26
Aug

Bring Your Dog To Work Day

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Blog

A couple weeks ago we had the sudden urge to wrangle 20 pups into our studio for a day of doggy photography. Here are a few of the outtakes. For more, check out the dog portfolio on the website.  It’s been a fun challenge working with animals these past few months.  I also just shot my first major dog food ad campaign, so more on that shortly.  For now, enjoy!

12
Aug

About Personal Work

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work

Personal work.  Photo by John Keatley.

This is a personal shoot I recently put together.  Many of the ideas and sketches I have been putting in my journal lately are set in outdoor locations at night.  I seem to go through cycles of being inspired by different things in my personal work.  For example, there was a time last year, when all of my ideas were studio shots.  After spending more time than usual in the studio, I began to find inspiration in other things.  I am a very curious photographer, and I enjoy changing the situations and people I work with so I am always experiencing something new.  Each time I explore my curiosity through personal work, I not only fulfill my curiosity, but I also grow as a photographer, and learn things that will stay with me.  There is something inside of me that is constantly pushing me to try something different, and create something new.

What I have begun to notice this summer through my personal work is that each phase that I go through, it is becoming less about a technical aspect, such as a specific light, or studio vs. outdoor, and more about my vision or the story I want to tell.  Each phase I have gone through has really been more about exploration and my own curiosity than the actual technical detail I was focused on.  Through these periods of different inspirations I have learned a lot, and  I hope I will always be learning something new about light, and photography, no matter how long I work at it.  But now I am able to focus more on my vision and less on the tools required to make it happen.  Not that the tools aren’t important.  They are!  But the more you practice, the more you will understand the tools, and the more they become ingrained in you so you don’t have to spend as much time and effort thinking about them.

This picture is the first in a series I am working on in my spare time.  I felt excitement when I made this image, and it was a good reminder for me of how much I love photography.  Thanks for taking a look.

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.