By Tom Robbins
In an era when every passing pedestrian and her stunt double behind the wheel are taking “selfies” by the millions, all the more value is lent to a genuine lensman such as John Keatley, who, with the calculated snap of a real camera, can create a narrative instead of a nod, produce a revealing portrait rather than a doodle.
Raised in California, Keatley, 34, was a junior at Seattle Pacific University contemplating a career as a musician or computer programer when one afternoon in a drugstore the manager of the photo lab told him he had a “special eye” for visual imagery. Something clicked (in more ways than one), he shifted his focus to photography and never looked back.
Keatley’s photos have appeared in many publications, including Rolling Stone, Wired, and the New York Times Magazine; and he’s portrayed notables ranging from Macklemore to Sarah Palin, even turning the tables on photo empress Annie Leibovitz, his portrait of her winning a PDN award. His many other prizes include an American Advertising “Gold Addy,” four Applied Arts and six One Eyeland awards, and his images have been honored by American Photography on three occasions. No stranger to conceptual advertising, he’s also conducted successful shoots for clients such as Samsung, Microsoft, and Starbucks.
Based in artistically fertile Seattle since 1999, married and with two young children, Keatley’s curiosity and interests are far-ranging, stoking his desire to effectively narrow the gap between journalistic and “fine art” photography — a galaxy far, far away from Planet Selfie.