Chase Jarvis is a Seattle-born native who attended San Diego State University on a soccer scholarship and completed a B.A. in Philosophy in anticipation of attending medical school upon graduation. However, a few weeks before graduation his grandfather passed away and left all of his photography gear to him which he took with him on a post-college trip through Europe where he discovered a real passion for photography. He is a self-taught commercial photographer who learned through studying, talking with others and reviewing his images with others to build his photographic skills.
In 1994, Jarvis moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado with his girlfriend, where he began shooting photos of pro snowboarders and skiers to hone his photography skills. While waiting tables at a local restaurant to cover living expenses he maintained a daily on-the-slopes practice of shooting pros and amateurs alike and selling prints. Jarvis licensed his first commercial image for $500 and a pair of skis and continued to pursue photography while studying Philosophy and Art at the University of Washington’s MA/PhD program. One year before completing his Master’s degree, Jarvis licensed a batch of his photos to REI that allowed him to leave academia and open his own studio, Chase Jarvis Photography.
With this seed money to start his business he began shopping his images around to art directors and over time landed jobs shooting images for Volvo, Nike, Apple, Microsoft, Columbia Sportswear, REI, Honda, Subaru, Polaroid and Red Bull. With the income from a fairly steady lineup of commercial shoots he began using the down time between commercial shoots to develop book concepts, art exhibits and an iPhone app called The Best Camera app.
Beginning in 2010 he launched Creative Live to help others by creating online learning resources for those that want to develop their photography and creative vision which he felt weren’t available when he was learning photography and the creating a photography business. In addition to Creative Live, Jarvis started a live streaming show called Chase Jarvis Live where he interviews professionals, such as other professional photographers, art directors and authors whose work and lessons can help aspiring creative’s to look at how to achieve their goals in different ways.
One of the things that Jarvis clearly states is that his Philosophy degree helped him analyze what he really wanted from life and question the status quo on how to create a life in photography. When starting out he still had to sweep his own floors, answer all the phone calls and emails and write all the checks, but he looked for new ways to get his work seen and searched for new means to get his work noticed in an effort to establish recognition. Not all of those means were just to get his own work shown, but tie his name to events that he could bring attention to and gain awareness of his existence. Once people are aware of your existence you are not become familiar to them and when you meet them about your work they will be more open.
Chase Jarvis is the youngest person to be named a Hasselblad Master, Nikon Master and ASMP Master. He continues to build out his online ventures and has attracted the sponsorship of many companies like BH Photo Video, Polaroid, Epson and Hewlett Packard.
One of the important things you can learn by following Jarvis and his work is that the drive to learn and create are more important than formal training. He advocates understanding how to make a great photo as the entry-level requirement to going pro – and the willingness to keep going even when you hear “No” to a request. The biggest barrier to being a pro photographer is not going on after hearing “No” and pursuing your dreams anyway.