Vince Mira Live in Seattle

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Celebrity, Tear Sheets

Vince Mira Portrait.  Tear Sheet from Seattle Metropolitan.  Photo by John Keatley.

Vince Mira Portrait at the Gum Wall in Post Alley.  Photo by John Keatley.

I have really been looking forward to posting these portraits and videos.  I had so much fun working on this assignment with Vince, and as an added bonus, the story is one of those rare page turners that doesn’t come around all that often in a magazine.  For me, it’s right up there with the Wired article on Dan Kaminsky which I worked on last year.  Here is the intro for Vince’s story, which is in the July 2009 issue of Seattle Metropolitan.  The link to the entire article is further down.

Billed as the Second Coming of Johnny Cash, a teenager from Federal Way wowed rock stars, morning news shows, Ellen DeGeneres, and the Cash estate.  There’s just one problem: Vince Mira is done parroting the Man in Black.

There was a moment in September 2007 at the Cash Cabin, the studio built by the late Johnny Cash outside Nashville, when everyone froze. In the room were musicians intimately tied to Cash and his music—his son John Carter Cash, his bass player Dave Roe, and Jamie Hartford, who played guitar in the Cash biopic Walk the Line. Vince Mira, the Federal Way teen flown in for the recording session, had just crooned the last line of his “Cold Hearted Woman,” a twangy harangue against a cruelly apathetic succubus (“…as far as you are isn’t far enough for me”), leaving his audience speechless.

Finally, Hartford, who’d been scribbling music dictation in a notebook, dropped his pen and paper and turned to the producer. “John. Carter. Cash. Does that freak you out?” John looked up, “Yeah, that freaks me out.”

John Carter had just heard a familiar voice pour from the mouth of the teenager. The producer had agreed to record an album with the talented teen—already making a name for himself with Cash covers—on the condition that “We don’t just record a bunch of my dad’s old songs.” Now, here was Mira performing an original, but his voice, a haunted baritone, was spot-on Johnny Cash.

- James Ross Gardner.  Read the entire article (here).

Before this assignment, I had heard stories over the past couple of years about Vince Mira, the young teenager who was discovered playing Johnny Cash songs on the street.  I had seen the YouTube videos from Ellen (here) Good Morning America and a few others, but I didn’t become a fan until I heard him perform live.  Wow.  This guy is talented.  He is the real deal.  There are a lot of people out there with a gimick, or who sound like someone famous.  But Vince has huge talent, and he can stand on his own.  His similarities to Johnny Cash provided him with a great start, but it’s exciting to see him head out on his own now and show people what he’s got.

The first video above is Vince Mira performing an original song, “I’m a Goin Back Home”.  The second video is a Johnny Cash song, “Folsom Prison Blues”.  Both were performed at the gum wall in Post Alley, Seattle.   I asked Vince to play one of his songs so I could film it, and it didn’t take long at all for a crowd to gather.  After he finished the first song, someone yelled out, “Play ‘Folsom Prison Blues’!”.  Even though he is trying to get away from that, he didn’t seem to mind.

Vince has an album out now, called “The Cash Cabin Sessions“.  It was recorded at the Cash Cabin Studio by John Carter Cash, Johnny Cash’s son.  It’s a great album.   You can also catch Vince every Tuesday night at the Can Can in the Pike Place Market in Seattle.  For now at least.  I don’t know how much longer he will be playing there, as he has already toured with Pearl Jam, and played on some pretty big stages.

Vince Mira – Folsom Prison Blues from John Keatley on Vimeo.
Vince Mira – I’m a Goin Back Home from John Keatley on Vimeo.

* If you are using a blog reader, you may need to visit my actual blog to see the videos show above.


Brain Rules And John Medina

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Tear Sheets

Japanese edition of Brain Rules with author John Medina on the cover.  Photo by John Keatley.

Mina san konnichiwa.  Hot off the press, my portrait of Dr. John Medina was printed on the cover of the Japanese edition of Brain Rules.

“In Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina, a molecular biologist, shares his lifelong interest in how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children and the way we work.  In each chapter, he describes a brain rule—what scientists know for sure about how our brains work—and then offers transformative ideas for our daily lives.”

I photographed Dr. Medina’s author portrait and press pictures last year, just before the book was first released in the States.  Since then, the pictures have been published in Harvard Business Review, Seattle Metropolitan, and Response, to name a few.

When I got the assignment, my mind started racing with ideas and concepts that I could use for a brain scientist.  I had heard that John is a passionate and expressive person, but nothing prepared me for the amount of energy and intensity that John generates.  The slide show should give you a pretty good idea of what the shoot was like.  John sang a song, made up a science rap, and charged at me during the shoot.  Oh, and ate a plastic brain.  What more could a photographer ask for!?   One of my favorite images was an outtake that we shot at the end.  I had the idea of using a brain like that old light bulb hovering over a persons head when an idea goes off.  It was difficult to keep the brain from moving (I used string) but we eventually got it in place, and that ended up being the picture that was printed on the book jacket for the author portrait.

There is a ton of online content about Brain Rules if you are interested in finding out more.  I highly recommend reading the book, as well.  The English version that is…unless you can read Japanese.  It is written in a way that anyone can understand, and everything in the book is practical information that can be used in your daily life.

Brain Rules on Amazon.com

* If you are using a blog reader, you may need to visit my actual blog to see the slide show above.


The Cat Ladies

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Tear Sheets

Janis Newman

Vicki Farretta

This assignment really surprised me, and made a big impression on me.  I’m not talking about being surprised by the locations that I shot at, or some impossible circumstances that came up during the assignment.  I’m just talking about being surprised by people, and gaining an appreciation for the fact that everyone is different.  Vicki and Janis love cats.  As do many Americans.  I am actually allergic to cats, so although I do not hate cats, I don’t really get excited about them either.

These two ladies love cats so much, they pour almost all of their time and energy into making the lives of feral cats as comfortable and safe as possible.  As the tear sheet indicates, they trap, neuter, and release or find homes for feral cats.

I spent two days shooting this assignment, and on the second day, Janis drove me around her hometown to show me some of the feeding spots and cat shelters that she frequents.  As we drove around, she would stop every few blocks, and fill up empty feeding dishes.  I was amazed by the number of cat shelters and bowls that were hiding in the bushes, and behind businesses.  Sometimes there were bowls right out in front of a business.  It was a hidden world, like the Troll Market under the Brooklyn Bridge in Hellboy II, for those of you who saw it.  You might walk by a cat shelter, or food bowl in public every day, and never even notice it.  I can’t recall ever seeing one in my life, but there were dozens of stray cats living behind, under, and in front of buildings just within a few blocks.  And all of these cats are given fresh food and water every single day by Janis and some of the other ladies who are involved.  That’s a lot of money when you think about feeding hundreds of cats everyday.  

While we were driving around from location to location, it really hit me.  Every day, for years, these women have been caring for cats all over the city, and making a big difference.  They prevent thousands of kittens from being born into difficult situations, and provide much better care for those cats that are already living without homes.  While we were at a trailer park on the first day of shooting, a lady came out of her home, and thanked Vicki and Janis for what they are doing.  She said that since they started fixing and caring for the cats in her neighborhood just weeks earlier, things have gotten much better.  Cat’s were no longer urinating all over the place, and the frequent cat fights had pretty much stopped. 

After my shoot with Vicki was over, I thanked her for what she is doing.  Her work may not affect me directly, or at least in a way that I would have ever known about, but it is so good to see people caring for others (cats in this case).  Trapping cats, and feeding them is not something that I will ever do, but I am thankful that there are people who do.  That’s what I love about photography.  I get to meet so many different people, and experience life from so many different points of view.  I can just imagine what I would have thought when I was younger about “cat ladies”.  Remember when so much of the country would laugh at “tree huggers”.  I’m grateful for a new perspective.  If everyone could find just one  small way to care for people, animals, or the earth ,the changes would be great.

I have just been thinking about these things lately.  Interestingly enough, some of my work has allowed me to experience first hand the needs of others, and what some people are doing to help.  Thanks for reading.  

You can read the entire article about TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) (here).
* If you are using a blog reader, you may need to visit my actual blog to see the cat slide show above.


Big Fish In A Bad Economy

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Tear Sheets

Big Fish Games CEO Jeremy Lewis.  Photo by John Keatley

* If you are using a blog reader, you may need to visit my actual blog to see the slide show of outtakes, and just for fun shots.

If I were starting a multi-million dollar company, I would do everything in my power to recruite Jeremy Lewis to run the show.  He was a thrill to work with, and a great guy to boot.  Jeremy is the CEO of Big Fish Games, and I recently photographed him for the May 09 cover of Seattle Business Monthly.

He seems to have found a good balance of taking business very seriously, but at the same time enjoying life with a good sense of humor.  And I think that shows in these pictures.  As further proof, I was intrigued by the fact that he is reading a biography on Charlie Chaplin, and drawing inspiration from Chaplin’s business savvy.  “In both good and bad times, he did the same thing: He made enjoyable, safe, mass-market entertainment at a great value. He was a true business leader for his times.”

It takes a lot of creativity to find business inspiration from such an unlikely source as Charlie Chaplin, but I like that kind of “outside the box” thinking.  Maybe we could send some of that kind of thinking to the Auto and Financial industries.

Big Fish Games is now the leader in “casual games” and they are quickly growing, despite the slumping economy.

“After netting $85 million in revenue and growing by about 70 percent last year, Big Fish doesn’t appear to be slowing down. This January, Lewis says the company’s subscription base grew 111 percent faster than it did in September 2008, when the stock market crashed.”  - Randy Woods and Julie H. Case for Seattle Business Monthly

Click here to read the entire article in Seattle Business about Big Fish Games, and other companies who are thriving despite the economic downturn.


Read This Blog And Win $10,000

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Ad Campaign, Tear Sheets

Wa Lottery The Match 4s Ad Campaign Banner.  Photo by John Keatley.

Wa Lottery The Match 4s Ad Campaign Banner.  Photo by John Keatley.

Washington hipster from Washington's Lottery Match 4 Ad Campaign.  Photo by John Keatley.

Washington longshoreman from Washington's Lottery Match 4 Ad Campaign.  Photo by John Keatley.

Washington outdoor guy from Washington's Lottery Match 4 Ad Campaign.  Photo by John Keatley.

Washington cowboy from Washington's Lottery Match 4 Ad Campaign.  Photo by John Keatley.

It turns out that you actually have to buy a Match 4 Lotto ticket for your chance to win $10,000, but you may not have known about that if you didn’t read about it on this blog.  Right?  So technically you can win $10,000 by reading the John Keatley Blog…

Ok, so enough about winning money.  The pictures above are from the new Washington State Lottery Match 4 ad campaign that I recently shot with Cole & Weber United.  I have always enjoyed Lottery ads because they often incorporate quirky humor, along with fresh creative concepts.  I got my first taste of working with the Washington Lotto a few years ago.  It was also the first ad shoot I had ever done.  Publicis was the ad agency working on the account at the time.  It was a smaller scale job, mostly running in newspapers, and point of sale, but ever since then I have wanted to do more with the Lottery.

That’s what made this so fun and rewarding for me.  It’s a client that I have been seeking out, and I was selected specifically for my brand of photography.  I was given the freedom to “do what I do”, and that always seems to bring about the best end product.  Same story with the Sounders FC ad campaign that I recently shot.  Go Sounders by the way!  Undefeated!

These pictures are of the members of the Match 4′s.  A singing group comprised of stereotypical Washington locals who are so excited about winning $10,000 that they just have to sing.  That’s not the official concept actually.  I just made that last part up.


Kickin ass and taking names, and pictures…

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Ad Campaign, Tear Sheets

Craig Pumphrey and Paul Pumphrey, photo by John Keatley.  Shot in Los Angeles for the Human Wrecking Balls ad campaign.  Human Wrecking Balls is a new tv show on G4 staring the Pumphrey brothers.

Craig Pumphrey and Paul Pumphrey, photographed by John Keatley.  Shot in Los Angeles for the Human Wrecking Balls ad campaign.  Human Wrecking Balls is a new tv show on G4 staring the Pumphrey brothers.

I wasn’t at all surprised when I got a call to photograph Craig and Paul Pumphrey for the ad campaign for their new show Human Wrecking Balls on G4.  These guys are seriously tough, and they can pretty much destroy anything with their bare hands.  This kind of raw power can be intimidating, and the client wanted to make sure that they hired a photographer who could smack the guys around if need be.  Usually I am hired for a job because of my style and photographic talent, but for this job I was also hired for my size and imposing figure.

Craig and Paul are really some of the nicest guys I have ever met.  Possibly because they are able to release any frustrations and pent up aggression they may have by breaking things on a daily basis.  Like this stack of cinder blocks for example.  My assistant Mike and I flew down to LA for the shoot.  It was a filming day, and the set was an old abandoned bowling alley.  During some of our down time, we threw bowling balls at tv monitors, and kicked things that looked solid.  Needless to say, the experience of destroying a bowling alley created some awkward inner tensions for me when I went bowling for my wife’s birthday party just weeks later.

While I was photographing Craig for the punching ad, we started debating which one of us would loose a thumb wrestling competition.  I also offered to let him kick me in the head if I could punch him in the face first.  Unfortunately this never happened because we were pressed for time due to the long filming schedule that day.  Lucky for him.

Watching Craig throw punches, I realized that his form was completely off, and I gave him a few quick pointers.  This is where my whole world came crashing down.  It turns out that my form was off, and Craig knew what he was doing.  What!?  I have always thought that when you throw a punch you want to spread the impact across the 4 knuckles on your first.  Not true.  It turns out that the correct way to punch is to align your index and middle finger knuckels with your arm.  Like a battering ram.  Those two knuckles are where you should make contact with your target and deliver the impact.  If all of your knuckles were flat on impact, your wrist would not be straight, and you could cause some serious damage to your self.  So making sure that your wrist is straight and just the two knuckles deliver the impact is very important.  And that is how you throw a punch.

These print ad’s are running in Maxim and Rolling Stone.  The online content can be seen on the G4 website, as well as the Zune Marketplace and iTunes store.  I wish lot’s of luck and good health to Craig and Paul Pumphrey!


Technology Review – Dan Kaminsky

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Tear Sheets

Dan Kaminsky - photo by John Keatley for Technology Review.  The Flaw at the Heart of the Internet.

Technology Review, November 2008.  This was my first shoot with Dan Kaminsky.   He is a hacker who discovered and helped fix a huge security hole in the Internet. Read more about his story in the Wired Magazine post (here).

*Update* David Hobby at Strobist interviewed me about my lighting technique for this assignment and my other shoot with Dan.  He wrote a really nice article, and you can read it (here).


Jones Soda

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Tear Sheets

I photographed Jones Soda CEO Stephen Jones for the November 2008 cover of Seattle Business.  I was surprised to hear that Stephen’s last name is just a coincidence, and he just recently joined the company.  We were scheduled to shoot early in the morning, but some bad news about the US economy and banking industry meant that Stephen had conference calls scheduled all day and we had to be quick.  How many soda’s does a CEO of a soda company drink in a day?  If I remember correctly, it’s about 10.

Jones Soda CEO Stephen Jones.  Photo by John Keatley.  Cover photo for Seattle Business Monthly.

Jones Soda CEO Stephen Jones. Photo by John Keatley

Jones Soda CEO Stephen Jones.  Photo by John Keatley for Seattle Business Monthly.