Chase Jarvis and shoot­ing with­out fear

Chase Jarvis, pho­tog­ra­pher, CreativeLive co-founder

HWM (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - By Alvin Soon

If you’ve heard the phrase “the best cam­era is the one that’s with you,” chances are it’s thanks to Chase Jarvis. The Amer­i­can pho­tog­ra­pher pop­u­lar­ized the phrase while evan­ge­liz­ing smart­phone pho­tog­ra­phy in its early days.

Jarvis has also pho­tographed for big brands like Volvo, Nike, Ap­ple, Mi­crosoft, Google, and Sam­sung. He’s the co-founder of CreativeLive, an on­line ed­u­ca­tion plat­form. More re­cently, Jarvis has de­vel­oped a ‘Photo Lab: Craft­ing Your Shot’ pro­gram for the Ap­ple Store, where par­tic­i­pants can learn how to im­prove their pho­tog­ra­phy us­ing three sim­ple prin­ci­ples.

Pho­tog­ra­phy can be re­ally sim­ple

“I hope to help peo­ple un­der­stand that pho­tog­ra­phy can be re­ally sim­ple,” Jarvis told me. “If they just put a ba­sic amount of en­ergy into it, they can un­lock new lev­els of abil­ity to take great pho­to­graphs.”

The three keys to mak­ing great pho­to­graphs

“My per­sonal be­lief is that all pho­tog­ra­phy can be dis­tilled into three things: creat­ing con­nec­tion, craft­ing com­po­si­tion, and shap­ing light. If you think about these three things, you can start mak­ing pic­tures rather than tak­ing them.”

What cre­ates con­nec­tion in a pho­to­graph? “Con­nec­tion is the magic you feel when a pho­tog­ra­pher nails the shot. It’s this mo­ment when they have an in­ti­mate con­nec­tion with the sub­ject, whether it’s a per­son, an an­i­mal, or even a place.”

The sec­ond el­e­ment is com­po­si­tion. “Com­po­si­tion is what’s in the frame of your pho­to­graph, and what’s not. What peo­ple for­get is that they’re ac­tu­ally in charge of what’s in their frame. I see peo­ple tak­ing pic­tures of their kids and there’s an ugly park bench in the back­ground. If they take one or two steps to the side, they can cre­ate a dif­fer­ent back­ground and have a great pho­to­graph.”

“Con­nec­tion and com­po­si­tion are key,” Jarvis says. “And then the third el­e­ment is shap­ing light. There’s a rea­son why pho­tos that are taken early in the morn­ing or late in the evening look richer. And why light that falls on a sub­ject from the side looks more in­ter­est­ing than light fall­ing straight on. If you start ex­per­i­ment­ing, you can look for good light and rec­og­nize it.”

Over­com­ing fears and doubts to un­lock cre­ativ­ity

In his book, The War of Art, au­thor Steven Presseld calls the in­ner doubts that block our cre­ativ­ity ‘the Re­sis­tance.’ Jarvis has talked about the Re­sis­tance sev­eral times in pre­vi­ous in­ter­views. I asked him about ways to over­come the fears and doubts that pre­vent us from do­ing creative work.

“Be­ing your­self is ac­tu­ally the most pow­er­ful ve­hi­cle. It’s not nec­es­sar­ily about be­ing bet­ter.”

Jarvis says that keep­ing things sim­ple helps. “A pro­fes­sional cam­era is com­pli­cated. So much of the ini­tial re­sis­tance for peo­ple comes from that. There are all kinds of set­tings but the iPhone has none of that. So we can re­move that bar­rier, and Ap­ple’s done an amaz­ing job re­duc­ing all that com­plex­ity. The iPhone has de­moc­ra­tized tak­ing great pho­tos.”

Be dif­fer­ent

Launch In­sta­gram and you’ll in­stantly see pho­to­graphs taken from around the world. What about the per­son who’s start­ing out? How does some­one like that show his work when there are so many good pho­to­graphs out there?

“I be­lieve that there is a cre­ator in all of us,” Jarvis afrms. “Re­al­ize that you have lived a set of cir­cum­stances that no one else in the world has lived. Be­ing your­self is ac­tu­ally the most pow­er­ful ve­hi­cle. It’s not nec­es­sar­ily about be­ing bet­ter. We all want to im­prove our skills. But you see the world in a specic and dif­fer­ent way from the other seven bil­lion peo­ple on the planet.” Jarvis cau­tions not to com­pare real life with the high­light reels on In­sta­gram. In­stead, fo­cus on “tak­ing pho­to­graphs that are spe­cial to you, about your ex­pe­ri­ence, about the peo­ple you care about. Re­al­ize it’s about shar­ing your in­di­vid­u­al­ity and life through your own eyes, and by ex­ten­sion, through your own lens.”

It’s why Jarvis rec­om­mends go­ing to the Photo Lab in the Ap­ple Store and con­nect­ing with other peo­ple. “It’s that con­nec­tion in real life that gives us the courage to share our work. It re­minds peo­ple that with a sim­ple cam­era in their hand, with a cou­ple of sim­ple in­gre­di­ents like con­nec­tion, com­po­si­tion, and light, that you ac­tu­ally do have some­thing to say.

“It’s im­por­tant for us to re­mem­ber that the goal is to be you. It’s not to be some­body else.”

Pho­tog­ra­phy is about sto­ries and mo­ments, not fancy gear

“It goes back to the idea of sim­plic­ity,” Jarvis con­cludes. “Most peo­ple ask me about set­tings or lenses. They see big fancy cam­eras and think that’s what pho­tog­ra­phy’s about.

“I’m go­ing to be clear: pho­tog­ra­phy is not about tech­nol­ogy. What Ap­ple has done, and what tech­nol­ogy does, is in ser­vice of pho­tog­ra­phy. Pho­tog­ra­phy is about sto­ries and mo­ments. We all have these sto­ries and mo­ments in our lives, and that should be the fo­cus. How do I share these sto­ries and mo­ments that I see with the world?”

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