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ArtIama a professional photographer who has shot campaigns for many of the world’s top brands, including Nike, Apple, Red Bull, and others. I am also the founder of CreativeLive, an online learning platform for creatives + entrepreneurs

Feb 23rd 2016 by thechasejarvis • 15 Questions • 118 Points

Hey reddit, I'm Chase Jarvis. I’m a professional photographer who has shot campaigns and directed commercials for many of the world’s top brands, including Nike, Apple, RedBull, etc. I’ve been nominated for an Emmy for my work documenting music culture, and I contributed to SnowFall, the Pulitzer winning NYTimes story called by some “the future of journalism”

I’m also the co-founder of CreativeLive, an online learning platform with millions of students, reaching every country on the planet, offering 1500 classes and 25k lessons from more than 1000 of the world’s top experts. We have had more than 2 billion minutes of video consumed on our platform and we host classes from people like Tim Ferriss (NYT bestselling author “4 Hour Workweek”), Reid Hoffman (Founder, LinkedIn), Anne Geddes (photographer and NYT bestselling author), and Alex Blumberg (host of Startup and former producer of This American Life) and others. Our goal is to transform the way people learn by giving them access to the world's greatest experts.

Also as a bonus, we created the following package just for redditors: a Freelancer's Toolkit with specific, actionable tactics and videos on how to launch and grow your career as a freelancer. It's available FREE at http://creativelive.com/reddit.

Ask me about creativity, cameras, entrepreneurship/starting companies, action sports, music, education, whatever. Excited to be here. AMA!

PROOF: http://imgur.com/G0HtYW3

UPDATE: Thanks so much for all of the questions! I've gotta run, but I'll continue returning to this thread later this evening and on a regular beat for a while, so look forward to crossing paths, answering more questions, and generally being more active on Reddit ;)

Q:

This one is kind of oddly specific, but I'm a big fan of Social Capital (even before Palihapitiya built an org around himself).

Can you share your experience raising that round and how they've been to work with? Maybe versus other experiences/rounds. A story would be awesome.

Thanks for doing this.

A:

Social+Capital partnership (led by Chamath who previously led growth at Facebook) have been a great force in helping us get CreativeLive really cranking. Specifically my board member Ted Maidenberg from SC has been critical in helping us think from a data standpoint. I'm a big gut / brand / feel leader, but adding in a robust data layer has been an important win for us...in a sense most often validating or sometimes usurping my 'gut'.

Secondarily helping us understand paid advertising on Facebook - obvious tie in there ;) In general - they are a young, aggressive and hungry VC firm - and have played a great counterbalance to our other lead investor Greylock (who I also love).... I would recommend them - if entrepreneurs can get their attention ;) They are a 'hot' and popular firm in the Valley for sure.


Q:

If you could get any person (living) to teach a class on creativelive, who would it be and why? If you could get any person (dead) to teach a class on creativelive, who would it be and why?

A:

Great question. Living - would be either Richard Branson or Elon Musk. Both guys are insanely creative from a 'pure Creativity' (capital C) standpoint, but they're also both amazing, bold, entrepreneurs from whom the world could learn. It's 2 parts 'huge vision' but another critical part around execution. Both guys could also teach people how to think huge/big…. People say ‘shoot for the stars and you might hit the moon’…. and that’s the thing both Branson and Musk - they both mean it literally (virgin galactic + space X!)

Dead - probably Davie Bowie. His recent passing was a crusher to me personally…in that he’s alway been a huge inspiration. Film, music, directorial, performance, etc … again his ability to think so big across a variety of media / art types, and yet still execute so well on the discrete projects…would be a force in the “classroom”. Learning that guy’s secrets would be a huge win, not just for CreativeLive students, but for the world.

I'm also inspired by Amelia Earhart. Could you imagine her as a teacher! Her ability to calculate risk, to avert it, and to creatively fly in the face (pun intended ;) of naysayers would be chock full of lessons for anyone. Plus I think she was actually a professor later in life. She would have been incredible.


Q:

What's the biggest things you'd advise me to focus on while searching for one international investor for my new company? I need someone who has great contacts and great experience. I've already gotten investors, but I need one BIG investor who can help us go global. Or in general what to focus on when looking for investors? :)

A:

Good question - often overlooked. IMHO its super important / critical to look at investors NOT just as a checkbook, but as business partners...people who you will be working closely with to realize your biggest dream. So choose carefully. Also, it's helpful to consider that they are just as hungry for / require great investment opportunities as you are to get your idea funded! ie, it's not just you pandering for someonen to write checks. You should be interviewing them, not the other way around. What do you NEED for your business? Investors have specializations, just like restaurants or auto-mechanics. They have things they are great at and others areas not so much... find you match with what you need. You can see how it becomes important to have a great idea, with a working prototype and traction in order for you to stand out from all the other entrepreneurs out there... but when you get to that point, remember that people will be clamoring to invest in you when you have those things. I'm honored to be working with Greylock, Social+Capital, Comcast, Branson, others top folk in US / Europe and a long list of angels... but it's only because we met the conditions i listed above AND did a lot of work vetting potential people to let into our deal against others who wouldn't have been the ideal match. It's definitely alchemy...equal parts art & science when choosing investors.


Q:

What was your favorite shoot and who was it for?

A:

Samsung once paid me to shoot an image of a recurring dream I had. Huge budget, whatever I wanted... It was a dream I have/had around floating / flying in a sea of colorful clouds... Here's a link to my behind the scenes story / video there http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2013/05/color-photograph-samsung-series-9-monitor/

Another one that comes to mind is a shoot for Brooks Sports (running). I shot in 10 countries in 14 days, completely circumnavigating the world...all in cities that had hosted Olympic marathons. It was a marathon shoot about shooting marathons ;)


Q:

Do you think there is still a place for film photography in the digital world? And if so, how do you still make use of film in your work?

A:

I make use of film as a practice to get me to slow down and look around...and because I love the experience of shooting film for my subjects...but this is always for personal work, not professional. It's nostalgic and heartwarming, but doesn't transform the work in an of itself. (be wary of chasing this idea). Film could be thought of as analgous to oil paints... do people still use it / them? yes. is it popular or practical? less so, and usually for a very particualar look, experience, or practice. Not for utility.

I still love shooting my Polaroid 600 SE... portraits of famous people who are my friends who can tolerate the slowness of the medium ;)


Q:

Hey buddy, two questions:

  • 1) What is something you make sure you do every single day?
  • 2) What's the most popular class on CL? Why do you think that is?
A:

1) Meditate. It's been my single biggest personal and career trajectory changer.

2) the most poplular class on CL... hmmm. Depends on whether you mean all time or trending.

All time is I think a class on 28 days of Portrait Photography with Sue Bryce (Australian portrait photographer of the year). it’s 28 lessons - meant to be one each day - teaching you all the things you need to be a world class portrait photographer (and of course people normally binge watch that like a netflix series ! 😉 https://www.creativelive.com/courses/28-days-portrait-photography-sue-bryce

Second behind that is probably Fundamentals of Photography (2016, just refreshed from 2015) by John Greengo - he is an amazing teacher who’s ability for taking the complex and making it very very simple is - I think - his unique gift and why this class is a huge win...and it's a win for damn near anyone. https://www.creativelive.com/courses/fundamentals-of-photography-2016-john-greengo

If we’re talking most popular “trending” it’s probably Storytelling class with the legendary radio host Alex Blumberg, host of This American Life, Planet Money, and Startup. Stories are how humans remember things, so the ability to craft narrative / story is hugely valuable in creativity https://www.creativelive.com/courses/power-your-podcast-storytelling-alex-blumberg


Q:

Chase me again from New Zealand. Would you be up for a challenge. People see you as you are today, they see your success and your accomplishment. However they didn't see the struggle to get there.

I know why you use the gear you use, I understand as a professional you need that gear. But when you say gear doesn't matter a lot of people can't relate when they see the gear you use.

Would you be interested in a challenge where you go back in time to when you first turned pro. Use similar gear, and go and shoot how you did back then? You could record it and use it for content. I would love to see you running around with an old film camera shooting some skiing again.

A:

Would be a welcome challenge...but already done that ;) Here's proof - me with a lego camera shooting skateboarding.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX76k-chflo

That said, being a pro photog for 15 years turns you into a problem solver, especially a location based action sports photographer as I was early on (my roots)... So I can take almost any camera these days and make something happen. I still get a rush from both solving the problems AND the creating of photos...so it's no longer stressful as it was when I was less experienced... But I love your concept!


Q:

What are some beginner editing tips for new photographers?

A:

Great question - especially now that we all have so many photos! In short, I like to be really methodical in editing for my best work. And I do this by cutting out low quality work in a series of passes, using the star system build into editing software like lightroom or apple photos. Here's a tutorial I created just for that question / problem. I come at it from a professional perspective (huge numbers of images) but it works just the same for lower image counts too! Check this here http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2011/03/photo-editing-101/


Q:

Hey Chase! I've been following you for years. What's the worst reaction you've gotten in a street photography situation?

A:

I've had someone ask me to delete a photo of them...which wasn't really about them. It was a photo of someone else just behind them :). I politely showed them the photos on the back of my camera, highlighting that there were no photos of them and went about my business.

Another time I was shooting an there was a federal building in the background of my scene. The guard came over and told me to give him my film, that what i was doing was illegal. I promptly shared with him that i was well within my rights, I referenced the law, and went about my business. I completed the shoot a little prematurely so as not to be a total dick, but also always like to reference this when anything gets weird. http://www.artslaw.com.au/info-sheets/info-sheet/street-photographers-rights/

Also here's my thoughts on street photography http://cr8.lv/24nzEcu


Q:

Im currently trying to break into the creative field, if the work I am producing is not where I know it can or will be, should I still post it to social media to show the progression of my work or should I only post what I am 100% happy with?

A:

Definitely do the work, show the work, repeat. It’s rare we’re ever 100% happy with what we do. There’s always the voice in your head telling you what you can do better. I share a little about that here: http://cr8.lv/1XKXmee… but basically, perfection is a myth. Check out my man James Victore on this: https://www.facebook.com/chasejarvis/videos/10152574634805978/


Q:

How did you learn photography, self taught, school taught?

A:

Self taught! and also learned by building a community around those ideas as I learned... That ultimately became all my online / sociall communities (facebook, youtube, twitter, etc... /chasejarvis on all channels) and... CreativeLive.com. CL is a huge resource you should def check out.


Q:

Hey Chase! Would you mind sharing your thoughts on Instagram and how to best use it as a platform for a young photographer? Also, why you don't use Instagram yourself?

A:

Instagram is great. Best way to use it? Post great work there everyday. (so simple, yet so hard, right? ;)

I AM on instagram, and you should follow me there, https://www.instagram.com/chasejarvis/... but there reason I have not posted anything (but will start in the next 60 days) is because of a lawsuit I was in around my old app - the first app ever to share photos direct to social networks called Best Camera. Its a long story, but i will tell that story publicly soon --- and will then be posting on IG like a madman. So thank for asking - and for your follow.


Q:

Are you still shooting campaigns now?

Also, how do you recommend going about getting hired for work these days, with art directors and photo editors bombarded to the point they are ignoring all new photographers? It's almost as if the gates are closed now, because there is just too much talent.

Thanks CJ!

A:

Yes I'm still shooting campaigns...but very selectively. In order for me to be excited about something it needs to be a topic that is truly interesting or challenging, usually working with incredible talent, partners, or brands where there is a lot of creative freedom. I'm proud to be able to be this selective in my career, although I don't take it for granted and I happily throw myself at these truly amazing opps when the perfect job comes along. If I was a 'new' photographer, I would (assuming you have great fundamentals and a sound biz mind) concentrate on being 'different' not just better. What are personal projects you can do that get noticed on big scale by art buyers and agencies that have influence. They look for wildly creative stuff...not just 'another good photographer'. The gates are never closed. Never. Great vision / art will always be needed / desired. And people will pay high prices for great, differentiated work.


Q:

/u/thechasejarvis - I've been following you since you first posted the Road Warrior laptop case video. Huge Fan!

EDIT: Dasein was amazing, btw. (See my username ha!)

My question is this:

Do you have any plans on getting back to "your roots" with your video content? DIY's, BTS stuff?

Don't get me wrong, Creative Live is AMAZING, and I love all the CJLive... But I am I huge fan of YOU. You and your videos have gotten me through some real shit during my career, and I'd love to see you inspiring a new crowd.

A:

Thank you, appreciate that. Definitely charging hard on new content in a big way again... WhenI first start putting out content, I was sharing information that no one was really talking about (the videos you ref) And now, today, most major shoots will have some sort of BTS element...but when that is everywhere and I've been doing it for 10+ years...it's less interesting to me. What excites me - and most importantly where I think I can add disproportionally large value these days is talking about the things in between the big shoots, the mentality, the hustle, the daily grind it takes to get there. I put a lot of that into my new video series: cjRAW. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL29mIqPacBTLU3CLGIrgyhj5r2VrOOM2f

And I've been vlogging a bunch in that series too...showing the less polished but real struggles / solutions I find. IMHO that's a way that I can really help people through the tough stuff... way beyond camera settings and tutorials (CreativeLive has everything you'd want to know on that and more....)... so I'm wanting to go deep on the things I've realized actually add a ton. Creativity. Health. Vision. Staying ahead of trends. Negotiating. Routine. Work ethic. All that stuff is 10x more important than what camera to use.

And BTW, If you’re a fan of chasejarvisLIVE — definitely stay tuned. Some big stuff coming very very soon. 😉


Q:

What is a good backup strategy for an amateur GoPro photographer who is always on the go? I currently have about 1TB of photos backed up on an external HD, my favorites on my SSD in my MacBook Pro, and a time-machine backup of that. I know its not enough and I can replicate to more external HDs but I would love your thoughts on a clean and simple strategy. Thanks!

A:

People ask me all the time if I have an update to my old workflow video+article, but the truth is that it’s stood the test of time: http://cr8.lv/1VCkolS and is a good place to start. It's overkill for your current workload, but the core elements are there for you to pickup / learn.

Ultimately, the amount/kind of backups you have is directly proportional to the amount of risk you’re willing to take. On commercial shoots we keep 3 copies - because it's how my reputation has been built over decade of shooting for top brands. There can be no data mistakes when huge budgets are in play - it's a big deal. By contrast, as a one or two-person team, you could look at uploading your dailies over the internet or making 3 copies on different drives, shipping one of those drives back home, carrying one with you, and giving another to a partner (if you have one). If you start getting a lot of material, look at getting a larger server/disk you can backup to. Having a lot of external hard drives around can lead to a big pain later.

But again - get the fundamentals of WHY and HOW to backup here...http://cr8.lv/1VCkolS