Chase Jarvis & The Best Camera Trifecta

Chase Jarvis has been one of my favorite commercial photographers for years now.  It’s been sort of dream of mine to someday become a successful professional photographer like Jarvis, Joey L or Annie Leibovitz, despite the fact that I shoot primarily fine-art style photography.

Back in September Jarvis released a sort of trio of unsuspecting photography tools based on his famously popular iPhone photos.  You can view many of his iPhone snaps on his TwitPic stream.  His photos get thousands of views by other Twitter users, more often than not bringing up the question, “how did you do that?”

The answer came out in the form of The Best Camera iPhone app, a social photo site The Best and a fantastic book full of inspiration, illustration and annotation.  He says it best, check out the video below.

The idea behind the project is simple, the best camera is the one you have with you, something Jarvis has proven this to be true time and time again.  From photos of sewer grates to open fields to elevator steps to the decontextualized, his photos rarely fail to capture a certain photographic spirit.

The Best Camera iPhone app is a solid photo manipulator.  It’s not meant to fix problems with photos but by stacking various filters allowing the photographer to create something truly unique.  You can easily share your photos with your Twitter followers and Facebook friends as well as the applications aforementioned social site..

Jarvis’s book is essential the printed version of his TwitPic and Best Camera photo streams.

The photos are well printed and laid out in a way that somehow seems to work.  With such a comprehensive and yet random subject matter, making something cohesive must have been difficult..  Most photography books I’ve picked up have been about one particular subject.  This book is different.  It captures everything, a sort of stream of consciousness.

EverythingEntrace Exit

Some of the cropping and effects used in his iPhone app seem to be a bit overdone, I subscribe to a sort of less-is-more faculty when it comes to these sorts of things.

Cropping down so many of the photos to fit the square book along with the exaggeration in color had me questioning the power of the photos themselves.  Would they have been as interesting on their own or do they rely on the effects in the program?

Perhaps in the end these sorts of questions don’t matter.  If the photos come out beautifully, carry a narrative or simply peek interest, perhaps they’ve done their job.

For under $15, this book is a steal.  It’s really a blast to browse through the photos, to see how the limitations of a camera can become a tool.  When I switched to a 50mm prime lens from a 18-135 zoom, I found myself taking much better photos.  The same seems to happen with the iPhone.  This book serves as a sort of illustration and guide to what is possible, though ultimately the limits are endless.

You can get the book at several resellers including, my favorite,  Click here to check it out.

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2 thoughts on “Chase Jarvis & The Best Camera Trifecta

  1. “When I switched to a 50mm prime lens from a 18-135 zoom, I found myself taking much better photos.  The same seems to happen with the iPhone.  This book serves as a sort of illustration and guide to what is possible, though ultimately the limits are endless.”

    Totally and completely agree. I primarily shot with the kit lens that came with my 40D (28-135mm f/3.5-5.6) and rarely saw the need to use my 50mm f/1.4. When i pulled my camera out of my bag one day and found my kit lens broken I was initially pissed because I thought my 50mm was so limiting. 

    Ever since then I have only used my 50mm and there has not been one situation that I wish I still had the kit lens. The 50mm has made me find unique angles to tell the story and as a result I’ve made better images. With the kit lens I could stand around in one place and zoom if needed to get a certain shot but I rarely moved around; completely opposite with the 50mm. 

    That lens breaking has been the best thing to happen to me as a photographer and I haven’t even bothered sending in the other lens for repair and I don’t plan to.

    I know that’s all unrelated to the book, which I’ll have to give a look at now after reading this, but just wanted to share.

  2. @Mikeziegler wow great comment thanks.  Totally agree. I tell any art photo student who asks me for a lens recommendation to look no further than the 50mm.  It’s great to have all the great zoom lenses out there but first you’ve got to master the 50, or on a crop sensor maybe the 35mm.   I also just realized how much sharper a prime lens could be.  Since my fifty I’ve purchased only prime lenses.

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