13
Sep

Ferran Adria for Wired UK

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS, Celebrity, Editorial Work, Tear Sheets, Travel

October Cover of Wired UK.  Ferran Adria by John Keatley.

For many people, Ferran Adria needs no introduction, but for those of you who are not familiar with Ferran, he is one of the most innovative chefs and people in recent history.  He has been on Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people list multiple times.  His restaurant El Bulli was the best restaurant in the world until he shut it down in 2011 at the peak of it’s success, with the idea of reinventing it.  Not many people have the vision and willingness to take great risks the way Ferran does, and that is a big part of what this feature is about.

This assignment came up very quickly, and within 3 days of getting the call, I was off to Barcelona.  Aside from creating some awesome images, my secondary goal was food.  Get food.  Just a piece of cheese or a scrap of bread would suffice.  To be able to say I was handed food from Ferran Adria, that would be pretty cool.

Right off the bat, I want to thank and acknowledge the creative team at Wired UK.  The Photo Editors, Dalia Nassimi and Steve Peck, Art Director Andrew Diprose, and Executive Editor Greg Williams.  Greg and Andrew also traveled to Barcelona for this shoot, and we first met up with Ferran at El Bulli Workshop not far from our hotel in Barcelona.  It was a busy morning between meetings, the interview and photo shoot, but we worked with Ferran in small chunks of time throughout the day.  Ferran is one of the most meticulous and driven people I have ever met.  As you can see from some of these images, his attention to detail and planning is second to none.  Every room in his workshop as well as his kitchens are lined with whiteboards covered in notes, diagrams, and plans.  His spice rack at El Bulli Workshop is so thought out, he probably knows how many grains of salt are in the salt jar.  Perhaps most impressive was the play dough portion size and design templates for each meal he has created.  Nothing is left to chance.  His passion for his work and innovation also seem to be very contagious, because everyone he works with seems to completely buy in.  I was able to learn some of this before the shoot through my research, but it is never as fun as the real deal.  It was really amazing to pull some of the intensity and passion out of him, as you can see in these images.

Ferran now has a new tapas bar with his brother, Albert, in Barcelona called Tickets.  From what we had gathered, it is quite an experience in it’s own right, with an impressive menu, including several famous dishes from El Bulli.  It’s also next to impossible to get in to.  Greg brought up the idea of getting a table during the photo shoot, but we were told it just wasn’t possible.  While Ticket’s would have been the ultimate dining experience, we were in Barcelona after all, and Ferran recommended some of his favorite tapas bars and restaurants to us, which were all amazing.  Later that evening, we caught up with Ferran at a local museum which has a wonderful exhibit on the history of El Bulli.  They closed the museum down, and we got a private tour from Ferran.

We had 2 days of shooting scheduled with Ferran, and after a long and eventful day one, we got up early the next morning and drove a couple of hours outside Barcelona to El Bulli.  It is still closed as a restaurant, but currently is filled with computer programmers and large white boards of plans and code.  Big changes are coming to El Bulli before it re-opens in 2014.  Going out there, we knew the kitchen was closed, so we were not expecting food, but we were also not expecting the surprise Ferran had instore for us. Ferran pulled Greg, Andrew, and myself over to a corner of the outdoor patio and brought us into a tight circle.  He held out 3 fingers, looked at us in the eyes, and said, “9:00 tonight, Tickets for the 3 of you.”  Kids at Christmas!  We were through the roof.  More on that below.

This issue  has only been out about a week now, and we are already seeing this cover being recognized as one of the best covers of 2012.  Pretty exciting to be a part of that, and an honor to work with AD Andrew Diprose, who is one of the best in the industry.

Wired UK table of contents.  Ferran Adria by John Keatley

Wired UK opening spread on Ferran Adria.  Photo by John Keatley.

Portrait of Ferran Adria by John Keatley.

Portrait of Ferran Adria by John Keatley.

Ferran Adria at El Bulli Workshop.  Photo by John Keatley.
Ferran at El Bulli Workshop talking with two of his computer programmers, who are working on some exciting new developments for the El Bulli brand.

Ferran Adria by John Keatley.

John Keatley, Ferran Adria.
Working with Ferran on the how best to hold the E, and balancing it with the proper way to hold a knife and cut.  Pictured with Ferran’s interpreter, Andrew Diprose and myself.

Ferran Adria and John Keatley.

Ferran Adria and John Keatley.

Ferran Adria and John Keatley.

Ferran Adria and John Keatley.

Ferran Adria and John Keatley.

El Bulli kitchen
El Bulli kitchen during the remodel / reinvention of El Bulli.

El Bulli food.
Portion sizes and shapes of all ingredients served at El Bulli made out of Play-dough.

El Bulli food.

El Bulli food.
Two dishes served at El Bulli made from Play-dough, next to a photograph of the actual dish.

El Bulli food.

Below are pictures I took of our meal at Tickets.  In all of the excitement and euphoria, there were several dishes I forgot to photograph.  That being said, here are quite a few images of many of the amazing things I got to eat that night.  Our server’s name was Claudia, and she added so much to the experience.  We didn’t feel qualified to order, so we told her to bring whatever she wanted to serve us.  She talked to us quite a bit throughout the night, and brought the dishes in an order that flowed and paired flavors.  Ferran even came in to say hi and introduce us to his brother Albert.  It was by far the most amazing food experience I have ever had.  We asked the concierge at our hotel for walking directions to Tickets before we left, and he told us he could make several other restaurant recommendations because we would not be able to get in.  Greg tried to explain that we had reservations, but he just laughed at us.  Silly tourists.

Watermelon infused with sangria
Watermelon infused with sangria

The Olive-S
The Olive-S

Tickets food

Tomato bread
Tomato bread

Tickets food

Mini airbags stuffed with manchego cheese
Mini airbags stuffed with manchego cheese

Tickets food

Tomato tartar cone
Tomato tartar cone

Codium tempura with it's vinagrete jus
Codium tempura with it’s vinaigrette jus

Oranges in olive juice with mint
Oranges in olive juice with mint

Avocado cannelloni with crab and romesco sauce
Avocado cannelloni with crab and romesco sauce

Tickets food

Marinated fried fish
Marinated fried fish

Fried egg with truffled duck fat and potato cream
Fried egg with truffled duck fat and potato cream

Confit potatoes with pork rib jus and boiled iberian ham
Confit potatoes with pork rib jus and boiled iberian ham

Liquid ravioli of Payoyo cheese
Liquid ravioli of Payoyo cheese

Animated Forrest
Animated Forrest

Warm lava cake of
Warm lava cake of “turron de Jijona” with raspberry sorbet.  We ordered 2 of these.  :)

This short video about Tickets gives you an awesome behind the scenes look at the food they create and what the dining experience is like. Eating at one of Ferran’s restaurants really is about the whole experience and using all of your senses.

Wired UK AD Andrew Diprose, Ferran Adria, John Keatley, and Wired UK Executive Editor Greg Williams
Wired UK AD Andrew Diprose, Ferran Adria, John Keatley, and Wired UK Executive Editor Greg Williams

I would encourage you to pick up a copy of the October issue of Wired UK which is currently on stands.  You can also see a great documentary on Netflix called El Bulli: Cooking In Progres.  There are also hundreds of fascinating videos online of Ferran and El Bulli.  I can tell you I have already invested countless hours watching many of them.

I would like to thank everyone who worked with me on this assignment.  Dalia, Andrew, Greg, and Steve at Wired UK.  Awesome people.  Thanks to my rep Julia at Redux Pictures for all her support and hard work on the backend to make this all happen.  Thanks to Gigantic Squid for the awesome retouching.  Thanks for stopping by and enjoying my work.

24
Apr

Angeles City

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work, Travel

This is the fifth post in this series. You can see all of the posts by clicking on the Arts Aftercare tag.

Required Reading: I highly recommend reading the Wikipedia page on Human Trafficking in the Philippines.  It will give you better context for my story and the situation in places like Angeles City.

The final destination of our trip was Angeles City, the second largest sex tourism destination in the world.  This was a difficult way to end the trip, but at the same time, I’m really glad I didn’t start the trip with this.  It was a dark, heavy place, and I was definitely out of my comfort zone.

While I was taking pictures in front of a bar on the Walking Street, a man approached me and asked me to take his picture with a group of bar girls (pictured below).  After the group shot, and an off-color comment, the man introduced Becker and I to his girlfriend, who is in the next picture.  He told us what a great time was waiting to be had in Angeles, and we chatted with him for a few minutes.  Before we parted ways, he asked how he could get copies of the pictures I took.  He gave us his email address, and after we returned to our hotel that night, we looked him up on Facebook.  Turns out, his name is Michael Wiener, and he is a former New Mexico State Senator, and the current County Commissioner in Bernalillo County.

Angeles was a strange place, because for the previous 8 days in the Philippines, we saw very few caucasians.  As soon as we arrived in Angeles, we saw hundreds of middle aged and older white men everywhere we went with young Filipino women.  I saw some extremely disturbing things, and felt a heavy darkness in Angeles.  I don’t really know if it is necessary to go into any detail about all of that stuff, but I also don’t really feel like talking about it any further.  I think these images say what I feel needs to be said.

This is the one picture from this series that is not from Angeles.  Pegasus is in Manila, but it fit so well with this series, and I had to find a way to show it.  The sign says it all.  Pegasus is a high end club that is known for selling very young girls.  They charge $500 just to get in the door.

Bernalillo County Commissioner Michael Wiener.

18
Apr

PREDA Foundation

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work, Travel

This is the fourth post in this series.  You can see all of the posts by clicking on the Arts Aftercare tag.

I love and hate these pictures.  From a photographic standpoint, I am really proud of this series of images taken at the PREDA Foundation.  On the other hand, I hate that these pictures need to exist, and that this is a story which needs to be told.  It seems impossible to ignore the devastation and loss of innocence these images also represent.  But fortunately I do see hope in these images as well.  I believe we were created with the capacity to choose great evil, but thankfully we also have the choice to love, which I believe has the power to overcome all else.  At PREDA, I met some wonderful people who have made the decision to simply love, and care for the people who have been exploited and experienced so much devastation.

I arrived at PREDA with only 2 hours to work with before Becker and I had to take a taxi to Angeles City.  It was a bit hectic when we arrived, and we didn’t have much back story or time to prep for this stop.  After meeting Alex, the program director, I asked if I could take a tour and look around.  The tour started in the administrative offices, followed by the kitchen and then some classrooms.  It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for or interested in.  Eventually, we went down a hall and into a large room filled with colorful metal bunk beds and bright blankets.  Half of the room was lined with large windows, streaming in midday light.  As I took it all in, I asked my tour guide what the room was, and she told me it was the girls dorm, for children 9 and under.  To clarify, these are children age 9 and younger who have been sexually abused both commercially and domestically.  Unbelievable.

I started the day expecting to make portraits, but this room was speaking to me, and drawing me in.  I didn’t have my camera with me, and after looking around for a moment, I burst out of the room, and down the hall to get my camera and tripod.  I think my guide thought I was a bit strange, leaving the way I did with no explanation, but I couldn’t move fast enough.  I was in a zone.  I spent maybe the next hour shooting these images of the girls dorm, although it felt like I was only there about 5 minutes.

Girls lockers.

Primal therapy room.

Father Shay, founder of PREDA Foundation in Olongapo, Philippines, on Subic Bay.  Father Shay has dedicated his life to fighting for children who have been sexually exploited both commercially and domestically.  He has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize 3 times, and I sincerely hope he is recognized by one in the near future.

I just can’t decide between these two portraits.  It is usually pretty easy for me to make these kind of decisions, but there is something about each of these that I can’t get past.  It doesn’t help that everyone else I have asked have said both as well.  What do you think?

Father Shay’s desk.  Nearly 40 years of hard work has happened here.  I can’t even imagine the phone calls, letters, and meetings that have taken place here over the years.

PREDA Foundation is a service provider for sexually exploited children in Subic Bay, Philippines, which infamous as a destination for sex tourism. From their website:

“In 1974, with Filipino helpers, Fr. Shay Cullen established the PREDA organization (Peoples’ Recovery Empowerment and Development Assistance Inc.) to give shelter and protection and recovery to victims of abuse and more importantly to change this unjust situation in society that abandons children and criminalizes them and prostitutes them or allows them to be abused without getting help and justice.”

PREDA provides many crucial services to the children, including residential care homes organized by age – one for girls as young as 9 years and under.

 

16
Apr

At Home in Manila

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work, Travel

This is the third post from my assignment in the Philippines for Arts Aftercare.  You can see all of the posts from this trip by clicking on the Arts Aftercare tag.  For those of you who are just joining in, the following portraits are of people who have been affected in some way by sexual exploitation.  Some of the people are volunteering, or caring for survivors, some of the people are survivors, and one person is simply family member of a victim of sexually exploitation.

Some of my favorite moments in the Philippines were when I was able to walk through neighborhoods, and photograph people in their homes.  It took several days before I was able to find transportation, and arrange times with people, but once I was able to establish some trust and familiarity, things began to fall into place.  I only wish I had more time in Manila to take more of these.  I have intentionally left out some of the names for various reasons.

The mother in this family is a volunteer at Samaritana, where she teaches women how to sew.  I photographed them at their home just outside the garbage community in Manila.

Jonathan Nambu is the co-director of Samaritana with his wife Thelma.  They were our wonderful hosts while we were in Manila.  I photographed him at his home in the backyard.

This young woman is in the Samaritana program for women who have been sexually exploited.  She lives in a small home with a large number of her family members along with extended family.

This is the girls father (pictured above).  He collects recyclable garbage for a living, and has a small shop in the front of the family’s home.

I was able to spend quite a bit of time with Krys on this trip, and got to know her a bit more than others.  She works at Samaritana, and spends a good amount of her time on the streets at night forming relationships with pimps, and women who are being exploited.  She has such an amazing heart, and her story is deeply moving.  This shoot was especially fun, because we got to ride a trike, transfer to a jeepney, and then take a long walk to get to her apartment where this portrait was taken.  I’m a sucker for a good trike ride on the deadliest highway in the world.

This woman also works at Samaritana, and she lives in a squatter community, which is like nothing I have ever experienced before.  A squatter community is exactly as it sounds.  People build homes right on top of, and next to each other, regardless of who owns the land.  Power lines and other resources are spliced, and it looks a bit like controlled chaos.  From a photographic standpoint, one thing I love about many of these images, is that there was often only one natural light source in each home, which provided a single stream of beautiful light to work with.

Survivor in the Samaritana program, photographed in her friends home.

I shot all but one of these images on my Vanguard tripod.  It was fun to work this way for a change with natural light.  It made me slow down and take a different approach.  I even slowed down my breathing, to accommodate the timed exposures.  I feel a deep connection with each of these images, and I also feel a different kind of appreciation for these because of the process.  I am really looking forward to creating more work like this at some point.

09
Apr

Survivors in Manila

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work, Travel

This is the second post from my assignment in the Philippines for Arts Aftercare.  You can read the first post, as well as this entire series by clicking on the Arts Aftercare tag.

After arriving in Manila and getting acclimated, my main focus was to document the art therapy training by the Arts Aftercare staff.  Leaders from several organizations in the Philippines and abroad attended the training, which took place over the course of 3 days.  When I was not in the training, I spent the rest of my time trying to figure out who is who, and what direction I wanted to go with my personal work, which would be to tell a story about the sex industry in the Philippines.  We would be spending about 6 days in Manila, and then we would head to 2 other towns and visit organizations working with survivors of sexual exploitation.

One of the things I was hoping for the most out of this trip was an opportunity to make portraits of some of the survivors of sexual exploitation.  Our hosts told us that they thought only a couple of the women would be willing to be photographed, but we would just have to ask and see what they say.  We arrived on a Thursday afternoon, and wouldn’t be able to ask until Monday.  It was a long weekend of waiting.  Understandably there are some really complicated issues that come up when photographing people who have had to deal with something like this.  It was important, but also really difficult for me to remember that, as I had my heart set on making portraits of at least a few of the survivors.

When Monday came around, Becker and I introduced ourselves to the group and told them what we were there for, and what we hoped to accomplish.  We walked out of the room and gave them time to talk about it among themselves.  Not long after, someone came out and told us that every single woman had agreed, and they were really excited to be photographed.

I quickly grabbed my gear and set up at a bus stop just down the street from the organization.  It was incredibly hot and humid, but I somehow made it through, on excitement and adrenaline while I shot for the next 2.5 hours.  It was such a fun shoot.

Sexual exploitation is such a heavy subject, but what really made an impact on me was the hope and joy I saw in so many of the women who are going through the recovery process.  After spending time with them, I decided to make the portraits with an overall hopeful feel, which is why I chose the brightly colored wall as a background.  I directed the women a little, but tried to interject as little as possible to allow these images to feel more natural and reflective of each woman’s personality.  I let them pose how they felt most comfortable, and tried to keep things as natural as possible.  These women are so incredible, and they have amazing strength and beauty.  I hope that comes through as you look at these portraits.

My intent in doing this project was to help spread the word about the exploitation of women and children which is going on all around us.  Hopefully by sharing these images and stories, others might feel inclined to get involved in the fight and healing process.  As the week went by, my focus became sharper and sharper on creating great images which told a captivating story.  My approach could be described as a bit selfish at times, as I was solely thinking about what I could do, or where I needed to go to get the shot.  After this shoot was finished, I began hearing from a few people about how much this experience meant to the women.  The big 5 ft. octabank, Curtis holding the big flag, Becker shooting video, and my Hasselblad camera, all made them feel like they were a part of something fancy and exciting.  It seemed pretty normal to me, but that type of experience is not something everyday people are a part of very often.  On top of that, I was working really hard to make the pictures look great from a visual interest standpoint, but to the women, it all made them feel beautiful and pampered.  It was a good feeling to be a part of that, but it still didn’t fully hit me until the next day.

The next day we were back at the house, and everyone was finishing up training.  I was waiting for a ride to another site to take pictures.  The house we were staying at was beautiful, but not a place I felt was conducive to anything I thought would be visually interesting.  As I was watching everyone laughing and going through the drama portion of the training, it hit me.  Forget about yourself and your portfolio for once, and use that camera in your hands to really make an impact on someone.  It’s easy to help others when my portfolio is also benefiting from it, but how about taking pictures that only benefit others.  A totally new concept for me.  I told one of the leaders that I was willing to take pictures of the women with friends, groups, whatever they wanted.  And for the next 45 minutes, we took pictures of people jumping off chairs, human pyramids, group poses, and on and on.  It was so awesome.  They came up with their own ideas, and it was fun to see them take charge and direct everyone.  The pictures are not ones I will be showing, or putting in a portfolio, but they brought a lot of joy to those in them, and that was a powerful experience and a good lesson for me.

These images were all edited with VSCO Film.

04
Apr

Arriving In Manila

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work, Travel

Last month I wrote about an upcoming assignment in the Philippines for an organization called Arts Aftercare.  Here is a link to the post if you are interested in the backstory, but basically I was working with the story of sexual slavery, human trafficking, and the work people are doing to help survivors.  I was gone for 10 days in the beginning of March, and  I got back to the States a few weeks ago.  After taking some time to rest, and reflect on the trip and what I saw, I finally feel like I am at a point now where I have processed enough of the trip, and I can share my thoughts and more importantly, my pictures.  I feel like this project makes the most sense when split up into 4 or 5 different stories.  The first part of the story is arriving in Manila and getting somewhat acclimated to my surroundings.

I have never had to think so much about an assignment as I did on this trip.  There are so many variables to consider, which I have never had to think about on past assignments.  One of the things I found myself thinking about a lot on this trip was journalistic integrity.  Thankfully I was traveling and working with my close friend, and filmmaker Eric Becker who I learned so much from.  It would have been a totally different experience for me if I didn’t have him there for support, and just overall great companionship.  When I was in Liberia last year, I took pictures of anyone, because everyone in the entire town I was in, was effected in one way or another by the lack of clean drinking water.  It was something that had a broad reach, and just about any person, place or thing seemed relevant to the story.  In the Philippines, I was trying to tell a story about sexual slavery.  Although prostitution seemed to be everywhere I turned, it is not so easy to create a visual story without being painstakingly careful.  For example, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort when we visited Angels City.  Just in the short time I spent in the lobby during a 24 hour period, I saw 20 or so men bring back, or meet prostitutes in the lobby.  Everyone knows what is going on, but at the same time, seeing a 65 year old American man and a 20 year old Filipino girl walking to a hotel room is not proof of what is going on.  Sometimes the age difference was not so great, and it certainly isn’t fair to assume every white guy and Filipino girl are in anything other than a serious relationship.  Being a portrait photographer, I wanted to photograph so many different people, but I knew I needed to be careful what I was implying by including someones portrait or picture in a series like this.  I didn’t photograph the bellhop at the hotel I was staying at and say he is somehow a part of the story, anymore than I would want someone photographing me in the Philippines and saying I was somehow involved.  There is actually a lot of human trafficking that happens in Seattle.  Seattle is a major player in human trafficking unfortunately, but that doesn’t mean you can photograph anyone in Seattle and say they are part of the story.  Some of you may be thinking what I am saying seems pretty obvious, but it was  new for me, and took a lot of thought to work through.

With all of that being said, these images are from our travels to Manila from Seattle, as well as wandering around and exploring Manila after we first arrived.  Which I might add, we didn’t have much time to explore.  None of these images are linked to or are intended to be linked to prostitution or human trafficking, but they help set the stage for where I was in the Philippines, and what my surroundings were like.

I am really excited to share more from this trip in the coming days and dive into the images I am most excited about.  As always, thanks for your interest!

On another note, all of these images were edited with VSCO Film which is an amazing image editing tool for Lightroom, Aperture, and Camera RAW.  It has totally sped up my workflow, improved my images, and is one of my favorite tools as a photographer.  Check it out for yourself here.  I also wrote a couple of reviews here and here with processed images if you want to find out more.