We had the good fortune of connecting with Gabriel Jacobson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gabriel, how do you think about risk?
Risks are a funny topic, because I’m beginning to realize that everything is a risk to one end or another. I think we take far more risks than we realize. For instance, as much as putting yourself out there and swinging for the fences may be a perceived risk, holding back and playing it safe may be far more of a risk in the end. I’m making peace with the fact that essentially every decision is a risk, and I’m okay with that. The more and more I get to know myself and am comfortable with who I am, the easier it is to make snap decisions and know what risks are absolutely worth taking. I think I’ve gotten less and less stuck in my head, and more okay with greater “perceived risk” if it’s in line with who I am, and the way I’m supposed to be going. I think another pertinent example of risk I’ve been processing is my style artistically and visually. It’s really gritty, and it’s not necessarily marketable to everyone. I think I could be far more commercially “successful” if I had chosen to pursue a much more palatable and less niche visual style for the majority of my work. But I’m glad I haven’t, because no matter how “successful” or “unsuccessful” I might be to date, I am really proud of my body of work, and it is absolutely distinct and unique to the way I see the world. Developing your own visual language and style is critical for any creative, and it’s one of the greatest risks you can take. You will lose work. You will miss opportunities. You will be the wrong creative for certain projects. But I think the trade-off pales in comparison to finding your voice and the clarity that comes with that. Your voice (you the reader) is so important, and the world desperately needs it. I implore you to take the risk, and find your own voice. I don’t mean to speak as someone who’s arrived in any way, but choosing to take the risks I’ve taken has been formative, and the clarity I’ve felt this year in the midst of all the chaos has been oddly refreshing.
Please tell us more about your career. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I am a cinematographer and video creator. My most common roles within that field are as Director of Photography and Editor. I’ve been working in the video field for 6 years, the last 5 of that I’ve been the owner and operator of Storyteller Creative. I think it’s hard to self critique sometimes, and really to tell you what sets me apart from the next DP or editor, or what could set Storyteller apart from the next production company. But what I can say is that the projects I produce are just different. I think the way I interpret things visually is special, I don’t know what it is in particular, but I capture things differently than others might. I don’t want to sound vein or arrogant, but I really do think I just see the world a little bit different. I think another thing that sets me apart is the way I light. I don’t have any formal training or film school experience so my lighting has evolved pretty unconventionally and based primarily in feeling and utilizing practical light sources and available light. I think in some ways that’s been a hurdle and a set back, but in other ways it’s caused me to be extremely instinctual, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I think many of the instinctual habits I’ve developed come out of a lack of formal training, and a lack of resources starting out, but they have become a trademark of sorts in the way I approach lighting a room, or getting a shot. I think the biggest lesson and hurdle I’ve had personally has been knowing who I am, and what I have to say as an artist. I’m still not quite sure I know, but I have more bits and pieces than ever before. The hardest critique I’ve ever gotten is “that looks beautiful, but I felt nothing.” That’ll shatter you to your core. The only reason I do this is to connect with other humans, and I think that innately requires connection to yourself and what you’re communicating. It’s really easy to get lost in making prettier, more perfect images, but those really are worthless without an emotional, spiritual, human fabric woven throughout them. If there’s one thing I’d want the world to know about my story it’s that the work that you do to be in touch with yourself and who you is not in vein. I hear a lot of people talk about mastering craft, or honing skill, but I don’t hear as many people talk about the hard work of being in touch with yourself and why you exist. I think as a storyteller by trade the most important story you have to know is your own. It’s not only a great exercise for your own growth, but an integral one to succeed in creating meaningful things that connect with others.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oooooh. This is a good question. I feel like forgoing all the typical tourist attractions (garden of the gods, pikes peak, mountains, nature, that’s why you’re in Colorado). I would say our first pit stop is Loyal Coffee, then we’d probably do a slice at Slice420, and a cocktail at Wyeline. I don’t know if everyone’s idea of a good time is getting tattooed, but I’d say if you’re in the market for a keepsake you can take with you forever, then we’re heading to see my good friend Fred at Self Made Tattoo. Everybody at his shop so talented and friendly and I’m weird and just like to hang out at tattoo shops. Next up would have to be post tattoo lunch- which I think calls for burgers, preferably from the Skirted Heifer or sushi from the Roc n Roe truck. In the mix for the remainder of our time would definitely be Mark Anthonys Pretzels (unmissable), drinks at Lee Spirits, probably distillery 291, a trip to the Lincoln School, and tacos from T-Byrds. I love live music, so assuming shows are back in this scenario, I’d love to have a really cheap beer and catch a set from Jeremy Facknitz, Wildermiss, The Brkn, Jarrod Gipson, or another awesome band here locally.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would not be where I am today without the help, love, support, vision, and encouragement of so many people. I’m almost assuredly going to miss some, but just know I’m thankful for you, named or not, if you’ve been in my story and journey so far. I think first and foremost, my wife Tess. She’s my safe place, my rest, and my best friend. Life, with all of its challenges and joys, obstacles and wins, is so much easier, and so much brighter. I think one of the most important things she’s brought to my life is a reminder to stop working. I am absolutely a recovering workaholic, and if left to my own devices I will never disengage from my work. Work-life balance is one of my biggest areas of struggle. I love you babe, thanks for having my back always. Aaron Anderson! Aaron has been a day one for me, and we’ve been able to collaborate more and more closely the past couple years. Aaron is one of the people who’s been instrumental in my formation as a creative and a businessman. He’s someone I respect greatly, and who’s creative vision is constantly inspiring. He’s absolutely my favorite director to work with. He always, always pushes me visually, and has out of this world ideas that seem completely impossible to pull off, yet somehow, we make it happen. I also can’t thank Aaron enough for being willing to have hard conversations, and hard corrective moments when he has seen me slipping, and at the same time calling me to be the best version of myself. I think Aaron has been one of the most instrumental figures in my life so far, and I simply can’t thank him or shout him out enough. Trever Shirin! He’s a rock star, and an absolute genius. He’s pushed me to dive in to other areas of creativity this year. We started The Unibrow Show podcast (which we’re pretty bad at recording regularly, but keep your eyes peeled for our first full season in 2021), dreamed up digital asset packs, and strategized and brainstormed a bunch of consulting ideas for small and growing businesses. I don’t know if I would have been as productive or alive this year had it not been for Trever. I am so thankful for his big dreams and ideas, and the drive and discipline he goes after them with. Paul, Seth, Isaac, and Trevor. MY BOYS. This year fostered a lot of deeper and greater friendships with some of my best friends, and I got to put them all in a beautifully memorable short film for Pit Viper (directed by the aforementioned genius, Aaron Anderson). I’m extra thankful for good friends this year. My life is rich, and my quality of life this year has been at an all time high, all things considered. I’d like to take some time to thank Steven De La Roche, Taylor and the Inherent Clothier team, Lee Hopper, Adam Morely and the Wolf and Key Marketing Team, Ric Seiben, Chris Willis, Jarrod Gipson, Tyler Cuchiara, and all the other great people I’ve gotten to collaborate with, talk with, and share this year with. Thank you!