06
Jul

2011 Px3 Photography Competition

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Awards

2011 Px3 photography competition winning images by John Keatley.

It’s an embarrassment of riches!  I am especially proud of the work I created over this past year, and it is an honor to have that work recognized by the international photography competition ”Prix de la Photographie, Paris” (Px3).  This is my first time in the international game, and all 5 of the images above were selected as well as 2 honorable mentions.

From left to right:

Luke Burbank, host of Too Beautiful To Live for Seattle Met.  Art Director Benjamen Purvis.
Dennis Haysbert for Seattle Met.
Keli Carender, founder of the Tea Party political movement for Seattle Met.  Art Director Benjamen Purvis.
Plants Vs. Zombies / John Vechey, co-founder of Pop Cap Games for Inc.  Photo Editor Monique Perreault.
The Keatley Family 2010.  Personal work / self promotion.

27
Jun

Giant Cat Face

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS

Photographer John Keatley helping his subject feel more comfortable with a giant cat face.

I get a lot of questions about how I work with my subjects to make them feel comfortable.  A photographer’s interactions and technique with his or her subject(s) is one of the most important aspects of a photo shoot, next to being prepared.  I have a lot of thoughts and ideas on this subject, but one idea I thought I would share today is a giant cat face.  I don’t think I need to explain why this works, but here is how you can try it out on your own.  Place a giant cat face over your left shoulder so it is facing your subject.  This will generally help your subject feel more at ease.  If they hate cats or giant cat faces, then they may not feel so comfortable, but at least you will still get some interesting expressions.  It’s a win win for you.

Here is how you can approach it.

Subject: “What’s with the giant cat face?”

Photographer: “What giant cat face?” (It’s important to pretend you don’t know what they are talking about.)

Subject: “The one right behind you, staring at me.”

Photographer: Slowly look around the room, and then discover the giant cat face.  ”Oh, that giant cat face.  Don’t worry about him.  Dante is here to help you feel more comfortable.”

There you have it.  Now you know one way to make your subject more comfortable.  Use a giant cat face.

30
Mar

Dan Savage

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog, Celebrity, Editorial Work

Dan Savage portrait for Time Magazine by John Keatley.

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.

22
Feb

Zachariah’s Portrait

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.

31
Oct

John Keister

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Celebrity, Tear Sheets

Portrait of comedian and actor John Keister from Almost Live for the Seattle Weekly cover.  Photo by Seattle based photographer John Keatley.

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.

12
Jul

Medical Marijuana Pusher

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Tear Sheets

Medical marijuana leader Steve Sarich on the cover of Seattle Weekly.  Photo by photographer John Keatley

Medical marijuana grower Steve Sarich in his bedroom.  Photo by John Keatley.

Pot plants.  Photo by John Keatley.

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.

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29
Jun

The Illegal American

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Tear Sheets

Portrait of an illegal immigrant by photographer John Keatley.

Over the past few months, I have had several assignments featuring everyday people facing big challenges.  It’s a nice change of pace every once in a while, and I appreciate the opportunity to meet and work with people who have completely different stories than myself.  It’s a humbling feeling to photograph someone in their 4 million dollar home one day, and the next day photographing someone out in the sticks who is really excited and impressed by my Hyundai rental car.

This portrait is of an illegal immigrant who has lived and worked in America for the past 20 years.  There were no guarantees the subject would show up, which I guess is understandable considering the risks involved for her (being sent back to Mexico).  I was told I could not photograph her face, only her shadow.  However, after I met her and we talked for a while, she said she would let me photograph her from the back which is what I was hoping for.

I bought some small American flags the night before, and asked her if she would mind holding them.  She said, “No, I don’t mind holding the flags.  I love this country.”

Seattle Met / July 2010
Art Director: Benjamen Purvis

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31
Mar

Tea Party With Keli Carender

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog

Keli Carender is credited with starting the Tea Party Movement.  Her online alias is Liberty Belle.  Photo by John Keatley.

Keli Carender goes by Liberty Belle on her blog “Redistributing Knowledge“, and she is credited with starting the Tea Party Movement.  She burst onto the political scene last summer while attending a town hall meeting hosted by Democratic Washington Congressman Norm Dicks.  She made a speech and waved a $20 bill in the air daring Norm to take it from her and use it as a down payment for health care reform.  I wasn’t familiar with the Tea Party Movement when I got this assignment, but I thought it would be awesome to shoot Keli in a way that would look like an old painting from the Revolutionary War era.  Thankfully my art director, Benjamen Purvis at Seattle Met loved the idea, and I was also able to get Keli to go for it too.  The hardest part was tracking down a period dress from the right era.  I should also mention Keli is actually a member of a comedy improv group called The Beta Society.  That obviously was a big help when asking her to dress up in costume since she is used to this sort of thing.  I don’t expect it would be very easy to get Nanci Pelosi or John McCain to wear a costume for a shoot.  Although that would be amazing!

*UPDATE* – This image was published in the 2011 Communication Arts Photography Annual competition.

Equipment Used:
Hasselblad H3DII-31 w/ 80mm lens
Profoto Giant 150 Silver Reflector
Wescott 45” Umbrella

24
Feb

Sounders FC Goalkeeper Kasey Keller

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog

Seattle Sounders FC Goalie Kasey Keller.  Photo by photographer John Keatley

It’s almost time for my two favorite professional sports.  Lawn darts, and baseball.  Just kidding!  Soccer and baseball.  Although we may be watching lawn darts if MLS and the union don’t come to an agreement soon.  Aside from that, it is pretty exciting to be a soccer fan in the Pacific Northwest right now with how the Sounders have taken the country by storm.  The first game of the 2010 season will be played here against Philadelphia, the newest expansion team to MLS.  And don’t even get me started about next year when the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Portland Timbers will join MLS.  Those rivalries will be amazing!

This is a picture I recently took of Kasey Keller.  Kasey is the goalkeeper and captain of the Seattle Sounders FC.  From my time with him, he seems like a laid back fun loving guy who doesn’t take life too seriously.  While we were talking on set, he said “I get to play a game and catch a ball for a living.”  It was fun to see that side of him, but going into the shoot, I wanted to capture some of his competitive spirit.  One of the Sounders games I was at last season I spent some time on the grass right behind the goal.  Qwest Field is known for being a loud stadium and the fans can carry on with the best of them.  But as loud as it was in the stadium, I could hear Kasey screaming instructions to his teammates over the crowd.  With that in mind, I asked Kasey if he would yell at me for a few pictures.  I half expected to be rejected, but he said sure and started yelling.  I won’t repeat what he yelled, but it was pretty funny.

Go Sounders!

(Here) is a post with video and pictures from the Sounders billboard I shot last season.

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.