Somebody who can light, and show up, and make a portrait is of no value anymore. It sounds like just another wild statement to grab your attention, but it’s actually true. I interviewed my incredible rep Maren Levinson of Redeye for our Survival Guide workshop and what she has to say is so powerful, I wanted to share it with everyone. This is such great advice for artists today. The industry is changing rapidly, and it is really important to understand what your value is as an artist, and how you fit into the big picture. I hope you find this exciting and inspirational. If it strikes a chord with you, and you want to learn more about marketing, strategy and business for artists. You can check out one of our Survival Guide workshops on our workshop page. To receive updates on future workshops and opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Celebrity, Editorial Work
It seems like forever ago now, but I actually played football in college until a shoulder injury sidelined my aspirations of reaching the NFL. I mostly played free safety, but I also moved to defensive end in my last season. Needless to say, photographing athletes is something I really enjoy, as it get’s me back out on the field to some extent.
Here is a quick snapshot I found from back in my college days. But back to Derrick Coleman, because that’s really what this is all about. Most of you have probably already seen the incredible Duracell commercial about his fight to get to the NFL, but if you haven’t or if you want to watch it again, here it is. It makes me emotional every time I see it. So good.
Thanks for a fun shoot Derrick and Go Hawks!
Possibly the biggest “studio” I have ever shot in.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under News
Hello, blogosphere! I want to introduce myself to you all. My name is Nichelle, and I am the newest member of the Keatley team. I’ve been working at Keatley for the last 8 years in a very limited capacity managing the finances, but about 9 months ago I stepped up my role at Keatley to now include post-production, office management, and workshops. I have been having a blast getting the chance to be a part of the day to day workings of Keatley, getting to participate in the crazy antics and photoshoots that John and Taylor experience daily. Oh, and one other pertinent piece of information: I’m John’s wife.
Being that workshops is a big part of my job, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the first two Survival Guide weekends that have come and gone, and how we have come to where we are. John, as some of you may know, is a man with many ideas. Small ideas, big ideas, crazy ideas, fabulous ideas. But there are a lot of them! When we first were married, I would ride the roller coaster of emotions, as his mind produced idea after idea. Until I realized, these are ideas, not necessarily every one of them is going to come to fruition. I now try to be a supportive listener, and really only heed attention to those ideas that keep resurfacing. It’s made for a much saner life for me, yet allows him to keep dreaming. But I am also realizing through the Survival Guide, that sometimes what can start out as a small idea, can grow and flourish when seen through the eyes of other people. Ideas don’t have to be dreamed by just one person.
Several years back, John et al came up with the idea of a 2-day workshop that focused on marketing the first day, and lighting the second. It was in response to numerous people wanting to know “How do you do what you do?” But even from the beginning of that workshop, John realized that doing what he does was more than just taking pictures. It was and is about creating and understanding business. That workshop (fondly referred to as the “Un-Workshop”) was successful, and John taught it around the world, in Seattle, Dubai, and the Bahamas. Despite the great response from that workshop, though, John struggled with generating an excitement for teaching it. Throughout many conversations, it just became obvious that teaching about lighting and technique was not where his heart was. He creates images from a place of emotion and feeling, and that is not easily transferred into shutter speed and lighting technique. The lighting class to him felt dry and boring, something he would be uninterested in attending. And so the Un-Workshop just settled on the back shelf as his commercial photography business started booming.
About a year and a half after the first Un-Workshop, John received an email from an attendee, describing how the information he learned during the Day One / Marketing class had transformed his career. He had managed to enter into full-time photography, was working with some large clients, and was feeling confident in how to market his current successes into getting his next job. One month later, he got a second email with a similar tale.
John and I were driving around one day shortly after receiving those emails, and the idea began to occur to both of us. No one was writing to say how their careers were dramatically changed by the information they had learned in his lighting class. But careers were being changed by the information he was most passionate about, something he liked teaching and talking about: business and marketing. That seemed significant, and something not to just dismiss without a second thought. We needed to rethink this workshop, and teach to John’s passion for business. And that’s really how the Survival Guide began.
We’ve now completed our first two weekends here in Seattle, and the support and response from those who have attended has been heart-warming and completely eye-opening. I’ve heard attendees say there is no other workshop teaching what we are teaching in such a realistic and honest way. Yet John’s take on this is that a person will never be truly successful if their business is built on secrets, because someone else will figure them out or create something better. The information discussed at the Survival Guide is raw, pertinent, real, applicable, and very honest. We have taken the information that we use on a daily basis to bid on jobs, the questions to ask when speaking with a client, our understanding of what it takes to find a space for yourself in the art world, how to build authentic relationships when marketing, and wrapped it up into an intensive 2.5 day course. Our intent is to build the artistic community a solid foundation, so that we are all being pursued for jobs based on artistic ability and not undercutting one another based solely on the bids.
And so what started as a small idea a few years ago, is now building steam and support. We are excited. So very excited for the way this workshop is starting to impact lives and careers. 30 to count so far. And in July, we are heading to St. Louis. July 10-12 to be exact, being hosted by the gracious RGG EDU. We are stoked to meet the city of St. Louis, to see the Gateway Arch, taste the local cuisine, and experience the hospitality of the MidWest. We hope you will join us, or let us know if you would like to be kept abreast of future locations and dates.
“The workshop met my expectations because I needed help with every step that we covered. John explained everything in depth and took time to answer our questions. I loved all the personal assignments as well as the group assignment, where we had to put in a bid and explain our numbers. The workbook and handouts are awesome! I have confidence that when I am presented with a potential job, I won’t be undercutting the market, or myself, and I won’t look like an amateur. I already know that I will be referencing these materials for years to come.” – Joshua Huston
“John’s workshop answered a lot of my questions -and questions I didn’t know I had, about the business side of commercial photography. He runs you through a job from start to finish. He starts with how to market yourself to the work you want, bidding for the job, running all the way to how to thank your client at the end of a great shoot. He shows you how to be the best photographer and business manager you can be. This isn’t to mention all of the real world insights he slips in. The information is worth it all by itself, but the relationships you’ll build and the fun you have will simply put the whole experience over the top!” – Cori Keady
“Exceeded (my expectations)! The most overwhelming side of being a creative is how to be realistic, professional, and run a business. Hearing and seeing the tools required to be successful is a huge weight off my shoulders. Can’t wait to put these tools into session. I would say that it took away the unknown aspects of running a creative business that often paralyzed my growth. It has made me excited again to be an artist, and one that could make money and be happy.” – Lonnie Webb
A huge thank you to BlackRapid for hosting us in March and April. Looking forward to future Survival Guide collabs in Seattle!
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog
Hello, Taylor here! Hot off the press with some new work coming out of the Keatley studio. Last month we were given the assignment by Jane Sherman at Seattle Met to photograph a portrait of Charissa Thompson. Charissa host’s Fox Sports Live and reports on celebrity news for Extra. Basically, she is talking to famous people on a daily basis, and after spending 10 minuets with her I could see why. Extremely charismatic and approachable. And although she is intimidatingly beautiful and a celebrity in her own right, she seamlessly fit right in with the entire crew. She’s the first one of Keatley’s subjects to ever call me before the shoot and offer to buy everyone coffee. I mean, come on!
Before the shoot Matthew Halverson and Jane Sherman, at Seattle Met, told us they wanted and iconic serious portrait, but with a sports twist. Going into the shoot we had what we felt were 10 strong ideas. After tinkering with lighting until it was perfected, John began to gravitate toward 2 of those concepts. The top image you see is exactly what we envisioned. Monochromatic, fun, sporty, but also has a tinge of seriousness. One thing John said while driving to the shoot stuck with me. He said that he wanted to create an image that she could use for the next 50 years. While only Charissa could be the judge of that, I think he did a bang up job. Hope you enjoy the outcome!
Charissa Thompson for Seattle Met
AD : Jane Sherman
Writer: Matt Halverson
Hair & Makeup: Haley Olsen
Retouching: Luminosity Imaging (Ryan Cleary)
Wow, this is so exciting! Introducing our new digital download from DEDPXL and Zack Arias. Ta Da! I spent 3 days with the DEDPXL crew last Fall filming this video. We put together some great shoots ranging from simple portraits to some conceptual work with a set build. This video series takes you through my personal life, career, failures and triumphs and also takes you on-set, behind-the-scenes to see some of my methods, gear and techniques as well as a full day of shooting. It could not have turned out any better in my opinion.
This short trailer gives you a good idea of what to expect. Thanks for taking a look. We have been overwhelmed by the positive response. Head on over to DEDPXL to download the full video now and enjoy!
Huge thank you to Zack Arias and Bernard Brand for all of their hard work on this. I am really proud, and happy to be a part of it.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under News
When I first got into photography, I was still in college, desperately trying to figure out what to do with my life. I wanted some sense of control over whatever it was I was going to do, but that was all I knew. When I first picked up a camera, it was for no other reason than to take pictures of my friends jumping off swings, and long boarding down the steep 16th fairway at night. It was something I enjoyed, but I never imagined that it could actually translate into a career. Thanks to the kind words of a drug store photo lab manager named Kolene Potter, I decided to become a professional photographer. All I knew is that she said I could be good at it, and that some people make a living taking pictures. That was all I needed to know, and I never looked back. The world of photography was completely unknown to me, and from my perspective, there were no limits. That was what made it so exciting. The opportunity to explore and experiment. The thrill of the chase, and trying to figure out just how to make money doing something I enjoyed.
This took place just as digital cameras were coming into existence, and also when I was still finishing up college, so I didn’t have the financial pressures that exist on me today. Looking back, it was the best possible scenario for me to begin a career in photography. But not only was the timing right, there were several people who came into my life and gave me amazing advice. They shared their time and knowledge with me, helped me with my portfolio, and maybe most importantly, taught me how to bid on jobs. Every one of those lessons and moments has stuck with me, and I will carry that knowledge with me forever. I never would have had the opportunities I have today if it were not for those generous people.
In 2013, I taught my first workshop. It was called the Un-Workshop. We were trying to break the mold and do something a little different. The first day was filled with marketing and business lessons, numbers, stories, and goals. It was everything I could think of that has been helpful to me in my career as a freelance artist. The second day was all about lighting and production, and if I had to guess, I would say a majority of the people who attended were lured by the lighting. It just sounds way sexier than learning about business.
I have continued to teach the Un-Workshop over the last couple of years, in Dubai and the Bahamas. It has been a good workshop, but after collecting feedback from over 60 people who have attended, I have come to realize something. People always comment that they have fun with the shooting and lighting. But what they really spend time talking about is the business and marketing content. To hear things like, I keep the workbook on my desk at all times and always refer back to it, and I just landed my biggest client, and I just won a bid on the biggest job of my career, and Business is better than ever... That feels really good. There are so many places to learn about lighting these days. And lighting is really important for a photographer, don’t get me wrong. But if I can offer information that can change the direction and stability of an artists career, that is what gets me really excited.
I was with a group of professional photographers recently, and I was really struck by the number of times I heard them say things like, “I’m not business-minded”, “I’m a starving artist,” “I just want to create, I don’t want to deal with self promotion…” I get all that. Those feelings are totally valid, but it doesn’t have to be like that. I know artists are not often considered savvy business-people. It might be a right brain, left brain sort of thing. But I also happen to know many amazing business people who are also wonderful artists. I think what seems to be more the case is that artists are never taught about how to run a business. How to pitch an idea to a potential client. How to understand the needs of a client or potential client, and what to actually charge for all of the many different services artists provide. Over time the artist’s creative drive is locked down in trying to understand the nitty gritty, and the excitement begins to fade.
This is why I love teaching, and why my team and I have created a new workshop called “Survival Guide”. I believe I have a responsibility to pass on what has been given to me over the years, as well as lessons I have learned from my own journey. I also believe that with a solid plan, and some basic guidance, any artist can learn to thrive and create work they are passionate about. It doesn’t have to be a big struggle between creating and business.
Find out much more and sign up at our new Survival Guide page. See you soon.
Oh, and this awesome illustration for our poster was created by Derek Sullivan. Thanks Derek!
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Videos
2014 was a big year for me. It was the year I began directing professionally. I intended to start off with a series of self-produced shorts to build up my reel, but just after completing Glory Days, things took off. First I directed a series of commercials for the Sounders 2014 season with Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, and DeAndre Yedlin. Next up was a little music video for Fences + Macklemore called Arrows. Then I was off to Cincinnati for Vita Coco with Giovani Bernard. Which brings me to this video, the final project of the year. It was a labor of love, and well worth it, I might add.
My friends at Hammerquist Studios came to me with the idea of doing a pro bono video project for the 2015 International Children’s Film Festival Seattle put on by Northwest Film Forum. We had a blank slate, and the opportunity to create something great for a good cause could not be passed up. The first thing we did was get writer Jeff Siegel on board. He came up with about 6 really awesome ideas, but there was one that jumped out at all of us right away. Rather than read about it, you should really just watch how it turned out. There were over 50 people who generously gave their time, materials, creativity, and money to this project. I wish there was time to detail and describe the many amazing things each person did to make this happen. The energy on set was amazing because everyone was there because they truly wanted to be. Thank you to my amazing team, and thank you, Hammerquist and Northwest Film Forum, for trusting us to make this awesome video.
Directed by John Keatley
Written by Jeff Siegel
Agency / Hammerquist Studios
Starring Rachael Kevin and Everett Moss
Spencer Norris / DP and Editor
Produced by: Lillian Brunner, Taylor Reed, Nichelle Keatley, John Keatley
Art Direction: John Lavin, Becky Mohrlang
Cast: Sara Coates, Kathleen Boyle, Kunwar Singh, Julie Ellis, Aiden McCoy, Hallee Olsen, Cadence Whittle, Anthony Herrera, Etri Ajbour
Sound Designer: John Buroker
Sound: Sam Martinez
Music: Wesley Slover
Colorist: Kevin Adams
Voice Talent: Dave White
Gaffer: Scott Jonas
Costume Design: Ron Leamon, Gerard Parr
Hair & Makeup: Haley Olsen, Akemi Hart
Wardrobe Stylist: Alexis Steinman
PA: Jonah Kozlowski
Casting Agent: Tami Wakasugi
Set Builders: Becky Mohrlang, Stephen Klineburger, Natalie Hammerquist, Sean Tully, Jeff Aitken, Adam Hunt
Special Thanks To: Vince Klimek, Kaleo Quenzer, Dave Drummond, Fremont Studios.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Ad Campaign, BTS
Spontaneous getaway anyone? Yes please! My team and I got to work closely with the folks at Instagram and Hotel Tonight on this amazing ad campaign called “Tonight I Am“. Hotel Tonight is a hotel booking app that let’s you book a great hotel from a curated list of hotels in just 3 clicks. No matter where you are, or what you are doing, you can book a great hotel without spending hours researching and comparing prices. To show this, we came up with 6 scenarios from daily life, and styled the subject in each scene as if they are already in the place they want to be. Travel is just 3 clicks away, and mentally they are already there. The campaign has done really well so far, and has received a lot of great press, including this article by AdWeek.
Big thank you’s to Hotel Tonight and Instagram. Let’s do it again soon.
The six set’s we shot on were designed and built by Adi Goodrich and her team (we both have the same great rep – Redeye!). High five! Retouching by Ryan Cleary.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Ad Campaign, BTS
I’m not sure if it get’s much better than this. You know that old joke about the photographer in the doughnut shop… well, it’s true. The joke goes, you can’t have too many doughnuts, when a photographer…er, uh, tries to eat…with cameras. Anyway. I have no will power, and I really like doughnuts. You get the point. And if you know me, you know I am addicted to Top Pot old fashioned doughnuts. Keep your camera close, and your old fashioned doughnuts closer.
Aside from eating my favorite Top Pot doughnuts all day on set, this was a very exciting campaign for us because we got to develop and produce the creative. Top Pot came to us wanting to create something memorable for their marketing and advertising efforts. This is something I have been moving into more and more in recent months, but this was the project that really set things off. Top Pot is an institution in Seattle, and their slogan is “Hand Forged Doughnuts and Coffee” and the logo is a blacksmith hammering away on an anvil. We thought it would be fun to bring that idea to life with three images depicting bakers hand forging doughnuts and coffee on an anvil. To keep things authentic, while having a bit of fun, we shot it all in the actual bakery where Top Pot makes all of their delicious doughnuts in Downtown Seattle.
Thank you so much Top Pot. You were wonderful hosts and clients!
Here is a little something we cooked up just for fun. I find that is often the best reason to create. Just for fun. Directing has gradually become a huge part of my creative process in addition to photography. When I was in high school, I bought my first video camera. I took it everywhere with me. Video was actually a passion of mine well before photography. Somehow, along the way as my photography career took off, video was something I lost sight of. Thankfully directing has come back to me in the last couple of years. In the past, I would go through my journal of ideas and think, “How do I want to make this a photograph?” Now, as I am thinking about a possible project, I am able to ask myself, “What is best for this idea? A photograph, a video?” Or maybe something else completely. Whatever it is, as long as I am creating, I am happy. Below is a still I also shot on set. I just couldn’t help myself.
A very big shout out and thank you to our amazing crew for making this video come to life. I can’t thank you enough!
Taylor Reed, Sara Coates, Isla Keatley, Andrew Franks, Kort Havens, Spencer Norris, Jonathan Houser, Jon Anderson, Nate Taylor, Alexis Steinman, Jennifer Popochock, Dennise Larson, Mikie Magnusson and Zoe Rain.
Behind the scenes images by Zoe Rain. Thanks Zoe!