William Rugen

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Last summer, Nichelle and I were at our friends wedding, and during the reception we sat with photographer William Rugen.  When I came back to our table from the buffet line, Bill was standing over his plate composing a picture of his food.  “Must be some good food” was my first thought, but some of the people at the table were talking as if this was a regular occurrence.  Turns out for an entire year, Bill photographed every single piece of food he consumed.  I was blown away and amazed by the amount of dedication a project like this would take.  The series is called Consumed, and what makes it so dang cool is the online catalogue where every single picture of the food he ate can be seen.  You can sort the images by month, food type, or search for food.  The giant tag cloud revealing which food items were most popular is also really interesting.  It’s worth mentioning, the Consumed website will make you very hungry.  If someone told me to look at a website of pictures of food, I would probably not do it.  However, Bill’s personality and style shine through in all of the images, and I have spent more time clicking around than I care to admit.  I am also amazed a man can eat as many cookies as Bill does and stay in such good shape.  You will see what I mean.

Bill has been doing a ton of personal work during the past couple of years, and I really love his style and perspective.  In addition to Consumed, which is now wrapped up, he is working on Western Dioramas and Fair Judgement.  Looking at his new work has taught me a lot about shooting a story or idea and making it consistently great throughout.  I have been really inspired by his work, and I just feel more people need to see and appreciate all of the great work he is doing.  His photography is consistently beautiful, and it is so encouraging to see what can come about by making the time for personal work and sticking to it.  Definitely check out his website www.williamrugen.com and make sure you bookmark it.  It is worth repeat visits.  Hopefully we can all look forward to a Consumed book, too.

All images in this post were taken by and are Copyright William Rugen.


John Keatley Blog 2.0

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This formal announcement is brought to you by the John Keatley Blog.  Ok, let’s just call it like it is.  This blog has lost it’s soul.  Shoot, someone told me today they thought my blog was too formal, and you know, I have to agree.  I was surprised at first.  I thought, I’m not formal.  But if I am being honest, I have to recognize that my blog is.  When I started blogging a little over two years ago – Wow, can’t believe it has already been over two years – I had a clear vision and strategy for blogging and for the most part I have stuck to it.  From the start, my strategy has been to highlight my work and give clients a glimpse into what I do and how I do it.  I feel really good about following through on that, and it has been a fun process as well as a great marketing tool for my photography.

Over the past six months, I have been shooting more personal and commercial work than ever before.  Along with shooting for myself more, I have been trying to push myself in new directions by experimenting with new processes and forcing myself to think differently about the way I make pictures.  It has been an extremely satisfying experience, and the reason why I have been telling people lately that I have never enjoyed photography as much as I am now.  In that same spirit of experimentation, I have decided it’s time to free this blog from the chains of formal announcements about new work and always making sure everything looks polished like a press release from the Oval Office.  That’s not to say I am going to let myself get sloppy, or stop paying attention to details, but I am going to start treating this blog more like a journal and less like a press secretary.  Recently I have had so many thoughts and ideas I considered sharing, but felt they didn’t fit the format.  Which was true.  But it’s always good to look at your business and try to find ways to improve and adapt.  So that is what I am doing.  I haven’t been excited to blog, and I honestly haven’t had the time at all either.  I am not going to stop posting the type of stuff you have seen over the past two years, but I will be opening it up to anything and everything big and small.  I am definitely not going to commit to blogging every day for a year like my wife does at www.goodnewsforisla.com, but I hope my posts will be much more frequent than they have been.  Speaking of Nichelle’s blog, she has done an amazing job highlighting stories of people, and organizations working to make a positive impact in the lives of others as well as making our planet a better place.  It’s an awesome blog, and I am so proud of her!  There are more than 100 stories up as of now, and well over 200 more to look forward to.  Check out Good News For Isla, you won’t be disappointed.

So there you go.  Post number one of the John Keatley Blog 2.0.  I’m already feeling more excited about blogging again.  As always, thank you for taking the time to read and for your interest in my photography!  I’m excited about 2011 and all that is to come.


Plants Vs. Zombies

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PopCap Games co-founder John Vechey with Plants Vs. Zombies zombies in Seattle.  Photo by Seattle photographer John Keatley.

Ever played the video game Plants Vs. Zombies?  If so, then these zombies need no introduction.  The man in the middle is John Vechey, co-founder of PopCap Games, one of the most successful casual game companies in the world.  The first game they created is Bejeweled, which has sold more than 50 million copies.  Plants Vs. Zombies is a really addictive game where you grow plants to prevent zombies from reaching your house and eating your brains.  It is surprisingly kid friendly, and one of those games you just have to see to understand.  I won’t say too much about this image because I think it is enjoyed best without explination.

I will say this was my favorite outtake from a recent shoot I did for Inc at the PopCap headquarters.  Nothing like catching a couple of zombies on break at corporate.

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The Stuntman

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Hollywood Stuntman David Boushey.  Photo by photographer John Keatley.

Economy got you down?  Looking for a new career?  Well, this man can help.  David Boushey is one of the top stuntmen in the industry and the founder of the International Stunt School in Seattle.  If you dream of a life in the movies and have no fear, David can teach you how to jump off buildings, set yourself on fire, punch someone in the face and all kinds of crazy stuff the well-known actors won’t do.  In fact, the International Stunt School is thriving these days thanks to the bad economy.  Lots of people are looking for a career change, and the film industry thrives when times are tough because everyone is looking for an escape.  Enrollment is up this year, and David is in talks to create a reality show about the stunt school.

On set, David asked me, “What’s my motivation for this shot?”

I told him, “Once a week for just half an hour you have a regularly scheduled time for yourself.  You always go to the same cafe, and you get the same drink and read the paper in your regular seat.  You don’t talk to anyone, and you certainly don’t like people talking to you.  While you are reading, you hear someone yelling.  You try to ignore them, but they get louder and more frantic.  It seems like they are yelling at you.  You try to ignore them for as long as possible while your frustration and anger grows.  Finally, you turn in the direction of the person screaming and snap off, “What the hell do you want!?”

I have started experimenting with video on some of my shoots for editorial clients recently, and this is a short I put together on how to throw a “picture punch”.  So far I have really enjoyed working with video, and I hope to do more in the coming months.  If you are reading this in a blog reader you may need to go to the John Keatley Blog to see the video.  This was not my first lesson on how to throw a punch from one of my photo subjects, although my first lesson was about punching for real.

I have another short video in the video section of my website of David telling a story about almost getting chopped to bits while filming a movie at sea.

Here are some links to the camera equipment I used for this shot.

Hasselblad H3DII-31 w/ 80mm lens
Elinchrom Ranger Battery Pack and Head x2
Profoto Acute 2 2400 kit
Light Modifiers:
Profoto White Softlight “Beauty Dish” Reflector
Wescott 45” Umbrellas
Elinchrom 7” grid reflector
20 degree grid

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Tea Party With Keli Carender

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Keli Carender is credited with starting the Tea Party Movement.  Her online alias is Liberty Belle.  Photo by John Keatley.

Keli Carender goes by Liberty Belle on her blog “Redistributing Knowledge“, and she is credited with starting the Tea Party Movement.  She burst onto the political scene last summer while attending a town hall meeting hosted by Democratic Washington Congressman Norm Dicks.  She made a speech and waved a $20 bill in the air daring Norm to take it from her and use it as a down payment for health care reform.  I wasn’t familiar with the Tea Party Movement when I got this assignment, but I thought it would be awesome to shoot Keli in a way that would look like an old painting from the Revolutionary War era.  Thankfully my art director, Benjamen Purvis at Seattle Met loved the idea, and I was also able to get Keli to go for it too.  The hardest part was tracking down a period dress from the right era.  I should also mention Keli is actually a member of a comedy improv group called The Beta Society.  That obviously was a big help when asking her to dress up in costume since she is used to this sort of thing.  I don’t expect it would be very easy to get Nanci Pelosi or John McCain to wear a costume for a shoot.  Although that would be amazing!

*UPDATE* – This image was published in the 2011 Communication Arts Photography Annual competition.

Equipment Used:
Hasselblad H3DII-31 w/ 80mm lens
Profoto Giant 150 Silver Reflector
Wescott 45” Umbrella


Sounders FC Goalkeeper Kasey Keller

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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.


Nicholas Kaiser

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Nicholas Kaiser, manager of Amana Funds by Saturna Capital at his Bellingham Wa office.  Photo by John Keatley.

I photographed Nicholas Kaiser of Saturna Capital for SmartMoney and this is the picture that ran in the January issue.  It also happens to be my favorite picture from the shoot.  How often does that happen!?  Nick is the fund manager for Amana Funds (AMANX).   The management of Amana is based on Islamic principals which means no pork, no alcohol and no financials, eliminating companies like Costco due to sales of wine and beer.  While these principals are limiting, Nick has managed to bring in a five-year average annual return of 8.3%.  Not bad in this economy.

The assets of Amana are $920 million and the expenses are $132 per $10,000.  That’s insane!  How can I keep my expenses that low?  Seriously.  I’m asking…

Anyway.  No big story about the shoot, but I just really like this picture.

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Dan Ivanoff On Top…Of The Roof

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Cover photo for Seattle Business April 2009 of CEO Dan Ivanoff.  Photo by John Keatley.

Schnitzer West CEO, Dan Ivanoff, on the roof of one of his newest office towers at 818 Stewart in Seattle.  Schnitzer West is a commercial real estate company operating in the Pacific Northwest, and they are currently working on the new Amazon.com campus, and The Bravern in Bellevue.  On the right side of the frame is yet another Schnitzer West tower being constructed.  This is the cover photo for the April 2009 issue of Seattle Business Monthly.  The Real Estate issue.  

I was amazed to see blue sky when I got to the roof, because it had been snowing earlier that morning.  I was thinking we were going to have to shoot inside.  My assignment was to photograph Dan for cover and a full page opener.  I was told I had an hour with him, which often means about 15 minutes, and that proved to be true.  Turns out that Dan was doing all of the welding himself on the tower behind him, so he had to get back before the lunch whistle.  I guess the economy is effecting everyone.  Even CEO’s.  But isn’t Dan the one who blows the lunch whistle?  I can’t believe I fell for that.  

This image was not in the plans, but I reacted to the location and the sky when the clouds began to develop.  I had to work fast to get all of the shots that I needed and save time for this one.  It was the last shot of the day, and once again, the last shot wins.


The Forager for Bon Appetit

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Tearsheet from Bon Appetit of Seattle based forager and writer, Langdon Cook.  Photography by John Keatley

Why would Bon Appetit Magazine be interested in a forager?  Did he pay for a bunch of food using counterfeit money?  No.  Not a forger, a Forager.  This is Langdon Cook, a real life forager, and I photographed him for the March issue of Bon Appetit.  In addition to looking for mushrooms, Langdon is an author, and blogger.  His blog, Fat Of The Land is about his adventures and encounters with wild mushrooms.  As well as good cooking and the outdoors.  Click the Bon Appetit link above to read the write-up.


Laughing With Jeff Bezos

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Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos in Seattle.  Photo by John Keatley.

My portrait of Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and CEO, recently came out in Smart Money Magazine.  Although Jeff is well known for his healthy laugh, this is not the reaction that I expected to get when I chucked his personal Kindle over the edge of the balcony.
The Amazon people were pretty antsy to get a Kindle into the pictures.  I had not been instructed to shoot the Kindle by Smart Money, but just to be safe, I did take several frames with it in.  Then, Jeff handed his Kindle to me, and hoping to get a more serious expression, I let it fly.  To my surprise, he just laughed (pictured) and said, “I’ve got a thousand more where that came from.”
Okay, so most of that is not true, including the quote.  But Jeff is a super classy guy, and he probably would have just laughed if I had actually done something that stupid.