Chase Jarvis Tackles the Dirtiest Secret In Photography

Chase Jarvis is always putting out content that aims to push the boundaries of your thought process. Whether he is showing you how to creatively tackle projects with inspirational behind-the-scenes footage, or he is interviewing top creative minds to gain their insight on a variety of matters, Jarvis wants to make sure we have access to the information you don't even know you need. In this new video entry he explores a topic that struck a chord with me: the idea of drawing inspiration from outside sources.

Since a very early age classical art was always fostered in my home. I must have been around five years old when I was gifted an easel, some canvas, paints, and a set of brushes. Hundreds of books detailing Renaissance art filled my parents home. I vividly recall spending my childhood enchanted by these books and trying to create my own versions on the canvas in my room.

Fast forward to the present day and I am now actively working as a full-time photographer. Oftentimes, when I find myself in a creative rut, I look to peers for inspiration. I try and have creative conversations with them. I look at their work. I look on social sharing sites for ideas. I look ad magazines and advertisements. All the while not realizing that I have put myself in a box.

What Jarvis goes on to explain, and recommend, is that sometimes the best inspiration comes from outside the industry. We all get so caught up in our own little micro-universes that our visions become hyper-focused. We can't see beyond the industry we are in. Sometimes all it takes is to open your eyes and your mind, and allow it to be influenced and sculpted by outside sources. You might be inspired by something as simple as a plastic bottle, or so Jarvis ponders.

It is a very interesting topic, and one to fully try and absorb. Where will your next great idea come from?

[via Chase Jarvis]

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19 Comments

Yep, I NEVER look to photographers for inspiration...usually Music or something else. Never photographers. I'm not a xerox

I would love to see a photographer with a fro (Froknowsphoto does not count) and talk about the happy little leading lines and happy little rule of thirds.

Excellent video. My profession is in music academia and I have been working with a colleague who is a visual artist in the exploration of the relationship between art and music. We have found that among all of the creative fields there are many more ways in which the creative process overlaps. There are far more similarities than differences.

Alex Cooke's picture

What's your position in music academia?

I recently received a D.M.A. in composition, but I am currently on the faculty at a small college as a piano and theory instructor until I can find a position at a university.

Alex Cooke's picture

No way! I'm doing my DMA in composition too. Where did you go?

The University of Texas at Austin. Where are you studying?

I love this message! Very inspiring and really important. I've found myself being stuck on "wanting to shoot something desperately" and not realizing that I'm going at it from the wrong end when it's really all about seeking the connection to a person or a subject that is inspiring - the resulting images are only a side product of that connection.

Eric Pare's picture

Please don't tell anyone that I go to Home Depot to find inspiration :P #tubestories

The content of this video is great, but the way he talks makes it even stronger for me. He's a very good communicator...

I'm a bit surprised that this topic needs an article written about it. Photography is a creative art form, so it stands to reason that all of the other art forms would be a serious inspiration AND very advantageous to at least take a look at (listen to) once in awhile, if not study.

Dan Howell's picture

a secret that nobody talks about? that is a seriously flawed assumption.

To be more accurate, "nobody talks" maybe should be changed to "surprisingly few talk."

Dan Howell's picture

I think what is more salient, is that people working in the industry already seek information and inspiration from sources outside of strictly photography so commonly that is really isn't worth talking about. Fashion and interior design. Architecture and theater. Classic painting and sculpture. Seriously, the concept is simply blog-fodder, but it really doesn't hold up. Its a great muscle-flexing posture but it ain't exactly news. Professionals draw inspiration from a vast array of sources so often that it is really a non-issue.

John Teague's picture

I frequently see provocative titles for articles that turn out to have lame content. I applaud you for calling attention to the lameness of this article.

I also have a pet peeve about the number of articles written by people who don't bother to proofread or simply don't know basic grammar. However, if you criticize someone for being a poor writer, you get lots other people who try to shame you for expecting clear, cogent writing, as if it's too much to ask for photographers to apply fundamental standards of communication. People need to understand that muddy writing equals muddy thinking and vice versa.

Pete O'Brien's picture

I'm surprised that this is coming up in an art form as old as photography. I studied design and everything Chase says you learn on your foundation course, its a way of thinking and seeing the world. Seek out thought leaders in any discipline and you'll discover all sorts of rabbit holes, just make sure you have plenty of ladders. If you want the minutiae of life, read The Mezzanine by Nicholas Baker; learn all about Perception by reading almost any Oliver Sacks book; discover the stories of human evolution by reading Matt Ridley or enter the philosophical work of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - be warned, you may come out of that book very different from when you went in. Need identity and process inspiration, read Marty Neumeier or go deep into the customer experience with the Ten Faces of Innovation by IDEO and if you are just curious about the world and those things that change it, check out The Machine That Changed the World
James P. Womack. I'm still new to photography. I'm happy to have my design background, it helps me think different, but putting into practice has always been my challenge. I hope some of the above recommendations give those who are not looking outside Photography a shortcut into a new world view they can apply to their craft and maybe one day we'll meet at the crossroads, once I've figured out how to translate that experience through the viewfinder and into print.

Travis Alex's picture

People who say they don't look at other photographers are full of it, and if you aren't, I would seriously debate with you how disconnected you are (or will become) by not doing so. You should be aware of current trends, popular styles, and work that is taking off in your own field to be on top of your game within photography. There is a fine balance to be had though, which is worth noting.

I agree with Chase (once again), be sure to look for inspiration outside of your field. Music, Movies, Drawings, Graphics, Typography, Poems, Cultures. A mind was meant to keep moving and keep learning. Don't get stagnant is the real message here.

John Teague's picture

Good advice for getting inspiration from other art forms, but his explanation about it being a "dirty secret" makes no sense.