognition system. Flow massively amplifies all three functions. It jacks up our ability to take risk by making us feel less fear. It amps up pattern recognition and expands the size of the database the pattern recognition can search. This is why studies have shown people are far more creative in flow. It’s a huge boost. In work done at the Flow Genome Project, we found that most people report being 7x more creative in flow—that’s a 700 percent boost in creativity. More importantly, at Harvard, Teresa Amiable discovered that not only are people more creative in flow, they report being more creative in the days after a flow state. Thus flow doesn’t just amplify creativity in the moment, it literally trains the brain to think more creatively over the long haul.

CJ: One of the core arguments of your book is that the chemistry and function of the brain actually change during flow. How does portions of the brain shutting down help me be more creative?

Flow is causes by profound changes in neurobiology including something known as “transient hypofrontality.” Transient means temporary. “Hypo” is the opposite of “”hyper,” it means to slow down or deactivate. And frontality is show for the pre-frontal cortex—i.e., the part of your brain in charge of higher cognitive functions—shut off. One of the areas deactivated by flow is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This part houses your inner critic—that relentless, defeatist nag that is always part of waking consciousness. When the inner critic shuts off, we feel this as tremendous freedom, as liberation. This is fantastic for creatives. It means the portion of the brain that is always judging creative ideas—shooting them down before they get off the ground—is turned off. This allows you to move from idea to idea far faster.

CJ: You have compared the chemicals released in your brain during flow to some of the most addictive drugs in the world. Does this mean that people have similar feelings in flow that they might experience on drugs?

That’s a really interesting and complicated question. Flow cocktails five of the most powerful neurochemicals the body can produce and each of these neurochemicals have a drug analogue. For example, when you snort cocaine. All the drug does is cause the brain to release copious amounts of the neurochemical dopamine. Well, dopamine is released in flow. So are norepinephrine (speed), anandamide (marijuana), endorphins (heroin) and serotonin (ecstasy). You actually couldn’t produce this cocktail with drugs. Trying to take all those drugs at once and you’re going to end up drooling or dead. But the brain does it naturally. So yes, being in flow is an altered state, just like being on drugs. Does flow feel like any one of these drugs—not exactly. It actually feels a lot better. Moreover, while being addicted to drugs can lead backwards, being addicted to flow—because the state requires meeting challenges and learning new skills—leads forwards.

CJ: In your book and communications, you talk about this concept of “flow hacking,” or doing things to help trigger a flow state. Do you mean that people can create flow in their own lives?

For certain. Flow has 15 triggers—that is, pre-conditions that lead to more flow. Anyone can pull these triggers.

CJ: Besides jumping off a cliff on skis, what’s one trick you might use to help you get into flow?

As I said before, flow has 15 triggers and risk—or what we call “high consequences”—is only one of them. But even here, within the high consequence trigger, their possibility. For example, sure, you can jump off a cliff and take a physical risk. But you can also use emotional risk, social risk, creative risk—it doesn’t matter. It’s also very individual. A shy guy needs only to cross a room to talk to a pretty gal to pull this trigger.

But the most important thing to know is that flow follows focus. This is why people recommend always following your passion if you’re chasing flow. Why? Because our brain pays way more attention to stuff we’re passionate about. Put differently, a lot of what we call “flow hacking” is really ways of tricking the brain into paying more attention to the here and now.

CJ: I understand that you do a lot of consulting with business leaders on how to facilitate more flow in their workers.

Yes, I have done a fair bit of this work. My partner in the Flow Genome Project, Jamie Wheal, has done far, far more. The flow triggers we’ve been talking about are really accessible—it is not hard to design businesses around them.

CJ: Now that the book is releasing, you’re going to continue to work on flow research through the Flow Genome Project. Can you tell us a bit about that?

The Flow Genome Project is an international, trans-disciplinary organization dedicated to decoding flow. As you pointed out above, we do a bit of consulting, but our core focus is to seriously advance flow state research. We’re also in the process of building Flow Dojos—dedicated flow research and training facilities. But the most important thing to know is this is an open source project. The goal is to hack ultimate human performance. This is relevant to everyone—who doesn’t want to be able to perform at their best. Thus, we want everyone involved. Go to our website, sign up for Flow Hacker Nation, and get involved.

If you’re hungry for more, jump over to The Rise website to peep all the material Kotler has assembled there in preparation for the launch of the book in early March.

HUMANS OF NEW YORK [Best Photo Project Ever] Brandon Stanton on #cjLIVE Wed Feb 19th — Plus Win 30 Days w A Dream Photo Kit

chase jarvis hony humans of new york brandon stantonREMINDER: this show is TODAY at 11am Seattle time (2pm NYC, 19:00 London) and is broadcast LIVE at Details below – tune in & come say hi.
I’ve personally nailed several large scale photo projects in my career…Personal work that I grew to a large scale project. And I’ve witnessed hundreds of great photography-based projects come to life in every corner of the world…BUT there may be none better than HUMANS OF NEW YORK, by Brandon Stanton. Seemingly overnight he took a simple photo project from inception to a global phenomenon with a worldwide audience of millions, plus turned it into a #1 New York Times best selling photo book, while staying humble & hardworking through it all. In order to follow his dream, Brandon quit a well paying day job and followed his passion …. with a certain savvy that can be learned by us all.

Lucky for us, Brandon will be our guest AND our private advisor / mentor / coach / inspiration for 90 minutes on the next episode of chasejarvisLIVE this coming Wednesday, February 19th at 11am Seattle time (2pm NYC, 19:00 London time) at Specifically, we’ll learn the key ingredients for pursuing your YOUR OWN PASSION, how to stand out in a crowded, noisy world, and how to turn your dream life/project/vision into a reality.

WHO: You, Me, Photographer Brandon Stanton + a worldwide gathering of creative people
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Wednesday, Feb 19th 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, and my the ChaseJarvis Facebook Page

***NOTE: if you are in Seattle or the PNW and can’t join us in-studio for the live broadcast, but still want to meet Brandon and have your book signed, we are hosting a reception / meet & greet / book signing immediately following from 12:30 – 1:30pm at my studio. There will be books on hand for sale. The address is 3333 Wallingford Ave Seattle 98103. Corner of Wallingford & 34th Street. Ground floor, Wallingford side of the building.

There’s a video at the bottom of this post that highlights HONY, but some more detail on what we’ll cover are here:
_How to conceive of a photography, art, or any project that matters to you
_What were the key steps to transitioning OUT of at 9-5 job and into a dream career
_How did Brandon teach himself to be a photographer?
_How to keep your dreams alive in the face of so much negativity and uphill odds

In order to reach the largest audience possible, we’re right now kicking off an amazing prize. To help jump start YOUR dream photo project, give you experience with the best gear in the business, or augment the gear you’ve already got, we’ve partnered with our pals at to give you a chance to win a 30 day rental of a top professional camera body from Canon or Nikon, plus FIVE (5) amazing lenses. (details at the very end of this post). The equipment value is certainly more than 10 grand, and the rental value alone is more than $3000. The contest starts NOW and we’ll announce the winner on chasejarvisLIVE, Wed March 19th

To help wrangle this prize, we’re trying out a new widget below. It does a few things really well:
1. manages all entries into a secure database and properly randomizes a winner
2. gives you info about how much time is left in the giveaway / how many entries there are etc
3. allows you to earn extra entries by participating more deeply in the community (following on social channels, sharing, etc)

To enter just fill in your info in the widget below and follow along. Contest rules in the widget. And note: this giveaway is live all the way through 12 noon PST during the show on 19th February.

UPDATE: THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR ENTERING! The winner has been selected–give a holla for Courtney Zerizef. :)

Want to be part of the live studio audience AND/OR get photos + books signed with Brandon?? We’ll invite the first 40 people who send an email to to join us +1 guest if you’d like. You’ll receive a confirmation email with attendance details if you’re 1 of the first 40. Champagne, donuts, coffee and other stuff will be there too.

And then here’s a lovely video that Facebook made about Brandon’s project.


The Camera Rental Package you could win is either….

Canon 1D X or a 5D Mark III
16-35 f/2.8L Mk II
24-70 f/2.8L Mk II
70-200 f/2.8L IS II

PLUS The 200-400 f/4L with Built-in Extender AND your choice between the 85mm f/1.2L or the 50mm f/1.2L Primes

OR ………..

Nikon D4 or a D800
14-24 f/2.8G
24-70 f/2.8G
70-200 f/2.8 VR II

PLUS the 200-400 f/4G VR II AND your choice between the 85 f/1.4F or the 50mm f/1.4G Primes

Whichever you choose, also enjoy a 1 year complimentary membership to, which gets you 10% off rental orders, cancellations with no fees, and drop shipment of items you absolutely need even if they are out of stock for us. A $100 value and you get a t-shirt, to boot!

Chasing a Photo for a Lifetime [chasejarvis RAW video]

When the Seahawks raised the Super Bowl trophy before my very eyes last Sunday I couldn’t help think that I’d been waiting a lifetime for this. But it was far more than being born + raised in Seattle that overwhelmed me – it was that I knew I’d captured a photo that I’d been chasing my entire life.

ENTER, the 12the man. Backstory courtesy of Wikipedia.
As most [American] football leagues allow a maximum of eleven players per team on the playing field at a time, referring to a team’s fans as the 12th man implies that they have a potentially helpful role in the game…The presence of fans can have a profound impact on how the teams perform…Thus these fans will often create loud sounds or chant in hopes of distracting, demoralizing and confusing the opposing team while they have possession of the ball; or to persuade a referee to make a favorable decision. Noises are made by shouting, whistling, stomping and various other techniques.

SO, while I’ve spent so much of my life steeped in athletics — from my middle school years as raucous little skate punk, to an athletic scholarship that put me through college, further still to a life spent in part making art around the lives and dreams of athletes from every corner of the globe — I had shot literally millions of images of the highest levels of competition known to humankind, yet I had never done any meaningful photography of… “the fan”.

NOW….armed with a lifetime of supporting my beloved Seattle Seahawks, as a kid in the 80’s when we could never beat John Elway’s Denver, to the 90s when my grandma gave me her season tickets and it was hard to get anyone go to the game with me let alone sit thru all 4 quarters (because we sucked), my team was finally headed to the big game. Never before in history was there a better time for my undertaking. SO, dreams do come true, and over the course of last weekend while 99.99999% of the cameras were focused on the field of play, I had the distinct opportunity to meet, wrangle, hang with and –most importantly photograph — hundreds, even thousands of “12th Man” Seattle Seahawk fans.

The following is a short vid we made along the way to share this all with you. Amidst the street photography, face paint and fan fare, be on the lookout for a floating BudLight hotel, a Foo Fighters concert, a muppet with a gun, a full court swish, a broken camera, cameos from Anchorman’s “Champ”, a bacon cheeseburger bigger than my torso, and –the man who made it– Epic Meal Time’s Harley Morenstein.

Big big ups to Big Chocolate + K.Flay for the beats. This song is so dope.
And double up thanks to BudLight for making all this possible. We had a blast, made some mischief, and made some art.

The final piece is a limited edition 36×60″ Giclée Print. Inquiries here.

chase jarvis 12th man

Travis Rice: 60 Second Portrait of the World’s Best Snowboarder

One of the many things I love about Travis Rice is his refusal to be pegged into a single hole. Yes, he’ll always be a snowboarding legend, but that athletic pursuit is powered by a creative, artistic soul, as evidenced in one way by his art gallery initiative, Asymbol, and in another by his on-going work with the Brain Farm cinema crew.

When I had Travis on cjLIVE last year [re-watch here], he spoke of being bold, and being different. It was about 6 months later that he walked the talk, and pulled the curtain back on Asymbol, his online + physical gallery celebrating the artist/athletes who capture the raw beauty and energy found in the moments that make up a snowboarder’s life, run, park session, etc. [Check out Travis’s curated corner of the gallery, here.]

This 60-second portrait of Trav is a part of my ongoing project (now created about 50 of these – from Macklemore to Reggie Watts and beyond) and was shot when he was on our set for cjLIVE. Enjoy and share with your Snowboarding homies — I’m banking they will appreciate this nugget featuring the world’s best.

Nikon Df Unboxing Video + Test Images + First Impressions While Actually Shooting Photos [gasp!]

When the Nikon Df arrived on the scene a couple months back, I tried to temper the hype (my own included) with a good dose of high expectations. Yes, it looked bad ass. Yes, it housed the same sensor as the D4. Yes, the optical viewfinder has 100% field of view.

But as a compact camera fiend and someone whose owned probably 50 cameras or more, I’m no pushover. So when Adorama shipped the Df to my door, I filmed the unboxing in old school 2006 internet style and wasted no time taking a test run (sparse couple images below).

To determine if the Df hit all the marks, let’s take a look back at those point by point…

From my original notes on appearance when the camera launched…. 1. Ergonomics. Roughly… “I like how all the dials/controls for shutter speed, exposure compensation, and ISO give you the option of being really hands on with setting your exposure. Shooting this way really increases my connection with what you’re creating with the camera. The Nikon DF looks like it’ll do a nice job of recreating (or perhaps simulating) that experience of “making” pictures like the cameras of old… That feel helps me be connecting to the art just a little bit more–i.e. slowing down a tad– than some of my other tools in my shed.”

ACTUAL THOUGHTS on ergonomics having shot with this thing. I’m NOT happy with ergonomics. The dials are pretty cool and give you the retro feel, but they’re in goofy places and hard-ish to reach. The aperature dial on the FACE of the body at your right finger is bizarre. The shutter sound is nice. The grip depth is in no man’s land…not flat enough to feel retro and not deep enough to hold it like a “new”camera. Feels “plastic-y”. Which is easy to see why… because the shell of the camera is entirely largely out of styled plastic. The lens? Plastic.

Now my notes on The size. The size was a huge surprise – as you can see from the video. WAY bigger than I thought from the original marketing materials. WAY bigger. In truth I feel like the product shots were actually aimed to trick me into thinking this would feel like a little body. It doesn’t. Yes, it’s smaller than a D4 or pro body – but bigger than I want for lots of circumstances…similar to a D7000 of D600 or any pro-sumer higher end body. When I’m on a pro gig I use/need the pro body to lean on, bang around, pound nails and otherwise be tough and sturdy. But in this class of camera, I really prefer the portability. So what gives here? I dunno. They made up a nice advertising story about “back to basics” with a “real camera” but they among other things, it’s really just styled like an old camera. Also, rumor has it they couldn’t keep the guts cool enough to shoot video because mechanically that stuff takes up space. That’s probably why it doesn’t shoot video – not based on any “purity”. Jury is out. I like the purity angle, but it’s 2014…

I guess my reaction above says it all. There are good surprises and there are bad surprises. I think we know where that shoe dropped re: size.

3. The sensor. This is this cameras very best feature, bar none. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this sensor. It has the same 16.2-megapixel sensor as Nikon’s pro-focused D4, which is the best still sensor of all time IMHO. You can basically shoot this thing in the dark – can it focus in the dark? Not all that well it turns out. But I still love that they packed that sensor in this body. The images are buttery but not overly so like Canon 5d sensors.

MY ORIGINAL NOTES ON….4. Focus. It better be decent. Nikons have historically kicked everyones ass in this department. This better not be a let down. I hope the focus is fast and accurate. (Speaking of fast…we know it’s not fast in frames per second department. 5 ‘n’ change. Not bad. But not fast. Who cares really – that’s not what this camera is for.) We really do want the focus to be fast, however, if it’s to stand out from it’s peers. BTW, how is the manual focus mode? It better kick ass. I’m curious to see if there are any features to assist with this. There’s a lot of marketing around this camera pimping its ability to use all the old non-AI lenses, but the cameras from that time had focusing screens built for manual focus. Without tools like focus peaking, a split image screen, or a microprism screen, shooting with manual focus lenses might just be a pain in the ass. Let’s hope they get it right.

ACTUAL THOUGHTS on FOCUS having shot with this thing. It didn’t measure up. It wasn’t fast. It was pretty accurate, but it wasn’t fast and accurate, which is what I really wanted. I’m sure that Nikon would respond…”but it has the same x and y as the z so it will do …blah”. It’s a great sensor, but the focus isn’t as fast as other cameras in the compact/mirrorless class. Which is sort of a travesty if you love Nikon still cameras given that that is a huge advantage for Nikon in nearly every other case.

MY ORIGINAL notes on this… 5. Pro shit. I’m excited to see how “professional” the camera can be. Can I pound nails with this thing? Is it heavy and durable? We use a ton of different cameras for video, but the D4 is my go-to camera for EVERY SINGLE commercial photo shoot we do. Could the DF could come along on our shoots as a good BTS rig? Even in our BTS stuff we expect pro quality That would be nice if this delivered. I will always have a couple D4 backups, but for the solo photographer, the DF could potentially save pro photographers some weight and coin if (and only if) it can produce professional results in a pinch.

I can’t tell if it has an alloy metal chassis, but its exterior is plastic-y. That isn’t pro. This isn’t a pro backup camera. The images look really nice, a great sensor but it falls short in other categories.

This is a good camera. Actually it’s a great camera. It will make nice pictures. It’s just not the camera I thought I was gonna get. If you LOVE Nikon you should buy this body. You will not be disappointed if you take what I’ve said here with a grain of salt. I know they are selling like hotcakes so the world really likes this camera. I’m just a tad hard on it. Like I said above, the plus on this baby is the D4 sensor in a much cheaper body. Beautiful dynamic range and looks great in low light. Another plus is that Nikon is at least watching what other manufacturers are doing with their products. The negatives are that they don’t know what their consumers want. Generally speaking we are not posers. This camera’s appearance it trying too hard. And it’s too damn big. But like I said – if you’re a photog who loves Nikon – you might be pleased as punch – so take my words here w a grain of salt.

Bounce on over to Adorama to see the Nikon Df HERE

I did have a short day around our cabin making pizza with my pal Jeff and then taking a quick walk on the beach to grab a few snapshots for this initial post to you guys… I intentionally shot slow moving, simple stuff where I thought this camera could perform. It worked well for that – but I knew the limits. The below are just very very minimally processed jpgs. You can see the magic simplicity with this sensor. It just WORKS. (check out the one image with the white house, the open, dark garage with the lightbulb on, during the day. Crazy subtle. THATS the kind of camera I want in my pocket. Portable.

It also does a nice job with a completely flat scene on the grey beach on a grey day shooting photos of grey stuff. Again, quality sensor. Focus? it was a pain to shoot inside and nail the focus shooting at F2.2 etc. But overall you can tell this camera works. If you can take the gimmicky styling it’ll do you right. If you can’t, then you’ll need a different sword of choice.




Nikon Df camera in silver

Nikon Df camera from rear

Nikon Df camera side view

Bounce on over to Adorama to see the Nikon Df details HERE

For Photographers & Musicians: How to Shoot & Design Award Winning Album Cover Art


We may be in the age of digital downloads (behind that link is a nice present for you), but musicians and the designers behind them still care deeply about their cover art. After all – whichever way you slice it – that image evokes a narrative about the music, the artist and/or the album. So I was flattered — and immediately on board — when Mario Andreoni of !!! (pronounced/also written Chk Chk Chk) asked if they could use the above image for their album cover, Thr!!!er.

Little did I know how big of a splash (yep, I went there) the cover would make. It was nominated for Best Album Cover Art of the Year along with steep competition from the likes of Daft Punk, Elton John, and the Flaming Lips.

As a photographer who loves music – I confess to LOVING to shoot these things. You might recall a photoshoot I LIVE streamed a couple years ago while creating THIS controversial album cover (where the blog post got more than 1,100 comments). I’ve also pointed to some other favorites here. But regardless, in light of the nomination, I reached back out to Mario with some questions about shooting and selecting album cover art. I wanted to know a little more about how they found my photo as well as learn more on their process of deciding on album art in hopes that those of you who shoot music (or make it) might pick up a touch of inspiration or at least a hint or two. Also, I couldn’t resist – as a long time fan of Chk Chk Chk, I had to ask what was up with their band name… The big Q-n-A follows:

First, can you tell us about this new album from a musical perspective?

Having a new producer (Jim Eno from Spoon) and a new songwriting partner/bass player (Rafael Cohen) were the two most significant changes. Songs were still “lived in” through demos, jamming and road-testing, but Rafael’s “pop” style and Jim’s sonic sense helped push us into new territory, which is what you want when making a new LP… or at least I do.

How did you find this this particular photo? Where did you first see it?

Years ago, I saw a poster in a dodgy Brazilian touristy shop of someone or something plunging into the ocean. I loved the mystery, you couldn’t tell exactly what was exploding into this VAST body of water. The feeling of that image really stuck with me.

At the time, I didn’t think to ask if the shop would sell it to me. It appeared to be a permanent fixture on their wall. I thought I might be able to find it, or something like it, on-line, which ended up being much more difficult. I underestimated the amount of “plunge” shots on the internet.

Anyway, I caught a thumbnail of your shot one day and it gave me a similar feeling, and it was totally unique. I think you could tell through my initial contact that I felt like it would make the cover special. It sort of became the cherry on-top of making THR!!!ER.

Is it unusual to find a photo that already exists that you want to use, as opposed to commissioning work?

I tried to explain the idea to our label (Warp) and while we MIGHT be able to commission, it’d be a gamble, and there just weren’t time and resources to do it. I subsequently fell into several Tumblr holes looking for something we could use.  There are a lot of great, and not so great, shots out there.

What was it about the diver shot that grabbed you? 

The splash. It’s a good one. Visceral. I also dig the detail as well as the ambiguity in it. I’ve had several people ask me what is making that plunge.

[Chase’s note – hey photog’s and musicians alike, this is your key here… he used the word “visceral.” There is RAW STOPPING POWER to this image. Of course they added to this with their design as well – the tie in with 3’s, the !!! and the orientation of the diver. In other words, you see this image and you are compelled to stop and take a closer look, regardless of your awareness of the band or even the content of the image. IMHO this is the golden nugget of this post – to ask yourself when shooting/concepting/planning your album cover shoot. Will this photo turn heads and get people to pay attention? If yes – continue. If no, go back to step 1 and devise a new concept.]

OK, gotta ask. As a long time !!! fan, what’s the official/unofficial story behind the name !!! and how does this theme of threes show up in your work [album art modified to show 3 divers instead of the original single]?

Using !!! as our name/symbol came from the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy.” At one point in the subtitled dialogue, three clicking sounds of the mouth translated to !!!. One of us suggested we use the three clicking sounds, but not everyone could do it, so we co-opted it into using any three repetitive sounds, (aye aye aye, uh uh uh, etc etc etc), but keeping the translation !!!.

Our first few releases just had !!! on the cover, this is PRE-internet, and it was never a problem for us. You just put it at the front of your record rack!

Post-internet, our first big label (Touch & Go) asked that we supply a subtitle/spelling, and “chk chk chk” was how most people pronounced !!!, so there you go.

I guess the repetitive imagery is a hold-over from the intent behind !!!. The fact that you can actually form the diver image into a ! is more of a cosmic/happy accident.

Any details you’d like to share about the process of creating the album cover?

We toyed with a ton of variations: single/multiple images, different colors, placement, etc., and I have to give James Burton and the people at Warp a huge amount of credit for helping pull the final image together. I mainly just provided (many) opinions. The image itself is already bad-ass, placing three of them next to each other maintained our “theme” and fortunately made a compelling record cover.

For the benefit of those who are trying to license artwork, would you explain anything helpful from your perspective as licensee?

I think that whether it’s working with someone musically/artistically, it’s best to go directly to the source. Be honest about how you’d like to work with them and be fully prepared to be told to “f*ck off” & move-on.

We’ve been lucky enough to work with people that would seem “untouchable,” and knock-on-wood, it’s worked out for the better more often than not.

Is the One Girl/One Boy Video &Contest still going on?  Will you please tell us a little about the contest?

Yeah!  This was Nic’s idea. We couldn’t have Sonia Moore, the woman that sang on the LP, tour with us, so Nic thought it’d be interesting if we established a “contest” where people would record a video demo singing Sonia’s parts, and if chosen, they would come up on stage and sing with us when we swing through their town.

The kicker has been that we don’t rehearse. We just call the winner up when it’s time for the jam, and just about every time, it’s a home-run. It all works out.

To purchase !!!’s album, go to

Find tour dates at the band’s website.

Follow them on these social channels:

[Check out ChkChkChk’s video for their tune Californiyeah below…and have a lovely day]:

DigitalRev TV uses a GoPro to Fake my Hasselblad Masters Photo

Each time I have the good fortune to work with DigitalRev TV and my friend Kai Man Wong something memorable happens.

For example, you might recall the time that Kai and DigitalRev TV dragged me around Hong Kong with a Lego Camera on one of their infamous CheapCamera Challenges. The highlights included surprise runway models, aggravated kung fu fighters and eating pig’s anus on the street. Most recently Kai and his hilarious crew parodied my Facebook profile photo for Fake A Big Shot. The resemblance was, um, striking?

I decided it was time to turn the tables.

I showed up in Hong Kong to give Kai and the DigitalRev crew a taste of their own medicine. A CheapCamera Challenge of my design: To re-create a photo I shot with the Hasselblad H3D. This was a $25,000 piece of equipment in 2007 when I shot the photo. I gave him 8 hours … and a GoPro Hero3PLUS ($399) to get it done.

Here’s how the the final product compares to my original. What do you think? Check out the video above to see how he did it.


Thanks to Kai and the whole DigitalRev TV crew for working on short notice and being such great sports. Subscribe to their channel here.

DJI Drone Fail Over Iceland Waters – chasejarvisTECH


In the days before my trip to Iceland, I had the chance to play with the DJI Phantom, an affordable, out-of-the-box quadcopter for budding aerial videographers. As I establish in that test flight post, the footage you yield from the DJI Phantom + GoPro combo may not be pro quality, but it’s perfectly serviceable for BTS material, AND it gives a person the opportunity to cut their teeth on a rig that comes in under a grand (or just slightly over, if you include the camera).

Ever the hacks, we tried to circumvent the GoPro limitation and mount a Sony RX 100 II, for three reasons:

1. The RX 100 II has image stabilizations (many commented on the shakiness of the GoPro footage on our first test flight).
2. It has a nice sensor and shoots RAW images.
3. Built-in Wifi. Our plan was to use the iPad Mini with the Sony app and control the camera shutter from the ground.

Seem pretty reasonable, right?

When you watch the video, know this: It brings us no joy to lose expensive gear, ever. I don’t encourage people to go out and perform needless hacks and unsanctioned upgrades, especially if you’re not insured, like we were. In our case we had a legit interest in yielding some higher end footage with a DJI Phantom we had invested in.

Couple UPDATE points… any assumption that i was just goofing around at tourist site just plyaing with my camera couldn’t be further from the truth. we had chartered the entire site for the shoot, been out on boats there at the site earlier – were working with the management there, paying high fees to be there with permits for very specific objectives. We also sought to potentially recover the unit out of concern for the environment but were discouraged from pursuing that option because of danger to divers due to swift current, big tides and huge floating chunks of dangerous ice.

Thanks again for going on this journey – and others – with me. And I hope you don’t mind my sharing all the stuff – even things like this that suck.

Get Off Your Ass & Get Noticed with Gary Vaynerchuk on #cjLIVE [re-watch]

What a way to end 2013 for chasejarvisLIVE. The show was amazing. Gary V brought the heat to discuss how you can break through the noise of the internet and get your work noticed. Are people not clicking on your photos? Are you you getting lost in the detritus of the internet? I’ve done a bunch of stuff with Gary like this, and this, and have wanted to have him on #cjLIVE for more than 2 years. But I had no idea what I was in for. Gary dropped the serious know-how. And he sat on my lap. That was a first for the show.

Gary also brought his new book to talk about. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook (one of the best titles ever?) does a deep dive on some of the tactics and philosophies he has employed in his own career. It’s a great read. I give it a quick review here.

And when I say “great career,” I’m understating. Big time. Gary V is a hustler like no other. He built a $50m online business before he turned 30, then he latched onto the new web and was trumpeting the virtues of community + content before most people knew what the hell was up, then he wrote 2 New York Times best sellers about it. He’s also going to own the NY Jets. Seriously. Keep watching that channel.

Check the re-watch above, and then go pick up a copy of his new book. Or pick up two, and stuff one in somebody’s stocking.

chasejarvisTECH: Three Timelapse Toys

Timelapse shots have achieved ubiquity, yet it’s still a technique I get asked about on the reg. I’ve touched on the timelapse How-To in past posts, but I’m touching base again with a new look at what has become must-have.

I love using timelapse in my work. Alternating between real time, slo-mo and timelapse contributes to the temporal tug on the viewer, which keeps them present and guessing. Cloud movements and dipping suns over beautiful landscape is the norm, so we’re always looking to change up our style and try something a little different.

Adding camera movement is one way to do that. In the vid above, we use a slider, a motor, and a 5D to pull back and reveal some stunning Icelandic beauty. Keep the last in mind as I break down the equipment we used, because I come back to this again and again: more than the gear in your bag, it’s your vision and execution that matter most. In our case, we had Iceland’s ridiculously photogenic land and light working in our favor. Scouting the site, we found a cool ice formation and decided on a shot you don’t see daily. I’d say the gear we use is secondary. Which is why I’m mentioning it second.

Anatomy of a timelapse:

_Kessler Pocket Dolly v2.0
_Kessler Elektra Drive – set to slowest speed in “continuous mode.” The Elektra drive is the motor that moves the camera up/down the dolly, giving the shot movement.
_Intervalometer – set to shoot a picture every 3 seconds. We let that baby go for about 20 minutes.

Add’l equipment:

_Canon 5D Mark III
_Manfrotto support
_Viking 12 oz

You can see how we integrated timelapse footage into our Iceland edition of chasejarvisRAW. If you want more Iceland in your life, check out some of the stills that convinced us to put Iceland in our list of 10 Spots to restore your creative juices.

Music by Small Face.

ANNOUNCING: My Latest TV Documentary Project “Portrait of a City” with PBS

A few years back you may recall I dove head-first into a project that explored my home city of Seattle. I interviewed, photographed, and filmed the movers, the shakers, and the changemakers to better understand the culture of my city’s beating heart. 106 influencers in total, across almost every creative discipline — music, food, theater, athletics, activism, education, you name it. I went on to publish a 250 page fine hardback fine art book, gallery show, a line of wine, a line of chocolate bars, sold out of nearly everything and donated all the money to charity. We called this project Seattle 100 (<-- bunch of photos). Here's the original launch blog post.

Like the city it covered, that project has continued to evolve. So today, I’m stoked to share with you here the arrival of Portrait of a City, a new documentary TV project I concepted, directed and co-produced with the help of my friends over at our regional PBS station, KCTS 9. In this show and series of short interstitial interviews we take a look at how music has shaped the character and culture of Seattle. From bands like Nirvana to Macklemore, I dug into innovators past and present, asked them to share their reflections, ideas, and passions for this unique force within our community. You’ll hear from KEXP music curator John Richards, cellist Joshua Roman, actor Sarah Rudinoff, DJ Riz Rollins, music impresario David Meinert, SubPop Records’ Megan Jasper, musician John Roderick and more.

Check out the KCTS online schedule to find out when Portrait of City is running on the boob tube near you or -if you don’t live in the region- watch it above.

Here are some regional upcoming air dates:

Thursday, November 28, 10:00 pm on KCTS 9 HD – Seattle/Yakima
Thursday, November 28, 10:00 pm on KYVE 47 – Yakima
Tuesday, December 17, 11:30 pm on KCTS 9 HD – Seattle/Yakima
Tuesday, December 17, 11:30 pm on KYVE 47 – Yakima
Tuesday, December 31, 09:30 pm on KCTS 9 HD – Seattle/Yakima
Tuesday, December 31, 09:30 pm on KYVE 47 – Yakima

And keep your eyes peeled for more interstitials to be released over time… the one that’s in circulation now is an interview with red hot homie Macklemore.

The filming seems utterly simple – which was the goal – but it was a little more complicated to get the look we ended up delivering. Keep your eyes peeled for a behind-the-scenes outline of the unqiue way in which we filmed this with 2 matching cameras, some teleprompter magic, and various other smoke and mirrors. Below are a few of those characters featured in Seattle 100 and Portrait of a City: Michael Hubb, Megan Jasper, John Roderick and Dave Meinert, along with some snaps of the gallery installation from the launch of the project.

chase jarvis seattle 100 portrait of a city

gallery opening - photo thx to

chase jarvis seattle 100 portrait of a city gallery

seattle 100 launch - thx for the photo

chase jarvis seattle 100 matt dillon

chase jarvis seattle 100 director lynn shelton

chase jarvis seattle 100 the blakes

chase jarvis seattle 100 ra scion

chase jarvis seattle 100 weirdo jeff jacobsen

chase jarvis seattle 100 book cover

Fire Breathing in Bullet Time [with GoPro Array]

You know I’m a fan of all things GoPro Hero 3+ since it dropped earlier this month. This vid is another reason to dig it.

Tyler Johnson of GoPro uses an array of 24 GoPro Hero 3 cameras to film fire breather David Kelley doing his thing. And who doesn’t love a GoPro array. We did one a short while back in this vid (see if you can spot it)…but this is a lot sexier with not 8 like ours…but rather 24 of those suckers.

With all those GoPro’s to keep track of, I wonder if Tyler has seen my GoPro packing system?!.

Has anyone else got some bullet cam array stuff you can point us toward?

[Happy Friday.]

Iceland’s Endless Light – chasejarvisRAW

After years of finger-crossing and well-wishing, I finally got the chance to visit Iceland on a commercial shoot a couple months ago. It was worth the wait, but I can’t say I’d want to wait that long again to return. Iceland was the definition of magical, and the light was to die for. And it went on. And on. We put in 16-hour days and grabbed a TON of shots and footage [see some of the behind-the-scenes stills from the shoot here], almost too much to cram into one short RAW vid. If you dig what you see, tell us in the comments below, cuz we’re considering putting together a Part II.

Once again I’ve got to give a shout out to ProFilm for hooking us up with Marteinn Ibsen and Arnaldur Halldórsson, two incredible local producers who drove us across their land to all the must-see and must-shoot spots. Our time with them serves as a lesson to anyone heading abroad for travel or a shoot: get in with some locals early or ahead of time to get pointed in the right direction, particularly if you’re short on time.

As is customary these days, we took to the air, chartering helicopters and flying affordable drone quadcopters too. [Stay tuned for a special chasejarvisTECH episode featuring some ill-fated experimentation with the DJI quadcopter and a roll of gaffer’s tape.]

Music by Big Chocolate.

Highslide for Wordpress Plugin