Ferran Adria for Wired UK

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

October Cover of Wired UK.  Ferran Adria by John Keatley.

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.

Wired UK table of contents.  Ferran Adria by John Keatley

Wired UK opening spread on Ferran Adria.  Photo by John Keatley.

Portrait of Ferran Adria by John Keatley.

Portrait of Ferran Adria by John Keatley.

Ferran Adria at El Bulli Workshop.  Photo by John Keatley.
Ferran at El Bulli Workshop talking with two of his computer programmers, who are working on some exciting new developments for the El Bulli brand.

Ferran Adria by John Keatley.

John Keatley, Ferran Adria.
Working with Ferran on the how best to hold the E, and balancing it with the proper way to hold a knife and cut.  Pictured with Ferran’s interpreter, Andrew Diprose and myself.

Ferran Adria and John Keatley.

Ferran Adria and John Keatley.

Ferran Adria and John Keatley.

Ferran Adria and John Keatley.

Ferran Adria and John Keatley.

El Bulli kitchen
El Bulli kitchen during the remodel / reinvention of El Bulli.

El Bulli food.
Portion sizes and shapes of all ingredients served at El Bulli made out of Play-dough.

El Bulli food.

El Bulli food.
Two dishes served at El Bulli made from Play-dough, next to a photograph of the actual dish.

El Bulli food.

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.

Watermelon infused with sangria
Watermelon infused with sangria

The Olive-S
The Olive-S

Tickets food

Tomato bread
Tomato bread

Tickets food

Mini airbags stuffed with manchego cheese
Mini airbags stuffed with manchego cheese

Tickets food

Tomato tartar cone
Tomato tartar cone

Codium tempura with it's vinagrete jus
Codium tempura with it’s vinaigrette jus

Oranges in olive juice with mint
Oranges in olive juice with mint

Avocado cannelloni with crab and romesco sauce
Avocado cannelloni with crab and romesco sauce

Tickets food

Marinated fried fish
Marinated fried fish

Fried egg with truffled duck fat and potato cream
Fried egg with truffled duck fat and potato cream

Confit potatoes with pork rib jus and boiled iberian ham
Confit potatoes with pork rib jus and boiled iberian ham

Liquid ravioli of Payoyo cheese
Liquid ravioli of Payoyo cheese

Animated Forrest
Animated Forrest

Warm lava cake of
Warm lava cake of “turron de Jijona” with raspberry sorbet.  We ordered 2 of these.  :)

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.

Wired UK AD Andrew Diprose, Ferran Adria, John Keatley, and Wired UK Executive Editor Greg Williams
Wired UK AD Andrew Diprose, Ferran Adria, John Keatley, and Wired UK Executive Editor Greg Williams

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.


Don Mattrick for Forbes

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Editorial Work

Portrait of Microsoft's Don Mattrick for Forbes by John Keatley.

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.


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.


Too Beautiful To Live Host: Luke Burbank

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Videos

Luke Burbank, host of Too Beautiful To Live by photographer John Keatley.

Luke Burbank is the host of a podcast called “Too Beautiful To Live”.  TBTL used to be a radio show until it got canceled.  After switching to a self produced podcast the show became much more popular reaching 1.5 million downloads a month.  He told writer Matt Halverson one of the benefits of doing a podcast is you don’t have to wear pants, which is where the idea of photographing him in a bathroom came from.

This is a short video documenting the construction of the set and some footage from the shoot.  I hope you enjoy it.

Client: Seattle Met
Art Director: Benjamen Purvis
Set Builder: Brett Thomson


American Photography 26

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Awards, Celebrity

Sarah Palin by photographer John  Keatley.

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.


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.


PDN Faces Opener

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Awards, Tear Sheets

Portrait of Annie Leibovitz is the opener for the 2010 PDN Faces issue.

Portrait of Annie Leibovitz by photographer John Keatley printed in the PDN Faces issue.

The PDN Faces issue is out now, and my portrait of Annie Leibovitz is the opener.  I am very excited and honored to say the least.   This image was also selected in the American Photography 25 Competition last year.  Pretty cool!

*UPDATE* 8/17/2010 – The PDN Faces 2010 Winners Gallery is now online with all of the winning images.  There are some great portraits in there, and a nice note about my portrait in the intro on the landing page.

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Douglas Coupland

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Celebrity

Writer Douglas Coupland at his Vancouver studio.  Photo by photographer John Keatley.

Douglas Coupland decked out in his Canadian best.  I photographed Douglas in his Vancouver BC studio for The New York Times Magazine just before the 2010 Winter Olympics.  He was kind enough to give me a tour of his studio, and it, along with his art collection, is enough to make anyone jealous.  Really impressive.  New York Times Magazine Q&A with Douglas.

As I parted ways with Douglas, he said to give him a call if I ran into any trouble at the border.  A kind gesture, but probably not necessary.  For those of you who are not familiar with crossing the border between the US and Canada, it usually involves waiting in a short line and getting grilled with questions ranging from “Why are you visiting Canada (or the US)” to “When is the last time you got into a bar fight.”  On occasion the officer will ask a series of questions, and loop back around and ask the same questions again, which I always find interesting.  A good way to catch you if you are lying about something.

When I reached the border this time, I was greeted with a standard question, “What were you doing in Canada?”  ”Taking pictures,”  I responded.

It’s important to understand the questions you are asked at the border are rapid.  It is not a conversation, it’s question, answer, question, answer.

“What were you taking pictures of?”

“Douglas Coupland for New York Times Magazine.”

Up until this point it’s all pretty standard, but this next part threw me off.  The officer turned from his computer screen and looked at me as he said, “Ohhhh, Generation X”.  Douglas popularized the phrase “Generation X” with his best selling novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. I wasn’t sure how to respond at this point.  Was that a question, or was he simply stating a fact?  Now there was a pause.  This isn’t how it’s supposed to work.  He is supposed to ask the questions and I give the answers.  But it seemed he was waiting for some sort of response, so I said, “Oh, yeah, so you know who he is?”  His demeanor instantly changed, and he responded in a harsh tone, “I said Generation X, didn’t I!?”  I nodded my head in agreement, not wanting to get into it with him.

After another pause, the officer began to tell me about an article he had recently read by Douglas Coupland on how border officers are rude and difficult.  He went on for what seemed like several minutes.  His tone was a mix of amusement and disbelief.  To summarize his main points: What!?  Us, rude and difficult!?  How could anyone think that?

Oh, this is bad I thought.  I should have said I was photographing Céline Dion.

Once again, not knowing how to respond, I tried to be real.  ”To be honest, I have pulled up next to some gruff people working here and I can see how he would think that about some of the people who work here.  But you definitely seem to be one of the the nice ones.”

With that, he snapped back into Mr. Man In Charge, and exclaimed.  ”Well, if you think I’m nice, it would interest you to know I have made more arrests at this station than any other officer.”  He paused to let his accomplishments sink in before handed back my passport and I was on my way.  Until next time.

Equipment Used:
Hasselblad H3DII-31 Camera
Hasselblad Wide Angle H 50mm Lens
Profoto Giant 150 Silver Reflector
Profoto White Softlight “Beauty Dish” Reflector
Wescott 45” Umbrellas

Douglas Coupland and John Keatley

Self portrait with Douglas Coupland.

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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.


One Year Of Blogging With John Waters

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under News

John Keatley and John Waters

Can you believe it?  I sure can’t!  Today marks one year exactly since I posted my first blog entry on the John Keatley Blog.  I think I had 2 subscribers back then (thanks Mom and Dad) but I have been amazed and encouraged by the steady show of support during this last year.  If you are somewhat new here, don’t feel obligated to drop what you are doing and read my first post.  It is less than enthralling, and reads much like the screenplay for Gigli.  That being said, I guess this is as good a time as any to let you know that John Waters has actually been ghost writing my blog for about 9 months now.  Or since whenever it started becoming interesting.  Maybe that is why I felt inclined to leave him in the picture.

I was hoping to take a celebratory 1st anniversary portrait of myself to mark this big milestone, but John Waters kept poking his head into the frame.  As you can tell, I am less than amused.  It was funny the first time, but seriously!

This last year has really been wonderful, and I am very thankful I start blogging when I did.  I fought the blog for a while, but since I decided to take the plunge I have come to enjoy writing and it is something I look forward to each week.  I should sign off before I become too sentimental, but thank you everyone for your support and for taking the time to read.  I am looking forward to the adventures ahead in the next year.