What's Cooler than a Ninja? Lots of Ninjas.

Ok, how often do I get an excuse to put ninjas on a photo blog? Not very. So you know this one is going up.

A little insight into how "A-list" photographers think. Of Chase's video, bear the following thoughts in mind:

• This shoot was not assigned to him by anyone.
• He conceived it, executed it and fronted the costs himself. (With his team, of course.)
• The sole purpose of this job was to make some cool photos and keep the creative juices flowing.

While there is no immediate monetary benefit to doing a shoot like this, consider the downstream benefits for Chase:

• He and his team get the experience of a wonderfully creative afternoon.
• He gets photos that make his portfolio pop with current, cutting edge stuff.
• The photos yielded by the shoot also show his range and ability, meaning creative directors have confidence to hire him for the more traditional shoots.
• Whenever work is available that calls for creative, high-impact photos, Chase stands a better chance of getting those assignments, too.

Not a bad return for an afternoon's work, huh?

Learn more, and even ask Chase a question about ninjas on his blog.

Some of the photos are already integrated into his portfolio: See #'s 12 - 13 here, and #'s 15-17 here

Other Chase Jarvis videos:

:: Hasselblad Masters Series ::
:: Laptop Uberbriefcase ::


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Blogger Jürgen said...

Looks like lots of fun and a big production and that just for the sake of just doing it. Great spirit!

June 03, 2007 3:47 AM  
Blogger A J FRENCH said...

this guy's work never fails to impress, and it is great to look behind the scenes and see how he does it. Wouldn't it be great to have a team and a camera like that? Not to mention the artistic and photographic talent!!;-)

June 03, 2007 4:05 AM  
Blogger SeanMcC said...

Wow. Cool video and concept.

June 03, 2007 5:23 AM  
Blogger Steven said...

amazing stuff, i love seeing the final product... what a lucky guy

June 03, 2007 5:51 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

I believe there are a lot of people out there who could do just as good a job as Chase does ... it's just a matter of money and luck.

Totally agree though, with putting yourself in the front line for the shots. You don't get anywhere sitting on your behind waiting for the phone to ring; it's just that in my case it would probably be a case of a lego set, cigarette smoke and plastic models hanging on fishing gut to even get close to Chase's Ninja shoot on my budget.

June 03, 2007 6:30 AM  
Blogger bmillios said...

Also consider this:

He used an abandoned building (cheap)
He used equipment he already had (cheap)

This type of thing is easily duplicated by any strobist, except for perhaps the big mats on the floor. Know any martial artists? I'm sure they'd like some cool photos. Try a martial arts school - ask for cooperation/participation in return for the photos.

Kudos for Chase - for showing us we don't have to wait for a paycheck before we become creative.

Oh, wait. Strobists do that every day. :^)

June 03, 2007 8:38 AM  
Blogger Nicholaus Haskins said...

Man this makes me mad! I had this idea looong ago! I pulled some shots off like this about a year ago. Man I wish I would have made the video first!

June 03, 2007 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Andrew Smith said...

There are some more of the ninja shots in his sports portfolio, #15-17. (But personally I love #14!)

June 03, 2007 11:33 AM  
Blogger Samuel said...

Looks like a ton of fun...

Am I being a killjoy if I note that he has his weapons all mixed up? The word "ninja" is Japanese, but there were handful of traditionally Chinese (wushu style broadswords, deer hook swords) weapons, and the "crazy" dagger with the waves he waxes rhapsodic about looks suspiciously like a Malaysian kris.

And although we don't see it actually used, one of the assistants looks like he's carrying a Roman gladius.

I'm such a geek.

June 03, 2007 11:46 AM  
Blogger Matt said...


Nice hassy as well....I want one. Now if he would only describe his light setup on another video....

June 03, 2007 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Samuel, you're not alone! Seeing ninjas brandishing Chinese swords just killed the shoot (pun intended) for me.

Geeks of the word, unite!

June 03, 2007 2:01 PM  
Blogger Chase Jarvis said...

Heya there Samuel: Great point about weapons/swords/ninjas being technically all mixed up (Japanese/Chinese styles, etc). Truth told, we knew all those things heading into this (thanks ONLY to the gentlemen we rented the weapons from...who also acted as technical adivsor out of goodness of his heart ;) but we chose to let several of those technical details slide in favor of just getting stuff done with what we had and thinking more aesthetically than historically. That's one of the wonderful things that being an artist allows us to do, right?...ignore cultural trappings sometimes. (note also the designer red and blue shirt worn by one of the ninjas - that certainly wasn't worn by ninjas back in the day either ;)

Regardless, nice job keeping your eyes peeled for the details of this stuff - as they say, the devil's in there...

For conversation sake, I'd love to know if anybody thinks my passing on some of the historical aspects somehow undermines the images or production??

June 03, 2007 2:53 PM  
Blogger Jammy Straub said...

I don't think passing on the historical technical details in anyway undermines the images. It's obviously not meant as an exercise in anthropology and shouldn't be taken as such.

I mean really how often do you think ninjas jumped off walls?

June 03, 2007 8:39 PM  
Blogger Brock said...

Well, as long as Chase is dogging the conversation, I'd like to ask what it cost to do this shoot.

Someone earlier commented on how "cheap" it must have been, owing to the fact that you own the equipment; were using an abandoned building.

But I rather think it wasn't so "free" to use the building; you at least had to get permits and permission; did you have to get insurance as well? (Someone gets hurt in the abandoned building... the owner of the building/lot/land gets sued... )

Those assistants don't come free, those actors/stunt persons don't come free... if you catered, more bucks... if you just ponied up for McDonalds for the crew, you're looking at $200...

June 03, 2007 10:54 PM  
Blogger food said...

very nice! I like.

June 04, 2007 5:00 AM  
Blogger Dr. Tan said...

Woah!! nifty stuffs! I'm going ot follow Kris Krug's advise and try to emulate it.

Bunch of us taekwondo people around.

June 04, 2007 8:42 AM  
Blogger Melanie said...

I'm trying to reach David Hobby about one of his photos in the Balt. Sun. do you have an email address that I can use?

June 04, 2007 9:02 AM  
Blogger David said...


There is a contact info link on the sidebar.


June 04, 2007 10:46 AM  
Anonymous BrentJ said...

Chase, if you were trying to do pictures of ninjas for the encyclopedia, maybe I would complain about the technical aspects. As it stands, I couldn't care less. Those are some super cool shots. Thanks for letting us behind the scenes. I love it.

June 04, 2007 12:45 PM  
Blogger Eduardo said...

Many thanks to Dave and Chase for sharing this video, it rocks!

Chase one question, the construction flood lights are used to bump ambient light? or only for the scenes of back lighting and fog?? :) thanks a lot

June 04, 2007 5:16 PM  
Blogger Samuel said...


Thanks for stopping by in comments, and for responding to my (potentially quite lame) gripe. :)

I don't know how much it really matters that the weapons aren't "right". I mean, it bugged me a tiny bit, but I enjoyed the shots plenty once I got over myself.

Plus, dude. Deer hook swords. Good stuff.

June 05, 2007 1:23 AM  
Blogger Chase Jarvis said...

Eduardo: Construction lights were not used to light photo subjects. They were there simply because it was quie dark in the space when we weren't shooting with strobes... more functional than creative... (btw I use profoto btw)

June 05, 2007 3:09 AM  
Blogger chris. said...

anyone else having problems getting this video to play? i've been trying for 2 days now... :-/

June 08, 2007 2:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea, the willingness to set up a shoot like that, everything about that amazed me. It truely did. The final photos are spectacular. The silohuette one on his page is definately my favorite.

I'd really like to know the cost of the days shooting and what camera that is. It looks like a video camera (but of course I know its not)

August 21, 2007 7:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What was the product used for the smoke, the guy putting it around was just hand holding it? Was it out of a can?

January 12, 2008 6:31 PM  

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