September 19th, 2008
It started with the Kiss t-shirt he was wearing; taking off the black sports coat Chase Jarvis jokingly offered it up for auction. And someone took him up on it.
“Ok, but I can keep my shirt on for the evening, right?” Chase asked the crowd.
A bidding war began for the shirt to stay on or to come off and Chase, apparently fearless in the face of self ridicule, threw out a figure in the hundreds–for him to MC the rest of the evening in his boxers. The crowd took him up on it. (above: chase jarvis working the crowd with mic in hand)
“Going once…going twice,” he announced. It was looking like we were going to get a chance to see one of Seattle’s most charismatic and successful lifestyle commercial photographers nearly in the buff, until his wife threw up her card, bidding for him to keep his clothes on. No one challenged her.
It was for her sanity, she later said, but I think his parents, who were in attendance, were used to his pranks and were fine hanging him out to dry. Would he have done it? I don’t think anyone in the room doubted it. After all, Chase Jarvis in his skivvies was for a good cause: fundraising for the Blue Earth Alliance. (at right: chase with art wolfe and art’s print which went for something over $2000. art, a renowned nature photographer, is a past blue earth project photographer)
For those of you who don’t know, Blue Earth is a 501(c)3 non profit whose cover page says:
“A dramatic image can change our perception and alter our understanding of a subject. This idea defines the mission of Blue Earth: to raise awareness about endangered cultures, threatened environments and social concerns through photography. By supporting the power of photographic storytelling, we motivate society to make positive change.”
Several years ago, Blue Earth sponsored my FEAR Project work when it was still a freshly refined idea. Under their umbrella, this personal work grew into its own 501(c)3 which, while still a young organization, has a strong mission, committed volunteers, and offers real services to the public. Like Blue Earth’s mission, it is using photographic storytelling for positive change. (at left: some of the 65 prints for auction)
The fundraiser was, in my experience with fundraisers, a unique idea of a lottery. 65 photographers had contributed work (myself included) and people bought tickets from $1000 on down. Those who put the most money up front had first pick, those who only bought an entry ticket (at $75) had a chance to “upgrade” to any level that hadn’t been auctioned off yet. As some of the more favored prints were snatched up, a surprising number of people began upgrading to ensure they could go home with one of the prints they wanted.
Dinner was provided, along with a drink ticket, but everything was structured for maximum fund-raising. Included were live auctions of prints in between the lottery sessions. Daniel Beltra’s Amazon drought went first, Phil Borges, then Art Wolfe’s print. (at right: pickings getting slim as the lottery continues)
For me, being a past project photographer and current “struggling artist,” I came for the cause and because I received a free ticket for donating a print. Plus, my friends Benj and Sara were recipients of the $3000 Project Grant and I had to see their talk. It was also kind of cool to be sitting next to people I didn’t really know and, as prints were auctioned off, to unconsciously say “oh, that’s so-and-so, she’s rad” and to hear back “that’s what’s so cool about this event, i wanted that print and here you know the photographer.” Ah…to bask in the reflected glory of someone else’s celebrity.
However, I did have a small moment of my own. The picture I made while in Alaska on assignment for der Spiegel was the print I submitted to the lottery. That image was a first pick for many of the people I met and many were disappointed, for it was the second print chosen that evening at $1000. (at left: benjamin drummond and sara steele whose project “facing climate change” won the blue earth project grant)
That’s the second, confidence-instilling boost Blue Earth has provided me. First was accepting my project years ago; it was validating and helped me forge forth with the vision. And now, I know someone would spend a grand to put a photograph I made on their wall at home.
I’m thinking I might do something like that: offer a print series this fall as a means of supporting my upcoming work on human trafficking. People have asked, and I think they’d be good holiday gifts. If I can get my act together, I’ll have something for you. But, while I’d gladly accept it, I don’t think I’ll charge $1000. Yet.
Well, it was a fun evening. Yay for Blue Earth! And yay to Kate Jarvis for helping her husband keep his pants on. (at right: kate jarvis, our heroine)
This is the picture of the Inupiat whaling boat which received such interest. I photographed this near Kivalina, Alaska, after riding across the pack ice on the back of a snow mobile. Getting off, I walked past the men watching the ocean for signs of whale and, before they added a power boat to the “at ready” line up, I snapped a series of this boat with harpoons and bouy. Another photographer asked if I’d combined images with different exposures in photoshop or done some other artsy or commercial visual trickery. No, all I did was burn in the edges a bit, something any photojournalist might do in the dark room. It is as I saw it; the light up north is other-worldly.
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