Jeopardy champion, author, and all around hilarious guy Ken Jennings for Time Magazine. I don’t want to brag, but I may have stumped him on the pixel count of my Hasselblad H3D…
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Celebrity, Editorial Work
Posted by Izzy / Filed under BTS
One word sums up the experience of working with the team at the Seattle based ad agency, Wexley School for Girls: AWESOME. The long and short of it, is that these guys and gals are a riot, and life is never dull when working or hanging out with Wexley. They never so much as bat an eyelash when John shows up asking them to take their shirts off, dress up in chicken costumes, sprawl across the baby grand, or any other fantastically strange idea John has thrown at them over the years. Well, actually, not everyone was on board with this concept off the bat, but everyone came around eventually after a good pep talk.
Most business executives need headshots for speaking, press, articles, etc., and the leaders at Wexley are no different. These portraits are of the Wexley senior leadership team. As you can see, not only are they all pretty much topless, but they have Sara Coates and I smashing and manipulating their faces with our hands. At least the men do. The women got a couple of male interns to stand in, and it just so happened to be their first day on the job. It was awesome, and one of those shoots where we were laughing so hard we cried a little. Some people may have cried from awkwardness too, but it can be hard to tell the difference sometimes. Thanks Wexley for being great sports, and for working with us to create such awesome photography. I like to think this kind of work is the stuff that stands the test of time.
These pictures have already received some of the greatest comments on Facebook. It’s almost like a social experiment the way some people are so confused by these portraits. ”They aren’t really going to use those for press are they?” Yes, yes they are.
Here is a quick behind the scenes video of the shoot. Can’t wait to see what happens next time.
Thanks team Wexley, and thanks as always to Gigantic Squid for retouching!
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.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Editorial Work
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.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Ad Campaign
As an artist, campaigns with a positive social impact are always very appealing to me. PBJS in Seattle called me several months back about this campaign for The Nature Conservancy, highlighting the First Stewards Symposium in Washington DC, which takes place next month. This is the first national climate change symposium dedicated to addressing how climate change impacts coastal indigenous people.
I got to work with some great people on this project, CD Peter Gaucys, ACD Brandon Hilliard, and AD Vinny Pacheco. In one of our meetings about creative for this shoot, someone brought up how the only photographs we associate with American Indians are old and quite dated. Those old black and white prints you see in a museum. This was an opportunity to create 3 great portraits of modern American Indians surrounding a really important set of issues. I am really proud of how these portraits turned out, and I am excited to see what comes from the symposium next month.
Below is an excerpt taken from the First Stewards website which outlines the purpose of this symposium. What a fantastic project to be a part of!
“This first-of-its-kind national event examines the impact of climate change on indigenous coastal cultures. The symposium will bring together as many as 300 coastal indigenous tribal elders, leaders, scientists, witnesses, and other scientists and policy leaders from around the nation to discuss traditional ecological knowledge and what it can teach us about past, present, and future adaptation to climate change. Five regional panels of tribal leaders and tribal and Western scientists will examine how native people and their cultures have adapted to climate change for hundreds to thousands of years, and what their future — and that of the nation — may hold as the impacts of climate change continue.”
If you find yourself around the National Mall, Smithsonian, or the The National Museum of the American Indian in DC and you see these images on flags, banners, etc, I’d love to get some snaps. Thanks!
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS, Personal Work
Can you relate? You wake up in a haze, thinking a cup of coffee will do the trick. Trying to start your day out on the right foot, but instead you get a mouthful of bitter disappointment.
I had several goals pinned on the wall as I began the process of putting together this personal series. Shoot in detailed environments. Experiment with backlight where a light source is visible, or has a prominent role in the image. And finally, have fun with facial expressions. That was the easy part. The hard part was coming up with the concept to make all of the elements come together. Gives you a whole new appreciation for copywriters and art directors!
Thankfully I work with some incredible people, and after some brainstorming, the bad coffee face idea was born.
So how does a personal shoot like this come together? A lot of hard work, and a crew of talented and creative people. The car shoot was the first of the three, and this BTS video by Eric Becker is a good walkthrough of what it all looks like on set.
The second shoot was the kitchen image. Locating and securing the home was by far the most difficult part. After finding and locking in the location, we received a text the night before the shoot, which said it was no longer happening with no explanation. I knew that kitchen was perfect for this shot, so after a lot of leg work and negotiating, we were back on track. There is a certain mindset I feel is invaluable and absolutely necessary to make it as a photographer. Tattoo these phrases on your arm, and never forget them. No excuses, always ask questions, politely don’t take no for an answer, and do whatever it takes to make it work. There is always a solution, no matter what the problems you are faced with. Wrapping your mind around these ideas will help prepare you for the struggles you are guaranteed to face as a photographer on almost a daily basis.
I wrapped this series up with the park bench shot. I scouted several parks in Seattle until I found a bench I really liked. It ended up being in a large forested park, which was a perfect place to shoot. The permit was affordable, and it was a wide open space without crowd’s of people and traffic to worry about. After the shoot with the bench and model, I woke up at sunrise the next day, and shot around an urban neighborhood near downtown Seattle. It is important to make sure the light and angles of the environment match the light on the bench and model so the finished product looks as realistic as possible. I made sure all of the landscape images I shot had the sun in the correct place according to where I placed lights on the model shoot. I also used a tripod so my camera height and angle was the same as it was during the model shoot.
I love working like this because it gives me complete control of the final image without being restricted by certain realities.
Thanks to my awesome crew for helping make this project shine.
Talent: JJ Kissinger, Gabe Rodriguez, Katelyn Price
Production: Elizabeth Atwood
Retouching: Ian Goode / Gigantic Squid
Assistants: Will Foster, Gregg White, Oliver Ludlow
BTS video and stills: Eric Becker
Hair and Makeup: Cara Aeschliman
Wardrobe: Bryan Carle
Thank you’s also go out to Seattle Parks and Rec and Windermere Capitol Hill.
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.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work, Travel
This is the fifth post in this series. You can see all of the posts by clicking on the Arts Aftercare tag.
Required Reading: I highly recommend reading the Wikipedia page on Human Trafficking in the Philippines. It will give you better context for my story and the situation in places like Angeles City.
The final destination of our trip was Angeles City, the second largest sex tourism destination in the world. This was a difficult way to end the trip, but at the same time, I’m really glad I didn’t start the trip with this. It was a dark, heavy place, and I was definitely out of my comfort zone.
While I was taking pictures in front of a bar on the Walking Street, a man approached me and asked me to take his picture with a group of bar girls (pictured below). After the group shot, and an off-color comment, the man introduced Becker and I to his girlfriend, who is in the next picture. He told us what a great time was waiting to be had in Angeles, and we chatted with him for a few minutes. Before we parted ways, he asked how he could get copies of the pictures I took. He gave us his email address, and after we returned to our hotel that night, we looked him up on Facebook. Turns out, his name is Michael Wiener, and he is a former New Mexico State Senator, and the current County Commissioner in Bernalillo County.
Angeles was a strange place, because for the previous 8 days in the Philippines, we saw very few caucasians. As soon as we arrived in Angeles, we saw hundreds of middle aged and older white men everywhere we went with young Filipino women. I saw some extremely disturbing things, and felt a heavy darkness in Angeles. I don’t really know if it is necessary to go into any detail about all of that stuff, but I also don’t really feel like talking about it any further. I think these images say what I feel needs to be said.
This is the one picture from this series that is not from Angeles. Pegasus is in Manila, but it fit so well with this series, and I had to find a way to show it. The sign says it all. Pegasus is a high end club that is known for selling very young girls. They charge $500 just to get in the door.
Bernalillo County Commissioner Michael Wiener.
Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work, Travel
This is the fourth post in this series. You can see all of the posts by clicking on the Arts Aftercare tag.
I love and hate these pictures. From a photographic standpoint, I am really proud of this series of images taken at the PREDA Foundation. On the other hand, I hate that these pictures need to exist, and that this is a story which needs to be told. It seems impossible to ignore the devastation and loss of innocence these images also represent. But fortunately I do see hope in these images as well. I believe we were created with the capacity to choose great evil, but thankfully we also have the choice to love, which I believe has the power to overcome all else. At PREDA, I met some wonderful people who have made the decision to simply love, and care for the people who have been exploited and experienced so much devastation.
I arrived at PREDA with only 2 hours to work with before Becker and I had to take a taxi to Angeles City. It was a bit hectic when we arrived, and we didn’t have much back story or time to prep for this stop. After meeting Alex, the program director, I asked if I could take a tour and look around. The tour started in the administrative offices, followed by the kitchen and then some classrooms. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for or interested in. Eventually, we went down a hall and into a large room filled with colorful metal bunk beds and bright blankets. Half of the room was lined with large windows, streaming in midday light. As I took it all in, I asked my tour guide what the room was, and she told me it was the girls dorm, for children 9 and under. To clarify, these are children age 9 and younger who have been sexually abused both commercially and domestically. Unbelievable.
I started the day expecting to make portraits, but this room was speaking to me, and drawing me in. I didn’t have my camera with me, and after looking around for a moment, I burst out of the room, and down the hall to get my camera and tripod. I think my guide thought I was a bit strange, leaving the way I did with no explanation, but I couldn’t move fast enough. I was in a zone. I spent maybe the next hour shooting these images of the girls dorm, although it felt like I was only there about 5 minutes.
Primal therapy room.
Father Shay, founder of PREDA Foundation in Olongapo, Philippines, on Subic Bay. Father Shay has dedicated his life to fighting for children who have been sexually exploited both commercially and domestically. He has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize 3 times, and I sincerely hope he is recognized by one in the near future.
I just can’t decide between these two portraits. It is usually pretty easy for me to make these kind of decisions, but there is something about each of these that I can’t get past. It doesn’t help that everyone else I have asked have said both as well. What do you think?
Father Shay’s desk. Nearly 40 years of hard work has happened here. I can’t even imagine the phone calls, letters, and meetings that have taken place here over the years.
PREDA Foundation is a service provider for sexually exploited children in Subic Bay, Philippines, which infamous as a destination for sex tourism. From their website:
“In 1974, with Filipino helpers, Fr. Shay Cullen established the PREDA organization (Peoples’ Recovery Empowerment and Development Assistance Inc.) to give shelter and protection and recovery to victims of abuse and more importantly to change this unjust situation in society that abandons children and criminalizes them and prostitutes them or allows them to be abused without getting help and justice.”
PREDA provides many crucial services to the children, including residential care homes organized by age – one for girls as young as 9 years and under.
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.