After a long, hot, and very busy summer here in the offices, the Keatley team is ready for a little fun, and we are all really looking forward to The Slideluck Potshow on Saturday! Homegrown here in Seattle, the event has gained some great momentum and is now international. Not only does it feature two of our favorites – delicious home cooked food and beautiful art – but it draws a really interesting crowd of some of the best creative people from around town. John is going to be debuting some exciting new work, as well as some fan favorites, and he’s first up so don’t be late! See you there.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Editorial Work
Safe to say Don Mattrick has one of the more exciting jobs at Microsoft. Sitting around, playing Xbox all day. Must be nice. But sometimes, when he’s not playing Xbox, Don get’s his picture taken for Forbes, and that’s where I come in. And speaking of exciting jobs, I can’t even begin to explain how much furniture was moved around for this shoot. I think the PR people thought I was a little crazy, but if you ask me, it was totally worth it. In fact, I think it turned out so good, Microsoft may even decide to re-arrange the whole room. That’s called value added. Don’t worry, no charge. That’s how we do it.
Don Mattrick is the President of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment business. i.e. Xbox… It’s a big weapon for Microsoft right now. David Ewalt wrote the story for Forbes that this was shot for, which you can read here. Photo Editor Gail Toivanen, and retouching by Gigantic Squid.
P.S. People always ask me about backstory, so I know what your next question is going to be. ”John, what was he saying when you took this picture?” He was saying, “John, how are you so friggin funny!? You crack me up.” Thanks Don. That’s really nice of you to say.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Ad Campaign
As an artist, campaigns with a positive social impact are always very appealing to me. PBJS in Seattle called me several months back about this campaign for The Nature Conservancy, highlighting the First Stewards Symposium in Washington DC, which takes place next month. This is the first national climate change symposium dedicated to addressing how climate change impacts coastal indigenous people.
I got to work with some great people on this project, CD Peter Gaucys, ACD Brandon Hilliard, and AD Vinny Pacheco. In one of our meetings about creative for this shoot, someone brought up how the only photographs we associate with American Indians are old and quite dated. Those old black and white prints you see in a museum. This was an opportunity to create 3 great portraits of modern American Indians surrounding a really important set of issues. I am really proud of how these portraits turned out, and I am excited to see what comes from the symposium next month.
Below is an excerpt taken from the First Stewards website which outlines the purpose of this symposium. What a fantastic project to be a part of!
“This first-of-its-kind national event examines the impact of climate change on indigenous coastal cultures. The symposium will bring together as many as 300 coastal indigenous tribal elders, leaders, scientists, witnesses, and other scientists and policy leaders from around the nation to discuss traditional ecological knowledge and what it can teach us about past, present, and future adaptation to climate change. Five regional panels of tribal leaders and tribal and Western scientists will examine how native people and their cultures have adapted to climate change for hundreds to thousands of years, and what their future — and that of the nation — may hold as the impacts of climate change continue.”
If you find yourself around the National Mall, Smithsonian, or the The National Museum of the American Indian in DC and you see these images on flags, banners, etc, I’d love to get some snaps. Thanks!
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS, Personal Work
Can you relate? You wake up in a haze, thinking a cup of coffee will do the trick. Trying to start your day out on the right foot, but instead you get a mouthful of bitter disappointment.
I had several goals pinned on the wall as I began the process of putting together this personal series. Shoot in detailed environments. Experiment with backlight where a light source is visible, or has a prominent role in the image. And finally, have fun with facial expressions. That was the easy part. The hard part was coming up with the concept to make all of the elements come together. Gives you a whole new appreciation for copywriters and art directors!
Thankfully I work with some incredible people, and after some brainstorming, the bad coffee face idea was born.
So how does a personal shoot like this come together? A lot of hard work, and a crew of talented and creative people. The car shoot was the first of the three, and this BTS video by Eric Becker is a good walkthrough of what it all looks like on set.
The second shoot was the kitchen image. Locating and securing the home was by far the most difficult part. After finding and locking in the location, we received a text the night before the shoot, which said it was no longer happening with no explanation. I knew that kitchen was perfect for this shot, so after a lot of leg work and negotiating, we were back on track. There is a certain mindset I feel is invaluable and absolutely necessary to make it as a photographer. Tattoo these phrases on your arm, and never forget them. No excuses, always ask questions, politely don’t take no for an answer, and do whatever it takes to make it work. There is always a solution, no matter what the problems you are faced with. Wrapping your mind around these ideas will help prepare you for the struggles you are guaranteed to face as a photographer on almost a daily basis.
I wrapped this series up with the park bench shot. I scouted several parks in Seattle until I found a bench I really liked. It ended up being in a large forested park, which was a perfect place to shoot. The permit was affordable, and it was a wide open space without crowd’s of people and traffic to worry about. After the shoot with the bench and model, I woke up at sunrise the next day, and shot around an urban neighborhood near downtown Seattle. It is important to make sure the light and angles of the environment match the light on the bench and model so the finished product looks as realistic as possible. I made sure all of the landscape images I shot had the sun in the correct place according to where I placed lights on the model shoot. I also used a tripod so my camera height and angle was the same as it was during the model shoot.
I love working like this because it gives me complete control of the final image without being restricted by certain realities.
Thanks to my awesome crew for helping make this project shine.
Talent: JJ Kissinger, Gabe Rodriguez, Katelyn Price
Production: Elizabeth Atwood
Retouching: Ian Goode / Gigantic Squid
Assistants: Will Foster, Gregg White, Oliver Ludlow
BTS video and stills: Eric Becker
Hair and Makeup: Cara Aeschliman
Wardrobe: Bryan Carle
Thank you’s also go out to Seattle Parks and Rec and Windermere Capitol Hill.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Editorial Work
Meet Radar, the talking dog. What was he saying when I took that picture? Oh, just the usual. ”Hey buddy, you sure take a lot of pictures. Wow! How many pictures are you gonna take? Ok, I think you’ve got it by now.” You would think Radar is a celebrity of CEO going on like that. But seriously, does it not look like he is talking in the first picture!? Such a beautiful, expressive animal. I haven’t seen that much expression from any of the humans I have worked with lately.
So who want’s the real story? Radar is actually a service dog for a boy with autism. I shot this assignment for VIV Mag, and these are two of my favorite outtakes. I set up a raised platform in studio to photograph Radar, and he was not very excited about being on off the ground. It took several tries, and a lot of patience, but I got some beautiful images as a result. They say you should never work with children or animals, but sometimes it’s the most difficult challenges that pay off the most.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Review
Since I am on the topic of thanking companies, I would like to give a very big thank you and shout out to Vanguard Photo. I have been using Vanguard tripods for the last year, and have had such a great experience with not only the products, but also the people at the company. The reason I am thanking Vanguard is because they stepped up huge and equipped and supported Becker and I on our trip to the Philippines along with Glazer’s Camera. We took a couple of Vanguard tripods with us, and not only is the Alta+ 255CT tripod incredible for traveling, but it is so small it can just about fit in your pocket. Well, it’s not that small, but it does fit on a small backpack and can easily hide from TSA 3 out of 4 times. I am also a big fan of the Vanguard Supreme 46F hard case which held one of my light kits on the trip. After getting it back at checked luggage in Manila, I quickly noticed the case was slightly shredded on the bottom. Turns out, the airline tied it to the back of the plane and dragged it along the tarmac at 400 mph. Frustrating, but none the less, the gear was totally fine and the case is still like new, except for the bottom. To no fault of the manufacturer.
So without further ado, here is my review of the Vanguard Auctus Plus 323CT tripod.
The Auctus Plus 323CT is a solid, heavy duty carbon fiber tripod. It weights in at 7.83 pounds without a head and camera, so it is heavy. It’s not heavier than you would expect for a tripod of it’s size, but you wouldn’t want to climb a mountain with it. It can extend up to 71 inches high, and has 3 leg sections. I regularly use it for studio and most of my location work. I have traveled several times with it packed in a stand bag which I always check. Needless to say, it has taken quite a beating by TSA and the fine folks in the baggage department and it’s still going strong. I love how easy it is to use this tripod, and it is really easy to make smooth, precise adjustments. The legs adjust to 25, 50, and 80 degree angles, and the rubber feet grip terrain really well. I haven’t needed to do this yet, but you can also take the rubber feet off, which reveals metal spikes if you need to really stick in somewhere. I primarily use this tripod with my Hasselblad H3D-II which is a really heavy camera, and it does not shake, wobble, or vibrate at all. In the Philippines last month, I shot a series of time exposure portraits (without a cable trigger), each around 4 seconds, and it was so steady. Even when the camera is tilted to shoot portraits, it’s solid. As Gob Bluth would say, the Vanguard Actus Plus is solid as a rock.
Just this morning I had a shoot at sunrise, and I took my Auctus Plus 323CT tripod because I knew it would give me the stability I needed in low morning light. The weight never really bothers me since I am not walking too far. I also have an Alta Pro 283CT, which is awesome, but I always find myself grabbing the Auctus Plus.
In full disclosure, when I first started using the Auctus Plus, one of the leg connectors broke, but Vanguard quickly replaced the entire tripod for me no questions asked, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s fair to expect just about any brand or product to have problems from time to time, and how a company handles those situations makes all the difference. I would recommend Vanguard tripods to anyone. They are solid, reliable, designed really well, and surprisingly affordable which makes them that much more of a great deal. If you are in Seattle, Glazer’s sells them, otherwise, you can order them from B&H Photo here. Happy shooting.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Random, Tools Of The Trade
As most of you are likely already fully aware, Glazer’s is a fantastic resource in Seattle for photography gear, both retail and rental. We are very lucky to have such a great resource in our community. Becker and I would like to thank Glazer’s for extending their generous support by sponsoring our trip to the Philippines; Bruce and Rebecca have been so supportive of our work, and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude in helping to make our trip a success. Thank you Glazers for constantly going above and beyond to support photographers, and thank you for helping us raise awareness about the exploitation of women and children in the Philippines. It’s exciting to see what we can accomplish through art and a collaborative community.
I have some fun projects lined up in the near future where I will be teaming up, and joining forces with Glazers, and I couldn’t be more excited! Keep your eyes peeled…
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.
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.
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.
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.