23
Nov

The Keatley Store

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under News

I am pleased to announce the grand opening of the Keatley Store, where you can buy prints of some of my favorite images, a Keatley shirt, as well as some other fun limited edition items.  Just in time for Christmas I might add.  After moving in and decorating our new studio this past year, I realized just how fun and meaningful it is to own and display artwork.  I have so many images I would like to share with others in the form of prints, and the store provides an easy way to do that, at really reasonable prices.  I will be adding new images and switching things up from time to time, so check back often.  There are still spots available for the Un-Workshop as well if you are interested.

Keatley shirts are an exciting item for me because of the back story.  Not many people know the full story, but I first made Keatley shirts about 10 years ago.  My friend, Joe King, is the designer who made the Keatley logo, as well as convinced me to change the way I was branding myself.  When I first started my business, I was doing business as John Keatley Photography.  I hired Joe to come up with a logo for me, and in addition the many options he came up with, he created the keatley logo which felt more like a major brand than a freelance photographer.  Just for fun, I made 10 Keatley shirts, and gave them to my friends and roommates.  As people saw the shirts, I began getting additional requests, so I made a few more.  This continued to happen, and demand grew pretty quickly.  I eventually made a small online store to sell them and help free me up from meeting up with people and collecting cash.  As the shirts got out into the wild, a friend at MTV passed a few out to some bands, and they began making appearences at concerts and in photos.  I also had a lot of enthusiastic friends in Young Life and college helping me spread the word, and before long, I had sold a couple of thousand shirts.  My good friend Bryan Pape sat me down at one point, and talked with me about getting serious about shirts and maybe making a business out of it.  The truth of it was, it was fun to see the shirts on random people all over the world, but it was getting to be a lot of work for me to be shipping and everything that goes with it.  I was also trying to grow a photography business at the same time which was what I was really passionate about.  Keatley shirts helped a little as I did get some jobs from people seeing them, but I was spending a lot more time selling them than I had ever anticipated.  After a couple of years, things died down a bit as I chose to focus on photography.  Who knows what could have happened if I put more time into it, but I can’t say I have any regrets about sticking with photography  :).  The funny thing about the whole Keatley shirt craze was that most people who bought a Keatley shirt, had no idea what Keatley was.  They just liked how it looked.  Some of my friends made up a different story every time someone asked them what Keatley was.  I’ll never forget the time I was walking through the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and I saw someone who I didn’t know wearing a Keatley shirt.  Crazy!

I don’t expect to sell thousands of shirts this time around, but I still think it’s an awesome design and a fun shirt.  Instead of printing on 100% cotton this time around, we are using tri-blend material which is even more comfortable, and holds up better than cotton.  It also has a slightly heather look to it, which gives it a vintage feel.  Pick one up for yourself in the store and see what all the buzz is about.  Thanks for reading the story.  It’s fun for me to share since I haven’t really shared that story with too many people.

23
Dec

My First Esquire Cover

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Celebrity, Editorial Work, Tear Sheets

I woke up this morning to get a Twitter mention and early Christmas greeting from @Strobist that my portrait of Annie Leibovitz is on the new cover of Spanish Esquire.  That’s an awesome Christmas present, and my first Esquire cover as well.

Big thank you’s go out to Redux Pictures (Lori Reese and Jesi Bevis, who tirelessly represent my stock archive and editorial assignments) and Esquire.

Esquire Spain
Editor in chief: Andrés Rodriguez
Creative director: Clara Montagut (her design department runs this great blog / found via CoverJunkie.com)
Photo Editor: Diego Martinez

21
Sep

I’ve Been Framed

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS, Press & Interviews, Videos

Thank you to everyone who wrote in and asked the fine folks at FRAMED to do an interview with me. It was very flattering to get the call to do this, and fun to spend the day with Melissa and the whole crew. I am blown away by what a great job they did with this video from top to bottom. They actually made me look somewhat respectable, which is no small feat.  In about 15 years, when Isla is an unruly teenager, I am going to make her watch this video, and then I will look her in the eyes, and say, “Respect”.

I know that 36 minute ticker may scare some of you, but I got several comments and emails today from people who said they didn’t plan on watching more than three minutes, and ended up getting sucked in and watched the whole thing.  Hopefully that is incentive enough to press play.  Even if you only have time for three minutes.  There are no axes, or wood carving in this video, but there are a couple of pretty funny moments with a (Spoiler Alert!) karate master.  Which reminds me, I am really excited you get to meet some of my creative companions who pop up in the video as well.

As always, thanks so much for your interest and support of my work.  It means a lot to me, and thank you again to FRAMED!

07
Jul

PDN Faces Opener

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Awards, Tear Sheets

Portrait of Annie Leibovitz is the opener for the 2010 PDN Faces issue.

Portrait of Annie Leibovitz by photographer John Keatley printed in the PDN Faces issue.

The PDN Faces issue is out now, and my portrait of Annie Leibovitz is the opener.  I am very excited and honored to say the least.   This image was also selected in the American Photography 25 Competition last year.  Pretty cool!

*UPDATE* 8/17/2010 – The PDN Faces 2010 Winners Gallery is now online with all of the winning images.  There are some great portraits in there, and a nice note about my portrait in the intro on the landing page.

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19
Aug

"How Could This Happen to Annie Leibovitz?"

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Celebrity

Portrait of Annie Leibovitz by John Keatley.  An honest look at the great celebrity photographer.

As you may already know, last November I had the privilege of photographing one of the photography greats, Annie Leibovitz.  (Here) is an earlier post about my experience photographing her.  Then just a few months ago, I found out my portrait of Annie was selected for AP25 (American Photography 25 silver-anniversary competition) which is a selection of the best photographs from 2008.  The selected photographs will be compiled in a book this coming November.  Having already written about this, I don’t want to be too repetitive, but Annie Leibovitz is in the news again.  This time, it was not because she offended someone, or got a celebrity to pose nude.  New York Magazine came out with an article this week about Annie, and the hard times that she has come into.  Not to make light of a difficult situation, but I am pleased that one of my portraits was licensed for this article.  Here is a link to “How Could This Happen to Annie Leibovitz? The $24 million question” written by Andrew Goldman for New York Magazine.  It is a fantastic story, and definitely worth reading.

With all of the news flying around about Annie, I decided to take a look at my portraits of her again.  This picture in particular has always pulled at me.  I have thought about showing it in the past, but there was something that always seemed to make me leave it alone.  Looking at it again now, in light of what is going on, it seemed to take on new life.  This was one of those moments that came and went in a split second.  I had shot several frames already, including the one I have been showing.  There was a moment where she didn’t know what to do with her hands, and maybe felt a bit self conscious about being photographed.  She quickly rubbed her eyes and pulled her hair back from her face and the moment was gone.  I can’t say I captured this image because of some magic of my own.  In all honesty, I’m sure it was an accident I caught this.  But in this portrait, I see so much honesty and vulnerability.  Something not easily captured, regardless of the subject.  A good lesson for me: a great portrait isn’t always created by controlling my subject, but rather capturing an organic moment in a controlled setting.

New York Magazine “How Could This Happen to Annie Leibovitz?” http://nymag.com/fashion/09/fall/58346/

*Side Note*  Thank you to everyone who has written me about the comments not showing up properly in Safari and Firefox.  It looks like the issue has been resolved, and I apologize if you felt that I was ignoring your questions.  I may have actually responded, but the comment just didn’t show up properly.  It turns out that white text on a white background can be hard to read.

19
May

American Photography 25

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Awards, Celebrity

ap25

An email went out this past April to the winners of the American Photography 25 silver-anniversary competition, and I am happy to say that I received one of those emails.  This was the first time that I submitted my work to AP.  It all became official last week as the selected photographs were released in an online slide show.  In all, 10,100 photographs were submitted, and the jury selected the 351 best images from 2008 to be published in the AP25 book.  The book will be distributed world-wide in hard cover this November.  My portrait of Annie Leibovitz is the picture that was selected from my submission.  Annie Leibovitz also has work in AP25, including her controversial portrait of Miley Cyrus which appeared in Vanity Fair.

It is a major thrill to have my work selected for this, but what really blows my mind is the fact that many of the photographers I have been inspired by since I first picked up a camera also have work in AP25.  Dan Winters, Peter Yang, Annie Leibovitz, Emily Shur (check out Emily’s blog if you haven’t already), and Martin Schoeller.  I am very thankful for this opportunity.

Steve Wiecking just put up a nice post about AP and me on his Seattle Met blog (here).

annie_leibovitz

07
Jan

Portrait of Annie Leibovitz

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Celebrity

Annie Leibovitz Portrait by John Keatley

In the course of a conversation this past summer, it was mentioned that Annie Leibovitz was going to be in Seattle that November.  As soon as I heard this, I was gone.  Blank stare.  Absent from the conversation. I was thinking, “What would it be like to photograph Annie Leibovitz?  Would she let someone else take her portrait?  I don’t think so.  She is one of the greatest photographers ever.  The only pictures I have ever seen of her were self portraits.  How nervous would I be if I got to take her portrait?”  A couple of months later, I received an email from a photo editor at Seattle Metropolitan; “Do you want to photograph Annie Leibovitz?”

I thought a lot about how I would photograph her.  But after dreaming about some grand and sizable production ideas, I decided not to try to do too much.  I would just do what I do best, and keep it simple. We were scheduled to shoot in a private meeting room in a downtown Seattle hotel, with no chance of moving to a different location.  Because of her full schedule that day, I knew she would be tired.  An interview with Steve Scher on NPR (listen here) right before the shoot, and speaking at Benaroya Hall for ‘Seattle Arts & Lectures‘ right after.  I had a small window of time to work with her.

When Annie came into the room, she looked around at the lighting setup, and said,  “Wow, this looks scary.”  My thoughts exactly, but it wasn’t the lights I was thinking about.  We talked a few minutes about photography and cameras before she sat down.  Then I told her about my idea for the portrait, and asked if she would mind taking off her glasses. She said that was fine, and I started to shoot.  It was a balancing act trying to find the line between being in control to get what I wanted, and not being pushy.  I could tell that she was not comfortable being photographed.  She moved around a lot while I shot, and I decided to be flexible rather than push too much to hold a certain pose.  Things don’t always go exactly to plan, and sometimes this can be a pleasant surprise.  It felt like the shoot ended up being a collaboration in making the pictures.  It’s not often that I work with someone who is so willing to be expressive and experiment as she was.  Shortly after we started, the shoot came to an end, and I knew that I had the shot.  I thanked her for her time, and she said, “You did good.”  I’ll take it!  What a compliment.

The article that was published in Seattle Metropolitan, and written by Steve Wieking can be read here.

*Update* – My portrait of Annie Leibovitz was selected in the American Photography 25 Competition (AP25) and will be published in November 2009.  This is a huge honor for me!  The link will take you to a post with more about the award.