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.


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.


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!


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.


Merry Christmas From Up In A Tree

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Keatley Christmas, Personal Work

Merry Christmas, everyone.  I hope you are able to look back at 2011 with fond memories, and look forward to 2012 with excitement and anticipation.  That’s how I am feeling right now.

Here is the highly-anticipated 2011 Annual Keatley Christmas picture.  It feels so good to have this one in the can, and to finally get to look at it.  (You can click on the image to get a closer look.)  This year, we are living the good life, up in a tree, because that’s how we roll in the great Pacific Northwest.  Sorry to break it to you, but red flannel is the new cheesy Christmas sweater.  I know, just when you finally got around to planning that sweater party.  It’s not too late to trade ‘em in for flannel and an axe though.

As you may remember, in last years picture, we were with our yeti in the middle of Fargo.  (You can see all three of our Christmas pictures by filtering the posts with the ‘Keatley Christmas’ category.)  It went over pretty well, and because of that, I put a lot of pressure on myself to repeat or even outdo it this year.  Long story short, I over thought the whole idea and couldn’t come up with anything for about 5 months.  This has been a year of great learning and growth for me as a photographer.  I have had some things I had to really wrestle and struggle with for a good part of the year, but in the end, I feel like I came out with a much better perspective and idea of who I want to be as an artist.  It was only after I made some of these realizations that I was able to come up with this idea.  It was a difficult, but worthwhile process, and  I love how this picture turned out.  I think it’s a lot of fun to look at, and something I am really proud of.  Our dog, Oliver, on the other hand, well, he is just glad to be out of the tree.  In hindsight, it is also probably really fortunate that we did the yeti last year, because I can just about guarantee Isla would have passed out from screaming if we tried that this year.  She was so young last year, she didn’t have a clue what was going on.

If lumberjacks and outdoor types sound familiar to some of you, it is probably because of my short promo video, The Woodsman, shot earlier this year.  You can watch it at the bottom of this post.  It is worth pointing out, that lumberjacks and woodsmen are not necessarily a tight knit group, but they have been known to fraternize from time to time.  All that to say, for me, I guess you could call 2011 the year of the lumberjack / woodsman.  Who knows what 2012 will bring.  Stay tuned.

It’s been really fun to hear from so many of you about how you look forward to our annual Christmas picture.  It means a lot to us, and it makes it that much more enjoyable for me to work on knowing how much some of you enjoy these.  I am already looking forward to creating next years.  Thanks for taking a look, and I hope you will like, tweet, or share this if you enjoy it.

Photo Retouching by Gigantic Squid.


VSCO Film Review

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Review

I was recently contacted by a new company called Visual Supply Co about using a film emulator they have been developing for Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw called VSCO Film.  At first I was skeptical, but decided to give it a try.

I am fortunate to work with a really incredible retoucher on most of my commercial work, but I still have thousands of personal images as well as some smaller jobs which I try to edit on my own.  Problem is, I don’t really like Lightroom, or Photoshop actions, so more times than not, my RAW images just sit in a folder.  Every once in a while I manage to process a few personal images, but it usually takes a long time, and I never really get them looking like I want.

Within the first 10 seconds of using VSCO Film, I was hooked.  It is so fast, produces the results I have always wanted, but didn’t know how to achieve, and it actually makes image editing fun again.  Now I am going through all of my personal images at the speed of light, and everything looks fantastic in 1 or 2 clicks.  I also used VSCO Film on a small job I shot this week, and it took me 10 minutes to do 23 images.  It would have easily taken me 90 minutes had I done it the old way.

Anyway, enough of that.  I don’t like sales pitches, and I don’t want to annoy you with one either.  I am willing to endorse this because I actually use it and really really like it.  Not everyone will feel the same, but I think many of you will.  I have already had several people ask me about how it works with strobe photography, so in my next blog post, I will show some images lit with strobe that I edited with VSCO Film.  I edited the following images with VSCO Film in just a couple of clicks per image.  Here is the link if you are interested in buying, or just finding out more.  Enjoy.

UPDATE:  8/22/12 – Here is another post I just wrote with some new images I edited with VSCO Film 02.

Material Connection Disclosure


John McKay Seattle Weekly Cover

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

John McKay on the cover of Seattle Weekly. Photo by John Keatley.

This is the cover of the current Seattle Weekly featuring my portrait of John McKay.  We had some difficulties scheduling this one, and it went right down to the wire.  Thankfully we were able to get some time with John the night before the issue went to press.  I really like this picture.  It is a simple portrait, but there is so much about it that makes it fun to look at.  His eyes are bright and focused, as if he is looking right at you.  One eyebrow is slightly raised giving him a a strong sense of confidence, and maybe even a bit of mischeviousness.  The subtle tilt of his head, and parted lips seem like he is either about to say something profound, or even start laughing.  I never get tired of photographing people, and I love that I learn something new about expression, emotion, trust, interaction, light, and timing every time I take a picture.  As much as I always feel the need to try something different, I don’t think I will ever get tired of photographing faces, because there is always something new to see and learn.

You can read the corresponding story on the Seattle Weekly website here.


New Liberia Images

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work

I added a couple of new images to the Liberia section of my website.  Check em out.


I’ve Been Framed

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS, Press & Interviews, Videos

Thank you to everyone who wrote in and asked the fine folks at FRAMED to do an interview with me. It was very flattering to get the call to do this, and fun to spend the day with Melissa and the whole crew. I am blown away by what a great job they did with this video from top to bottom. They actually made me look somewhat respectable, which is no small feat.  In about 15 years, when Isla is an unruly teenager, I am going to make her watch this video, and then I will look her in the eyes, and say, “Respect”.

I know that 36 minute ticker may scare some of you, but I got several comments and emails today from people who said they didn’t plan on watching more than three minutes, and ended up getting sucked in and watched the whole thing.  Hopefully that is incentive enough to press play.  Even if you only have time for three minutes.  There are no axes, or wood carving in this video, but there are a couple of pretty funny moments with a (Spoiler Alert!) karate master.  Which reminds me, I am really excited you get to meet some of my creative companions who pop up in the video as well.

As always, thanks so much for your interest and support of my work.  It means a lot to me, and thank you again to FRAMED!


2011 Px3 Photography Competition

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Awards

2011 Px3 photography competition winning images by John Keatley.

It’s an embarrassment of riches!  I am especially proud of the work I created over this past year, and it is an honor to have that work recognized by the international photography competition ”Prix de la Photographie, Paris” (Px3).  This is my first time in the international game, and all 5 of the images above were selected as well as 2 honorable mentions.

From left to right:

Luke Burbank, host of Too Beautiful To Live for Seattle Met.  Art Director Benjamen Purvis.
Dennis Haysbert for Seattle Met.
Keli Carender, founder of the Tea Party political movement for Seattle Met.  Art Director Benjamen Purvis.
Plants Vs. Zombies / John Vechey, co-founder of Pop Cap Games for Inc.  Photo Editor Monique Perreault.
The Keatley Family 2010.  Personal work / self promotion.