06
Sep

Wexley School For Girls In The Nude

Posted by Izzy / Filed under BTS

Cal McAllister of Wexley School For Girls. Photo by John Keatley.
Cal McAllister / Co-Founder and CEO

Gabe Hajiani of Wexley School For Girls. Photo by John Keatley.
Gabe Hajiani / Production Director

Stephanie Peirolo of Wexley School For Girls. Photo by John Keatley.
Stephanie Peirolo / Director of Strategic Partnerships

Christine Wise of Wexley School For Girls. Photo by John Keatley.
Christine Wise / Director of Planning and Strategy

Ian Cohen of Wexley School For Girls. Photo by John Keatley.
Ian Cohen / Co-Founder and CCO

Todd Grant of Wexley School For Girls. Photo by John Keatley.
Todd Grant / CCD

One word sums up the experience of working with the team at the Seattle based ad agency, Wexley School for Girls: AWESOME.  The long and short of it, is that these guys and gals are a riot, and life is never dull when working or hanging out with Wexley.  They never so much as bat an eyelash when John shows up asking them to take their shirts off, dress up in chicken costumes, sprawl across the baby grand, or any other fantastically strange idea John has thrown at them over the years.  Well, actually, not everyone was on board with this concept off the bat, but everyone came around eventually after a good pep talk.

Most business executives need headshots for speaking, press, articles, etc., and the leaders at Wexley are no different.  These portraits are of the Wexley senior leadership team. As you can see, not only are they all pretty much topless, but they have Sara Coates and I smashing and manipulating their faces with our hands.  At least the men do.  The women got a couple of male interns to stand in, and it just so happened to be their first day on the job.  It was awesome, and one of those shoots where we were laughing so hard we cried a little.  Some people may have cried from awkwardness too, but it can be hard to tell the difference sometimes.  Thanks Wexley for being great sports, and for working with us to create such awesome photography.  I like to think this kind of work is the stuff that stands the test of time.

These pictures have already received some of the greatest comments on Facebook.  It’s almost like a social experiment the way some people are so confused  by these portraits.  ”They aren’t really going to use those for press are they?”  Yes, yes they are.

Here is a quick behind the scenes video of the shoot.  Can’t wait to see what happens next time.

Thanks team Wexley, and thanks as always to Gigantic Squid for retouching!

14
Jun

American Indians for The Nature Conservancy

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Ad Campaign

American Indian portrait by photographer John Keatley.

American Indian portrait by photographer John Keatley.

American Indian portrait by photographer John Keatley.

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!

07
Oct

Goodbye Greg Nickels

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Tear Sheets

Greg Nickels speech

Greg Nickels tearsheet

The end of the Greg Nickels era is near.  Seattle mayor Greg Nickels has run this town for the past 8 years, but recently he removed himself from the Seattle mayors race, leaving two new guys to duke it out.   I have photographed Mayor Nickels several times over the past few years, and he has provided me with some good imagery.  I am going to miss photographing his intensity, but maybe the new mayor will prove to be a good subject also.   It’s not like this is good bye though, since we are neighbors with the Nickels family.  I could always walk down the street and borrow a cup of sugar.

(Here) is a link to the Seattle Met article in the tearsheet above.  You can also click the tearsheet to view it larger, but the article is longer than the image shown here.

11
Sep

Bus and Ida May

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work

Buster Brown

Ida May

Bus By The Barn

Bus and Ida May are good family friends of ours, and they live on a farm near Seattle.  Their farm used to be even larger than it is now, but there is now a major highway, several off ramps, businesses and condos where the cows used to graze.  Every summer for the past several years, my wife Nichelle and I have enjoyed homemade desserts with them on their back porch made from ingredients picked just several yards away.  After spending time with them one evening, I felt compelled to photograph them.  To make things as comfortable as possible, I set up in their back yard, while friends and family came over for dinner.  A good  amount of my studio work is actually done on location like this.  Not necessarily on a farm, but in a place that my subject feels most comfortable.  In this case, it was a farm.  Not to mention, I would choose to work outside on a warm summer evening instead of in a studio any time given the choice.

I have a photography show opening in a few weeks, and the headshots of Bus and Ida May will be two of the 12 or so images on display.  I will have more information about the show shortly, and after I wrap up a few large projects, I will be able to get back to a more regular blog schedule.  Thanks for taking a look, and I hope you are enjoying what is left of summer.

05
Aug

Wexley School For Girls

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Editorial Work

Cal and Ian of the Wexley School For Girls at the Wexley office in Seattle.  Assigned by BusinessWeek.  Photo by John Keatley.

Cal writing on Ian of the Wexley School For Girls at the Wexley office in Seattle.  Assigned by Seattle Business Monthly.  Photo by John Keatley.

Headshot of Ian Cohen of the Wexley School For Girls.  Assigned by BusinessWeek.  Photo by John Keatley.

Headshot of Cal McAllister of the Wexley School For Girls.  Assigned by BusinessWeek.  Photo by John Keatley.

Cal and Ian of the Wexley School For Girls going up for a header in Sounders FC uniforms.  Photo by John Keatley

Behold.  The Wexley School For Girls.  What!?  An all girls school run by these guys?  Yes.  Wexley is a very exclusive all-girls school (Ad Agency) run by these two guys.  Cal and Ian.  And one of the highlights of my job is working with these fine people.

When I first met Cal and Ian, they didn’t know anything about advertising.  They were a lounge singer duo in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood.  I was hired by BusinessWeek to photograph them for a story about the resurgence of lounge singers in Metropolitan areas.  That is how the sexy lounge singer portrait came about.  At some point during the shoot, I said,  ”This should be great advertising for your act.”  And Ian said, “What the hell is advertising?”  I laughed, but he wasn’t joking.  He had no idea.  I told him to look it up, which is exactly what he did.  They read everything they could find about advertising, and before long they decided to open up their own ad agency.

The next time I photographed them, they were no longer singing Elton John, but they were making ads.  And good ones at that.

In the last year, I have photographed Cal and Ian a few more times, as well as worked with them on a handful of ad campaigns.  It’s not every day that an assignment or ad campaign comes around that allows you to work with such creative people who are willing to experiment and have fun.  You might look at the quirky Wexley office, and think that it’s all fun and games.  But they take what they do very seriously, and they are dang good at it too.  Just look at the success the Seattle Sounders FC (a client of Wexley) have enjoyed.

I have a couple of earlier posts about ad campaigns that I have shot with Wexley.  (Here) is the post about the Seattle Sounders FC billboard I shot earlier this year, and (here) is the post about the Human Wrecking Balls print campaign from late last year.  In just a few short weeks, I will have some new Wexley related content and videos that I will be able to share.  In the meantime, (here) is a hilarious video called “Winner Take Steve” written by Wexley, and directed by Jared Hess.

07
Apr

Santa on the Street

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work

* If you are using a blog reader, you may need to visit my actual blog to see the slide show above.

I got a call last October from my friend, Tyler, asking me if I would photograph a Christmas party for street youth in Seattle’s U-District.  It’s an annual party, and they usually have a volunteer take candid snapshots that they can give to the youth who attend.  After talking for a little while, we both decided that it would be fun to set up a studio in a corner where anyone who was interested could get their portrait taken.

After I finished setting up, Tyler made an announcement about the studio letting people know that it was available.  Everyone in the room turned to look at me.  I smiled and waved, and then everyone turned back around and continued talking and opening presents.  I waited for about 10 minutes, and still nobody came over.  There were a lot of glances toward the studio, but that was it.  I started walking around the room, and asking if people wanted to have their picture taken.
“No way man.  I don’t want my picture taken.”

I knew it would just take one person to get things rolling, and moments later, that person arrived.  Actually, he was a rabbit…  Although I was excited about photographing a giant rabbit, I could tell that Santa was feeling uneasy and territorial.  He took his white gloves off, one finger at a time, and threw them on the ground.  ”This is my holiday, Rabbit!” He screamed across the room.

That’s a story for another day, though.

I was able to convince the rabbit to let me photograph him, and shortly after, people began lining up to join in.  I took quite a bit of time with the lighting setup for this, and set the lights in a way that would allow for some movement and flexibility with each subject.  I made an x on the ground, and asked each person to stand there. But beyond that, I didn’t control their movements.  I wanted to let each person be themselves, and capture their personalities.  I know that I am not the first person to photograph street youth.  But often I feel that a subject like this is an easy way to create a dramatic story without any creativity.  Street youth encounter struggles that many of us will never experience, some of them dress a little different, but that alone doesn’t make a great picture. What I loved about how these pictures turned out, was the laughter and humor that came through.  I don’t think the pictures would have the same feel if I had taken as much control as I would have with a different subject.  I might have asked Santa to look serious, though…Couldn’t resist that one!

What do you think about the slide show?  Comments please.  I have been posting pictures individually, but it seemed like there were too many for that this time.  I’d love to hear what you think.

28
Jan

Make It Work, Tim Gunn Style

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Celebrity

Tim Gunn Portrait by John Keatley

Tim Gunn.  The man is like a saint.  Everyone loves him.  And I have to say, he is one of the nicest people I have ever photographed or met.  He was kind, easy to work with, and the only person who has ever said to me, “Are you sure you don’t want more time?” at the end of a shoot.  What most people don’t know about this picture is that I actually made his suit out of an old soft box, and the lining from one of my camera bags.  ”Find a way to mitigate that center seam” he repeatedly instructed as I tirelessly worked, rushing to finish the garment.  ”Make it work!”

Talk about pressure.  Thankfully he thought the suit was stunning, and the shoot went great too.  While I was packing up, I noticed Tim in the corner of the room tearing up a piece of berber carpet.  I gave him a questioning look, and he said, “For our next challenge, you will be designing an outfit for a garden party.  You have fifteen minutes to caucus.”

Season 6 of Project Runway, hosted by Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum will be starting soon.  To hold you over, (here) is one of my favorite Tim Gunn video clips.

12
Jan

Dr. Marsha Linehan for Time Magazine

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog

Dr. Marsha Linehan for Time Magazine by John Keatley

Dr. Marsha Linehan

Dr. Marsha Linehan is a Psychologist and a Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington. She is one of the world’s leading experts on borderline personality disorder, (BPD).

“Borderline individuals are the psychological equivalent of third-degree-burn patients. They simply have, so to speak, no emotional skin. Even the slightest touch or movement can create immense suffering.” – Dr. Marsha Linehan

“Borderlines are the patients psychologists fear most. As many as 75% hurt themselves, and approximately 10% commit suicide — an extraordinarily high suicide rate (by comparison, the suicide rate for mood disorders is about 6%). Borderline patients seem to have no internal governor; they are capable of deep love and profound rage almost simultaneously. They are powerfully connected to the people close to them and terrified by the possibility of losing them — yet attack those people so unexpectedly that they often ensure the very abandonment they fear. When they want to hold, they claw instead. Many therapists have no clue how to treat borderlines. And yet diagnosis of the condition appears to be on the rise.” – John Cloud, Time

It’s a fascinating article, and you can read it in it’s entirety here at Time.com.

The portraits were taken at Dr. Linehan’s office on the UW campus.

07
Jan

Portrait of Annie Leibovitz

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Celebrity

Annie Leibovitz Portrait by John Keatley

In the course of a conversation this past summer, it was mentioned that Annie Leibovitz was going to be in Seattle that November.  As soon as I heard this, I was gone.  Blank stare.  Absent from the conversation. I was thinking, “What would it be like to photograph Annie Leibovitz?  Would she let someone else take her portrait?  I don’t think so.  She is one of the greatest photographers ever.  The only pictures I have ever seen of her were self portraits.  How nervous would I be if I got to take her portrait?”  A couple of months later, I received an email from a photo editor at Seattle Metropolitan; “Do you want to photograph Annie Leibovitz?”

I thought a lot about how I would photograph her.  But after dreaming about some grand and sizable production ideas, I decided not to try to do too much.  I would just do what I do best, and keep it simple. We were scheduled to shoot in a private meeting room in a downtown Seattle hotel, with no chance of moving to a different location.  Because of her full schedule that day, I knew she would be tired.  An interview with Steve Scher on NPR (listen here) right before the shoot, and speaking at Benaroya Hall for ‘Seattle Arts & Lectures‘ right after.  I had a small window of time to work with her.

When Annie came into the room, she looked around at the lighting setup, and said,  “Wow, this looks scary.”  My thoughts exactly, but it wasn’t the lights I was thinking about.  We talked a few minutes about photography and cameras before she sat down.  Then I told her about my idea for the portrait, and asked if she would mind taking off her glasses. She said that was fine, and I started to shoot.  It was a balancing act trying to find the line between being in control to get what I wanted, and not being pushy.  I could tell that she was not comfortable being photographed.  She moved around a lot while I shot, and I decided to be flexible rather than push too much to hold a certain pose.  Things don’t always go exactly to plan, and sometimes this can be a pleasant surprise.  It felt like the shoot ended up being a collaboration in making the pictures.  It’s not often that I work with someone who is so willing to be expressive and experiment as she was.  Shortly after we started, the shoot came to an end, and I knew that I had the shot.  I thanked her for her time, and she said, “You did good.”  I’ll take it!  What a compliment.

The article that was published in Seattle Metropolitan, and written by Steve Wieking can be read here.

*Update* – My portrait of Annie Leibovitz was selected in the American Photography 25 Competition (AP25) and will be published in November 2009.  This is a huge honor for me!  The link will take you to a post with more about the award.

05
Dec

Technology Review – Dan Kaminsky

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Tear Sheets

Dan Kaminsky - photo by John Keatley for Technology Review.  The Flaw at the Heart of the Internet.

Technology Review, November 2008.  This was my first shoot with Dan Kaminsky.   He is a hacker who discovered and helped fix a huge security hole in the Internet. Read more about his story in the Wired Magazine post (here).

*Update* David Hobby at Strobist interviewed me about my lighting technique for this assignment and my other shoot with Dan.  He wrote a really nice article, and you can read it (here).