29
May

Coffee Face Campaign

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS, Personal Work

Coffee Face personal shoot by advertising photographer John Keatley.

Coffee Face personal shoot by advertising photographer John Keatley.

Coffee Face personal shoot by advertising photographer John Keatley.

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.

09
May

Radar The Talking Dog

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.

Thanks to VIV Mag photo editor Daniel Montoya for working with me on this.
Retouching by Gigantic Squid.

07
May

Thank You Glazer’s Camera

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…

04
Apr

Arriving In Manila

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work, Travel

Last month I wrote about an upcoming assignment in the Philippines for an organization called Arts Aftercare.  Here is a link to the post if you are interested in the backstory, but basically I was working with the story of sexual slavery, human trafficking, and the work people are doing to help survivors.  I was gone for 10 days in the beginning of March, and  I got back to the States a few weeks ago.  After taking some time to rest, and reflect on the trip and what I saw, I finally feel like I am at a point now where I have processed enough of the trip, and I can share my thoughts and more importantly, my pictures.  I feel like this project makes the most sense when split up into 4 or 5 different stories.  The first part of the story is arriving in Manila and getting somewhat acclimated to my surroundings.

I have never had to think so much about an assignment as I did on this trip.  There are so many variables to consider, which I have never had to think about on past assignments.  One of the things I found myself thinking about a lot on this trip was journalistic integrity.  Thankfully I was traveling and working with my close friend, and filmmaker Eric Becker who I learned so much from.  It would have been a totally different experience for me if I didn’t have him there for support, and just overall great companionship.  When I was in Liberia last year, I took pictures of anyone, because everyone in the entire town I was in, was effected in one way or another by the lack of clean drinking water.  It was something that had a broad reach, and just about any person, place or thing seemed relevant to the story.  In the Philippines, I was trying to tell a story about sexual slavery.  Although prostitution seemed to be everywhere I turned, it is not so easy to create a visual story without being painstakingly careful.  For example, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort when we visited Angels City.  Just in the short time I spent in the lobby during a 24 hour period, I saw 20 or so men bring back, or meet prostitutes in the lobby.  Everyone knows what is going on, but at the same time, seeing a 65 year old American man and a 20 year old Filipino girl walking to a hotel room is not proof of what is going on.  Sometimes the age difference was not so great, and it certainly isn’t fair to assume every white guy and Filipino girl are in anything other than a serious relationship.  Being a portrait photographer, I wanted to photograph so many different people, but I knew I needed to be careful what I was implying by including someones portrait or picture in a series like this.  I didn’t photograph the bellhop at the hotel I was staying at and say he is somehow a part of the story, anymore than I would want someone photographing me in the Philippines and saying I was somehow involved.  There is actually a lot of human trafficking that happens in Seattle.  Seattle is a major player in human trafficking unfortunately, but that doesn’t mean you can photograph anyone in Seattle and say they are part of the story.  Some of you may be thinking what I am saying seems pretty obvious, but it was  new for me, and took a lot of thought to work through.

With all of that being said, these images are from our travels to Manila from Seattle, as well as wandering around and exploring Manila after we first arrived.  Which I might add, we didn’t have much time to explore.  None of these images are linked to or are intended to be linked to prostitution or human trafficking, but they help set the stage for where I was in the Philippines, and what my surroundings were like.

I am really excited to share more from this trip in the coming days and dive into the images I am most excited about.  As always, thanks for your interest!

On another note, all of these images were edited with VSCO Film which is an amazing image editing tool for Lightroom, Aperture, and Camera RAW.  It has totally sped up my workflow, improved my images, and is one of my favorite tools as a photographer.  Check it out for yourself here.  I also wrote a couple of reviews here and here with processed images if you want to find out more.

21
Mar

On The Road For AARP Bulletin

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Editorial Work

Better late than never I always say.  Actually, I don’t always say that, and it’s not really a good motto to live by, but in this case, it works.  I have been meaning to post these images for a few months, but am just now getting around to it (my bad).  Last Fall, I was excited to see Director of Photography Michael Wichata’s number light up on my phone, as he was calling about a cross country assignment.  I love working with Michael because of the thoughtfulness he puts in to his work, and he is really passionate about photography.  It makes assignments that much more enjoyable when you work with someone who cares that much.  The story is called ‘Will I Ever Work Again?’ and it covers three people over the age of 55 who felt the effects of these tough times when they lost their jobs and had to try to re-enter the work force at a time when there are more people than jobs.

The first stop was Dallas, TX where I met Alejandra Mendoza, who was let go from her supervisor position at a mid-size bank.  It was my first time in Texas, and it was HOT!  In the spirt of everything being bigger in Texas, my assistant Oliver and I went to the biggest movie theater in America (so I was told) and saw Captain America.  Unfortunately we can’t undo that experience.

Our next stop was Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  We arrived late Monday night, and shot first thing on Tuesday.  Florida was a different kind of heat than I had ever felt before, the kind where you could feel your skin melting off after just a couple of minutes in the sun.  This might be why we saw so many people walking to the mailbox, or picking up the newspaper in only their underwear.  Mark Krieger was my subject in Florida, and he lived in a really nice gated community on a series of lagoons.  When we arrived, there was no one at the gate, and no way to call or get buzzed in that we could see.  We couldn’t reach Mark either, so after driving around the community looking for another entrance, we decided to park on the side of the road just to the side of the gate.  After waiting for a few minutes, a car approached the gate and it opened.  As soon as they began moving through, I gunned it and sped in behind them just before the gate could close.  Seems a little anti-climactic now, but at the time I felt like James Bond, and it was more than enough to pump us up after several long flights.

After a quick shoot with Mark, it was back to the airport where we experienced the heaviest flash rainstorm I have ever seen on the highway.  It came out of nowhere, and we saw 6 crashes over the span of 2 miles.  We even got honked at and flipped off for slowing down as we narrowly avoided hitting the car that had just crashed in front of us.  Oh Florida…  Thanks for the hospitality.

Next it was off to Akron, OH to meet Pam Gaul who recently got a job at Bridgestone Tire Company.  The company headquarters was in a really old, half-empty building, and it was one of the coolest buildings I have ever seen, from a photography interest point of view.  We got a tour of the empty part, and it was hauntingly beautiful.  Much of the furniture was left as-is from decades ago.  If only I had more time to explore, there were some really cool rooms to shoot there.

Pam was the inspiration / success story of the article, and her story was really fascinating.  After losing her previous job she joined a job club and was coached on interviewing, applying for a job, and personal presentation.  It’s so interesting, the difference between our own perceptions of ourselves, and how we are actually coming across to others.  After a few adjustments, Pam had a great interview and got a job she LOVES at Bridgestone.  Not to make it sound like it’s just that easy, but it is exciting to see people make positive changes and reap the rewards.

After Akron, we flew back down to Wilmington and then back home to Seattle, just missing Hurricane Irene.  That was one bumpy flight!

Here is the link to read the article I shot these portraits for on the AARP website.

Thanks Michael and AARP.  This was a fun one.

 

20
Mar

Don’t Talk To The Cops for City Arts

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Editorial Work, Tear Sheets

Don't Talk To The Cops shot for the cover of City Arts by photographer John Keatley.

For those of you who are fellow Seattlites, you may have noticed City Arts has been gaining great momentum as the go-to arts publication around town.  They have been doing a great job covering culture, art, and music, and are not afraid of going out on a creative limb so-to-speak, to bring their audience something fresh and original.  I got to shoot the Seattle based hip hop group Don’t Talk To The Cops for the cover of the March issue.  This was a really fun shoot, and I was excited to get to throw in a slight nod to those amazing laser portrait backgrounds we all coveted back in the 80′s.  I think the hardest part was picking out the right turtleneck and NFL game day jacket.  After that was decided, it was smooth sailing and a lot of laughing.  I can’t say I’ve made it through the article exposing bubble tea, but the cover image is certainly reason enough for picking it up :) (not to mention it’s free).

Big thanks to Art director Dan Paulus, editor in chief Leah Baltus, and Don’t Talk To The Cops.  This shoot was a fun collaboration of talking through ideas and inspirations with Dan and Leah, and I love how it turned out.  I met Dan and Leah for the first time, when I was photographed as part of the City Arts Future List late last year.  Retouching by Gigantic Squid.

21
Feb

Filmmaker Eric Becker

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work

Portrait of filmmaker Eric Becker by photographer John Keatley.

This is a portrait I recently shot of my good friend and colleague Eric Becker, who is a director / documentary filmmaker.  For over a year, Becker has been working on his film, Sound & Vision, which “explores issues facing the nearshore environment. It is a film about the oceans, told through the stories of people working to clean up, protect, and restore habitat in Puget Sound and beyond. The film is scheduled for release this fall.”  I really like this portrait, because it hints at the chaos of documentary filming, while capturing the beauty of the Puget Sound that Becker’s film strives to preserve.

I was lucky enough to see the film at a pre-screening not too long ago, and it is really beautiful.  Not your typical everybody freak out, we have a problem documentary, but one that explains a problem and offers hope, as well as a call to action.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, Becker and I will be leaving for the Philippines with Arts Aftercare next week.  I can’t believe it’s almost time to go.

Retouching by Gigantic Squid.

07
Feb

Preparing For The Philippines

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under News

As you may know, last January I traveled to Liberia with a team from MiiR to document the clean water wells they are funding in areas that don’t have access to safe water.  It was an incredible experience for many reasons, but it also opened my eyes to a much bigger world than the one I live in on a typical day.  A lot has gone on and been discussed in the past year since I went on that trip, and one of the many things I came away with was a newfound excitement and desire to help educate and inspire others to bring about positive change by using the unique gifts we all possess.  I really love the work I get to create as a commercial photographer, and I find myself laughing a lot which is such a blessing.  But because of my experience in Liberia, I have decided that I want to be about something much bigger than myself.  I want my brand to be something people not only associate with creative photography and portraits, but also with a love for justice and for others.  I am still processing what this all means, and how it will play out, but one thing I know is that I would like to be involved in at least one campaign per year where I can help tell a story that needs to be heard.  I want to be a voice for the voiceless, and help those who can’t help themselves. Even though my efforts have been focused on overseas projects so far, I believe there are stories and challenges right here in Seattle that need to be brought to our attention as well.  I think there is something to be said about traveling overseas, and getting out of ones comfort zone though.  It is good to experience new challenges and different cultures, but I hope to also find stories to be involved with in the States at some point also.  Unfortunately, the story I am going to document in the Philippines is also a serious problem right here in Seattle.

That being said, at the end of the month, I will be traveling to the Philippines with an organization called Arts Aftercare.  It is a nonprofit bringing the arts to survivors of slavery, which was started by my college friends Curtis and Grace Romjue.  The purpose of the trip is to train care workers in a new art therapy curriculum which will be introduced to survivors of sexual slavery.  I will be photographing survivors, youth advocates, and trying to tell the story of what life is like for people who are trapped in slavery, as well as those who have been freed.  Thankfully, I will be traveling with my good friend and filmmaker Eric Becker who will be telling the same story through video.  It will be a collaborative effort, and I am really excited to start working on this so we can shine a light in the dark places of the world.  I was shocked to recently find out that modern day slavery is a bigger problem today than slavery has ever been in the history of the world.  What’s even worse is that not only are many of the slaves children, but they are forced into sex 10 to 20 times a day.

A friend of mine emailed me me a video this morning about a girl who had been sold by her mother into sexual slavery.  I could only watch about 2 minutes of it before I turned it off.  This sucks.  I hate reading about this stuff, and it is beyond sad.  What is wrong with people? is the question I find myself repeating over and over.  I leave in less than a month, and I thought I should start writing about my thoughts as this assignment approaches.  My hope is that some of you will be inspired to take action, and in turn tell your personal network about the work that needs to be done.  I also feel like I need to do what I can to prepare myself for what I will be confronted with.  As my wife reminded me today, I tend to cover my ears and walk out of the room when I hear her nurse friends talking about something that makes me queazy.  I guess if I am being honest, I like to be comfortable, and I don’t like to be burdened.  Not really the best way to live life, as nobody ever said life was meant to be comfortable.  I also feel like you never know what is possible until you put something out there.

I know there are many of you who are already involved in fighting modern day slavery through organizations like International Justice Mission and others.  My hope is that by sharing this, some of you may feel inclined to help fight for justice by giving of your unique gifts.  Maybe you are a medical worker, a writer, a teacher…  The possibilities are endless.  We are also still looking for funding for a portion of this trip, so there is also a financial need at this point.  If you are interested in becoming involved, you can write me (john@keatleyphoto.com) or Curtis Romjue (curtis@artsaftercare.org / www.artsaftercare.org).  You can donate through the Arts Aftercare donation page and mention this trip in the comment field aftercare.org/donate.  If you have any experience with social justice, or working around such a heavy situation, I would love to hear from you.  It’s going to be a difficult trip, and I know I am going to need help and encouragement.

Thanks for reading.  I hope to share more about this soon.

01
Feb

January Links

Posted by Izzy / Filed under Press & Interviews, Review

Is January already over? Somebody pinch me, this cannot be real! It has been an exciting month in the Keatley offices, and it looks like it is only going to get better from here! Last month John proved to be a very popular guy around town, with many great blog and editorial mentions regarding his work throughout last year. Some of the more notable ones, well worth a read are the City Arts feature that you can see here, and the interview Mull it Over did, seen here. Very exciting.

In addition to John’s photography getting some great attention, the blog has too. Photoshelter’s 2011 round-up gave mentions of the blog, one for John’s VSCO Film review, and the other for the ever-popular Christmas photo and Woodsman short film that accompanied it. If you haven’t watched it yet, do, and if you’ve already seen it, you probably want to again so, here’s the link.

Plenty more great projects in the works, so stay tuned!

22
Jan

Drinks With Murray Stenson

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS, Editorial Work, Tear Sheets

I hinted at a fun assignment I was working on last month on Twitter, and now I am excited to to be able to share the images with you.  I had a lot of catching up to do when I first got the assignment to photograph Murray Stenson from Art Director Jane Sherman at Seattle Weekly, but it didn’t take long for me to find out that Murray is widely regarded as the best bartender in the country.  Don’t believe me?Just ask Esquire, Playboy and Tales of the Cocktail.  It felt like when you get a new car, and all of a sudden you realize that just about everyone else on the road has the same car as you.  As soon as I got this assignment, it seemed like everyone I knew was going out to get a drink from Murray.  Apparently I was the last person to know.  I was quite excited to not only photograph Murray, but to also have a drink from him.

I did the shoot at Canon, which is a new bar in Seattle where Murray works, along with an all-star group of bartenders led by Jamie Boudreau who is also the owner.  There is a bit of a wait to get in, but I can tell you the wait is well worth it.  I filmed a short video of Murray mixing and explaining how to make an Absinthe Julep, which you can see below.  And yes, I did get to drink it after we were done filming.  Someone had to, and I didn’t want it to go to waste.  We did have to do 2 takes, but thankfully my assistant handled the second one since we were dealing with 124 proof.  For what it’s worth, I made sure the video was the last thing we did so my pictures wouldn’t be out of focus.

Although Murray has been written up in many other magazines, this article is the first time he has told his story.  It was written by Mike Seely, and is a really fascinating read.  Here is the link to the article if you are interested.  Along with the video, I also included a few behind the scenes pictures at the bottom.

Thanks to Jane Sherman for working with me on this, and thanks to Murray and Jamie for being such gracious hosts and subjects.  Photo retouching by the fine folks at Gigantic Squid.

Behind the scenes pictures by Lonnie Webb.