22
Aug

Wexleynauts

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS, Editorial Work

Cal and Ian of the Wexley School For Girls by photographer John Keatley.

Wait!  You mean, there is a 3rd cosmonaut outfit?  I’m going to need to wear that…  It only makes sense.  It will help me understand my subjects and connect with them better.  I’m a method photographer, what can I say.
It seems like it was just yesterday I was in this very same room at Wexley School For Girls with Cal and Ian for my first shoot with them.  They were flexing on the white baby grand piano.  It was magical.  Since then, we have done I don’t know how many shoots together, but this is definitely one of my favorite ones.

Thanks to AdWeek for a fun assignment, and thanks to Wexley for keeping the magic alive.


The three cosmigos.

21
Aug

Not Your Mother’s Peaches

Posted by Izzy / Filed under Editorial Work

Some might find it ironic and nostalgic (our favorite hipster description as of late around here), others might simply call it a way of life — call it what you like, the artisan food movement is BIG, and if you don’t keep on your toes, you might fall behind.  One week mushroom foraging is the trendiest of trendy, the next week it’s goat farming and cheesemaking.  We got a real kick out of this lately when John shot the Seattle Weekly cover story highlighting (and kind of poking fun) at the whole phenomenon.

Apparently my ‘hipster-esque’ kitchen fit the bill location-wise, and the next thing you know we were all jammed in there dumping large cans of Safeway peaches into Mason jars prepping for the shoot – slightly ironic, slightly nostalgic, and downright hilarious.  The photos of this began as outtakes, and actually turned out being what they ran with.  The model in her kitsch Anthropology apron, can in hand, and the rest of us just out of the frame in stitches.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the whole slow and local food movement is awesome, and to prove it, here is the pickle recipe I can’t wait to take a stab at (courtesy of a childhood friend who has recently made some great waves in the food world with her super legit food blog).  Thanks Anna, and especially thanks to Seattle Weekly Art Director Jane Sherman and all of the great folks over at Seattle Weekly!  We can’t wait to do it again soon.  As always, gigantic thanks to Gigantic Squid for retouching.

19
Jul

Don Mattrick for Forbes

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Editorial Work

Portrait of Microsoft's Don Mattrick for Forbes by John Keatley.

Safe to say Don Mattrick has one of the more exciting jobs at Microsoft.  Sitting around, playing Xbox all day.  Must be nice.  But sometimes, when he’s not playing Xbox, Don get’s his picture taken for Forbes, and that’s where I come in.  And speaking of exciting jobs, I can’t even begin to explain how much furniture was moved around for this shoot.  I think the PR people thought I was a little crazy, but if you ask me, it was totally worth it.  In fact, I think it turned out so good, Microsoft may even decide to re-arrange the whole room.  That’s called value added.  Don’t worry, no charge.  That’s how we do it.

Don Mattrick is the President of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment business.  i.e. Xbox…  It’s a big weapon for Microsoft right now.  David Ewalt wrote the story for Forbes that this was shot for, which you can read here.  Photo Editor Gail Toivanen, and retouching by Gigantic Squid.

P.S. People always ask me about backstory, so I know what your next question is going to be.  ”John, what was he saying when you took this picture?”  He was saying, “John, how are you so friggin funny!?  You crack me up.”  Thanks Don.  That’s really nice of you to say.

09
May

Radar The Talking Dog

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Editorial Work

Meet Radar, the talking dog.  What was he saying when I took that picture?  Oh, just the usual.  ”Hey buddy, you sure take a lot of pictures.  Wow!  How many pictures are you gonna take?  Ok, I think you’ve got it by now.”  You would think Radar is a celebrity of CEO going on like that.  But seriously, does it not look like he is talking in the first picture!?  Such a beautiful, expressive animal.  I haven’t seen that much expression from any of the humans I have worked with lately.

So who want’s the real story?  Radar is actually a service dog for a boy with autism.  I shot this assignment for VIV Mag, and these are two of my favorite outtakes.  I set up a raised platform in studio to photograph Radar, and he was not very excited about being on off the ground.  It took several tries, and a lot of patience, but I got some beautiful images as a result.  They say you should never work with children or animals, but sometimes it’s the most difficult challenges that pay off the most.

Thanks to VIV Mag photo editor Daniel Montoya for working with me on this.
Retouching by Gigantic Squid.

16
Apr

At Home in Manila

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work, Travel

This is the third post from my assignment in the Philippines for Arts Aftercare.  You can see all of the posts from this trip by clicking on the Arts Aftercare tag.  For those of you who are just joining in, the following portraits are of people who have been affected in some way by sexual exploitation.  Some of the people are volunteering, or caring for survivors, some of the people are survivors, and one person is simply family member of a victim of sexually exploitation.

Some of my favorite moments in the Philippines were when I was able to walk through neighborhoods, and photograph people in their homes.  It took several days before I was able to find transportation, and arrange times with people, but once I was able to establish some trust and familiarity, things began to fall into place.  I only wish I had more time in Manila to take more of these.  I have intentionally left out some of the names for various reasons.

The mother in this family is a volunteer at Samaritana, where she teaches women how to sew.  I photographed them at their home just outside the garbage community in Manila.

Jonathan Nambu is the co-director of Samaritana with his wife Thelma.  They were our wonderful hosts while we were in Manila.  I photographed him at his home in the backyard.

This young woman is in the Samaritana program for women who have been sexually exploited.  She lives in a small home with a large number of her family members along with extended family.

This is the girls father (pictured above).  He collects recyclable garbage for a living, and has a small shop in the front of the family’s home.

I was able to spend quite a bit of time with Krys on this trip, and got to know her a bit more than others.  She works at Samaritana, and spends a good amount of her time on the streets at night forming relationships with pimps, and women who are being exploited.  She has such an amazing heart, and her story is deeply moving.  This shoot was especially fun, because we got to ride a trike, transfer to a jeepney, and then take a long walk to get to her apartment where this portrait was taken.  I’m a sucker for a good trike ride on the deadliest highway in the world.

This woman also works at Samaritana, and she lives in a squatter community, which is like nothing I have ever experienced before.  A squatter community is exactly as it sounds.  People build homes right on top of, and next to each other, regardless of who owns the land.  Power lines and other resources are spliced, and it looks a bit like controlled chaos.  From a photographic standpoint, one thing I love about many of these images, is that there was often only one natural light source in each home, which provided a single stream of beautiful light to work with.

Survivor in the Samaritana program, photographed in her friends home.

I shot all but one of these images on my Vanguard tripod.  It was fun to work this way for a change with natural light.  It made me slow down and take a different approach.  I even slowed down my breathing, to accommodate the timed exposures.  I feel a deep connection with each of these images, and I also feel a different kind of appreciation for these because of the process.  I am really looking forward to creating more work like this at some point.

09
Apr

Survivors in Manila

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work, Travel

This is the second post from my assignment in the Philippines for Arts Aftercare.  You can read the first post, as well as this entire series by clicking on the Arts Aftercare tag.

After arriving in Manila and getting acclimated, my main focus was to document the art therapy training by the Arts Aftercare staff.  Leaders from several organizations in the Philippines and abroad attended the training, which took place over the course of 3 days.  When I was not in the training, I spent the rest of my time trying to figure out who is who, and what direction I wanted to go with my personal work, which would be to tell a story about the sex industry in the Philippines.  We would be spending about 6 days in Manila, and then we would head to 2 other towns and visit organizations working with survivors of sexual exploitation.

One of the things I was hoping for the most out of this trip was an opportunity to make portraits of some of the survivors of sexual exploitation.  Our hosts told us that they thought only a couple of the women would be willing to be photographed, but we would just have to ask and see what they say.  We arrived on a Thursday afternoon, and wouldn’t be able to ask until Monday.  It was a long weekend of waiting.  Understandably there are some really complicated issues that come up when photographing people who have had to deal with something like this.  It was important, but also really difficult for me to remember that, as I had my heart set on making portraits of at least a few of the survivors.

When Monday came around, Becker and I introduced ourselves to the group and told them what we were there for, and what we hoped to accomplish.  We walked out of the room and gave them time to talk about it among themselves.  Not long after, someone came out and told us that every single woman had agreed, and they were really excited to be photographed.

I quickly grabbed my gear and set up at a bus stop just down the street from the organization.  It was incredibly hot and humid, but I somehow made it through, on excitement and adrenaline while I shot for the next 2.5 hours.  It was such a fun shoot.

Sexual exploitation is such a heavy subject, but what really made an impact on me was the hope and joy I saw in so many of the women who are going through the recovery process.  After spending time with them, I decided to make the portraits with an overall hopeful feel, which is why I chose the brightly colored wall as a background.  I directed the women a little, but tried to interject as little as possible to allow these images to feel more natural and reflective of each woman’s personality.  I let them pose how they felt most comfortable, and tried to keep things as natural as possible.  These women are so incredible, and they have amazing strength and beauty.  I hope that comes through as you look at these portraits.

My intent in doing this project was to help spread the word about the exploitation of women and children which is going on all around us.  Hopefully by sharing these images and stories, others might feel inclined to get involved in the fight and healing process.  As the week went by, my focus became sharper and sharper on creating great images which told a captivating story.  My approach could be described as a bit selfish at times, as I was solely thinking about what I could do, or where I needed to go to get the shot.  After this shoot was finished, I began hearing from a few people about how much this experience meant to the women.  The big 5 ft. octabank, Curtis holding the big flag, Becker shooting video, and my Hasselblad camera, all made them feel like they were a part of something fancy and exciting.  It seemed pretty normal to me, but that type of experience is not something everyday people are a part of very often.  On top of that, I was working really hard to make the pictures look great from a visual interest standpoint, but to the women, it all made them feel beautiful and pampered.  It was a good feeling to be a part of that, but it still didn’t fully hit me until the next day.

The next day we were back at the house, and everyone was finishing up training.  I was waiting for a ride to another site to take pictures.  The house we were staying at was beautiful, but not a place I felt was conducive to anything I thought would be visually interesting.  As I was watching everyone laughing and going through the drama portion of the training, it hit me.  Forget about yourself and your portfolio for once, and use that camera in your hands to really make an impact on someone.  It’s easy to help others when my portfolio is also benefiting from it, but how about taking pictures that only benefit others.  A totally new concept for me.  I told one of the leaders that I was willing to take pictures of the women with friends, groups, whatever they wanted.  And for the next 45 minutes, we took pictures of people jumping off chairs, human pyramids, group poses, and on and on.  It was so awesome.  They came up with their own ideas, and it was fun to see them take charge and direct everyone.  The pictures are not ones I will be showing, or putting in a portfolio, but they brought a lot of joy to those in them, and that was a powerful experience and a good lesson for me.

These images were all edited with VSCO Film.

22
Jan

Drinks With Murray Stenson

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

I hinted at a fun assignment I was working on last month on Twitter, and now I am excited to to be able to share the images with you.  I had a lot of catching up to do when I first got the assignment to photograph Murray Stenson from Art Director Jane Sherman at Seattle Weekly, but it didn’t take long for me to find out that Murray is widely regarded as the best bartender in the country.  Don’t believe me?Just ask Esquire, Playboy and Tales of the Cocktail.  It felt like when you get a new car, and all of a sudden you realize that just about everyone else on the road has the same car as you.  As soon as I got this assignment, it seemed like everyone I knew was going out to get a drink from Murray.  Apparently I was the last person to know.  I was quite excited to not only photograph Murray, but to also have a drink from him.

I did the shoot at Canon, which is a new bar in Seattle where Murray works, along with an all-star group of bartenders led by Jamie Boudreau who is also the owner.  There is a bit of a wait to get in, but I can tell you the wait is well worth it.  I filmed a short video of Murray mixing and explaining how to make an Absinthe Julep, which you can see below.  And yes, I did get to drink it after we were done filming.  Someone had to, and I didn’t want it to go to waste.  We did have to do 2 takes, but thankfully my assistant handled the second one since we were dealing with 124 proof.  For what it’s worth, I made sure the video was the last thing we did so my pictures wouldn’t be out of focus.

Although Murray has been written up in many other magazines, this article is the first time he has told his story.  It was written by Mike Seely, and is a really fascinating read.  Here is the link to the article if you are interested.  Along with the video, I also included a few behind the scenes pictures at the bottom.

Thanks to Jane Sherman for working with me on this, and thanks to Murray and Jamie for being such gracious hosts and subjects.  Photo retouching by the fine folks at Gigantic Squid.

Behind the scenes pictures by Lonnie Webb.

03
Sep

Michael Arrington

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Editorial Work

Michael Arrington photographed in his home by John Keatley.

Spending the afternoon with Michael Arrington at his home was a pretty fun experience.  I don’t usually have the opportunity to photograph highly successful people away from their offices, let alone at their homes.  I only got the call from Inc. Magazine for this assignment the day before the shoot, and I was asked not to take an assistant, given some privacy and security concerns.  Thankfully he was not in any huge hurry, so I had time to set up properly without rushing too much.  It was also a good exercise for me to remember how all of my gear works.  I can’t let myself get too soft.

For those who are not familiar with Michael, he is the founder and former editor of TechCrunch, a technology blog.  Michael has been called one of the most powerful people on the Internet by Forbes and Wired, and in 2008, he was listed by Time Magazine as one of the most influential people in the world.  Just days ago, the news broke that Michael has left TechCrunch to start a $20M venture capital fund.

Michael has been described as controversial and outspoken, and when Michael found out that I have never tasted coffee, he pushed harder than anyone ever has to try to get me to break.  He also jabbed me quite a bit for using a Sprint EVO.  Hey, I’ll let people make fun of me all day long, as long as I’m getting great images out of it.  Strong personality, for sure, but I really liked him.  He was fun to work with.

Read the Inc. article this photo shoot was for: The Way I Work: Michael Arrington of TechCrunch