There have been so many occasions where I have taken Father’s Day for granted and it felt like just another family gathering. This last one was different though. On Monday June 17th 2019, my Grandpa, Richard Leon Lutz passed away surrounded by his family. He was 93 years old. He died a day after Father’s Day.
My Grandpa was one of the hardest working men I have ever met. During much of my life he was running an orchard just outside of Chelan, WA. From a very early age I witnessed what hard work means. At his age, most people would rather travel and play golf instead of working. However, he was getting up before dawn to head out to the orchard to work and would finish as the sun began to set. This has left a huge impression on my life.
He also taught me the meaning of living a life of integrity. If he said he was going to do something he would find a way to exceed your expectations. When I was a kid my Dad would tell me a story about when my Grandpa worked for Van Doren Sales and how fruit packers would call my Grandpa if they were having a problem with their apple or cherry lines. Every time he would go into a packing facility he would have the different machines running better than before they broke initially. Now that I am older this is something that I try and achieve with every project that I am involved in.
The final thing that he taught me was the meaning of being a family man. He and my Grandma never missed one of my school band performances as a kid. I could also always count on him being at every family gathering or birthday. He was often pretty quiet at many of these events, but when he spoke his deep voice commanded the room and everyone listened.
I miss him so much. He taught me so much about what it is to be a man and live a life that impacts others.
RIP Grandpa. I love you and I hope I continue to make you proud.
I have a confession to make. I am not the most fashionable guy. During the winter and colder months, you will typically see me wearing a hoodie or one of my four flannel shirts. Now that it is spring many of us are changing out our wardrobes for clothes that are more appropriate for warmer weather. For me, this means wearing fun Hawaiian and pattern shirts.
For the past several weeks I have been working at Nordstrom where I have been responsible for editing Nordstrom Live Spring 2019. Nordstrom Live is a biannual fashion show where they invite many of their top designers to connect with Nordstrom employees to show them the latest collections that can be found in their stores. It has been fascinating to learn more about the level of detail that all of these designers are putting into their latest collections.
Outside of getting ready in the morning I rarely think about the clothes that I am wearing. But it has been fascinating to hear designers talk about how they obsess over things like the fabrics they use, how clothes fit and the sustainability around the products that they make.
For me, the biggest takeaway was hearing about the level of detail that is being put into the clothes that we love and that gives us the confidence to take on the day. It is easy to neglect these things as we get ready in the morning. However, this is a great reminder for all of us that it is the unnoticed details that ultimately make the work that we are involved with special.
Big thanks to the video team at Nordstrom for getting me involved in Nordstrom Live. I had a blast and learned a ton. I am looking forward to the chance to work with you again.
What started out as a mild winter quickly became a formidable opponent that was challenging on many fronts. A few weeks ago multiple storms hit Seattle paralyzing the city. Grocery stores were running out of everything, the roads were awful, and some were dealing with power outages. People living in North Bend were snowed in and had no way to leave their homes. Yikes.
This has not been a problem isolated to the Seattle and Western Washington. Other parts of the west have also been experiencing a similar situation. This week a massive storm has hit Northern California and Nevada. In the past few days, the Lake Tahoe area has received between 48 and 96 inches of snow. This current storm had a ripple effect closing I-80 and the Donner Pass. It has also caused a number of flight delays and cancelations in and out of Reno. Over the past few days, I had 3 flights that were all canceled.
However, winter has also had its good moments. One that stands out in my mind is the Rails and Ales events that recently took place a few weeks ago in Wenatchee. Every February a part of Orondo Street is closed and converted into a terrain park. Nearly 4,000 attended the event to watch some of the best skiers and snowboarders in North Central Washington, enjoy some of the best local beers and listen to some amazing live music. It was also awesome to connect with friends and share a few laughs.
In many ways, shooting this event was a return to my roots as a Content Creator and Filmmaker. During my childhood, I was deeply inspired by ski movies like The Blizzard of Ahhh's, Propaganda, 1242 and countless others. Every winter I would dream about making my own movie. I never thought that someday I could accomplish that goal. It is awesome to reflect on this and realize that one of my childhood dreams has come true.
Enjoy the rest of the winter while you can. It will be summer and 90 degrees before we know it and we will be patiently waiting for winter so we can play in the snow again.
There are few things worse than looking down at your camera and realizing that you shot the majority of a shoot as jpgs instead of raw.
Let me explain…
A few weeks ago I doing a fashion shoot at Pike Place Market here in Seattle. We were almost done for the day and about to wrap when I looked down at my camera and realized that I was shooting in jpgs instead of raw. My heart skipped a beat as my brain tried to figure out how this could’ve happened and how much of the shoot was affected by my mistake. In this moment I felt like the shoot was a waste and I didn’t know how much of the shoot I could recover when editing the images later.
Failure is something that we rarely talk about. To be honest, I’m embarrassed to be talking about this right now. However, I think it is important to share my mistakes and what I have learned so other photographers and creatives can avoid these same traps.
There were a couple of things that I learned from this shoot:
Know Your Camera
You are the professional and as the photographer you are expected to know EVERYTHING about your camera. It is not your assistant’s job and especially not your clients job to have the answers. You are the expert, act like it.
Mistakes happen. You are human after all. However, it is important to remain calm and handle the situation like an adult. It doesn’t matter if you are being paid or if you are doing a TFP shoot. People expect you to behave like a professional.
Learn and Move On
The biggest thing I have had to learn in my career is that things are never going to be perfect. You are going to always be left with this feeling of wishing you would’ve done something different. In many ways, this is my favorite part about the creative process. It keeps things fresh and allows you to have a new perspective when you approach your work.
It’s not the end of the world
Repeat after me. It’s not the end of the world. It is important to keep things in perspective. You know you may have messed up but chances are people will have no idea. Was gear stolen or were people hurt or killed? Things are going to be ok and work out if the answer is no.
Now back to the shoot. Surprisingly, things worked out great during this shoot and I have made some of my favorite images of 2018. Yes, there was a moment where things weren’t going right. However, it is important to realize that the only way to get better at our craft is to make these mistakes and take risks. You are never going to grow as a professional if you don’t get outside and shoot. The same can be said about any other form of art or expression.
I hope this left you inspired. Now get out there and bring some awesome work to life.
Last night was the Apple Cup. Sadly the game didn’t turn out how I wanted it to. The Huskies beat the Cougs 28-15. There was a lot riding on this game for the Cougs going into it. A trip to the Pac-12 Championship, a trip to the Rose Bowl and a possible trip to the College Football Playoffs if the stars somehow magically aligned. Unfortunately, none of these things will be happening after last night’s loss.
However, as I look back on the 2018 season I can do so with a smile. I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that the Cougs would be 10-2 at the end of the season. Especially after losing several seniors, a large portion of the coaching staff and the suicide of Tyler Hilinski. Each week the Cougs continued to surprise me with a win. To be honest, I thought it would’ve been more realistic for Washington State to be 7-5.
There were a ton of fun moments during the 2018 season, but the one that stands out was when Ol’ Crimson finally made it to Pullman after nearly 15 years and 216 consecutive ESPN College Gameday shows. The display of Cougar pride was truly unreal. Thousands of people showed up for Gameday creating a sea of WSU flags. The day got even better with the Cougs beating Oregon in front of a sold out crowd at Martin Stadium.
These are the sort of seasons you live for as a Cougar football fan. The 2018 season far exceeded my expectations and I have a hard time believing that the 2019 season will be able to live up to this one. However, I felt this same way at the end of last season. If I have learned one thing watching WSU over the past few years is that the Cougs have a way of surprising you when all hope is lost. I don’t know if next season will be anything like this one but I can’t wait to find out.
See you in September! Go Cougs!
I have watched a lot of Cougar football in my life. I have seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect going into the 2018 College Football schedule. To put it simply, the Cougs have far exceeded my expectations. I could’ve never imagined that the Cougs would be 8-1 with three weeks left in the regular season.
Much of their success is because of their quarterback Gardner Minshew II, a graduate transfer who decided to go to Washington State instead of sitting on the bench at Alabama. At the beginning of the season he was unknown. However, his mustache and performance on the gridiron were quickly noticed by Coug fans and the media.
What originally started out as a silly idea to take a bunch of photos of Coug fans before the Cal vs. WSU game grew into something much larger. Ultimately, I saw it as an opportunity opportunity raise money for Hilinski’s Hope and help end the stigma around mental health. According to the CDC, suicide has gone up by more than 30 percent in about half of the States. It is also the second highest leading cause of death in people between the ages of 15-34 and the fourth highest leading cause of death in people between the ages of 45-64.
We need to change the stigma related to mental health in this country. I encourage you to have the tough conversations with your friends and family about this issue. This is the only way we will end the stigma towards mental health.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to friends and family about how you are feeling. You can also call the National Suicide Hotline by calling 1-800-273-TALK.
Thank you to everyone who got involved in this project and for your donations. We ultimately raised over $700 and I know I couldn’t do this without you.
The most dangerous place in the world for any photographer or filmmaker is a camera shop. If you're anything like me you've been there. You think to yourself, "I'm going to just stop in and look at modifiers." Next thing you find yourself looking at your bank account to justify the purchase you are in the process of making.
Coincidentally, this happened to me a few weeks ago. I had a shoot coming up and it was my first time working with a model and I wanted to figure out a way to get solid lighting. Instead I ended up buying a new octabox. This is a trap that I've fallen into far too many times. We romanticize gear and put projects off thinking that a certain camera or lens will take our work to another level. I've been shooting since I was 16 and I should know this by now, however I find myself in the same traps time and time again.
Recently I have begun to think about how as photographers, filmmakers and creatives we need to spend more time investing in things other than gear. At the end of the day, cameras, lenses, lights and editing equipment are tools that help us facilitate our vision and voice and the things that we are trying to say with our work. I think it is incredibly important that we keep this in perspective and focus on how we can get more out of the gear that we have.
At the end of the day gear doesn’t matter as much as the vision that you have as an artist. Gear just allows us to facilitate our ideas and bring them to life. If you don’t know what you are trying to say that fancy camera is just a nice paperweight.
I encourage you to set your camera down for a moment and really think about what you are trying to say as an artist or with that project that you have coming up. What do you hope to walk away with and what do you hope the final film or images to be like when you finish the project. By focusing our time and energy here we can begin to really create work that really matters.
I work way too much. I've only been at CreativeLive for a few months, but from the very beginning, it has required long hours. I knew that this job was going to require many nights and weekends to get the work done each week. This is easily one of the most demanding jobs that I've ever had, but it is one that truly has been an adventure day in and day out.
However, at some point, we need to take a step back and take a break. One of the biggest things that I have learned in the short time that I have been working at CreativeLive is that I am not a machine and can't work nonstop. At some point, my work, my health and the relationships I have will suffer. In some cases, you may find yourself burnt out and resenting the thing that made you creative in the first place. I've been here, it sucks and I wish it on no one.
A few months back I was invited to go on a Dual Bachelor/Bachelorette trip for my friends who are getting married. It seemed like a great chance to escape from the city and from work only if it were for a few days. It seemed like a fantastic opportunity to take a step away from work and go on an adventure.
In retrospect, it was exactly what I needed. It is far to easy to find ourselves overwhelmed by the things that we encounter in our everyday life. Each day can feel like the Bill Murray movie Groundhog's Day where we are just going through the motions and not taking a step back and really question what it is that we want out of this life.
I don't have an answer to what I want out of my life. I have ideas but things are always changing. For me, going out to the coast gave me the space needed to think about the things that I want to accomplish in the next few months.
In conclusion, give yourself the permission to step away from your work. It is okay to take a step back and question what you are doing with your work and what you hope to accomplish. I promise that you will be ready to kick ass and take names when you return to work.
Enjoy your weekend.
I really don't talk about my job very often. A little over 3 months ago I packed everything into my Subaru and made the move back to Seattle not knowing what I got myself into. I can say it has been a wild ride. I can't believe how much things have changed. Six months ago I was working as a Production Assistant. Today I am an editor cutting a Youtube show. The moral of the story is if you work hard and follow to your intuition you can achieve awesome things in this life.
Here is a recent thing I cut featuring Thomas Middleditch of Silicon Valley. I hope you enjoy it and I would love to hear your thoughts!
Before I started shooting motion I was shooting stills. I love the ability to create an image that moved people in new and unexpected ways. Somewhere along the way, I discovered video and the power that it had to engage with people. However, the amount of work to bring a film to life can be overwhelming. I have spent countless hours sitting in front of my computer trying to edit different films. At many times I have also found myself burnt out and exhausted. As an artist, I know that I have tortured myself to bring work to life. This is not healthy.
In a recent episode of Chase Jarvis Live, Todd Henry talked about the idea that we need to have secret projects that we are only doing for ourselves. The significance of these projects is that it gives us a creative outlet that is not associated with a paycheck. These projects give us space and freedom to explore, try new things and find inspiration. When we start doing things for money, we no longer have control. A good portion of the power is given to the client and it can become tough to balance artistic values while keeping them happy. Making things for yourself removes all of this.
Recently I have begun the shoot stills again. I have really enjoyed using it as an exercise to continue to train my eye and explore my own creativity in the process. I don't know if I will ever be a 'professional photographer', but I am enjoying the act of picking up my camera trying to make an image that speaks to me first.
Here are a few images I got last few weeks. I hope you like them.
During the summer of 2012, I decided to make a short documentary about my hometown fire department instead of taking an internship at an ad agency like many of my peers. I was excited to pick up my camera and share my perspective of the world that we live in. However, I soon found it more challenging than I expected.
I soon found myself super frustrated with the process of bringing this film to life. I had about 16 hours of footage that I needed to cut down into something that people would find entertaining and engaging. It took me weeks to edit this film and bring it to life. It wasn't long before I found myself cynical and frustrated with the process.
A few months had gone by and I was putting the finishing touches on the film and I found myself burned out and exhausted. I remember flying back to Richmond to finish my masters degree feeling extremely discouraged. This was something that I used to love and now I didn't want anything to do with it.
This has been something that I've had to deal with. Over the last several years I have had to find ways to motivate myself to pick up my camera and sit down in front of Adobe Premiere or After Effects and ultimately bring something to life.
It has not been easy. There were many times where I would much rather be doing something else instead of shooting or editing. I have found that there were many times where just the thought of making a film was crippling. I would try and do anything to avoid shooting and editing. As time passed, this feeling only got worse and it felt like I couldn't escape this feeling even though my entire career was predicated on making things.
Burnout is a very real thing and it doesn't get the attention it deserves. I have found it is incredibly toxic and incredibly dangerous for any creative person. It is far too easy to go from loving what you do to resenting it. I also find it super discouraging to see a creative person lose that excitement that helped them get where they are today. The most disheartening thing, in my opinion, is the have the desire to make stuff but feeling burned out and unmotivated. Seeing someone's creative voice be crushed is painful to watch. It sucks even more when it is your own creative voice.
It may seem like I'm rambling right now so let me just get to the point. If you are a creative person why did you start making stuff? What made you pick up a paintbrush or start playing the guitar. Why were you drawn to these things when you started? I think this is extremely important to think about, especially when things get hard. At some point, our creative endeavors and aspirations go from just a hobby and develop into something much more important. It is absolutely critical that we remember why we got into the game and find time to reflect on this because if the creative spark goes out it can be pretty hard to get it started again.
Living a creative life is a choice. It is something that requires discipline and is something that requires that you are comfortable with your own doubt. It is perfectly ok to question things at times. Many of the best creatives have been in this position. It is a messy process, but it's the only way that we can ultimately share our perspective and thoughts with people.
Take a moment to make something for yourself. It doesn't have to anything crazy. It doesn't have to be anything revolutionary or world changing. It's the process of just making work for ourselves that can restart the fire and remind us why we ultimately started making stuff in the beginning.
Start off 2018 by giving yourself the permission to be creative and dream again. I will promise you will be surprised where it takes you.
It's crazy to think that 2017 is coming to an end. It feels like yesterday that we were closing out 2016. If you're like me it has been a very busy year filled with plenty of highs and lows. However, as I look back and reflect on this year I can't do so without smiling at the same time.
I don't know about you, but 2017 was pretty fucking awesome. What started out as a pretty awful year quickly became one of the best years of my life. I feel like I have grown so much professionally and emotionally over the course of the year. I also feel that I've met some wonderful humans along the way.
However, what I really think made 2017 special was because I gave myself the permission to push my boundaries and try new things. I started the year out working a job that I was below my ability in LA and I recently moved to Seattle to take a job working for one of my creative heroes. I honestly can't wait to see the things that 2018 has in store.
I hope everybody has a safe and happy New Years. See you in 2018!
This is my first edit that I completed at CreativeLive. I'm really happy how it came together and how I was able to create a piece of work that people will hopefully find engaging and motivate them to make 2018 count. This is only the beginning. I'm looking forward to the other projects that I will be involved with.
More to come soon.
Over the last two days I've made the move from Los Angeles to Seattle. Needless to say, I had a lot of time to think about my experience in Los Angeles and why it was one of the best decisions I've made so far in my career.
Just over two years ago I was living in Seattle and working in commercial production. At the time I believed that there was a way to make a living and a career in the city I love. However, as time passed and I began to freelance my perspective began to change.
Now let me just state for the record that it is possible to make a career working in production in Seattle. I know many people who are currently doing it now including some of my biggest creative influences. I have never held the belief that good work is only restricted to places like New York and Los Angeles. If you have a great idea it can be made anywhere. All it comes down to is the people and how it is executed.
However, as I continued to work in Seattle I grew tired and frustrated with not being able to achieve the things that I wanted to do professionally. I was trying to network and create opportunities to grow my career. But after two years of little progress and limited opportunities I felt like I either had to do something different professionally or make the move to Los Angeles.
I agonized about the idea of moving to LA during the entire 2015 summer. I was terrified about taking the risk and ultimately putting myself in a position that was far outside of my comfort zone. I was afraid what my friends, family and peers would think of my decision. But most importantly, I was afraid of starting over. The thought of failure was overwhelming. However, at the end of the day I knew that if I didn't take the leap of faith and chase my dreams I would wake up one day and regretting it.
In retrospect, I feel that moving to LA was probably one of the best decisions that I could've made. I'm confident that I could've been successful without moving to LA. I probably could've found a way to grow my career without leaving the Pacific Northwest. However, I feel like making the move would give me the opportunity to work on different projects and gain experience that I would not find in Seattle.
Over the course of two years of living and working in LA I feel like I have grown to be a better media professional. I had the privilege to work on a variety of different shoots and work at some major post-production companies. But I feel like the most beneficial thing about my experience in LA was being surrounded by like minded individuals.
In the two years that I spent in LA this was probably the biggest lesson that I learned. It's never been easier to make content that engages with people in new and unexpected ways. It's easy to make great work with very limited equipment and share it online. However, the biggest thing that I've come to learn is that filmmaking is really a team effort. It takes a village of committed individuals to bring great work to life that people love. I feel that the people I've worked with have taught me so much about how to be a professional and make work that matters. It was really the moments in between where I learned the most about the business and how to be successful in my career.
In conclusion, I feel like moving to LA was one of the best things I could've done for my career. If I am ever approached by a college student asking if moving to LA is the right decision I would tell them that moving to LA will put them in a better position if they ever decide to move back to the PNW. Working in production can by grueling. The hours are long and the pay sucks. But if they are ok with these things (at least initially) they would benefit from it.
Who knows, maybe you will be one of the lucky ones who finds their name in lights. But one thing is for certain, it won't happen if you don't try.
Personally, I think you should go for it.
A couple of months ago photographer Andrei Duman approached me about editing a short film for Eizo Monitors. A few weeks earlier he went out to Moab National Park with cinematographers Mark Giles and Austin Droguet to capture the epic landscapes. The goal was to produce a short film showcasing Andrei and why he only uses Eizo Monitors while editing photos. I was thrilled at the opportunity to work with Andrei and the team to bring this film to life.
The biggest challenge of this film was finding the tone. When I received the media I didn't know where exactly I should start. Normally, I begin by editing an interview or voiceover to create the structure for the film. By doing this it helps me begin to think about the shots required to tell the story and how I might be able to shape it. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case so I had to think differently about how I was going to bring this project to life.
One of the first things that I started to do was try and figure out the music that would elevate the visuals that were shot. I knew that the song would also help shape the pacing of the edit and help me find the tone before receiving the voiceover at a later date. The biggest challenge with this was receiving multiple notes on what works best. There were a lot of different opinions on the rhythm and pacing of the edit and what was working best. However, after several late-night phone calls and edit sessions, we found something that really showcased Andrei's experience photographing Moab and why he uses Eizo Monitors.
Like all projects, this was a learning experience. I learned a lot about receiving notes from multiple people and how to work with them. As an editor, one of the biggest challenges of the job is trying to determine which notes should be listened to and which ones should be ignored at the moment. Everyone wants to have their say on a project. However, at the end of the day, it is the responsibility of the editor to determine which notes ultimately make the piece better. This is something that I am still learning and I think it is something that I am going to be learning throughout my career. As creative professionals, we spend a lot of time talking about the importance of the hard skills that anyone can learn. We don't spend enough time talking about the soft skills that are required to work with others and make great work. What I've been learning lately is it is critical that we develop theses skills just as much as the ability to use a camera or control an edit session.
I want to conclude this blog post by thanking Andrei Duman for giving me the opportunity to work on this project and bring it to life. I appreciated your thoughts and guidance in the direction. I also want to thank Mark Giles and Austin Droguet. Your encouragement through the editorial process really helped me understand your thoughts and vision for the film and how we could make something awesome. (Also, the footage was amazing! Some of the best looking images I have had a privilege of editing.)
Finally, to any aspiring editors, find projects like this one where you can get involved. The only way to get better at editing is to do the work. It's facing deadlines and creative challenges that you don't think you can overcome. However, it is the process of working past this restrictions that will truly make you great at your craft.
I have been a long time Adobe user. I absolutely love their products because they give me the ability to bring ideas to life and create work that connects with people. Adobe has recently announced the latest update to Premiere and there is a lot of features that I saw that I am excited about.
One of the big ones that stood out for me is the ability to have multiple projects open at the same time. In previous versions of Premiere you could only have one project open at a time. I am extremely excited about this update because it allows me to have multiple projects open at the same time and keep working instead of having to stop working on a project to focus on something else. It also reminds me of using Final Cut Pro 7 back in the day. When I was working on FCP it had the same capabilities. It is nice to finally see this within Adobe Premiere.
The other major update that I am extremely excited about is the update is the new collaboration tools within Adobe Premiere. In large postproduction facilities it is necessary to have a lot of people working on a project at any given time. In prior versions of Premiere it was hard for Assistants and Editors to be sharing work and updates on projects. In many circumstances postproduction facilities were using Avid because of the ability to have multiple people working on a project. I am extremely excited about this update, because it shows that Adobe is listening to the concerns of postproduction professions. It seems like they are trying to create a product that will solve problems for many editors and postproduction professionals.
In conclusion, from what I've seen Adobe is doing a great job of creating tools that address both the individual and professional markets. I am extremely excited to see where they take things, but I am more excited to see what people do with these products.
It has been a moment since I made one of these. However, I feel it is important to show that you don't need the fanciest of cameras and gear to make films and photos that connect with people. Fancy gear is nice to have but it is not necessary.
The biggest thing I've learned making films is it is really a mental exercise over everything. Gear just makes things easier and opens creative doors. But if you don't know how to tell a story it isn't going to help you much.
On this episode of Render Time I connected with VML Senior Art Director, Ryan Dowling. Ryan and I met back in 2013 when we were both attending the VCU Brandcenter. After graduating from the Brandcenter Ryan was an Art Director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky where he created work for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Hotels.com, Aspen Dental and others.
It was also great to hear Ryan's perspective on the work that he has been involved with and how technology will continue to influence things. I also really enjoyed hearing his opinions on where commercial production is headed and how it is impacting agencies like VML.
You can listen to Render Time here:
Learn more about Ryan here:
Learn more about VML here:
In this episode of Render Time I connect with copywriter Alex Frecon. During our conversation, Alex discusses how he got his start at working at Fallon in Minneapolis. Fallon is behind some of the biggest spots in the world including EDS Cat Herders, BMW Films and Holiday Inn Express.
Alex also discusses his side projects including rapping, producing music videos and traveling to North Korea to play the mens national team in hockey and how these projects have helped shaped his voice as a creative.
You can listen to my conversation with Alex here.
You can also learn more about Fallon here.