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Capturing music’s biggest stars on the world stage

Jake Chamseddine in a hilly landscape looking at his camera

Jake Chamseddine was mainly interested in video production until an Oregon State digital communication arts class sparked an “obsession” with photography. (Photo by Scott Borrero)

Talent, drive and OSU’s expertise fuel the globe-trotting career of this digital communication arts student

By Tyler Hansen
July 29, 2020

In an era defined by letting others peek into our lives through photos on social media, Jake Chamseddine is a lot like many millions of people.

In other ways, well… he’s different.

He spends his time in Australia, feeding kangaroos with Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco.

Or he’s “currently running around Europe” with Marshmello.

And he’s front and center with Taylor Swift and Urie at the Billboard Music Awards.

In Portland with Post Malone. Toronto with Lorde. Mexico City with Halsey.

  • Singer Lorde on stage laying on a box
    Lorde performing live in Oslo, Norway. (Photo by Jake Chamseddine)

Chamseddine rarely appears in any of these photos, but many of the world’s most popular musicians rely on him to document their lives as artists.

Where does someone build this type of skill? Well, Chamseddine got his creative start by recording over his family’s Christmas video tapes when he was 8. But beyond that, he says he can also trace his success to Oregon State University’s digital communication arts bachelor’s degree program.

“When I went to college, I had a background in making videos for fun,” he says. “To see that there was a degree devoted to the digital world and digital creating – to see that it’s an actual real thing that people do for a living – it was a no-brainer for me to choose the DCA program.”

Oregon State’s digital communication arts program – now offered online through OSU Ecampus – helps students develop real-world skills through hands-on learning experiences that are based on current and projected trends in the new media industry.

“It’s extremely important to have a variety of skills. If you can take amazing photos but have no idea how to do video, you’re going to struggle. You need a broad skill set.”

The faculty in the New Media Communications department also encourage students to step outside their creative comfort zones and immerse themselves in the multidimensional nature of the modern digital world.

“The DCA program gives you such a well-rounded dynamic in terms of learning how to create and manage assets,” says Chamseddine, who is based in his native Portland. “In the social and digital media marketplace, there is a lot of overlap. It’s extremely important to have a variety of skills.

“If you can take amazing photos but have no idea how to do video, you’re going to struggle. You need a broad skill set.”

Chamseddine’s career as an in-demand photographer was, to a certain extent, sparked by the program’s curriculum requirements. He was mostly interested in video production and graphic design, but he needed to take a photography course. From there, “it spiraled into an obsession,” he says.

“This degree lays the groundwork for everything that you need, but if you really want to find your dream job, you have to chase after it.”

Soon thereafter, he was determined to break into the music photography business, even sneaking his camera into concerts and convincing promoters to hire him for local events after they saw his prohibited images online.

It worked. Within a few years, he was touring the globe for months at a time with artists he now considers close friends.

“Every day is kind of mind-boggling. You wake up on a tour bus or in a hotel, then you’re following the musicians throughout their day as they walk around the city or get set up at the venue,” Chamseddine says. “Then 10,000 people fill the stands to watch these artists perform. It’s amazing.”

And it’s all of the behind-the-scenes work – the stuff before the lights come on and after the music stops – that he says Oregon State’s digital communication arts program has helped him with the most. His technical skills are owed largely to natural talent, but learning how to communicate in business settings and develop and execute a plan are skills he gained as a student.

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“Nobody teaches you the ability to have harder conversations in the real world, so it was great to learn that in the DCA program,” he says. “All of my work is collaborative. I’m creating the assets, but it requires conversations with the artists and their managers to find out their goals and the type of content they want. Having the skills to be able to communicate with a group is what I got most out of OSU.”

The week that Chamseddine was supposed to graduate in 2015, he got a call from Panic! at the Disco. They asked him to fly out the following day for a gig. He didn’t hesitate to say yes – even if it left him one class short of finishing his degree requirements.

This summer he is taking that final class online through OSU Ecampus, after which he will be an Oregon State graduate. His success story, however, began long ago.

“This degree lays the groundwork for everything that you need, but if you really want to find your dream job, you have to chase after it,” he says. ”At 27 years old, I’ve been to a lot of places many people will never go to, and I realize I’m very fortunate.

“I love what I do.”

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