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18
Oct

iPhone Portraits

Posted by / Filed under Blog

John Keatley iPhone Portrait of Kindra
Keatley iPhone Portrait of Kindra
Keatley iPhone Portrait of John
Keatley iPhone Portrait of John
John Keatley iPhone Portrait of Andrew
Keatley iPhone Portrait of Andrew
John Keatley iPhone Portrait of Brendan
Keatley iPhone Portrait of Brendan
John Keatley iPhone Portrait of Etta
Keatley iPhone Portrait of Etta
John Keatley iPhone Portrait of Theo
Keatley iPhone Portrait of Theo
Keatley iPhone Portrait of Rameet
Keatley iPhone Portrait of Rameet
John Keatley iPhone Portrait of Chris
Keatley iPhone Portrait of Chris

For the first part of 2016, my iPhone camera lens had a crack in it.  This was a huge bummer, because it prevented me from creating iPhone Portraits.  It was the first time in about 3 years I wasn’t creating spontaneous portraits with my iPhone.  As someone who usually doesn’t create an image without some sort of production, creating a spontaneous portrait on a whim is an incredibly satisfying and exciting experience.

Not having a fully functioning iPhone camera for several months was a pivotal time for this project.  A little part of me was feeling burnt out and tired.  In the first three years, I had photographed over 300 iPhone portraits of family, friends, and strangers.  I wondered if I would ever regain my excitement for this project if I stopped pushing myself to create.

Eventually in the Spring, I did get a new iPhone.  The 6s.  As soon as I picked up the phone, I couldn’t wait to make an iPhone Portrait.  What I began to realize is the time away from this project gave me new energy and excitement to explore and push myself further.  My pace has slowed a bit for several reasons, but my excitement and focus has only grown.  The above images are a handful of the recent portraits I have made this Summer and Fall.  I will continue to share more about this project as I move forward.

You can see a larger gallery of my iPhone Portraits here, and you can also follow @johnkeatley on Instagram to see the full project unfold.

21
Jun

On Having My Picture Taken

Posted by / Filed under Personal Work

iPhone portrait of Jordan Jolliff by John Keatley.

A few months ago, on a Sunday afternoon, I accidentally started a new photography project when I snapped a portrait of a friend with my iPhone.  Since that first iPhone portrait, I have photographed over 100 people with my iPhone, and my excitement for this project continues to grow (you can see some of the images on my Instagram stream as well as under the Projects section).  I was in Hollywood for work last month, and I photographed my cousin’s roommate Jordan while staying with them.  Jordan wrote a short story about his experience of being photographed, and I am so excited to share it with you.  Please enjoy, and thank you Jordan!

 

On Having My Picture Taken

There are certain people that like having their picture taken.  They enjoy it because they are good at it.  They remember to smile and lift chins so they don’t look fat.  They can look happy even if they are not happy. It is comfortable for them to hang arms over the shoulder of the person they are standing next to. When people tell them to scoot closer, they do it happily.

I am not one of those people.

Not that I don’t want to be one of those photogenic people, it just doesn’t come easy to me.
*

I come home tired from my job and commute.  There’s an air mattress in the living room, which seems vaguely familiar.  I am struggling to remember something that my roommate Lonnie had told me about–something about someone staying with us for a little while.  It is all fairly hazy–I dunno, I’ve been drinking too much lately.

I pour myself some cold coffee left over from the morning pot.  I look through the kitchen window and see Lonnie with another guy, presumably our houseguest, and our downstairs neighbor.  They’re all talking at the picnic table in the backyard.

I go out and meet John.  John is Lonnie’s cousin.  Like Lonnie, John is a photographer.  I shake John’s hand. I’m trying to be friendly.  Lonnie asks me how work was.  I growl that it was rough and excuse myself to do some chores.  I don’t totally nail being friendly.

Then I’m sorting through a bunch of dirty clothes, trying to break out of my 9-5 work headspace, and getting ready for the writing I’m going to do this night.

Lonnie knocks on my door.  This sort of uncommon at our place.

Lonnie asks,”Hey man, would you mind having your picture taken?”

I open the door.  Lonnie explains, “My cousin John is a photographer and he really wants to take your picture.”

I say yes, because only celebrities can say no to having a picture taken of them. And also, no one has ever seen me and said, “I want to take your picture.”  I can’t quite escape the mixture of compliment and embarrassment that goes along with this.

John is enthusiastic.  He has already shot Lonnie earlier in the afternoon.  He tells me about this iPhone portrait project he’s been working on as he looks at my shirts–not the dirty ones on the floor, but the few that are still hanging in my closet.  I push for a red Pendleton camp shirt, but he isn’t interested in it.  He knows what he’s looking for.  So I put on an old 70s polyester flannel, which I like, but it is missing the third and fourth buttons from the top.  I am slightly worried about this, but it doesn’t seem to bother John.

I follow John around the apartment as he looks for the lighting he needs, which is in Lonnie’s room.  I sit on Lonnie’s army cot. John and I talk as he holds his iPhone with both hands.  He stares intently at the screen.  He puts the phone close to my face, about twelve inches, maybe sixteen inches away from me.

It’s got to be a delicate thing, the iPhone portrait.  Like everybody else, I’ll snap off some pictures with mine, and occasionally they’ll look alright, but it’s just a phone, and I don’t care too much.  But John’s really working here, looking for a specific thing to show up on his screen.  He gives directions like: shoot your chin forward, or look at the top of the phone, or look off to one side.  I move my head a centimeter one way, then the other. Later, we move around the room, chasing the light.

John takes, I dunno, less than a thousand photos but more than five hundred.  They’re all about the same–I’m not doing much here, just sitting and doing what he asks me to do.  At some point, he tells me to look concerned.  And my eyebrows squeeze together a bit.  Later, he asks me to pretend like I’m about to say something.

At some point, I try to smile, because it’s a photo, and you’re supposed to smile in photos.  John immediately tells me to cut it out.

Eventually, John decrees that we’ve gotten it and he says thank you and I say thank you and that’s it.

Later that evening, he shows Lonnie and I some of the shots he had taken that afternoon.

We see the photos from Lonnie’s shoot.  They are great, unmistakably great.  Lonnie looks earnest and charming, like he might be on his way to sail to Patagonia or propose to his girlfriend.

We look at my photos and they’re the best photos I’ve ever seen of myself.  The lighting is warm, my shirt looks better than it looks in real life, all of what anyone could ask for in a portrait, anything you could possibly want.  But I look very unhappy in these pictures.  My looks range from concerned to sad to angry.  I look like someone I do not want to be.  John, in the few minutes I had known him, had keyed in on this emotional thing inside me.  This was me on a Monday after work.

I thought about this a lot.  Weeks later I quit my job, not exactly because of this, but certainly because life’s too short to be a miserable Monday-hating-sonofabitch.

Jordan Jolliff
2013

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