Somebody who can light, and show up, and make a portrait is of no value anymore. It sounds like just another wild statement to grab your attention, but it’s actually true. I interviewed my incredible rep Maren Levinson of Redeye for our Survival Guide workshop and what she has to say is so powerful, I wanted to share it with everyone. This is such great advice for artists today. The industry is changing rapidly, and it is really important to understand what your value is as an artist, and how you fit into the big picture. I hope you find this exciting and inspirational. If it strikes a chord with you, and you want to learn more about marketing, strategy and business for artists. You can check out one of our Survival Guide workshops on our workshop page. To receive updates on future workshops and opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under News
Hello, blogosphere! I want to introduce myself to you all. My name is Nichelle, and I am the newest member of the Keatley team. I’ve been working at Keatley for the last 8 years in a very limited capacity managing the finances, but about 9 months ago I stepped up my role at Keatley to now include post-production, office management, and workshops. I have been having a blast getting the chance to be a part of the day to day workings of Keatley, getting to participate in the crazy antics and photoshoots that John and Taylor experience daily. Oh, and one other pertinent piece of information: I’m John’s wife.
Being that workshops is a big part of my job, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the first two Survival Guide weekends that have come and gone, and how we have come to where we are. John, as some of you may know, is a man with many ideas. Small ideas, big ideas, crazy ideas, fabulous ideas. But there are a lot of them! When we first were married, I would ride the roller coaster of emotions, as his mind produced idea after idea. Until I realized, these are ideas, not necessarily every one of them is going to come to fruition. I now try to be a supportive listener, and really only heed attention to those ideas that keep resurfacing. It’s made for a much saner life for me, yet allows him to keep dreaming. But I am also realizing through the Survival Guide, that sometimes what can start out as a small idea, can grow and flourish when seen through the eyes of other people. Ideas don’t have to be dreamed by just one person.
Several years back, John et al came up with the idea of a 2-day workshop that focused on marketing the first day, and lighting the second. It was in response to numerous people wanting to know “How do you do what you do?” But even from the beginning of that workshop, John realized that doing what he does was more than just taking pictures. It was and is about creating and understanding business. That workshop (fondly referred to as the “Un-Workshop”) was successful, and John taught it around the world, in Seattle, Dubai, and the Bahamas. Despite the great response from that workshop, though, John struggled with generating an excitement for teaching it. Throughout many conversations, it just became obvious that teaching about lighting and technique was not where his heart was. He creates images from a place of emotion and feeling, and that is not easily transferred into shutter speed and lighting technique. The lighting class to him felt dry and boring, something he would be uninterested in attending. And so the Un-Workshop just settled on the back shelf as his commercial photography business started booming.
About a year and a half after the first Un-Workshop, John received an email from an attendee, describing how the information he learned during the Day One / Marketing class had transformed his career. He had managed to enter into full-time photography, was working with some large clients, and was feeling confident in how to market his current successes into getting his next job. One month later, he got a second email with a similar tale.
John and I were driving around one day shortly after receiving those emails, and the idea began to occur to both of us. No one was writing to say how their careers were dramatically changed by the information they had learned in his lighting class. But careers were being changed by the information he was most passionate about, something he liked teaching and talking about: business and marketing. That seemed significant, and something not to just dismiss without a second thought. We needed to rethink this workshop, and teach to John’s passion for business. And that’s really how the Survival Guide began.
We’ve now completed our first two weekends here in Seattle, and the support and response from those who have attended has been heart-warming and completely eye-opening. I’ve heard attendees say there is no other workshop teaching what we are teaching in such a realistic and honest way. Yet John’s take on this is that a person will never be truly successful if their business is built on secrets, because someone else will figure them out or create something better. The information discussed at the Survival Guide is raw, pertinent, real, applicable, and very honest. We have taken the information that we use on a daily basis to bid on jobs, the questions to ask when speaking with a client, our understanding of what it takes to find a space for yourself in the art world, how to build authentic relationships when marketing, and wrapped it up into an intensive 2.5 day course. Our intent is to build the artistic community a solid foundation, so that we are all being pursued for jobs based on artistic ability and not undercutting one another based solely on the bids.
And so what started as a small idea a few years ago, is now building steam and support. We are excited. So very excited for the way this workshop is starting to impact lives and careers. 30 to count so far. And in July, we are heading to St. Louis. July 10-12 to be exact, being hosted by the gracious RGG EDU. We are stoked to meet the city of St. Louis, to see the Gateway Arch, taste the local cuisine, and experience the hospitality of the MidWest. We hope you will join us, or let us know if you would like to be kept abreast of future locations and dates.
“The workshop met my expectations because I needed help with every step that we covered. John explained everything in depth and took time to answer our questions. I loved all the personal assignments as well as the group assignment, where we had to put in a bid and explain our numbers. The workbook and handouts are awesome! I have confidence that when I am presented with a potential job, I won’t be undercutting the market, or myself, and I won’t look like an amateur. I already know that I will be referencing these materials for years to come.” – Joshua Huston
“John’s workshop answered a lot of my questions -and questions I didn’t know I had, about the business side of commercial photography. He runs you through a job from start to finish. He starts with how to market yourself to the work you want, bidding for the job, running all the way to how to thank your client at the end of a great shoot. He shows you how to be the best photographer and business manager you can be. This isn’t to mention all of the real world insights he slips in. The information is worth it all by itself, but the relationships you’ll build and the fun you have will simply put the whole experience over the top!” – Cori Keady
“Exceeded (my expectations)! The most overwhelming side of being a creative is how to be realistic, professional, and run a business. Hearing and seeing the tools required to be successful is a huge weight off my shoulders. Can’t wait to put these tools into session. I would say that it took away the unknown aspects of running a creative business that often paralyzed my growth. It has made me excited again to be an artist, and one that could make money and be happy.” – Lonnie Webb
A huge thank you to BlackRapid for hosting us in March and April. Looking forward to future Survival Guide collabs in Seattle!
Wow, this is so exciting! Introducing our new digital download from DEDPXL and Zack Arias. Ta Da! I spent 3 days with the DEDPXL crew last Fall filming this video. We put together some great shoots ranging from simple portraits to some conceptual work with a set build. This video series takes you through my personal life, career, failures and triumphs and also takes you on-set, behind-the-scenes to see some of my methods, gear and techniques as well as a full day of shooting. It could not have turned out any better in my opinion.
This short trailer gives you a good idea of what to expect. Thanks for taking a look. We have been overwhelmed by the positive response. Head on over to DEDPXL to download the full video now and enjoy!
Huge thank you to Zack Arias and Bernard Brand for all of their hard work on this. I am really proud, and happy to be a part of it.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under News
When I first got into photography, I was still in college, desperately trying to figure out what to do with my life. I wanted some sense of control over whatever it was I was going to do, but that was all I knew. When I first picked up a camera, it was for no other reason than to take pictures of my friends jumping off swings, and long boarding down the steep 16th fairway at night. It was something I enjoyed, but I never imagined that it could actually translate into a career. Thanks to the kind words of a drug store photo lab manager named Kolene Potter, I decided to become a professional photographer. All I knew is that she said I could be good at it, and that some people make a living taking pictures. That was all I needed to know, and I never looked back. The world of photography was completely unknown to me, and from my perspective, there were no limits. That was what made it so exciting. The opportunity to explore and experiment. The thrill of the chase, and trying to figure out just how to make money doing something I enjoyed.
This took place just as digital cameras were coming into existence, and also when I was still finishing up college, so I didn’t have the financial pressures that exist on me today. Looking back, it was the best possible scenario for me to begin a career in photography. But not only was the timing right, there were several people who came into my life and gave me amazing advice. They shared their time and knowledge with me, helped me with my portfolio, and maybe most importantly, taught me how to bid on jobs. Every one of those lessons and moments has stuck with me, and I will carry that knowledge with me forever. I never would have had the opportunities I have today if it were not for those generous people.
In 2013, I taught my first workshop. It was called the Un-Workshop. We were trying to break the mold and do something a little different. The first day was filled with marketing and business lessons, numbers, stories, and goals. It was everything I could think of that has been helpful to me in my career as a freelance artist. The second day was all about lighting and production, and if I had to guess, I would say a majority of the people who attended were lured by the lighting. It just sounds way sexier than learning about business.
I have continued to teach the Un-Workshop over the last couple of years, in Dubai and the Bahamas. It has been a good workshop, but after collecting feedback from over 60 people who have attended, I have come to realize something. People always comment that they have fun with the shooting and lighting. But what they really spend time talking about is the business and marketing content. To hear things like, I keep the workbook on my desk at all times and always refer back to it, and I just landed my biggest client, and I just won a bid on the biggest job of my career, and Business is better than ever... That feels really good. There are so many places to learn about lighting these days. And lighting is really important for a photographer, don’t get me wrong. But if I can offer information that can change the direction and stability of an artists career, that is what gets me really excited.
I was with a group of professional photographers recently, and I was really struck by the number of times I heard them say things like, “I’m not business-minded”, “I’m a starving artist,” “I just want to create, I don’t want to deal with self promotion…” I get all that. Those feelings are totally valid, but it doesn’t have to be like that. I know artists are not often considered savvy business-people. It might be a right brain, left brain sort of thing. But I also happen to know many amazing business people who are also wonderful artists. I think what seems to be more the case is that artists are never taught about how to run a business. How to pitch an idea to a potential client. How to understand the needs of a client or potential client, and what to actually charge for all of the many different services artists provide. Over time the artist’s creative drive is locked down in trying to understand the nitty gritty, and the excitement begins to fade.
This is why I love teaching, and why my team and I have created a new workshop called “Survival Guide”. I believe I have a responsibility to pass on what has been given to me over the years, as well as lessons I have learned from my own journey. I also believe that with a solid plan, and some basic guidance, any artist can learn to thrive and create work they are passionate about. It doesn’t have to be a big struggle between creating and business.
Find out much more and sign up at our new Survival Guide page. See you soon.
Oh, and this awesome illustration for our poster was created by Derek Sullivan. Thanks Derek!
“Arrows” by Fences featuring Macklemore and produced by Ryan Lewis. Directed by Jason Koenig and John Keatley. It’s hard really to put into words what I am feeling right now. We literally just finished working on this video and I haven’t had time to clear my head or process what has just happened. It has been 2 solid months of hard work for so many talented people, and I am incredibly proud of what we all created. First and foremost I want to thank Fences, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, my co-director Jason Koenig, and my wife Nichelle and our kids.
It goes without saying, but this has been an amazing opportunity that I am very grateful for. I also made some wonderful new friends along the way. It is worth mentioning that the sets for Arrows were all built in Seattle. Pre-Production, casting, filming, and all post production was done in Seattle. Seattle pride! I hope you enjoy the “Arrows” music video as much as I enjoyed working on it. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for lots of behind the scenes pictures and videos.
I have directed a few small film projects in the past few years, but what a project to get thrown into the ring on. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. This is just the beginning. John Keatley – Director / Photographer. I like the sound of that.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under News
It’s official!!! Jason Koenig and I directed a music video for the song “Arrows” by Fences featuring Macklemore and it comes out this Monday! Holy Smokes I am excited about this. You will be able to see it on Youtube, so get ready. More soon. Thanks for watching!
Home stretch! It is almost time, and this MTV News post is a nice little teaser that something amazing is about to drop. Stay tuned. This is what making a music video 24/7 looks like.
What!? That’s right. We are taking this show on the road to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas this May 28th through Sunday June 1st.
Can you say lazy river y’all! I think we are definitely going to be ending each day on the lazy river. Heck, we may even do a shoot on the lazy river just because we can. It’s going to be amazing. We will be in paradise, taking pictures, relaxing, hanging out with some awesome people and of course learning a ton.
What really makes this so exciting is the unique location. I can’t wait to shoot on location and do some things I have not been able to do at previous workshops. We are definitely going to take advantage of our surroundings. Take a look…
Above is a video from my workshop in Seattle last February.
Lighting The Keatley Way is going to be a blast. I am going to do a couple of shoots so you can see how it all comes together. We will be covering natural and studio lighting. You will also get a chance to create your own pictures and experience the different lighting modifiers. I will be sharing everything I have learned throughout the years to help you walk away empowered, excited and confident about moving forward to create work that will match up with your vision. Lighting and production is not as scary as it seems. Sometimes we just need a little help and nudge in the right direction.
Marketing With The Big Boys is a really important class. I can’t stress that enough. You can be the best photographer in the world, but without a solid understanding of building your brand and marketing it in the right way, you will never make it. Marketing is king in business, and admit it or not, if you are a professional photographer, you are a business. Artists hate to hear that, but it’s true. I majored in Business and have been at this for 13 years. I am going to share with you everything I know and have learned over my career. There are no secrets. Just solid advice and a passion to see others succeed. I will be covering so many things in this course. Even things like real world estimates and invoices. What to charge, self promotion, leverage, building a brand, social media and so much more. My goal is for you to walk away from this workshop feeling excited about business! I know, I know, but dream big right.
Find Your Style is a half day class for photographers who are starting out, or asking questions like, ‘How did you get to where you are?’ ’How did you develop your style?’ ’How do I find my style?’ Finding your style is more about understanding yourself than anything else. It all starts with you and what makes you uniquely you. I will be talking about my journey, and how you can begin or continue in your own successful journey as a photographer, shooting what you love and getting paid in the process. We may even throw in a fun little shoot too, just to keep things interesting.
Signing up and reserving your spot only requires a 20% deposit, so no need to pay it all at once. Come alone, bring a friend, bring your partner, bring your whole family! That’s what I’m doing. F-Stoppers is putting on quite a show. There will be an awesome meet and greet, as well as talks on Friday by all 10 photographers who are teaching at the event. Friday is going to be free, so you can get some great input from many different points of view. The folks at F-Stoppers have also hooked us up with great rates on rooms starting at $160 a night. Not to mention flights are pretty dang low right now, depending on where you are traveling from. Sign up soon. Spots are limited for each workshop. Also worth noting, the room discounts will be disappearing 1 month before the event. Let me know if you have any questions. I hope to see you in the Bahamas!!! Let’s do this. Here is a link to sign up.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under News, Personal Work, Press & Interviews
As some of you may know, last year I began a little portrait project with my iPhone and Instagram. It began almost as an accident, but quickly became a project very close to my heart. I have met some amazing people and heard some incredible stories along the way. Like Jordan’s story for example. Within just a few months, I got a call from KING 5 about going on New Day NW (watch video) as well as several other interviews. One of those interviews just came out this month in Professional Photographer Magazine as a full feature. As a photographer, it’s exciting to shoot for a feature, but a feature about my work is a whole new level of excitement. Thank you so much to Jade Price and everyone at Professional Photographer for your support and interest in my work. I feel like I am just getting started with my iPhone Portrait project, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under News
I am very excited to officially announce I am now represented by Redeye. I spent the better part of six months doing an extensive search, including, meetings, phone calls, interviewing art buyers, etc. After all that, the stars aligned and I knew I wanted to be working with the wonderful people at Redeye. If you haven’t worked with Maren or Stephanie yet, you will love working with them. They are super lovely! I feel very blessed to be surrounded by such hard working, fun loving, personable and honest people. Here is to a great year ahead, and thanks to everyone for your ongoing support and interest in my work.