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Eagle Eye

Look behind the lens with Chase Jarvis, photographer of Aspen/Snowmass’ most recent campaign.

An epic view of Highland Bowl, featuring Dayla Robinson, top, Pat Sewell, middle, and Chris Davenport leading the charge.

Chris Davenport follows Dayla Robinson on a casual cruise down Racer’s Edge at Buttermilk.

It’s 4am and not exactly warm out, as the production crew loads its gear into a snowcat at the base of Aspen Highlands. Within an hour, as the sun rises, the crew, led by action-sports photo veteran Chase Jarvis, is setting up atop the bowl.

“Some of my most memorable moments have been watching the sun rise in amazing places around the world, and Aspen is no exception,” says Jarvis. “The problem is the combination of the Aspen nightlife with early-morning calls.”

Jarvis—an energetic and creative photographer and social-media force—is no stranger to Aspen. In fact, he traces his photographic beginnings to the early years of the X Games. When in town, he frequents Matsuhisa and says, “If my wife has anything to say about it, we’ll have a house here next year.”

Along with Factory Design Labs, an ad agency in Denver and Aspen/Snowmass, Jarvis created what he calls “one of the most authentic campaigns I’ve ever been a part of.” The campaign is steeped in local Aspen athletes, heroes and families, he says.

“There’s nothing better than having your athletes be your guide… to know your mountain in a way few others would know it… to know where the light is best between 2:30 to 4pm,” says Jarvis. “There’s something really cool about working with someone in their own element.” 

Some of Jarvis’ other highlights include photographing the local Newhard family at Snowmass.

“I was definitely holding the kids back because I was skiing backwards and shooting,” Jarvis laughs. “And it was skiing, as opposed to posing. And that’s a really important part of the campaign—the authenticity with which we approached it.”

Authenticity is something Jarvis brings to every endeavor, including his Facebook and Twitter presence. Last time we checked, Jarvis had 172,406 Twitter followers and 195,698 Facebook subscribers.

According to Christian Knapp, vice president of marketing at Aspen Skiing Company, “[Jarvis] has been able to give an insider view into his process. … ‘I’m going to share, I’m going to show, I’m going to teach people how to be better photographers,” Knapp says. “He’s been doing that well for a while and has been able to create a global following.”

Jarvis also created a behind-the-scenes video, which premiered at The Meeting in September 2012. To date, the video has received 191,000 hits on YouTube. “That’s a lot for our industry,” says Knapp.

Although Jarvis’ social-media influence certainly played into Aspen/Snowmass’ decision to bring him on as the campaign photographer, it was his experience and ability to “blend traditional and digital media” that sealed the deal, says Knapp.

One of Jarvis’ unique ideas was to employ an octocopter—a small, remote-controlled helicopter equipped with a camera—to nab some unique point-of-view shots. “You’re flying the helicopter; you’re looking for the shot and when to hit the trigger,” says Jarvis. “There’s a lot of moving parts.”

Despite the frenetic method of operating the octocopter, local athlete Pat Sewell says Jarvis was “meticulous and calculated; he wanted something very specific.” Jarvis would look through special glasses to see through the viewfinder on the ’copter, says Sewell.

The octocopter captured some of the favorite images of the campaign: a bird’s-eye view of Sewell, local pro Chris Davenport and local snowboarder Dayla Robinson ripping through the trees. The photo has graced many a ski and snowboard magazine this season.

“Aspen tree skiing is world-class and legendary, and has never been captured from above, and not just from a tree, but above the trees,” says Jarvis. “I think one of the things that has allowed me to be successful is taking a fresh approach.”

Once the five days of shooting had wrapped, Jarvis found that the next challenge involved deciding which photos to use for the campaign.

“You’ve got so many great things to choose from,” says Jarvis. “There was a sort of spirit of abundance, which is how I felt about this campaign in general. It’s not always like that. I’ve traveled to faraway places and hunted for photographs for weeks and weeks, whether it’s the weather or conditions… it’s not always abundance.”