JLS 231 Feature Story


Twelve passengers with cameras blazing, fly down the Colorado River in a 16’ party boat. Although this has the appearance of just another spring break style trip it is anything but. The Tourists are not just capturing blurry snap shots of the fast moving water; but HD video of it, sharp still images and live blogging about the whole thing via 3G Internet service. This eclectic group of photographers, videographers, models, musicians and other creative types is a part of something bigger; they are, according to the mission statement on their website, collaboratively driving the cutting-edge of new media convergence. Pushing themselves and the artistic community to greater creative heights, while improving and sustaining their craft. This is The Visual Collective, a creative consortium, and they are constantly producing lots of great multimedia content for an eager Internet audience. Hit the link to read more…

            Founded in the spring of 2011, by a long time friend of this blog, Matt Beaty of Vault Photography,matt The Visual Collective is a group open to anyone who wants to participate. In his words, “I was inspired by a video done by a commercial photographer I really admire, Chase Jarvis.” Beaty continued, “Basically, he got a bunch of friends together and went on a road trip with two goals: have fun, and create awesome photos.” Which is exactly what The Visual Collective has been doing at least once per month since it’s inception.

            This group has been doing a lot more than producing sharp commercial and documentary style photos though; the video content being produced is of very professional quality as evidenced by this trailer.

Not to mention the fact that being surrounded by a group of creative people for an immersive weekend is a great way to learn more about your medium or one you may not know much about. Everything they produce is online within days of the groups return to civilization, and thanks to innovations like mobile 3G Internet access and Internet hotspots at most gas stations and restaurants, there is no need to wait to get home, much of their content is uploaded to one or more of their many web presences while still out on the road.

            Just as the Internet has changed the way traditional journalists operate, so too has it affected the world of media artists. Part of The Visual Collective’s mission statement describes driving the cutting edge of new-media convergence. This is a term that is increasingly thrown around in creative and journalistic circles and it can be kind of ambiguous in meaning. Andrew Paffrath, of Lantern City Media, andrewa co-founder of the collective believes, “in the context of this group it is defined by the forward thinking ambitions of media artists just entering the field. We’re existing in a climate where media in its simplest form can be captured and published by virtually anyone with a computer, cell phone or Internet connection. For these new professionals, driving that edge is about producing amalgamated content that is of notable quality and creatively developed, produced and marketed for an audience ready to consume that content.”  In short this group is young, creative and motivated. They are the generation that is the cutting edge of technology and by harnessing the new distribution power of the Internet, have gained a major following. “Right now, all of our content is delivered online. We have a Twitter account , Facebook page, blog, website, YouTube, the list seems to go on forever.” In order to reach the people you have to go where they are, and today, most are online.

            On one recent trip to Zion National Park, the collective members hiked, climbed and scrambled their way to the top of Angels Landing, one our national park systems crown jewels. Angels landing is a 2.5-mile hike from the Virgin River to a lookout 1,400 feet above the canyon floor. The trail is steep, has strenuous switchbacks and sheer dropoffs with only chains bolted into the rock wall between you and certain death. There are many signs along the way that point out this fact.


The group has also traveled to Death Valley, Calif. where they toured the stark and baron salt flats for a quick fashion shoot.


“One of the things I love about it all is that the social environment of like-minded creative breeds creativity like no other environment I know of. Putting people together with shared passions means that we all step up our game. There’s a little bit of a competitive aspect, but in a very friendly and supportive way. There’s no pressure to perform like on a paid job with big clients – everything is fueled by the desire to learn, create, and have fun.” This is one of the biggest goals of the collective, to teach others and have fun. Zion participant, Katie Rickert katie, describes why she participated with the group on the last outing, “I just really loved the ideas and thoughts behind TVC, and really enjoyed the people who were apart of TVC. I am a novice when it comes to photography, but I believe I learn better while watching others, absorbing what they are doing. Plus I love the opportunity to make new friends, most of whom I would never have met if it weren’t for the adventures.”

Even if you are not the most adventurous person in the world, and your idea of a good weekend has more to do with a fancy spa treatment, and very little to do with hiking 1,400 foot cliffs and camping out in the wilderness; you can participate with The visual Collective. Starting soon the group will be offering day-trip creative workshops to anyone interested. Heading to a location around Northern Arizona with lights and models in tow; location lighting, posing and how to run a photographic production will be covered. If that’s not up your alley, consider getting to tour a beautiful area of the country for an afternoon and learn something about basic camera operations.

            The Visual Collective, and many independent artists doing similar things are on the cutting-edge of changing and evolving media. Just like print journalism, some have resisted the Internet and digital age; however, for the foreseeable future it is here to stay; and those who understand it and use it to it’s fullest will succeed, the others will be left on the dust.

zion group

all photos and video courtesy of The Visual Collective ©2011


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