Jeopardy champion, author, and all around hilarious guy Ken Jennings for Time Magazine. I don’t want to brag, but I may have stumped him on the pixel count of my Hasselblad H3D…
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Celebrity, Editorial Work
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS, Celebrity, Editorial Work, Tear Sheets, Travel
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted by Izzy / Filed under BTS
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!
Posted by Izzy / Filed under Editorial Work
Some might find it ironic and nostalgic (our favorite hipster description as of late around here), others might simply call it a way of life — call it what you like, the artisan food movement is BIG, and if you don’t keep on your toes, you might fall behind. One week mushroom foraging is the trendiest of trendy, the next week it’s goat farming and cheesemaking. We got a real kick out of this lately when John shot the Seattle Weekly cover story highlighting (and kind of poking fun) at the whole phenomenon.
Apparently my ‘hipster-esque’ kitchen fit the bill location-wise, and the next thing you know we were all jammed in there dumping large cans of Safeway peaches into Mason jars prepping for the shoot – slightly ironic, slightly nostalgic, and downright hilarious. The photos of this began as outtakes, and actually turned out being what they ran with. The model in her kitsch Anthropology apron, can in hand, and the rest of us just out of the frame in stitches. Don’t get me wrong, I think the whole slow and local food movement is awesome, and to prove it, here is the pickle recipe I can’t wait to take a stab at (courtesy of a childhood friend who has recently made some great waves in the food world with her super legit food blog). Thanks Anna, and especially thanks to Seattle Weekly Art Director Jane Sherman and all of the great folks over at Seattle Weekly! We can’t wait to do it again soon. As always, gigantic thanks to Gigantic Squid for retouching.
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 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.
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.