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“I’m doing everything to get noticed, but it’s not working.” | Chase Jarvis Explains Why

By Kishore Sawh on June 24th 2017

A few months ago Chase Jarvis launched a new show called ‘The Daily Creative’, and it continues to provide creatives the space to ask the burning questions with a bit of anonymity, whilst remaining public enough that everyone can benefit from the answers. One of his latest inquiries was an interesting one, and one we here at SLR Lounge and around the photo community are all too familiar with. For those budding creatives out there this is one to watch and take in.

Essentially, we have Jason, who, somewhat bravely, calls in and sort of opens up about his ‘plight’ – “I’m doing everything to get noticed, but it’s not working.” To some degree most of us can sympathize, or at least recognize it as something we’ve addressed at one point or another. But what does one do? Well, Chase Jarvis is one of the best people to ask.

Jason is a photographer who is selling education, and lays out that he’s covering a span of platforms from Instagram to Snapchat, to YouTube and his site, and he’s just not getting traction enough to make his dreams happen so he can return home to Canada. There was a lot to unload and decipher here, but the somewhat scattered nature of the question was, in and of itself, a bit foretelling, and Chase was quick to dismantle.

Chase rapidly and rather accurately figures out that teaching is something close to Jason’s heart, but in the same breath, and in the kindest way possible, suggests to Jason that his imagery is simply not up to par which means the endeavor on a whole comes across as an effort to make a quick buck. That’s the crux of it and preceded by a lack of clarity on what it is Jason actually wants to do. Does he want to be a world class photographer or someone whose goal is to make some money teaching? Check out the video for Chase’s thoughts, and keep reading for mine.

*Jason has also written a blog response to Chase’s answer for greater perspective.



I had heard Jason’s name before so I was prompted to do a little digging, and sure enough it was because Jason had put out some content recently on how to make cinemagraphs. I also did a bit more digging because what Jason appeared to be doing, what he was asking, and how Chase was responding, was all too familiar to questions we field at SLR Lounge all the time, and me specifically.

After having a deeper look at the entire span of Jason’s work and platforms (no paid content), my conclusion is it’s difficult to disagree with Chase’s take, and he was perhaps even kinder or softer than many would have been. There’s no question Jason loves photography, and that he has a masters in education further speaks to his inherit desire and ability to teach, but I think it’s a bit naive – as it is for many –  to think that an affection for something or experience with it means you can charge for it, or that you’re at all currently relevant.

The creative world is rife with talent at the moment, and there really are so many people out there capable of creating images that are technically exemplary and, more importantly, artistically and culturally relevant. You’ve really got to understand the current market and be exceptionally good at one style at least before you gain that sought-after traction. This, in my humble opinion, is the point Jason has missed and many others alike would do well to also address.

The fact is, if you’re not very good today, people can tell from a mile and in a blink because there are just so many within the swipe of a finger who are, and that’s what you’re competing with. Well, that and relevancy. If photographers in 2017 really want to build traction and a following that perhaps they can one day convert into a sale or hire, they must have that duality of ability and relevance.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jason Teale

    Just found this article now and I appreciate the advice Kishore. I also appreciate the level-headed approach. I am just looking back at 2017 and this episode was one of the most difficult for me. It was a really eye-opening experience to have some many people view my work and basically tell me that after years putting my passion into it that it is still not up to par. At any rate, I will add this to my reflection for 2017 coming out in a few days. Thanks again and have a great 2018. 

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Jason, hi there, and thank you for commenting. I’m sure this was a difficult episode for you, and probably not the nicest article for you to get through either, so kudos for you being brave enough to comment and put yourself out there.

      As far as being up to par, well that’s always difficult to gauge and photography is like running in a race where the finish line keeps moving – always room for improvement. That said, it does pay to be critical, and you’ve gotta have a finger on the pulse of whatever market you’re looking to work in. I feel if you are serious about travel photography, and teaching and charging for teaching, you’d be looking at the popular images on Instagram, magazines, etc to see what’s catching attention and then be able to shoot like that. I’m not saying become one of the rest but there’s something to be said for giving the people what they’re asking for.

      The good news is that you’ve got guts and you’ve got passion and that’s a good place to start, and it means you should be able to take critique and evolve. After having looked at your site again I have a few pieces of advice for you (and I won’t mince words):

      1 – Your website needs to be revamped. Sign up for Squarespace or Format if you don’t want to hire someone to build one from scratch for you. But right now your site looks dated, a bit Geocities circa 2000 and not engaging, and that’s a turn off. Any template from the sites listed will immediately display your work better and present you as an artist more seriously. Also, have buttons to your social accounts on every page.

      2 – your IG seems like a mix between your professional work and your personal things you like, and for you I would suggest splitting it up and keeping the two separate. Keep your professional IG VERY streamlined and tight. Be harsh with yourself and only put up your VERY best work. I think you may also benefit from a thematic approach also, and that can be through color palette, or in terms of layout, subject etc. Check out:

      3 – You’re not using IG to the full potential. I’d use it dedicated fro an hour a day interacting with people, commenting, and liking. In addition use hashtags (use the 5 dot method) and maybe try FocalMark to help you.

      4 – Your bio section on site is a bit odd as it’s your resume. Scrap that because no one cares and those who do will look for you on LinkedIn. A paragraph or a few about you is probably better, and if you’ve actually worked with Nat Geo and T&L then link to it or speak about it a bit.

      5 – Your products would appear as though they may need adjustment. Now, I haven’t seen you paid content, but you’re charging $47 for your Lightroom course, for example. It’s about 2.5 hours long and there’s no breakdown of what is entailed. There’s no preview of what it’s actually like for people to see your style of presentation, hear how you speak, and see production value. Now, if no one was doing this that’s one thing, but you have a lot of competition. I mean, you’re going up against the likes of me and SLRL with all the free content and our paid LR content, for example. The SLRL staff is a team that works really hard to put together these products and they’re at minimum 3 times as long, and we show that we know what we are talking about, and people know the style and historically speaking we are known as educators. You don’t have any credibility factors yet. This is all to say you’ve got stiff competition and if you want to compete you’ve gotta be more compelling with how you sell that.

      All in all Jason, the tough part is that you really may do well to consider a full revamp and new approach, but you’ve now got the benefit of some more experience and again you seem to be willing to do the work. Anyway, I wish you the best for 2018 Jason, and if you would like any specific help with something, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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    • Jason Teale

      Thank you Kishore for the detailed response  as this is basically what I really need and I thank you for for taking the time to look through my site again and offer some advice.  

      With regards to the site, I am going to change it up completely this year as you are right, it does look dated and having that resume up there doesn’t help. So I may looking squarespace or at least hiring someone to put in the work as I feel that I am not the most capable in this regard. 

      IG has always been a tricky one. I do like the advice and putting more time into making it more professional will pay off in the long run.  

      I think that you are right in some ways with the courses. I am going to take a look at them again and see what I can do to add more value. Obviously, I cannot compete with the likes of you and the SLRL team. I think you mentioned in your article about being naive and that is what I am starting to see here. Going up against pro photographers with a production  team behind them is a tad on naive side to say the least. 

      I think for 2018 I am really going to have to dial it all in and see if this will even work. This is a hard pill to swallow but I appreciate that you took the go through my work. 

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  2. Chris Morris

    I was delusional for about 3 months thinking I could make money being a photographer. It only took climbing out of my creative bubble to see that anything I photographed was much worse than anything similar from any number of talented people. If I thought I had to make a buck taking a photo with all the talented people to compete against I’m pretty sure I’d go mad. Which takes the pressure off of just doing what I like, learning what I want, and entertaining family and friends. Photography is awesome as a hobby.

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  3. Eduardo Benitez

    great clip thanks

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  4. Alexis Arnold

    good advice. I agree that if you want to teach you need to master it first. 

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