Zachariah’s Portrait

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While in Liberia last month, I met a wonderful man named Prince Kondoh.  He goes by Pastor Kondoh, and he has dedicated his life to serving those who can not help themselves, and teaching the children in his community.  During the recent civil war in Liberia, he was basically a prisoner in his own home for 14 years.  Not able to go outside without risking his life.  Now that peace has returned to Liberia, he works harder than anyone I have ever met with the hope he might be able to make up for lost time.  No minute is wasted, and no challenge is too great.  He has started multiple schools in Buchanan, one of which is called Chariot Daycare and Elementary School.  We were asked to visit the school one morning before we headed out to one of the villages where the wells were being built.  Because of the economic situation, there are many children who’s families are not able to pay for school, and I was asked if I would take a few pictures of the students needing sponsorship.

I was thinking I would take a few snapshots and it would be a quick thing.  But then I realized I didn’t pack all of these lights half way around the world to take snapshots, even if this wasn’t in the plan.  So all of the gear was taken out of the truck and we set up the lights.  As I was finessing the lights into place, something caused me to slow down and look around.  I wasn’t thrilled with how the portrait was turning out, and then I had a realization.  The natural light was near perfect.  I struggled with this idea for a few minutes, trying to convince myself it wasn’t possible.  Natural light never does exactly what I am looking for, especially in the middle of the day.  The picture won’t turn out.  But finally after a few tests, I decided to shoot this one with just my Hasselblad and nothing else.  It was very freeing to say the least.  For some reason, I had it in my head that it wasn’t possible to shoot a picture in my style with only natural light.  Natural light never seems to have the pop to it I am looking for, or if it does, the light isn’t at the right angle etc.  Most of the time natural light isn’t what I am looking for, but this instance proved to be an exception.  It wasn’t until we were back at our house that night, and I loaded the images on my laptop, that I was hit in the face with the detail and clarity of this portrait and the others I shot that day.  It was a great lesson for me to be aware of what is going on and to be open to improvising or even deviating from a plan.

But enough about lighting for now.  If you can’t tell already, this is one of my favorite pictures from the trip.  His name is Zachariah and he is a student at Chariot.  I could stare at this image for hours and continue to find new things I like about it.  Zachariah is one of the students in need of sponsorship, and I figured the very least I could do was provide a link to sponsor him or any of the other children who need support.  The cost is $15 a month and that covers clothing and food, as well as education.  If you decide you would like to sponsor Zachariah, please write me after you have done so, and I will send you a free print.

The Child Sponsorship Program is run by the Well Done Organization which is the organization building the wells in Liberia that my client MiiR Bottles partnered with.  I can personally vouch for the people working for WDO, as well as the organization itself.  Some really great things are happening in Liberia with the support of WDO.

Here are the links one more time.  I know not everyone is able to help in this way, but hopefully this might plant the seed in just one person who has the means and desire to help.
Info About The Child Sponsorship Program

Children Still In Need Of Sponsorship

It feels good to start posting images from this trip, and as promised there will be more in the days and weeks to come.  My developer just showed me round one of the revisions to my website tonight, and once it is finished I will have a new portfolio section with pictures from Liberia.


[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Keatley, Photo Addicts. Photo Addicts said: Zachariah’s Portrait: While in Liberia last month, I met a wonderful man named Prince Kondoh.  He ... http://bit.ly/ejLIS1 #photography [...]

POSTED BY Tweets that mention John Keatley - Zachariah’s Portrait -- Topsy.com on 2-23-2011

Great portrait, John! Too often, I set out to create the light myself - so I can have total creative control. Just recently, I have been trying to take a slower approach to lighting - starting with what's available, and then gently adding and sculpting light. Like yourself, I never agree with what natural light is doing - quality, angle, contrast - but, mostly because I'm rarely outside early enough when the light is beautiful. This new approach and way of thinking, has really changed my lighting style, and so far I'm really digging it. To me, it seems to have more finesse ;) I have absolutely loved your lighting, and always look at your work for inspiration. Do you feel that your lighting approach will, or has changed since this experience? Thanks for sharing All the best -Destry

POSTED BY Destry Jaimes on 2-23-2011

i cant get over how perfect this is. i loved reading the story behind it. You really did an amazing job. thanks for sharing!

POSTED BY lonniewebb on 2-23-2011

[...] people during his time there.  Pastor Prince Kondoh was their host, and an amazing man.  John describes him on his blog, “He goes by Pastor Kondoh, and he has dedicated his life to serving those who can not help [...]

POSTED BY Day 119: Sponsor a child » Good News for Isla on 2-23-2011

[...]  That pretty much sums up how I am feeling right now.  Late last night I posted Zachariah’s Portrait along with some information on sponsoring a child (Zachariah specifically) with the hope that maybe [...]

POSTED BY John Keatley - What A Great Day on 2-23-2011

Hey Destry, thank you very much. Yeah, I think this will have an effect on how I look at lighting. It's not going to change my approach dramatically, but it would be foolish not to apply what I learned. We are always learning as we go and I think whether or not we realize it, we are, or should be changing up our approach by adding what we learn. It's the only way to progress.

POSTED BY John Keatley on 2-24-2011

Wow John, this portrait really stopped me in my tracks. Such a powerful stare from such a young boy. The first thing that popped in my head was the picture on this page: http://climatelab.org/Barack_Obama. I look forward to seeing more from your trip.

POSTED BY Mason Trullinger on 2-28-2011

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