Chasing Jarvis

Chasing JarvisAccording to the way my buddy Russell Byrne tells it, he was sitting in the audience at one of Chase Jarvis’ speaking engagements – I think it was a PhotoShelter “Town Hall” meeting. Chase was exhorting the crowd of aspiring photographers to simply “walk a mile in my shoes, and you’ll get to where I am,” in his inimitable fashion. Russ, being the smart-aleck that he is, raised his hand.

“Chase,” he said, “I could walk that mile a lot better if I had your shoes.”

Fast-forward a few weeks, and Russell comes home one day to find a package on his doorstep:

Photo by Russell Byrne

Chase’s message was clear: stop whining, get out there. Acknowledge no barriers. Russell decided that this was a great opportunity, and organized the Chase Jarvis Shoe Project – something between the Kelby Photowalk and the Amelie Garden Gnome.

The shoes would travel the world, be photographed everywhere, in every way, and the results shared online. Awesome. A website was thrown together, and sinceHargis_090111_9233 I happen to be friends with Russell, and (at the time) lived near him, I got an early crack at the shoes.


I had a million ideas but the one I liked best involved Chase being “chased” by his own shoes. I sent him an email asking if he would be willing to be photographed by me for the project, and briefly outlined the idea. To my surprise, I got an answer the same day – and he was totally on board.

With that encouraging start, I began planning in earnest. I visualized a dark, early-evening shot, with the shoes pursuing Chase through a desolate area.

The shoot took place in Gasworks Park, a Seattle picnic area with a killer view of the city skyline and a favorite spot for local photographers. Chase’s studio is nearby, so it was convenient for him.

Trusty Assistant Mia (taking her own photos on my time…)

I set up a makeshift boom and hung the shoes using monofilament fishing line. This ultimately didn’t work so well, as the shiny monofilament picked up the light from my flashes and was very visible in the photos – I had to clone it out later. Black thread would have worked much better.

I lit them with a couple of SB’s; one in front and one gridded, from behind, for a little rim light. Chase would be lit with a third SB, camera left.

Trusty Assistant Pretending to be Chase

Chase showed up and was incredibly gracious with his time and enthusiasm. I made him run (slow-motion) through the set a good 10 or 15 times, and ultimately made about 3 good frames. A little re-touching to fade the fishing line, and they were ready.

Chasing Jarvis

Chasing Jarvis

If you’re interested in taking part in the project, the website is HERE.

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