I photographed Dan Savage for the March 28, 2011 issue of Time Magazine. Dan is a sex columnist (Savage Love), and the founder of the It Gets Better YouTube campaign supporting bullied gay teens. Thank you to Marie Tobias at Time for working with me on this assignment. It was a lot of fun to think through the lighting for a Black-and-White portrait for a change. There aren’t many assignments for B&W these days, and it really does take a different lighting approach than working with color. This is my favorite image, as well as the one running in the magazine.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog, Celebrity, Editorial Work
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog
I have had several opportunities to guest blog, as well as give some interviews over the past few weeks and I thought I would share some of these with you. There will be a few more in the weeks to come. Blows my mind to be able to say that. I am really enjoying writing and speaking which is something I have begun to do more of. I struggle with writing or giving advice when it has not been asked for, but when someone asks me a question I find I have no shortage of thoughts and opinions. Part of that is a hangup I have about wanting to be genuine, but I just feel much more comfortable responding to a question, rather than giving unsolicited advice.
To start off, Luke Copping asked me, along with 17 other creatives, to answer the question: How do you get out of a creative rut?
Here is the beginning of my response:
Rather than talking about getting out of a creative rut, I am going to try to help you avoid getting into a rut all together.
I probably don’t need to tell you the life of a professional photographer is filled with many highs and lows. Victories and rejections are a weekly occurrence. The highs are obviously fun, but the lows are not so great.
My first piece of advice is to avoid the highs and lows. Don’t get caught up in the tidal wave of ups and downs. It takes a lot of adjustments to do this, but it is possible and well worth it. You don’t need to live in each high and each low. Learn to enjoy and appreciate accomplishments and victories in your career, but understand that it is temporary and tomorrow is a new day. Typically the phrase “tomorrow is a new day” is reserved for people who are living in a low and need something to look forward to. However, in photography, “tomorrow is a new day” also means someone else is going to do something noteworthy tomorrow and the spotlight will shift to them.
Second, learning how to not live in the highs and lows of your career keeps you from freaking out when you have a slow week or two. Create a consistent marketing plan and stick to it. Aside from shooting, there are plenty of important tasks and projects you need to put time into if you want to be successful. Making sure you are taking time for these activities and tasks will help you keep your mind off of shooting all the time, and personally I find this to help keep me balanced and creative.
You can continue reading my response along with the rest of the post at 18 Imaginative Thinkers Break Your Creative Block.
I just started using FoundFolios, which is a great online portfolio site for connecting photographers with art buyers. I will be rolling out some new work on there in the near future, and the FoundFolios Blog just posted a short blurb about my Liberia photo shoot for MiiR Bottles.
Last but not least, I gave an interview a few weeks back for the Smartpress Blog which is geared toward people who are just starting out in photography.
Thank you to Luke Copping, Rob Haggart, Juliette Wolf-Robin, and Sean Taylor for expressing interest in my work, and sharing it with others.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog
My website updates are finished, and I am pleased to announce I have a new Liberia gallery in the Selected Work section of the website. If you subscribe to this blog in a reader you may have see some strange posts come through during the update, but that has been fixed and everything should be back to normal now. The current selection of images is basically round one as I will be adding more images in a few weeks. I feel really good about this first edit. Take a look and let me know what you think. I hope you like them.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog
While in Liberia last month, I met a wonderful man named Prince Kondoh. He goes by Pastor Kondoh, and he has dedicated his life to serving those who can not help themselves, and teaching the children in his community. During the recent civil war in Liberia, he was basically a prisoner in his own home for 14 years. Not able to go outside without risking his life. Now that peace has returned to Liberia, he works harder than anyone I have ever met with the hope he might be able to make up for lost time. No minute is wasted, and no challenge is too great. He has started multiple schools in Buchanan, one of which is called Chariot Daycare and Elementary School. We were asked to visit the school one morning before we headed out to one of the villages where the wells were being built. Because of the economic situation, there are many children who’s families are not able to pay for school, and I was asked if I would take a few pictures of the students needing sponsorship.
I was thinking I would take a few snapshots and it would be a quick thing. But then I realized I didn’t pack all of these lights half way around the world to take snapshots, even if this wasn’t in the plan. So all of the gear was taken out of the truck and we set up the lights. As I was finessing the lights into place, something caused me to slow down and look around. I wasn’t thrilled with how the portrait was turning out, and then I had a realization. The natural light was near perfect. I struggled with this idea for a few minutes, trying to convince myself it wasn’t possible. Natural light never does exactly what I am looking for, especially in the middle of the day. The picture won’t turn out. But finally after a few tests, I decided to shoot this one with just my Hasselblad and nothing else. It was very freeing to say the least. For some reason, I had it in my head that it wasn’t possible to shoot a picture in my style with only natural light. Natural light never seems to have the pop to it I am looking for, or if it does, the light isn’t at the right angle etc. Most of the time natural light isn’t what I am looking for, but this instance proved to be an exception. It wasn’t until we were back at our house that night, and I loaded the images on my laptop, that I was hit in the face with the detail and clarity of this portrait and the others I shot that day. It was a great lesson for me to be aware of what is going on and to be open to improvising or even deviating from a plan.
But enough about lighting for now. If you can’t tell already, this is one of my favorite pictures from the trip. His name is Zachariah and he is a student at Chariot. I could stare at this image for hours and continue to find new things I like about it. Zachariah is one of the students in need of sponsorship, and I figured the very least I could do was provide a link to sponsor him or any of the other children who need support. The cost is $15 a month and that covers clothing and food, as well as education. If you decide you would like to sponsor Zachariah, please write me after you have done so, and I will send you a free print.
The Child Sponsorship Program is run by the Well Done Organization which is the organization building the wells in Liberia that my client MiiR Bottles partnered with. I can personally vouch for the people working for WDO, as well as the organization itself. Some really great things are happening in Liberia with the support of WDO.
Here are the links one more time. I know not everyone is able to help in this way, but hopefully this might plant the seed in just one person who has the means and desire to help.
Info About The Child Sponsorship Program
Children Still In Need Of Sponsorship
It feels good to start posting images from this trip, and as promised there will be more in the days and weeks to come. My developer just showed me round one of the revisions to my website tonight, and once it is finished I will have a new portfolio section with pictures from Liberia.
The American Photography 26 book comes out today featuring the best photographs of 2009. With that being said, I am pleased to announce my portrait of Sarah Palin has been selected to be in AP26 making this the second year in a row I have had work in the American Photography book. Regarded as the premier showcase for photography, it is a huge honor to be recognized and included with such a talented group of photographers. Last year my portrait of Annie Leibovitz was selected. This image of Sarah Palin is an outtake from my cover shoot for her book Going Rogue.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog
Ever played the video game Plants Vs. Zombies? If so, then these zombies need no introduction. The man in the middle is John Vechey, co-founder of PopCap Games, one of the most successful casual game companies in the world. The first game they created is Bejeweled, which has sold more than 50 million copies. Plants Vs. Zombies is a really addictive game where you grow plants to prevent zombies from reaching your house and eating your brains. It is surprisingly kid friendly, and one of those games you just have to see to understand. I won’t say too much about this image because I think it is enjoyed best without explination.
I will say this was my favorite outtake from a recent shoot I did for Inc at the PopCap headquarters. Nothing like catching a couple of zombies on break at corporate.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Celebrity, Tear Sheets
That’s my portrait of John Keister on the cover of the current Seattle Weekly. John is best known as the “former host of Almost Live, widely regarded as one of the most successful locally produced sketch-comedy shows—or local shows of any kind, perhaps—in the history of modern American television.” – Mike Seely, Seattle Weekly
The show ran for 15 years, and the cast, along with John included Joel McHale, and Bill Nye the Science Guy. The sketches on Almost Live were pretty hilarious as well as short and to the point. Unlike sketch comedy shows these days. Although SNL does seem to be getting a little better again. You can find a bunch of the videos on YouTube if you are interested.
It was a thrill to photograph John, and I am really happy with how the cover image turned out.
It’s jobs like this that remind me why I love photography so much. I laugh every time I look at this picture. How many CEO’s would be willing to be buried in cat litter and let a cat walk around their face? Not many. Although, I did get the cat litter with the blue crystals so it smelled really nice. It also serves as a good example of “you never know till you ask”.
Internet celebrity Ben Huh is the CEO and founder of the Cheezburger Network, the largest online humor network in the world. They run 50 hilarious blogs including I Can Has Cheezburger, Fail Blog, There I Fixed It, Failbook, Engrish Funny, and on and on. The first blog in the network was I Can Has Cheezburger which is a website dedicated to weird pictures of cat’s with pidgin-English captions. Ironic, because Ben is super allergic to cats, and even more amazing he was willing to do this shoot.
I have been working on larger productions and building sets quite a bit lately, and I am loving it. It is pretty fulfilling to take a concept like this (as dreamed up by AD Benjamen Purvis) and come up with a solution to make the idea a reality. A huge thank you goes out to Ben Huh (his personal blog is well worth the read) and Jen from Cheezburger Network, Benjamen Purvis and Matt Halverson from Seattle Met and Michele and Deanna from BuzzBuilders who were so great through the entire process.
Here is a behind the scenes video of working with Ben, and how I put this shot together.
If you are not familiar with the hilarious blogs on the Cheezburger Network, definitely take a few minutes to check them out. You will find something to make you smile for at least a few minutes.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Celebrity, Tear Sheets, Videos
If you haven’t seen the September 2010 issue of Men’s Health yet, pick it up now. I have 6 full pages featuring my favorite football player, Jake Locker. This was my second time working with Jake, and he is one of the most kind and down to earth people I have photographed. Now, I know what you are thinking. Did he bring his pet coyote to the shoot this time? No, he didn’t.
So, what’s up with the helmet? And as big as this kid is, how can there be a helmet that is too big for him? I think it was a lineman’s helmet. Before the shoot, I requested a ball and a helmet. Someone from the university brought us one helmet that happened to be several sizes too big. It wasn’t until we were shooting that I asked Jake to put it on, and we discovered it wasn’t the right size. I’m totally fine with mistakes like that, though, because it turned out to be my favorite picture from the shoot. Fun and unexpected. Outtakes are the best!
For those of you who don’t know, Jake was recently ranked by ESPN as the number one college player in the country. These rankings are subject to change, but he has a legitimate shot at the Heisman this year if things continue to go well for him. As a Husky fan, I hope things go well!
I have been working with video a lot more lately. Some behind the scenes, and also a few photo and video assignments, as well as video only. I really like how this video turned out, and it should give you a little glimpse into how I work on an assignment like this.
Special thanks goes out to Men’s Health Photo Editor Mark Haddad for this assignment. I would also like to mention Affix Music which is a great resource for licensing music for slideshows, video’s etc. Amazing customer service! They are in the process of rolling out some new license options which will be even more specific in addressing the needs to photographers working with video.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Tear Sheets
Seattle Weekly gave me a call last month with a cover story, and it was so intriguing and different from what I am used to, I couldn’t pass it up. The subject is Steve Sarich, and it is going to be very difficult to give good description of him without going on for several pages. Fifty-nine years old, former Penthouse photographer, used to date Anna Nicole Smith, currently dating a 20 year old aspiring model, medical marijuana grower and seller, and he is surrounded by an entourage of young “volunteers” in their 20′s and 30′s, including a personal cook who is really good! I photographed Steve at his new home in the foothills about 40 minutes outside of Seattle. He moved there after a home invasion at his previous residence, where he was sprayed by a shotgun blast just before he shot one of the intruders.
When I arrived at his home, I was greeted by a large pit bull and I honestly thought it was over. I may have thrown my hands high in the air and yelled something. Not really sure what holding my hands above my head would have accomplished had I been attacked. Then, I was mistaken for a “patient” and presented with some options. After quickly explaining I was the photographer and not a patient, I was introduced to Steve and got a tour of the compound. I know there are some new laws and marijuana is legal with a prescription, but apparently it is legal to grow and sell it now, too. Growing up with the understanding that marijuana is an illegal drug is a hard concept for me to shake. All through the day I found myself wondering, “Could I get arrested if this place gets raided right now?” Not to mention, guns make me a little uncomfortable.
“Marijuana’s never been on a path to greater acceptance than it is now. But to Steve Sarich, the change just isn’t coming fast enough. With his guns, brash manner, and retinue of followers who look too young and healthy to be in need of weed, Sarich is the enfant terrible of Washington’s medical marijuana movement.
Sarich doesn’t exactly shy away from confrontation. Where many activists believe that a quiet, non-profit model of providing pot to patients will keep them in the good graces of legislators and law enforcement, Sarich’s vertically-integrated enterprise has unabashedly mixed medical clinics with pot brownie sales, and scoffed at the legal limit on plants. And sent taunting emails to cops while he does it.” – Nina Shapiro, Seattle Weekly
The cover shot is a perfect example of his brash attitude and confidence. I asked him if he had a particular strain he wanted to hold and his eyes lit up. He had just created a new strain of pot and named it “Alloway 420″. Roy Alloway was a Bremerton drug cop who is notorious for his aggressive tactics. He retired shortly after this issue came out, but I’m sure his retirement had nothing to do with this story.
Pretty crazy stuff. If you want to read more, it’s long, but it is an interesting article about Steve and medical marijuana.