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Surf, Survival, and Life on the Road with Ben Moon

Lesson 110 from: The Chase Jarvis LIVE Show

Chase Jarvis

Surf, Survival, and Life on the Road with Ben Moon

Lesson 110 from: The Chase Jarvis LIVE Show

Chase Jarvis

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110. Surf, Survival, and Life on the Road with Ben Moon


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Lesson Info

Surf, Survival, and Life on the Road with Ben Moon

you. What is up? People of the Internet? Uh, what's going on? I hear some some noise in the background. Let's go, Teoh! Where is that coming from? That's weird. Hi, everybody. It's Chase. Welcome that Epsom to show is it really shows the Chase Service Life Show here. Creativelive I am very, very excited to share. Um, my guest with you today before we do just a little check in here on now we've got people coming in from all over the world. We're broadcasting on the new creative Life TV channel. That's creativelive dot com slash tv What? We're bringing live community performances and talks and things like this and to go beyond just helping you learn your creative endeavors. And now we're trying to entertain, inspire you at the same time. Um, so check that out. But, uh, amidst the pandemic, I wanted to just take a second and check in, um, hope that you and yours are safe and that you're following the guidelines that the CDC and all those folks are asking you to pay attention to local gove...

rnments. We have here in Seattle, obviously some of the first and hardest hit, um, and just want you to know that we're doing everything we can and creative live to bring you valuable information, entertainment, inspiration. And the guest today is going to deliver on that. Ah, big time. And there's it's a fun backstory. Uh, we can't wait to share with you. Um, but in an effort to introduce him properly, Um, a man Ben Moon is an adventure and lifestyle photographer. You know, probably that's my history as well. So you're going to see a lot of our connective tissue and overlap? Um, he turned director and filmmaker. Ah, a number of years ago. I I really got into his work starting in about 2015. Um, he brings amazing stories to life, and he's been featured, and I first started seeing his work in the Patagonia catalogue more than a decade ago on he's a renowned surfer, rock climber, adventurer, and, uh, storyteller, I guess, is the best way. Ah, a little bit of back story about bend for Introduce him. He has Ah, he's a survivor of cancer. And, um, there's, ah, new book that he has recently released, which we're going to talk a little bit about about his dog Denali it's the title of the book is Denali, Amanda Dog and the Friendship of a Lifetime and without going into too much detail. Um, Ben survived cancer, and then his dog, Denali, got cancer. And it's is an amazing story of how each of them helps one another to this process. So we're going to cover a lot of ground from photography and creativity, toe pursuing the dream that we all have with this one precious life And how Ben does that, Like few others I've ever no, nor watched from a distance. Um, we're gonna trot out the book on and try and entertain, inspire and connect with. You also feel free to ask questions. I'll do the best I can to answer them with Ben. But without further ado, please let me. Welcome to the show, Mr Ben Moon. Welcome, Ben. Thanks for being on. But thanks for having me. Um, it's Ah, yeah. Great to finally get the chat. Yeah, we were that we run on parallel paths for a long time. So super long time and the Pacific Northwest. I know that I'm born and raised in Seattle, and I know that you are in organ right now and have been for a long time. It was that your original like, are you O g organ or? Ah, we're out. Where's that? Where's home? I grew up in the Great Lakes in Michigan. Um, I moved out here 21 years ago. So, um, I've been here almost as long as I bet anywhere that counts counts. Well, I'm excited. Teoh, too share your story with the, um, worldwide creative community in the best way that we can. And one of the things that I often like to start off with. Part of my mission is to bring new people to light. But you've been We've been in the rather in the same industry for a long time. Your work is, you know, made its laps around the world, not just to your photography, but, um, as I mentioned the story that one of the films that you put out, I think you're the producer on the film. Um, with, uh, the knowledge that was the precursor to the book. But let's go back before that and give me a little bit of ah, life background, you know, starting off in Mrs Michigan and and early childhood Teoh to moving out toe Oregon So we can orient the world and provide a couple of new hits for the people who are familiar with your work. Yeah. I mean, I grew up in a small town in Michigan and, ah, you know, definitely, um I had no aspirations of being a adventure photographer. Anything any part of my life, that is. Now, um, you know, it was a ah, more of a nerdy kid. Um, the security guy that got picked on the playground kind of thing. Um, And in college, I started rowing crew. And, um, interestingly enough, that was my first experience with Pacific Northwest. Um, we were a smaller. I mean, we took a group of smaller guys like myself. I mean, I'm only I think I was maybe closer to 1 86 foot when I was running crew. And, um, we went out to nationals in that year that you never see. Washington crew won the one the nationals were in the four. Um, and so here we are, walking around much of small guys with all these, like, giant £210 beasts, You know, um, and it was so cool to see eat up when and against all the Ivy League schools and just there I just There's something about there's a big difference. I just saw something different and amongst that crew and then, you know, it was interesting. Like, you know, 15 years later, toe, um, read boys in the boat and kind of hear the back story of that crew and, you know, start toe having lived out in the Northwest for now 20 plus years, um, to see how why, that was why there was such a difference. And I really appreciate, you know, the Northwest and remember having a outside magazine Adventurer's guide to the Pacific Northwest or something like that being in Michigan and just all I could think about is like the mountains are bigger, the oceans bigger. I was climbing in a gym in college. That's what it kind of got first got the spark and the service. I quit rowing. I dropped like, £10 of muscle in my legs and was able to climb a lot better because the crew just gives you giant legs and everything. And so, um, I I got that bug hard. And so the first time I, you know, climb the at Smith Rocket just blew my mind. And, you know, visually that place is stunning. And I would say it, Smith and you know, the Sierra East Side, um really were the two places that sparked just ah, love for the visual, you know, like though the light and the light play and the seasons and how I remember a trip to Bishop. I had my first camera. I think I was working at the Nike climbing gym at the time and my manager it was his birthday. So he's like, You're not working, You're not teaching you a lesson. Two nights I was teaching climbing there. He's like, we're going to bishop. And we drove all night and showed up, and it was in March. And so the Sears were, you know, covered in snow the the White Mountains to the to the east or covered in snow and the light was something I'd never seen. And obviously, you know, Galadriel and many others, but inspired by the range of light. But those are some of the first photographs ever took that I was like, Well, there's something here but the first time I slapped one of those photos on my friend Brooke. Brooke Sandahl from Mottola's is his light table. Um, hey, he was like, Please don't take ever take a photo of iron venturers again because I've seen thousands of photos of that of that climb. Um, but it's such as, you know, it was such a low hanging fruit, and it was like, what sparked sparked me. So you man, so early? Early? Um, in no original connection to photography, it was actually the landscape in the light on what your friends were doing. How'd you get that first camera? What was the your you're following of that passion? Um, I had, like, a you sheikha t four. I was out of climbing trip. Ah, actually, I was helping Tony and Nero on old climbing legend teach climbing classes at climbing gym in Portland. And he invited me on a trip toe. The needles in the Sierra, Um, Southie, asem, ITI, and Jim Thornburg was the photographer on that shoot, and I remember watching him work. And I, um, ended up one of the photos that he took on that on that, um, trip. He was published in College magazine full page, and it was just so cool. The watching a photographer work and I love Jim's work. Still, because even always, show how the line goes all the way down to the Blair like there's a way of perspective that, like the vanishing point, falls away to the Blair at the ground and you see the entire out and there's a beauty and, like climbing in the line and, um, the movement. And so it's really inspired by that. And it was about, I think, around 2000 when a lot of newspapers are certain to dump their film gear and I got my first. Ah, was a Nikon and 90 s. Um bought it from like Pro Photo in Portland and was calling when my friends who knew a bit about photography and asking what to get And, um, I didn't I don't know why I bought that. It was like it was this weird intuition, and I mean intuitions led me into some crazy places in life. But, um, I bought that and went through bunch of challenging experiences, divorce and, you know, I was really young. I was 23 when I got married and, um, just, you know, photography kind of like helped draw me out of that experience. And, um, living in the Mottola's parking lot, Um, in the back of a Subaru wagon and getting a camper van. And then just I never planned to be a photographer. That was the thing just kind of happened. That's the best. That's the best stuff in life, though. And, you know, you mentioned intuition wanna go there for a second. But like this same, virtually the same thing is true from every great photographer that I know. So few were like hook, line and sinker earlier, the kid that grew up shooting that high school newspaper. I don't really know anybody who's story is that sort of story book. It's all Ah, Siris of random events for me. My grandfather died and he was a camera nerd and, you know, like the photo companies loved him because he bought all the new ship when it came out and he passed away the week or my college graduation, I suddenly was given all these cameras like, Oh, cool. Well, this was a sign from the universe and your story mine, and it seems like um, so many photographers and just ended up there and that, um, through either watching another photographers. I did. My grandfather is you Did you know some of the other greats that you mentioned him and Galen Rowell? So, like, clearly, you mentioned intuition and you know, you you don't know why you went and bought that And 90 But there was something any that was that was talking to you. And so rather than you know, why do we trust our intuition or all of the sort of a tactical questions? What did you hear? What? What did you feel? Why, you know how How did you know it was intuition? This is something I've been obsessed with, and I'm tryingto here from his many smart people as I can, like. What did it sound like when you you knew you had to buy a camera? You know, intuitions the funny thing, cause it's, um it's a lot of someone asked me the other day at a book reading. Um, it's stuck with me. It's like he's like So how how did this kid from a small town in Michigan community that lived off the grid end up where you are today. Like Like just tell me how that happened. And I was like, Well, it's a long series of a little light Going off are like seeing a door with just a little bit of light streaming through it. And the hinges might be rusty. And, you know, it's not like the door just like swinging open. And there's big bay doors just like being like, oh, birds singing. And that doesn't happen. No, you don't. You don't get this like invitation of like, you know, the big choir chorus, like singing your praises, telling to come in. It's like you see some little glimmer light and he just kind of keep going towards it. And it's It's a combination of that and, you know, seeing an opportunity and not saying no and allowing, um, we're just really just following that little guy, even though everything everything is fighting against you. Sometimes it doesn't make any sense, and it's just like it's just it wont wont let go and and it takes effort. You know you have toe, you have to go towards that and just keep following that and and it's a Siris of little, you know just little sparks that kind off eventually catch fire. But it's not something you can. It's not something you just ignore and it goes away. It'll burn out, you know, like the opportunities past all the time. And you just have to decide which ones that take, you know, and And I learned, you know, the hard way that saying no is also one of the most powerful things we can possibly do, you know? So really, it's like, I mean, it still happens every day. It was like when I made that film about my dog. I'm jolly. It was a lot of my mentors, and my most trusted Piers were telling me. But you know, you dog past, give it up like it's okay. Like, you know, there was a long, long road to make that film. We tried a few different edits and we tried, Um, we tried a lot of things and, you know, I finally I was like Something is making me want to share this. There's something and the only way to do it and tell my own stories. If it's universal and there's something that other people can really do, you and fast forward to like, you know, four or five years later, writing the book was a much deeper dive into that. And I mean, I never had especially the writer, either. But just there's something about that story and you could possibly help others. And I was like, If you can help one person and even, like, help one person go in and get checked out for colon cancer like it'll be worth it, you know? And so it's like and in that film was, you know, the first day was 5000 views. The second day was a 1,000, then outsides like I don't know. I have no idea how many views 20 million or something at this point. But ah, lot of people have been touched by that story, and and so it just it was this, Ah, affirmation that you know, intuition when it's when it's screaming, need better. Just listen, you know, I like that the characterization of it's like you're kind of like shucking and jiving a little bit. You hear something, you take a step towards it. It might not be the right thing, but you made you know, some forward progress and also the maybe rusty? No, no choir singing, no birds chirping. Um, and there's this process of learning to trust yourself. Have you, um, if if we looked through the lens of intuition is learning to trust yourself. Um, you cited the film as an example that the Is that your real first and most powerful, um, experience of learning to trust that voice? Or do you have you had other hints of it earlier in life? Um, we'll even yeah. Even going with getting the camera. Um I mean, you know, I had no idea where that would lead, You know, it just like it was back then. It was, you know, slide film, which was horribly unforgiving, you know? Here. 1/3 of a stop often. Oh, yeah, yeah. I mean, I love Velveeta. I mean, people. I still love the just the feel of some of those old films, but I learned from library books, and you didn't have youtuber, you know, a digital camera back there, and I phoned it. Give me feedback. And so it was just a lot of expensive mistakes. And but yet that that led this, You know, that weird little intuition sent made me send two sheets of slides to Patagonia, and I didn't know why Had nobody told me? Oh, you shouldn't do that. They're too big. I just did it one day and, you know, they I sent 40 slides in. They held for and and then the next summer, they published to you and it was on. A few of my friends were like, Oh, maybe you could do this as a career. And I just thought they were crazy at first. But it, you know, it was that little spark. And there's so money, Jimmy Chin and so many others have had that thing, Same thing where it's like, well, paid me for a photo like this is amazing. You're looking like you're gonna find out that I have one camera, this one lens, and I only took, like, 32 pictures last year to remember in the Patagonia. Kind of like, Yeah, so I think that was you know, nobody I raised like how did you do that? I was like, I just did it, you know, I've looked it up, and at the time, and all the catalogs had the email address to sudden things, there the address to send in submissions to you and, um, just back then it was old school. You know, she just slides. And, um, my van was my little Mobil's mobile like labs. I just, you know, print labels and scan the slides that sent in, and, ah, but it Yeah, that was like one of my first indications. I think career wise that, you know, it's like, just kind of take one step to another and, you know, there's another experience on I went to Kawai is my first time in the Hawaiian Islands. And, um you know, Patagonia was to send me a bunch of samples, and I I didn't have any. And so I But that trip was this weird thing. I was like, visually, that place was stunning to me and especially with, you know, those films were shooting back in the day. Um, I I knew I needed to make some content, so I ordered a bunch of clothes and, you know, underwater housing. I think I had in F 100 of the time and that camera died, had to buy another one, and I was going into debt, which at the time was heavy. You know, the first couple years of shooting or, you know, you're not making any money living off, like, 5 $10,000 a year. And, um, so going in, you know, 10 grand. And that was a big deal. But something about that trip, like I was like, I need to keep pushing. I need to create content. And if it fails, I'm done. And it you know how they're going to use those photos for a decade. You know what it paid off. Um, but so it's It's cooler. Like, look back on some of those things. And reading the book was writing. The book was and according experience. And like a lot of checks of unlike, well, that happened that was challenging. And that was one of worst experience of my life. But it brought this growth and especially right now I'm trying to remember that, You know, we're going through some wild times right now, but yeah, for sure. Um, own a circle back and talk a little bit more about some of the things you just mentioned the answer to that question, but since you brought it up, we're in crazy times right now. um, you know, there was 10 years where eight years, Rather where this was a live show. Then we took it off live because we wanted it. You know, three X, the output and used have a big in studio audience and the big production. And then we opted for volume. And now here we are back. I'm downstairs and right television studio down here, and I guess theater room. And, um, you hurt your on the ah, in your van. I think you're building a house. Um, was there? Ah. You know, here we are in strange times. Um, anything come to mind that is, You know, that is struck you, um, as particularly prescient right now, Like, what's, um what is this pandemic brought forward for you? Well, one thing I've learned over and over is, you know, positive change often comes at a cop, comes at a cost, and it also comes with some pain. And, you know, this is already economically and health wise. And, you know, the loss of life is it's very obvious what this is, cause it's just obviously starting this country. Um, but it's, you know, it's bring out the best in the worst in people, and that's what challenging experiences do. And you know, it's it's gonna be a ride, and, um, but it's already been really affirming toe. I just feel and see, you know, the first couple weeks or just, you know, pretty crushing anxiety. And, you know, just trying not to get on the, you know, stuck on the new cycles. And, um, now, you know, now I feel like there's there's hope, and people are bombing together and being innovative and resourceful. And, you know, I found that the most challenging experience it requires to dig the deepest within ourselves in Cosmo's introspection and reflection. And and I kind of liken it a little bit to the, you know, pruning fruit trees or what not, You know, it's like it. It feels awful, toe like cut these beautiful branches off a tree that's, you know, producing fruit. But when you do and you print it back, that what is very essential and we need the most. And here we are stuck at home. We can't go anywhere. What do we really need in life? You know, and for me right now, I miss hugs. I mean, only hugs I get right now for my dog. And so that's, you know, that's just so weird. Like, just, you know, foot bumper, elbow bump, put some, you know? Yeah, so far Cry from the good old hug. Yeah, Um, So in that context, my understanding is that you're actually you're building a home there in ah, in Oregon. And the background that we're looking at is the wall inside your van where you live in when you're building. That is that, um as the Covad changed that it all were made you more grateful. Scarier because of the economic investments. Jamaican or what? What's the net toll of your current focus, which seems to be built in the house? Yeah. I mean, it's well, the social isolation front. I mean, I've definitely him being a kid. That was, like, really shy, grown up and pretty sensitive individual. I tended to have my recharge time, and I need that for creativity and for just human and just for my own self. Um, just keep my band with health, you know, just I know my own limits. Um, but the irony is, is like, you know, Northwest winners. I tend to go inward and, like, tryto kind of take stock of everything and we just hit spring. And we're just kind of like the days, you know, we had a couple just gorgeous weeks. Amazing surf. Um, and I was just kind of feeling like I was coming out of that winter and ready to come out come out of the dan, you know? And then I felt like some somebody was hanging out outside my dad just being like, No, go back inside. It was like, No, I want some sunshine. Um, yeah, the economical, you know, obviously economic. It is scary. It's scary. Yeah, it's like, you know, you have three months of gig's canceled in a week. You know, you're just like, Oh, well, that's how do I be resourceful on how do I make this happen? And, um, but I it's been interesting because, you know, I've wrote most of the book sitting right room sitting in the van. I've got you know, it was a lot of that was just looking at it. Check in waves and writing, and then, you know, kind of doing this routine. You know, I feel really fortunate to live across street from the beach and, you know, in this time right now, it's still that nothing's really changed about that. I still walk and just stare at the ocean, cause that always resets me. Um, we're still I'm still making progress in the house. It's it's all framed and dried in and, you know, the roof sign. And so I figured, you know, if I have to stop right now for a minute, it's OK, you know, the vans comfortable. But, uh oh, we're gonna get through this, and it's like it's a where the thing about this is in our lifetimes. I mean any, unless you're over 75 experience World War Two like nobody and our we've never experienced anything like this globally, ever. You know, And so it's were all in this together and and that could bring some beautiful things. It's gonna be really challenging, but I think there's a lot of beauty to finding that to you. I love that perspective, and I think it's so different than a 9 11 or even the financial crisis of 2008. Like you said, there's been nothing like this since World War two or the you know the pandemic in 20 in 1918 where it truly is global, Everybody's impacted. We'll have toe play a role solution, um, and and show up for one another. I'm I'm hopeful it's held that there's more good coming out of this and we can see at the present moment is like you said, like people are dying and governments are struggling and economy's tanking. And there's so many things that it's easy to throw drove darts at. But you know, there's this. There's gotta be this silver lining. And so I'm constantly looking for that. Is there some, you know, for the folks you mentioned being scared. I think that's a really appropriate word. Um, just makes a ton of sense. I think a lot of people can identify with that and, um, that vulnerability that we all feel anything in particular that you're doing to stave that off. Um, like any, um, anything besides looking at the ocean? Because that is obviously some good medicine. What else? Anything else you're working on? Um, yeah. I mean, you know, from what I know about you is like, you're really interested in morning routines as well, and I think that's one thing that I've been really trying to be conscious of. Um, especially, you know, especially being having so much bad news or like heavy news, like, available to us right now. And, you know, I find that I trying to get on, you know, the news or Twitter early on in the morning and, you know, try not. They digest too much of that because it will descend, you know, down spin, but instead getting up. And, um, I I like the headspace up a lot, even if it's just a 10 minute meditation to, like, just take some deep breaths and clear my mind. It just really changes my entire day. And and then I find if I could just get moving cause it's like the anxiety can be paralyzing. You know, it can really it's a big it's it's really, you know, and someone who has Donald with anxiety, depression and my past. It's like it's I'm very aware of when it's when I feel it, like creeping in. And so it's like I I know I need that time to move my body, you know, get exercise, get out for a run, go for a surf if I can. I mean, right now it's a little bit more challenging with, you know, um, just all the lockdowns and stuff, but it's like trying to get outside and do the best they can, and and also, just call a friend. You know, like, if you're thinking of somebody, check in with them because they're probably need need to hear from you, so Oh, super good advice. Um, wanna give a shout out to a lot of folks coming in from our place. We got Kim and Victor and Hawkin and Jor Been and Frank and Geoff and Joan and from all different corners of the globe. So a lot of people giving you a shout out, um, specifically commenting on your film Denali. And, of course, your most recent book. So, Teoh, in order to honor the whole hose request that air coming in from all over the world, I want to shift gears. Say thanks for sharing what you're doing in these crazy times, but talk a little bit about awesome, amazing creative successes that you've had, um, first with, um, the film. And maybe you can chronicle a little bit about what That films about that short film that made the tours on all the festivals and then Segway from the film as basis for the book. Ah, and then Teoh writing a book I'm dying to hear You have to say about having just written a book myself in the fall. And if it was, anything like yours is so frickin hard for me just the discipline and the shifting gears and the, you know, working in a medium. But I'm not familiar with. So let's start off by taking us back toe. Um, you mentioned earlier, you know, doing the film about your dog Denali and, um, you surviving cancer and them him getting cancer. Can you walk us through it and why you made the film? Yeah, it is a lot of things in life. It didn't really start out as, um I mean, it's a fairly simple film, you know, there's not a lot off camera tricks and, you know, we had a water housing and that was about it. There's no drone photos. It's really simple footage. A lot of archival, but basically it started out there was a commercial project, really small little just fun video that was going to be made just kind of exploring. Initially, I was gonna explore my, um, love for the ocean and my love for climbing and kind of those that duality in, You know, I love the energy of being in a city, but I also love being alone in nature. And so we're kind of thinking about exploring that. And my friends Skip Armstrong, who had met, um, admit it, one of film festivals, and he just spend so kind. And, you know, I think I have photos up in that film. Festival was a smaller festival in Colorado five point. Um and I just remember seeing some of his films and seeing how emotionally moving they were. And we got to work together on Emancipator Music Video. That was my first directorial thing. And so when this little project came up, Denali was in his last kind of in his last. I knew he was. In his last days, um, he had stayed with me through relationship, and when that came to a close, I told him I was like, Man, it's it's okay, it's okay to go And and then, while we were filming that little commercial project Skip was like Then I think we should film strip this and the like you about you and your dog, because it, um it just feels like, you know, I see that bond between you and I just wanted, like, let's focus on that. And so he and my friend Page, um, we just film for a week on DWI had really great weather. Was like, Well, it's high pressures we get here in the in the winner. Um, and I had a little little talk with the knowledge. I was like, Hey, man, I know I said it was cool to go, but can you just stick around for this month and I mean, the crazy thing is he honored that almost the hour he just Yeah, he stuck around and he rallied. And he was tired, and I had to carry him during the filming, we were at Smith Rock. And here on the Oregon coast, where I live now. And, you know, we just we made the most of it in, um, and that footage, you know, it was like the week before he passed, and so it was really special toe. Have that, um, and you know, there's there, some failed edits and we tried to We had a submission already for festival, but it was too abstract. It was Wasn't personal enough. It was very just kind of rang hollow. Um, Then I realized, you know, it was I had to take responsibility for that because I wasn't ready to go there. And then I I spent three months trying to edit the footage and couldn't do it. Another friend tried. He was too close to my story, Couldn't do it. And then night, um, he had finished that film damnation for Patagonia, and he had worked on that for four years, so he kept saying, I'll I want to crack out and I want to crack at it. But I was like, You do you need a break? And so yeah, and so he got the hard drives and like it took, it was it was also like a long process for him to crack into it, too. But he had, um when he kind of locked locked in. And I remember sitting sitting, I was actually at south by with Jeff Johnson and my friend James Joyner, and we're doing a little book release the Patagonia store during South by or whatever, and Ben sent me a finally sent me an at it like I was have been waiting for so long and had nothing simulation weeks, months, months, creating six months. Probably like total they had. And, um, he's like, find a quiet place putting on headphones. And I was in a in a uber something and just like, um, remember, just like my phone was soaked within the first minute. I had just was, like, bawling. And I was like because I was expecting fully like I just like there's no way anyone could tell that story in a way that was going to convey my emotion and feeling for that dog because he'd been with me from age 39 you know, it was a very formative part of, you know, growing up and being, you know, just like coming into my creative self and also growing up in being a human being. You know, um, when I saw that first cut, I was like this heat. He unlocked something and showing it to Jeff and James. Later, they were just both fully and tears was like Whoa. There's something here that touched, touched a nerve. And it was really special that have that, um and then like that. Like I said before the first day I came out was just my friend sharing it. And then I woke up the next day to my phone exploding from out news outlets from all over the world. And even Oprah shared it later and, you know, just it's kind of off. It's been a wild ride, I guess, Um, and just really whatever realize with that is like when you could be vulnerable when you can share the hard stuff when you can, um, find a way to make your work relatable, it will. It will reach people. Um, and it wasn't like some major news outlet that broke it. It was like a bunch of smaller little blog's, you know, it was this, like there's people sharing it amongst themselves. Yeah, I remember. I got that first morning as well. Is that part of us being in the same community? And, um, it brought me back to mutual friends that we had that crossing paths and central organ. There's an actual sports photographer. I was, you know, down a bachelor and Bend and Smith and all those places a lot for a lot of commercial jobs. And I was vaguely familiar with your work. Then that just, like, brought it all back, you know? And it's like that that in the particular lies the universal right. You told very personal story about your own experience with cancer and then flipping the script through, um, then Ali's eyes. What? You know, you put that film out there. You said a couple of times you had a few ad. It's Is there something that changed in you that made it possible for you to go there? Or was it having another set of eyes and that other editor like, where did the possibility and the willingness to be vulnerable? Where did that come from? I think it was a little bit of both. I think it was just I I suddenly just realised that I had to go there like it was needed to you. You know, I couldn't hold back anymore. I don't honest remember that distinct moment, but I just remember telling, um, my friend Katie clings foreign. She's on who, like did the interview to like kind of get all the information for Bento, right? The narration for it. And I remember telling him and Katie both I was like my stories wide open. Just go wherever you need to you and you know, the first time some of the you know more humorous moments in the film are like some of the most personal at the same time to And, um, I learned that later on to you that, you know, I we kind of jokingly shared about having a cost me back in the in the film with a joke about, you know, having to pick up my dog's poop and put it in plastic bags or whatever, which is like a really genius way of telling that story. Um, but I had never really shared that with the greater public and remember sharing a post on instagram a couple years later, just I had lost a few friends, close friends, the colon cancer, and I mean, I think now I've lost a total of five friends that colon cancer and three or four of them about under the age of 40 and it's just like doctors consider that over 50 disease, and I was just, frankly, just kind of fed up. And I was like, I need to share something publicly about this. And I posted a shot of me, you know, with my shirt off that showed a show that I was wearing had a bag and just kind of more of a p s a being like, Hey, listen, like, if you have any of these symptoms, don't take no for an answer. Go to your doctor, you need to get checked out. And I was terrified to share that. Almost terrified is the film and it by far like exponentially. It was the most engaged photo I've ever shared. Like still this day, Um, and the amount of feedback I got from that and realizing that it's okay to be vulnerable, like it's really important to share things that air that you feel you need to share. And that really helped me finish the book, Teoh. I mean, it was like remembering all the friends I had lost to that disease and like realizing how much my dog helped me through those experiences like that made it a lot easier to, you know, tackle something that was, quite frankly, when was daunting. Experience is like, you know, writing writing is you don't get all the other tricks. You know? You don't get the pretty photos. You gotta just say it. Yeah, there's no hand waving right. You gotta, like, put it Words on paper is you're not going to be there to walk people through it, and you can't. You know, we have a pretty picture in front of someone's face. It's, um, pulling that thread a little bit. First of all, thanks again for sharing the I think that vulnerability there is is just such a powerful message. Um, that the best stuff in life is the stuff that is the scariest and is the It's also the stuff that brings us together and helps connect us in a way that we realize that we're all human. And we live in this world where we can put one image of on a bulletin board or a you know, conceptual digital bulletin board with our social feeds, and then we're feeling and experiencing something entirely different. And when you flip that script as you did with that post, um, it's just a great testament and a reminder that we are all human keep going on that thread about, you know, moving into the book. And I don't know how the story about that came to be relative from the short film that again, the film. I want to direct people to take a peek at it, Um, refinished the broadcast here. I think it's like 7.5 minutes long. Is that right? Like Pence? Yeah. 70 minutes. Yeah, and I just think the version it's on Vimeo was beautiful. And it's where I first saw it. I think when you busted it there, however, many, uh, five or six years ago now direct people Teoh, go check it out. If you type in Denali Ben Moon on video, it'll come up for sure. But what was the shifting gears from doing the short film that made its, you know, way around the world? As you said to translating it into a book? Um, I there's a distinct moment. Um, it's ironic. Like a couple of moments I remember most about sharing that film were on my back porch in Portland when I was living there, Um, are waking up to my phone exploding there with all the news outlets calling. But I also remember, after all, that was sort of dying down. I was a little bit at a loss of what toe where to go next. Cause they've been all this attention suddenly on my story, and I I it was frankly being, you know, really sensitive individual. Like it was it was overwhelming to have, you know, tens of thousands of messages coming in, um, everybody sharing their stories. And, um, a lot of you know, the sharks were circling, so to speak, like people wanted toe tap into that story and cash in on it, and I just didn't know what to do. And I talked to my friend Shannon. Um, asteroid. She's a producer. I worked with a lot now, and she worked with Jimmy Chin and, um, over the years, a lot. And a lot of my friends and, um, she's had been, you know, before you, like, offer to tell your story in another way. I highly suggest you put it down on paper yourself, like, just just and I just that stuck with me and, um but I had no idea really where to go with that. Um, and the only person I knew in the outdoor space who was a published author. You know, in any greater realm, was Jon Krakauer. Um, you know, we'd met at a Yeah, maybe. I mean, I remember used to this, like, digesting all his books, the end of thin air and into the wild And just, you know, back in the day, like those you know, when I was getting to climbing, those were huge influences. I mean, um, he was kind enough to, you know, chat with me for an hour and just like, um, kind of that. Hey, you know, if you have any inkling of writing, now is a good time. And, um, he sent me to his editor who was also better of outside and Men's Journal for a long time. Mark, Brian and Mark took me under his wing and help me find is, you know, the representation and help me find just find my voice. And he I hired him to help me walk through the proposal process. And, um, Tommy Caldwell had the same book agent, and he like helped, you know, showed me what he had done for his proposal for the dawn wall book. push. Um, and really those. You know, John and Mark both just helped me immensely. And then obviously, um, once, once the proposal was done, which took about a year and 1/2 like toe finish that, um, you know, we had to do all the pitch calls and everything. I remember talking to my editor that I have now Patrick Nolan from Penguin, and he just he was really interested in my story. Ah, lot of people want me to spin it into another cute dog book. You know, they wanted in Vinales Voice. And I'm just like I had no desire to write up, you know, have been done. Well, you know, a risky proposition to speak for Doug. Yeah. I mean, it's done. It's hard racing in the rain. Or like Marley and me. There's been a lot of, like, e books like that. But there novels, you know, they're not. It's not like a real book. And I was like, and only one Anyway, I want to do this. If I can get real with my story and talk about things that really important to me. And I'm so grateful for that Patrick was people he wanted the real stuff, you know, and and so that, you know, book reading is a team. You know, there's there some people involved in, um, my friend Alexis, who had done a story on about her dog and battling mental illness and stuff like she ended up being kind of my interim editor. Um, and it was great to have someone that I could kind of being the trenches with and help get through the tough sections and have someone to bounce ideas off of that. I was just like, Is this too personal? It's It's going too far, like how do I get through this? And so it was. It was a four year journey to get the book, you know, done. And so it wasn't like, you know, it's a It's a brief free, you know? I think the audiobook when I read it took about seven hours. So it's not like a massive book, but the amount of time it took to put that all together was, um it was only present in my mind for four years, so it feels really cathartic to finally have it out in the world. Well, it's stunning book and again for anyone who has not had it. I've already student to the film. But, you know, Denali, Amanda dog and the friendship of a lifetime obviously available anywhere. Books are sold Amazon. Um and, you know, being in the the world that we're in right now get met. Kindle delivered right to your Elektronik doorstep fuels. You know, that's always an option just to retrace a step here. It sounds you mentioned several people that writing a book is ah, team sport. You know, I think that about every aspect of my career Onda how important community has been. Um, But in your words, what? What has role has mentorship played in your ability. And how did you seek those men? Knows mentors and is there. Do you have any advice for how others might seek them for themselves? I You know, I What I've found is that, um well, there's a counter and anchor said once I mean, um, you know, you don't find your mentors, they find you and, um, really one of the first mentors I had I mean, at a few. I mean, my friend Brooke at Patagonia at Mongolia's, um, where when I was working there and living in the parking lot. Um, he kind of saw something in me, but also it was, you know, Jana Patagonia mean she teach even dancy vermin. She's responsible for so many people's careers, you know, to see and something in the rough, rough, rough edges of what I was doing, you know, and just, um, encouraging that and just gently encouraging that. And she's still one of my dearest friends. And, I mean, she was a photo editor for 30 plus years of Patagonia. I haven't talked in a while. The next time you see her, please say hi. She's a little days experience, man. Yeah, she's holed up in Northern California on her property. She's got a great scene going on there. Um, but yeah. And you know, I also think back to even climbing, you know, um, speaking of Conrad, I was on a trip. I was just working into gear shop in Michigan, this little outdoor store and near the beach called Air sedge. Um, where I first kind of saw, You know, I caught my first waves in that zone. And, um, but I'm aroused like, uh, whatever dealer camp trip to the Red River Gorge and Conrad was there and I was just losing my mind cause, you know, he was one of my heroes, and I had photo posters of him up in my little apartment And, um, he just was really encouraging and help me get, you know, push my limits and climbing. And and then later, couple years later, my friend Sonny Trotter, who's a better clear for Patagonia for a long time I met him when he was like, 19 years old, and I was literally in the Smith Rock Campground reading. Ah, how do she climbing photos book by Jeff AKI. And so we're kind of just both crumbs just figuring it out. And I had my camera and I was just just trying to learn how to use it. And, um, But I was on a climb during that trip and and I was breaking and I was like a 1st 5 13 or something, and I was on and on top rope, and I remember him offering one little word of encouragement, and in it I was going through, like all the challenging times back then with just life life changes, and it was having having that little gentle nudge and, you know, like like going back to Jane like, you know, just her being like, Hey, like, you know, I really love that photo. You center, there's there's little kind words that you don't realize how much of a ripple effect those they're gonna have on someone's life. And so, um, I try to remember that every time someone writes or you ask the question just to take a little bit of time, just five minutes gonna really help someone get through something. And so um yeah, that's mentorship, man. It's like it come in so many forms. And a lot of times, we either it takes us some time to realize that were being mentors or that we're in a position to offer that word that you mentioned. And it's like if we could just raise the awareness of that, that is the thing that you know. It's squashed many a career, and it's kept so many people to continue whatever during their on and give him a little bit of energy and encouragement to keep moving forward. Um, it's clear that that mentorship played you just in that five minutes, talked about, you know, climbing and photography and writing the book and submitting photos. And, um, is there is there a way that you have found that you could be particularly effective? You personally as a mentor to others? I mean, aside from writing a book and doing, you know, creating art, your films and what not, um, anything for people who are, like, unlikely mentors themselves. What advice would you give? Um, you know, I think looking at, you know, the generations that have are still inspiring me and I'm on the Sony team and a lot. They gather a lot of people together, Um, that these events every year and it's been interesting toe look up to the older, you know, uh, kind of photo legends David Burnett and guys like that. And one thing that's just like, um especially David. He's just, you know, the guy was shooting photos of Bob Marley back in the seventies, and you know, some of these iconic like press photos and he's like a little kid. He's so curious. And and I think what he just takes the time to listen and chat and be curiosity and the ability to listen. I feel like, um and not just having that ego barrier that it's so easy to put up. Or just like, Oh, I don't want to Like I've moved past that phase in my life. I don't want to, like, remember that it's important to just we're all learning. Or, you know, if you if you stop growing and you think you've made it like you're to follow, is gonna be precipitous, you know, like it's it's, um it's the best thing to do is to constantly reinvent and, you know, you know, you and I have gone through it in our careers, like we've seen it shift from, you know, film, the digital toe motion to social media like and a lot of people are like, I don't want to change and they just drop off. You know, you need to figure out ways of pushing yourself and reinventing yourself. And remember that you know, someone asking you a question, you know, like being kind and answering and listening to them is gonna change their lives and could really make a difference. And they could end up being your mentor Sunday, So don't blow him off you. That's right. You never know what hit the diable turn. Um, and it's, I think that's so true. There's the kindness on underscore that point that something that rings really, really true for me, even if you don't have time to help someone being kind and giving them a very simple, kind word like that one word that you got from somebody on a climbing wall with your 1st 5 13 Like, you know, whether that person knows that or not, that was clearly super impactful. Um, it would probably be an understatement to say another thing that has had a huge impact on your life is, um, surviving cancer. I'm wondering if you can, you know, walk us through some of the your experience there and how it changed and maybe provided guidance or hurdles or what effect it had on you. Um, I think it was both physically and emotionally and creatively. I mean, I was all those things and I realized, you know, it's kind of I was in my late twenties, you know, you know, climbing hard and just focusing on, you know, for all intensive purposes, pretty selfish pursuits. You know, this is my career was just getting going. You know, I was enjoying life on the road, Um and, you know, suddenly having that physical ability stripped away where you you know, he didn't know if you're gonna make it through the week or, you know, if this disease, we're gonna take me It was a riel real shift to have that happen, and then but it also it made me realize, you know, when you're stripped of all your physical abilities, what really matters is, you know, the people we care about, Um, those that were connected to those you love and, you know, a little word or kind. Just even a kind thought can make all the difference. And, um, in my work, it was like I was focused, more enamored with, you know, the athletic accomplishments and the, you know, the more you know, bigger climbs, higher grades, you know, bigger waves. All those things that were I just wanted to, like, keep pushing myself visually, you know, kind of the red bull mindset, whatever, but I It really made me realize when I couldn't my work for that year because on chemo and radiation, I just had no creative mojo at all. I was just flattened. Um, it started shifting me into wanting to shoot other things and really interested me in, like, human emotion in connection and storytelling. And, um, I mean, that impact, like, has been profound. You know, it didn't happen immediately. It shifted my work from being the fly on the wall to being okay with shooting portraiture. And like, you know, you have a face project where I just kind of do up close black and white portrait with people with the same lens, similar quality of light. And I realized that there could be just as much challenge in shooting that photo as there would be. And, you know, being up on l copper, you know, out in huge ways, shooting, you know, with an athlete, I realize that that vulnerability in that moment of connection was just super profound. Um, yeah, it had mean had ramifications somebody, entire life. And it's like I realize I feel like I'm trying. Remember that in this time to you, it's like that. That was the most single handedly one of us it challenging experiences of my life. But yet it had the most positive change come from it and You know, I'm just glad I'm still here and trying Appreciate every day. So I've got Anita and Kim and there's not a dry eye in the comments right now. Um, over your story. You're sharing right now. And some folks have stuck often watched the Denali film and, um, Christine Scott Kim Nano. Just, um, giving a shout out from all over the world. Liz says she appreciates us and sharing the story been, um, you I think it's It's, um just that thing you said They're like, You're grateful that you're here and there is something that's so profound. How do we live in it's It's in these moments where were tested the huge moments, whether it's cove it and the sort of the huge negative fallout, not just the the economic, but lives are literally being lost than for you, for example, with battling cancer and, um, and living with your dog who also passed from cancer. Um, you know what? It's obvious in those moments that we are able to like take stock. And I'm wondering, though, is there are there aspects of the things that we should be doing or can be paying attention to that we don't require these sledgehammers that some come crashing through our worlds. Um, do you have any any advice for how have that attitude or that lens on life on a day to day basis? Yeah, I've been thinking about that a lot. This winner before all this, um, new. These new challenges came about, um, you know this writing a book at the same time I was building my first home, Um, was too. We're two very giant projects to take, you know, they both seemed impossible, Um, and learning how to take those one day at a time. But in the midst of all that overwhelmed and just like, things were going well, you know, I had a book deal. I was building a house like that is our great things, like, you know, and like, really life life goals. But I was feeling just crushed by the anxiety and overwhelm of like, you know, can I do this like the doubts and the fears? Um, and the one thing that really sustained me through that just to focus on, um, just focusing on the what I could control, which is a being grateful for what I had You know what I got in each moment and you know, it's you know, there's ways of doing that, whether it's just journaling or meditation or just, you know, taking a few deep breaths and thinking about the people he appreciate that day or those that have done something for you are a moment in that day where that really that one positive moment in your day, if you can just focus on that feeling, um, somebody told me or somebody quoted trying to think of it was made Pete McBride or somebody said in one of his post recently, That was like, Um, worry is praying for the wrong things that happened, you know, like you don't want to focus on, um, the negative. You know, you want to try to focus on what you can control and the people you can be kind too, and people you can love. And so, man, um, well, what's next time? What you get left on the house there? Ah, all the inside of the way. A lot of stuff you don't see also, if you cover up. So, um yeah, it's I I built the place, you know, it's I've lived in a lot of smaller houses, and I built it is a place that kind of be a creative hub. I have a studio and a ah place to share, and, you know, there's a lot of people traveling through this area. It's a really popular beach destination. And, um, I just wanted it to be a place I give back in a place I could uniform, community and, like, you know, have a lot of my friends write music and like to have a meal. Come here and, you know, right now when we're like right, you know the read a book or whatever. I just wanted to provide that space for people to come and just foster creativity and community, and it's really special already. See that happening, even this, like it's a place for people to stop by, you know, and a lot of people of that I know from the North Shore compared to Hawaii, how it's like I smaller, you know, there's just like a smaller community here, so people feel OK just popping in. Where is when I was in the city? You know? You know, you always wanted me to this. You know a show are, you know, go for drinks or whatever. And it's just like it kind of becomes, like, less of, ah, intimate moment where, as like, you know, Vienna will have people come out here and go for a wander and see the beauty that is this this area, like the conversations like the depth of them is just It's really special. So, um, amazing Amazing to be able to provide that, um so next is presumably finishing the house. Um, is there next? Next? Do you have something creative beyond the drywall? And they did furnishing that. I know. Going to house having, uh, you know, it's like it's like I'm trying to really lean into the beauty of, like, not knowing what's next. You know, I've been working a lot with this, um, electric vehicle company called Vivian That, um, is kind of launching this. They communicate this one, you know, more into the public eye this past year with a lot of things, but there they're really incredible company to work with their wanting to create positive change and do a lot of storytelling. And so they brought me on as a as a creative and as an ambassador this past year. And so there's a lot off, kind of fun stuff in the works with them. And then I'm really excited about Jeff Johnson, the writer and star of one of the South and now director and photographer. He used to be the staff photographer. Patagonia lived in the lower shore. He directed a little piece for them about my story. I think that comes out really soon. Um, and so there's just a lot off. It's, I don't know. I just I love having a little bit of a moment to take a breast. Obviously, this is you know, I'm tryingto appreciate that right now in these times that that this quiet time is really valuable and, you know, So, um, I'm excited for what's next. I just want to tell me why people always ask me, like what your business plan? Wow, Do you get to where you are? It's like I just want to work with people that inspire me. People lift me up and tell great stories, you know, it's like it's I don't I don't always know what those are. It's always just you kind of got have somebody like to you up, you go towards it. So that's amazing advice. And there's this. There's some concept out there that may be, culturally, we've planted the seed or that you have some master plan. It's only when you have the master plan that you start sort of walking to it. And I don't know anyone who's really had that plan or if they have had a plan, and that plan hasn't changed a lot. But all of it started with just walking in that direction. You know that the you know where the path he said. I talked about in creative calling as this calling like, You don't know what it is, but you're just know which direction it's coming from. And if you start walking that direction, I also really appreciate the, um, finding a little Solis in this crazy world moment where, um, you know what's what is the, um it's so much tragedy. What is the upside of, um, off? You know, simplification of maybe not necessary isolation. I'm tryingto invoke the concept of, you know, physical distance but social connection like there's so many ways to think about the upside in a world where we're constantly being bombarded. The downside. So thank you for saying that and for sharing, Um, again, Just a reminder. We've got people listening from all over the world, uh, you know, shouting out Dana and Sean and Kim. Um, Liz, just saying thank you so much for sharing your story. Um, they just have one last question, and it's a simple one, but I'm hoping to learn a little bit more about how you view, um, your past Would you change anything you've been? You've shared a bunch of, like, both got wrenching and heartwarming stories. Um, you saddled with any regrets Are what advice would you have for looking at your past and how it relates to your future? I mean, if I could tell anything to my younger self, I just feel like, Don't don't worry so much about what everybody else thinks like, you know, try toe. Um, just just not Don't sweat the small stuff and and look at the big picture. It's so easy to get caught up in the the Why me challenge, you know of challenges and this Remember that. Just the focus on the good in the things you can control. I mean and And I'm my personality is I mean, we could That's a whole nother topic, but it's like I'm definitely enter thinker. I, like, think about things endlessly And, you know, when someone like how did the world is just how in the world you just come up with this idea of this, you know, make this happen. It's like, Well, you I think about stuff a lot inside and I can can overthink things. But when they're gonna have to remind myself is that you know you a master plan is open for interpretation. I mean, my best photographs. My best films have always been when things take a twist. Um, you're shooting one direction and he turned around and there's the light is so much better behind you or you just listen to the person you're working with and they're like, What about this idea? And so I, like, try to make a plan, but then also leave like I like to have an outline and then leave room for that like those moments where you can take those little side roads of side passed a little side trips that really lead you to the beauty in life. And so I think it's it's good. Remember that, you know, take the lead, but know that it's not gonna always be clear right away and just just trust it. The little voices and those little sparks like that. They'll lead somewhere good and so don't over plan. I mean, I definitely have that. You know, those tendencies in It's so easy to want to know what's gonna happen. But moments like this in our lives, we just remember that we really any illusion of control we have is just that It's an illusion. So, yeah, I don't know a lot of people that were planning on a global pandemic. It's like, How do you even conceptualize that that you know, when you're in all of the doomsday planning or for your business, or if you're a career entrepreneur, you can solve for so many things. And I don't know, a bunch of people that had a big contingency plan for something so know where we are, you know, vulnerable life is fragile, but thank you so much for sharing your story, and in particular because I guess of his recency just came out. Um ah, handful of weeks ago. Your new book finale, Amanda Dog and friendship of a lifetime. But the best place for people that follow you on the Internet. I'm guessing you're at Ben Moon. But where else would just your people, Ben? Um, yeah, on instagram, um, at Ben Underscore Moon Twitter. But moon, um and ah, my website spending dot com and feel Frieda, you hit me up. Um, you're gonna have a lot of people want to stay at your pants. Yeah. You know, it is a commune out there, and you're bad in Oregon pretty soon. Here, Uh, love it. So, yeah. Come say hi. Um, yeah. I just Thank you so much, Chase. It's great toe Have this conversation and thanks for going the going to the deeper places that matter. So that's that's where I appreciate you and your work. And again, we've been in the same circle for a long time. I got a lot of respect for you And what you what you've done and thanks for sharing that with, Ah, a lot of people on the internet that could be vulnerable. But you've just adding a lot of value, giving us all a lot of a lot to think about. And, um, you know, my my heart and my gratitude is 11 out of a 10. And thanks so much for being on the show. Men are really, really genuine. Appreciate it. Keep doing what you're doing. Thanks, Chase. Likewise. Thanks for sharing these stories that matter in these times, So appreciate it. Happy to do it. But thanks again. And those folks at home thanks again for Ah, tune. And please give Ben a shadow. Go check out his film. Denali, of course. Pick up the book. Both are stunners. The film will and take seven minutes. I'll maybe see if I can get permission from Ben to share that, um, on the creative life TV, which is, um, if you're just tuning and now at creativelive dot com slash tv were ringing live broadcast from people in our community all over the world. You know, I'm sitting down here in my basement. Ben is in his van on the Oregon coast. We've got musical performances. We've got spoken word poetry, have got cooking stuff all coming along to try and not just teach you as we do. Incredible I but also to inspire and entertaining with what's going on in this crazy coverted era. So signing off. Thanks so much for being a part of the show. Thanks again, Ben and way will see you next.

Ratings and Reviews

Dream Focus Studio

By far the best classes on Creative Live!! Thanks Chase Jarvis for bringing so much greatness to the table for discussion! Just LOVE it!

René Vidal

@ChaseJarvis - love chat with Gabby about hope and the "relentless optimism" you share at the end of Creative Calling. Many thanks. -- René Vidal McKendree Tennis


Excellent interview with thoughtful questions. Thanks!!

Student Work