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21
Aug

Not Your Mother’s Peaches

Posted by / Filed under Editorial Work

Some might find it ironic and nostalgic (our favorite hipster description as of late around here), others might simply call it a way of life — call it what you like, the artisan food movement is BIG, and if you don’t keep on your toes, you might fall behind.  One week mushroom foraging is the trendiest of trendy, the next week it’s goat farming and cheesemaking.  We got a real kick out of this lately when John shot the Seattle Weekly cover story highlighting (and kind of poking fun) at the whole phenomenon.

Apparently my ‘hipster-esque’ kitchen fit the bill location-wise, and the next thing you know we were all jammed in there dumping large cans of Safeway peaches into Mason jars prepping for the shoot – slightly ironic, slightly nostalgic, and downright hilarious.  The photos of this began as outtakes, and actually turned out being what they ran with.  The model in her kitsch Anthropology apron, can in hand, and the rest of us just out of the frame in stitches.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the whole slow and local food movement is awesome, and to prove it, here is the pickle recipe I can’t wait to take a stab at (courtesy of a childhood friend who has recently made some great waves in the food world with her super legit food blog).  Thanks Anna, and especially thanks to Seattle Weekly Art Director Jane Sherman and all of the great folks over at Seattle Weekly!  We can’t wait to do it again soon.  As always, gigantic thanks to Gigantic Squid for retouching.

29
May

Coffee Face Campaign

Posted by / 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.

13
Dec

The Rider

Posted by / Filed under Personal Work

The Rider by photographer John Keatley.

It didn’t take long for the humans to panic.  Government had been spiraling out of control for 60 years, fueled by greed and corporate corruption.  Mankind had finally taken all it could from the earth, until the earth had nothing left to give.  The humans had long embraced the idea, live for today and take what you want.  The cries of those who recognized the consequences of such behavior were left to the minority and written off as crazy.  Men had convinced themselves they were invincible.  Once the Nelson Report came out, and Amazon’s infrastructure collapsed, people began hoarding resources and grabbing all they could for themselves.  Telecommunications were quickly shut down, and in less than 18 months, the US population had been cut by over 75 percent.  Riots, fires, murder, starvation and sickness spread with very little resistance.

As life has always demonstrated, sometimes it takes the loss of one thing to gain another.  Ironic and painful as it was, it took man’s near destruction of the earth to bring about a new relationship between man and animal as it was in the beginning of time.

The Rider has not survived in the new world these past 5 years because of his strength, or because of things taken.  He has survived because of relationships.  Primarily a relationship with his bear and with nature.  These things, which were seen as weak and useless before, have now become what is held most precious in the dark days.

24
Apr

Angeles City

Posted by / Filed under Travel, Personal Work

This is the fifth post in this series. You can see all of the posts by clicking on the Arts Aftercare tag.

Required Reading: I highly recommend reading the Wikipedia page on Human Trafficking in the Philippines.  It will give you better context for my story and the situation in places like Angeles City.

The final destination of our trip was Angeles City, the second largest sex tourism destination in the world.  This was a difficult way to end the trip, but at the same time, I’m really glad I didn’t start the trip with this.  It was a dark, heavy place, and I was definitely out of my comfort zone.

While I was taking pictures in front of a bar on the Walking Street, a man approached me and asked me to take his picture with a group of bar girls (pictured below).  After the group shot, and an off-color comment, the man introduced Becker and I to his girlfriend, who is in the next picture.  He told us what a great time was waiting to be had in Angeles, and we chatted with him for a few minutes.  Before we parted ways, he asked how he could get copies of the pictures I took.  He gave us his email address, and after we returned to our hotel that night, we looked him up on Facebook.  Turns out, his name is Michael Wiener, and he is a former New Mexico State Senator, and the current County Commissioner in Bernalillo County.

Angeles was a strange place, because for the previous 8 days in the Philippines, we saw very few caucasians.  As soon as we arrived in Angeles, we saw hundreds of middle aged and older white men everywhere we went with young Filipino women.  I saw some extremely disturbing things, and felt a heavy darkness in Angeles.  I don’t really know if it is necessary to go into any detail about all of that stuff, but I also don’t really feel like talking about it any further.  I think these images say what I feel needs to be said.

This is the one picture from this series that is not from Angeles.  Pegasus is in Manila, but it fit so well with this series, and I had to find a way to show it.  The sign says it all.  Pegasus is a high end club that is known for selling very young girls.  They charge $500 just to get in the door.

Bernalillo County Commissioner Michael Wiener.

18
Apr

PREDA Foundation

Posted by / Filed under Travel, Personal Work

This is the fourth post in this series.  You can see all of the posts by clicking on the Arts Aftercare tag.

I love and hate these pictures.  From a photographic standpoint, I am really proud of this series of images taken at the PREDA Foundation.  On the other hand, I hate that these pictures need to exist, and that this is a story which needs to be told.  It seems impossible to ignore the devastation and loss of innocence these images also represent.  But fortunately I do see hope in these images as well.  I believe we were created with the capacity to choose great evil, but thankfully we also have the choice to love, which I believe has the power to overcome all else.  At PREDA, I met some wonderful people who have made the decision to simply love, and care for the people who have been exploited and experienced so much devastation.

I arrived at PREDA with only 2 hours to work with before Becker and I had to take a taxi to Angeles City.  It was a bit hectic when we arrived, and we didn’t have much back story or time to prep for this stop.  After meeting Alex, the program director, I asked if I could take a tour and look around.  The tour started in the administrative offices, followed by the kitchen and then some classrooms.  It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for or interested in.  Eventually, we went down a hall and into a large room filled with colorful metal bunk beds and bright blankets.  Half of the room was lined with large windows, streaming in midday light.  As I took it all in, I asked my tour guide what the room was, and she told me it was the girls dorm, for children 9 and under.  To clarify, these are children age 9 and younger who have been sexually abused both commercially and domestically.  Unbelievable.

I started the day expecting to make portraits, but this room was speaking to me, and drawing me in.  I didn’t have my camera with me, and after looking around for a moment, I burst out of the room, and down the hall to get my camera and tripod.  I think my guide thought I was a bit strange, leaving the way I did with no explanation, but I couldn’t move fast enough.  I was in a zone.  I spent maybe the next hour shooting these images of the girls dorm, although it felt like I was only there about 5 minutes.

Girls lockers.

Primal therapy room.

Father Shay, founder of PREDA Foundation in Olongapo, Philippines, on Subic Bay.  Father Shay has dedicated his life to fighting for children who have been sexually exploited both commercially and domestically.  He has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize 3 times, and I sincerely hope he is recognized by one in the near future.

I just can’t decide between these two portraits.  It is usually pretty easy for me to make these kind of decisions, but there is something about each of these that I can’t get past.  It doesn’t help that everyone else I have asked have said both as well.  What do you think?

Father Shay’s desk.  Nearly 40 years of hard work has happened here.  I can’t even imagine the phone calls, letters, and meetings that have taken place here over the years.

PREDA Foundation is a service provider for sexually exploited children in Subic Bay, Philippines, which infamous as a destination for sex tourism. From their website:

“In 1974, with Filipino helpers, Fr. Shay Cullen established the PREDA organization (Peoples’ Recovery Empowerment and Development Assistance Inc.) to give shelter and protection and recovery to victims of abuse and more importantly to change this unjust situation in society that abandons children and criminalizes them and prostitutes them or allows them to be abused without getting help and justice.”

PREDA provides many crucial services to the children, including residential care homes organized by age – one for girls as young as 9 years and under.

 

09
Apr

Survivors in Manila

Posted by / Filed under Travel, Personal Work

This is the second post from my assignment in the Philippines for Arts Aftercare.  You can read the first post, as well as this entire series by clicking on the Arts Aftercare tag.

After arriving in Manila and getting acclimated, my main focus was to document the art therapy training by the Arts Aftercare staff.  Leaders from several organizations in the Philippines and abroad attended the training, which took place over the course of 3 days.  When I was not in the training, I spent the rest of my time trying to figure out who is who, and what direction I wanted to go with my personal work, which would be to tell a story about the sex industry in the Philippines.  We would be spending about 6 days in Manila, and then we would head to 2 other towns and visit organizations working with survivors of sexual exploitation.

One of the things I was hoping for the most out of this trip was an opportunity to make portraits of some of the survivors of sexual exploitation.  Our hosts told us that they thought only a couple of the women would be willing to be photographed, but we would just have to ask and see what they say.  We arrived on a Thursday afternoon, and wouldn’t be able to ask until Monday.  It was a long weekend of waiting.  Understandably there are some really complicated issues that come up when photographing people who have had to deal with something like this.  It was important, but also really difficult for me to remember that, as I had my heart set on making portraits of at least a few of the survivors.

When Monday came around, Becker and I introduced ourselves to the group and told them what we were there for, and what we hoped to accomplish.  We walked out of the room and gave them time to talk about it among themselves.  Not long after, someone came out and told us that every single woman had agreed, and they were really excited to be photographed.

I quickly grabbed my gear and set up at a bus stop just down the street from the organization.  It was incredibly hot and humid, but I somehow made it through, on excitement and adrenaline while I shot for the next 2.5 hours.  It was such a fun shoot.

Sexual exploitation is such a heavy subject, but what really made an impact on me was the hope and joy I saw in so many of the women who are going through the recovery process.  After spending time with them, I decided to make the portraits with an overall hopeful feel, which is why I chose the brightly colored wall as a background.  I directed the women a little, but tried to interject as little as possible to allow these images to feel more natural and reflective of each woman’s personality.  I let them pose how they felt most comfortable, and tried to keep things as natural as possible.  These women are so incredible, and they have amazing strength and beauty.  I hope that comes through as you look at these portraits.

My intent in doing this project was to help spread the word about the exploitation of women and children which is going on all around us.  Hopefully by sharing these images and stories, others might feel inclined to get involved in the fight and healing process.  As the week went by, my focus became sharper and sharper on creating great images which told a captivating story.  My approach could be described as a bit selfish at times, as I was solely thinking about what I could do, or where I needed to go to get the shot.  After this shoot was finished, I began hearing from a few people about how much this experience meant to the women.  The big 5 ft. octabank, Curtis holding the big flag, Becker shooting video, and my Hasselblad camera, all made them feel like they were a part of something fancy and exciting.  It seemed pretty normal to me, but that type of experience is not something everyday people are a part of very often.  On top of that, I was working really hard to make the pictures look great from a visual interest standpoint, but to the women, it all made them feel beautiful and pampered.  It was a good feeling to be a part of that, but it still didn’t fully hit me until the next day.

The next day we were back at the house, and everyone was finishing up training.  I was waiting for a ride to another site to take pictures.  The house we were staying at was beautiful, but not a place I felt was conducive to anything I thought would be visually interesting.  As I was watching everyone laughing and going through the drama portion of the training, it hit me.  Forget about yourself and your portfolio for once, and use that camera in your hands to really make an impact on someone.  It’s easy to help others when my portfolio is also benefiting from it, but how about taking pictures that only benefit others.  A totally new concept for me.  I told one of the leaders that I was willing to take pictures of the women with friends, groups, whatever they wanted.  And for the next 45 minutes, we took pictures of people jumping off chairs, human pyramids, group poses, and on and on.  It was so awesome.  They came up with their own ideas, and it was fun to see them take charge and direct everyone.  The pictures are not ones I will be showing, or putting in a portfolio, but they brought a lot of joy to those in them, and that was a powerful experience and a good lesson for me.

These images were all edited with VSCO Film.

04
Apr

Arriving In Manila

Posted by / Filed under Travel, Personal Work

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 / 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.

 

04
Dec

We Roofin’

Posted by / Filed under BTS, Ad Campaign

I feel like I am beginning to repeat myself a little, because each ad campaign I have done this year feels like one of those dream jobs.  This one for Washington Healthplanfinder was no exception.  With Obamacare rolling out I got to work with the folks at GMMB on this hilarious ad campaign.  If these images don’t convince you to get yourself some health insurance, I don’t know what will.

The first shoot (the seagull attack) took place on our own private ferry at 4:30am on a beautiful Sunday.  It was maybe one of the coolest things I have done on a shoot.  Drifting around in the Puget Sound at sunrise.  Beautiful!

The next shoot was a 4:00am call time, which feels so early to me!  Not a morning person, but the show must go on.  The skateboard crash was the hardest and most technical of all the shots.  Although my assistants might disagree since I have no idea how they managed a 12×12 and two 7 ft. softboxes on a windy ferry.

The roofing accident shot was at the end of a very long 12 hour day, but it was so fun.  The talent with the nail gun, Gabriel, had us all dying with his dialog.  I like to give people scenarios to work with when shooting this type of work.  I find it helps me work through the situation, and also helps the talent get into character and make the image more believable.  There are a lot of little details to think about on a shot like the roofing accident.  What are these guys doing?  What is happening on and off camera that I want the viewer to think about?  Are the interactions of the two guys on the roof believable?  And so on.

So for this shot, I explained to Gabriel:

You are putting a new roof on your home before the winter hits, and your good friend is helping you because he owes you a big favor (You traded him Russell Wilson for Trent Richardson in your fantasy football league.).  You are almost done with one side of the roof, when your neighbor walks by and see’s you up there.  He gives you a puzzled look because he knows you are not the handiest guy on the block.  Hey, what the heck are you doing up there!? he yells.  Gabriel looks back at his neighbor with a big smile, and says…  And this is where Gabriel took over with his improv.  “Oh, we roofin’ man!  Yeah, we roofin’!”  “What’s it look like we doin’ up her man, we roofin’!”  You might think over an hour of this might get old, but somehow it didn’t.  We just laughed, took pictures and, yeah, we roofin’.

Here are some of my favorite behind the scenes images from this shoot.  Big thanks to my new rep Redeye, Kontent Partners (who are super amazing people, and amazing at what they do), GMMB, Gigantic Squid, Cara Aeschliman, Gregg White, and so many more.  I am blessed to work with such fun people.

21
Feb

Filmmaker Eric Becker

Posted by / 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.

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