07
Mar

A Photo Editor & Avoiding Creative Block

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog

I have had several opportunities to guest blog, as well as give some interviews over the past few weeks and I thought I would share some of these with you.  There will be a few more in the weeks to come.  Blows my mind to be able to say that.  I am really enjoying writing and speaking which is something I have begun to do more of.  I struggle with writing or giving advice when it has not been asked for, but when someone asks me a question I find I have no shortage of thoughts and opinions.  Part of that is a hangup I have about wanting to be genuine, but I just feel much more comfortable responding to a question, rather than giving unsolicited advice.

To start off, Luke Copping asked me, along with 17 other creatives, to answer the question: How do you get out of a creative rut?

Here is the beginning of my response:

Rather than talking about getting out of a creative rut, I am going to try to help you avoid getting into a rut all together.

I probably don’t need to tell you the life of a professional photographer is filled with many highs and lows.  Victories and rejections are a weekly occurrence.  The highs are obviously fun, but the lows are not so great.

My first piece of advice is to avoid the highs and lows.  Don’t get caught up in the tidal wave of ups and downs.  It takes a lot of adjustments to do this, but it is possible and well worth it.  You don’t need to live in each high and each low.  Learn to enjoy and appreciate accomplishments and victories in your career, but understand that it is temporary and tomorrow is a new day.  Typically the phrase “tomorrow is a new day” is reserved for people who are living in a low and need something to look forward to.  However, in photography, “tomorrow is a new day” also means someone else is going to do something noteworthy tomorrow and the spotlight will shift to them.

Second, learning how to not live in the highs and lows of your career keeps you from freaking out when you have a slow week or two.  Create a consistent marketing plan and stick to it.  Aside from shooting, there are plenty of important tasks and projects you need to put time into if you want to be successful.  Making sure you are taking time for these activities and tasks will help you keep your mind off of shooting all the time, and personally I find this to help keep me balanced and creative.

You can continue reading my response along with the rest of the post at 18 Imaginative Thinkers Break Your Creative Block.

Also worth mentioning, A Photo Editor gave me a really nice shout out last Friday, in relation to the Creative Block piece on Luke’s blog.  My first time on APE, so that was especially exciting.

I just started using FoundFolios, which is a great online portfolio site for connecting photographers with art buyers.  I will be rolling out some new work on there in the near future, and the FoundFolios Blog just posted a short blurb about my Liberia photo shoot for MiiR Bottles.

Last but not least, I gave an interview a few weeks back for the Smartpress Blog which is geared toward people who are just starting out in photography.

Thank you to Luke Copping, Rob Haggart, Juliette Wolf-Robin, and Sean Taylor for expressing interest in my work, and sharing it with others.

 

06
Mar

Liberia Reveal

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog

My website updates are finished, and I am pleased to announce I have a new Liberia gallery in the Selected Work section of the website.  If you subscribe to this blog in a reader you may have see some strange posts come through during the update, but that has been fixed and everything should be back to normal now.  The current selection of images is basically round one as I will be adding more images in a few weeks.  I feel really good about this first edit.  Take a look and let me know what you think.  I hope you like them.

23
Feb

What A Great Day

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog

Wow.  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 one person would feel inclined to support the work being done to educate and love children in Liberia.  Those kids, and the Liberian people, have really been on my heart lately, and I just felt it was an opportunity I needed to share.  Well, not only was Zachariah sponsored as of early this morning, but all four of the children needing sponsorship have now been supported.  I heard from Daryl Finley, the founder of Well Done Organization tonight, and he has received numerous emails from you asking if you can still help.  I didn’t expect such an outpouring of love and support, and I just want to say thank you.  You really touched my heart today.

Although there are no children currently listed, there are still several children who need sponsors, and it sounds like the program will be expanding shortly.  Please make sure to check the website from time to time, or if you want to get on the list you can also use the WDO contact page.

Thank you to everyone who stepped up today to help.  Some of you donated your money, some of you helped spread the word on Facebook, and many of you ReTweeted  my blog post link.  Thank you to everyone.  It is so great to be part of this community and to see what we can accomplish when we work together.

22
Feb

Zachariah’s Portrait

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog

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.

17
Feb

Puget Sound Photo Contest

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog, Contest

Just want to quickly share a photo contest for a really great cause I will be judging this coming summer.  The contest is part of a campaign to protect and bring about a positive change in the Puget Sound.

“Filmmaker Eric Becker has been working with People For Puget Sound to document some of the interesting stories, people, and places central to the movement for a cleaner, healthier Puget Sound. Slated for release in late April, the film is an exploration of issues facing the waters of our home, showing the practical ways we can all contribute to positive change.” – onepugetsound.org

Read the official contest rules, and submit your photos on Flickr.  The grand prize winner will receive a DSLR, and there are other prizes for runners up.

13
Feb

Working In Liberia

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog

John Keatley photographing a young boy in the Dark Forrest village in Liberia.

Portrait of photographer John Keatley in Liberia.

Nichelle and I just got back from dinner with the team from MiiR Bottles and Well Done Organization I recently traveled to Liberia with.  It was fun to be with everyone again and re-live some of the stories from our trip.  Especially for Nichelle to hear stories from other people’s perspectives.  In the few weeks since I have been back in the States, I have constantly been thinking and dreaming about all I learned in Africa.  There are some ideas and projects I am working on in response to my experience, and I will be sharing more about all of this over the course of the next several months, or maybe longer.  Before I get to any of that, though, I need to do yet another website update to accommodate the Liberia project, as well as another personal project I am working on.  A book is also in the works and is projected to be out around May.  Fingers crossed.

MiiR is doing a blog series about our trip, and I am the guest blogger for day 1 if you are interested in reading a little more about Liberia from my perspective.

More to come soon.  This is just the beginning.

10
Feb

Macklemore + Ryan Lewis

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog

Tagged with

09
Feb

William Rugen

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog

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.

07
Feb

Phil Thompson

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog

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06
Feb

John Keatley Blog 2.0

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog

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.