14
Apr

Douglas Coupland

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Celebrity

Writer Douglas Coupland at his Vancouver studio.  Photo by photographer John Keatley.

Douglas Coupland decked out in his Canadian best.  I photographed Douglas in his Vancouver BC studio for The New York Times Magazine just before the 2010 Winter Olympics.  He was kind enough to give me a tour of his studio, and it, along with his art collection, is enough to make anyone jealous.  Really impressive.  New York Times Magazine Q&A with Douglas.

As I parted ways with Douglas, he said to give him a call if I ran into any trouble at the border.  A kind gesture, but probably not necessary.  For those of you who are not familiar with crossing the border between the US and Canada, it usually involves waiting in a short line and getting grilled with questions ranging from “Why are you visiting Canada (or the US)” to “When is the last time you got into a bar fight.”  On occasion the officer will ask a series of questions, and loop back around and ask the same questions again, which I always find interesting.  A good way to catch you if you are lying about something.

When I reached the border this time, I was greeted with a standard question, “What were you doing in Canada?”  ”Taking pictures,”  I responded.

It’s important to understand the questions you are asked at the border are rapid.  It is not a conversation, it’s question, answer, question, answer.

“What were you taking pictures of?”

“Douglas Coupland for New York Times Magazine.”

Up until this point it’s all pretty standard, but this next part threw me off.  The officer turned from his computer screen and looked at me as he said, “Ohhhh, Generation X”.  Douglas popularized the phrase “Generation X” with his best selling novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. I wasn’t sure how to respond at this point.  Was that a question, or was he simply stating a fact?  Now there was a pause.  This isn’t how it’s supposed to work.  He is supposed to ask the questions and I give the answers.  But it seemed he was waiting for some sort of response, so I said, “Oh, yeah, so you know who he is?”  His demeanor instantly changed, and he responded in a harsh tone, “I said Generation X, didn’t I!?”  I nodded my head in agreement, not wanting to get into it with him.

After another pause, the officer began to tell me about an article he had recently read by Douglas Coupland on how border officers are rude and difficult.  He went on for what seemed like several minutes.  His tone was a mix of amusement and disbelief.  To summarize his main points: What!?  Us, rude and difficult!?  How could anyone think that?

Oh, this is bad I thought.  I should have said I was photographing Céline Dion.

Once again, not knowing how to respond, I tried to be real.  ”To be honest, I have pulled up next to some gruff people working here and I can see how he would think that about some of the people who work here.  But you definitely seem to be one of the the nice ones.”

With that, he snapped back into Mr. Man In Charge, and exclaimed.  ”Well, if you think I’m nice, it would interest you to know I have made more arrests at this station than any other officer.”  He paused to let his accomplishments sink in before handed back my passport and I was on my way.  Until next time.

Equipment Used:
Hasselblad H3DII-31 Camera
Hasselblad Wide Angle H 50mm Lens
Profoto Giant 150 Silver Reflector
Profoto White Softlight “Beauty Dish” Reflector
Wescott 45” Umbrellas

Douglas Coupland and John Keatley

Self portrait with Douglas Coupland.

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02
Feb

John Perkins Book Cover

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Tear Sheets

The book cover of Love Is The Final Fight by John Perkins.  Photo by John Keatley.

A guy could really get used to this whole book cover portrait thing.  It’s exciting to see your work in full bleed on the cover of a book.  No “10 Secrets to Sexy Abs” or “How to Keep The Doughnuts and Loose The Weight” tips plastered all over the cover.  This is my most recent book cover photo, 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 Fight does not come out until August 2010, but the marketing is getting under way now.  John is a great man with an amazing story, and although I have not read this book yet, I would recommend it solely based on what I know about John.

I hope 2010 is starting out with a bang for everyone!

06
May

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.

28
Jan

Make It Work, Tim Gunn Style

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Celebrity

Tim Gunn Portrait by John Keatley

Tim Gunn.  The man is like a saint.  Everyone loves him.  And I have to say, he is one of the nicest people I have ever photographed or met.  He was kind, easy to work with, and the only person who has ever said to me, “Are you sure you don’t want more time?” at the end of a shoot.  What most people don’t know about this picture is that I actually made his suit out of an old soft box, and the lining from one of my camera bags.  ”Find a way to mitigate that center seam” he repeatedly instructed as I tirelessly worked, rushing to finish the garment.  ”Make it work!”

Talk about pressure.  Thankfully he thought the suit was stunning, and the shoot went great too.  While I was packing up, I noticed Tim in the corner of the room tearing up a piece of berber carpet.  I gave him a questioning look, and he said, “For our next challenge, you will be designing an outfit for a garden party.  You have fifteen minutes to caucus.”

Season 6 of Project Runway, hosted by Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum will be starting soon.  To hold you over, (here) is one of my favorite Tim Gunn video clips.