DPP Home Profiles Chase Jarvis: Master Of The New Media

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chase Jarvis: Master Of The New Media

Chase Jarvis is the consummate photographer, bringing a pure love for the medium and an energy-fueled gusto to the world of commercial photography

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“I was really moved by pictures,” explains Jarvis, “not just peak action, but losing and winning and getting upset and getting hurt. All those things made a big impression on me. I loved skiing, snowboarding, climbing, fly-fishing… You need to be taking pictures of things that you’re passionate about, things that are meaningful for you as an artist, and there’s a certain serendipity to it because it was at that point where that lifestyle was suddenly transcending into mainstream.

“I got to work with a lot of skiers and snowboarders that are now really big names,” he continues, “and got mixed up with that crowd in the best way. People were asking me right away if they could license pictures. I’m a ski bum, tending skis during the day and waiting tables at night, and someone offering me five hundred bucks and a pair of skis if they can use a picture in a magazine? I’m like, this is the best thing on the planet!”

Jarvis likens his fascination with the latest in camera tech and digital innovation as a crow flying after every shiny thing it sees, but his formidable track record of commercial success and stunning imagery says there’s much more to it than Attention Deficit Disorder. It belies a complete dedication and love for the field. “If you can be addicted to creativity,” says Jarvis, “then what a great drug to be addicted to!”
Soon Jarvis was poised at the crest of an oncoming wave. SUV companies and the like were touting X Games-style sports for their print and television commercials, and major companies began to license his work. Despite Jarvis being a self-taught photographer, he found himself being hired for major commercial campaigns, and from there, Jarvis never looked back.

His success in the commercial world of photography also has allowed him to pursue his own interests on the side. He began a project late last year called “Songs For Eating And Drinking,” in which he invites musicians to a feast of sorts put together with his friend Michael Hebb. Jarvis directs the evening and takes stills and video for posting to the website (www.songsforeatinganddrinking.com). The project is completely funded out of pocket, and so far, guests have included members of Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Pedro the Lion and other luminaries in the music industry. Ironically, he’s finding that pursuing this personal project is bringing in even more business from clients who are interested in doing their own versions of the intimately structured evenings.

On the tech side, he principally uses Nikon cameras, and for his medium-format needs, he uses Hasselblads. The company also chose him as a 2007 Hasselblad Master, and Nikon often uses him as a go-to guy for trying out new gear. He was the first pro photographer in the world to use a video-capable D-SLR, for instance, when Nikon chose him and his team to shoot the worldwide launch campaign for the D90. He claims that he’s not really attached to any particular device for creating his imagery, though. He says that he doesn’t “nerd out” on gear, and he’s willing to make anything work by choosing to focus, no pun intended, on the final product rather than the equipment that he uses to make it.

It takes an intense amount of work to make your voice heard above the maelstrom of photographer-slash-bloggers out there, and Jarvis is practically an Internet celebrity. Photographers are using the power of the blog-osphere to network to thousands and thousands of potential clients, and Jarvis’ blog is consistently located on top-10 lists in terms of readership and best-ofs. Though many photographers cringe at unveiling the details behind their processes, Jarvis revels in sharing the ideas and techniques behind his work. A Jarvis project is a multimedia experience, with behind-the-scenes video, step-throughs on gear and Jarvis’ own creative process. He posts a few times a week with advice, thoughts and suggestions on any number of photography-related topics, and he jokes that unless his lawyer advises him not to, anything he touches is fair game for his blog.


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