Dr. John Perkins

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work

Dr. John Perkins photo by John Keatley

This picture came about because I felt compelled to photograph John Perkins after hearing him speak.  Not many people have been through, and seen what he has.  Harassment, imprisonment, beatings, and the murder of his brother by a town marshal in Mississippi.  I mentioned to my wife I would love to photograph him, and she said, “You should go talk to him.”  I figured it couldn’t hurt, so I gave it a shot.  Next thing I knew, I had an appointment to photograph John Perkins.

John and I drove around for a few hours together.  It was part photo shoot, and part tour of the city.  Turns out he had been scheduled for events and lectures his entire trip, and he was excited to get away and relax a bit.  It was quite an experience spending part of a day with John.  I have never met anyone who can naturally start up a meaningful conversation with strangers, but that’s what he did several times.

The portraits from this shoot have led to two commercial assignments, as well as an assignment to photograph John again.  Thank you personal work!

Dr. John Perkins has been an outspoken leader in civil rights, and is also an author, speaker and teacher on issues of racial reconciliation, leadership, and community development.


BEAUTIFUL photo! I love everything about it!!!

posted by Monica Schlange on 02.14.09 at 12:30 pm

Hi John,
you made a great atmospheric photo!

How was the lighting setup?
Maybe a Grid Spot on the face, and two other light-sources from left and right?
I could`nt explain how the light falls off so quickly at the edges of his body- or is that Post processed?
I`d really like to know.

All the best from germany,

posted by Martin Birkner on 02.24.09 at 3:30 am

The lighting on this was actually very simple. 2 heads. A 7 inch reflector on one and a 36 inch umbrella with no backing on the other. I placed both heads very close to the subject.

posted by John Keatley on 02.24.09 at 8:11 am

Cool things could be so simple ;)

posted by Martin Birkner on 02.25.09 at 3:38 am

Love the lighting….super job !

posted by Byron Jackson on 02.25.09 at 4:55 am

John, I just discovered your blog (as did probably about 50 000-100 000 others in the coming couple of days) through the Strobist page but I knew of your work from way back. I just love your back to basics, simple, strong portraiture. Coming from a background in oil portrait painting I can really appreciate your compositions and lighting. I wish I could hire you to do the shoots I manage at work here in Tokyo but unfortunately we work strictly with a short list of local (un)talent. The only thing I can say is more! More posts, bigger photos, more text. If I ever have my picture taken, someday, somewhere, it should be you. Blog on!

posted by Robert on 02.25.09 at 11:29 pm

Fantastic! Love the lighting.

posted by Jessi on 02.26.09 at 7:23 am

Like the blog and love this image. Would really appreciate it if you added a line or two about lighting an post-processing.

posted by John van Rosendaal on 02.27.09 at 3:45 am

Very interesting indeed. Personal work brings the essence of what we want to shot, even without realizing it.

posted by Benoit David on 02.27.09 at 5:27 am

Hi John,
I’d be interested to know what you said to Dr. Perkins when you first approached him. I’m traveling to Thailand and Cambodia next week and I’d like to this sort of thing as much as possible. Great work!


posted by Max on 02.27.09 at 3:05 pm

I spent a week in Mississippi with John and his family. We installed a wheel chair ramp on his home so Vera Mae could get around. He is a great man.

posted by Brian Cook on 08.03.09 at 4:47 pm

Wow!! A class shot. Your lighting and colour add much drama. A powerful image.

posted by Martyn on 08.16.09 at 6:21 pm

[...] and as you can see, the subject is John Perkins.  I have already written about John on my blog (here), and I have now had the opportunity to work with him on multiple occasions.  Love Is The Final [...]

man, I love this photo so much.

posted by kyle hale on 02.02.10 at 12:06 pm

[...] [Photo credit: John Keatley] [...]

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