07
Apr

Santa on the Street

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work

* If you are using a blog reader, you may need to visit my actual blog to see the slide show above.

I got a call last October from my friend, Tyler, asking me if I would photograph a Christmas party for street youth in Seattle’s U-District.  It’s an annual party, and they usually have a volunteer take candid snapshots that they can give to the youth who attend.  After talking for a little while, we both decided that it would be fun to set up a studio in a corner where anyone who was interested could get their portrait taken.

After I finished setting up, Tyler made an announcement about the studio letting people know that it was available.  Everyone in the room turned to look at me.  I smiled and waved, and then everyone turned back around and continued talking and opening presents.  I waited for about 10 minutes, and still nobody came over.  There were a lot of glances toward the studio, but that was it.  I started walking around the room, and asking if people wanted to have their picture taken.
“No way man.  I don’t want my picture taken.”

I knew it would just take one person to get things rolling, and moments later, that person arrived.  Actually, he was a rabbit…  Although I was excited about photographing a giant rabbit, I could tell that Santa was feeling uneasy and territorial.  He took his white gloves off, one finger at a time, and threw them on the ground.  ”This is my holiday, Rabbit!” He screamed across the room.

That’s a story for another day, though.

I was able to convince the rabbit to let me photograph him, and shortly after, people began lining up to join in.  I took quite a bit of time with the lighting setup for this, and set the lights in a way that would allow for some movement and flexibility with each subject.  I made an x on the ground, and asked each person to stand there. But beyond that, I didn’t control their movements.  I wanted to let each person be themselves, and capture their personalities.  I know that I am not the first person to photograph street youth.  But often I feel that a subject like this is an easy way to create a dramatic story without any creativity.  Street youth encounter struggles that many of us will never experience, some of them dress a little different, but that alone doesn’t make a great picture. What I loved about how these pictures turned out, was the laughter and humor that came through.  I don’t think the pictures would have the same feel if I had taken as much control as I would have with a different subject.  I might have asked Santa to look serious, though…Couldn’t resist that one!

What do you think about the slide show?  Comments please.  I have been posting pictures individually, but it seemed like there were too many for that this time.  I’d love to hear what you think.

11
Mar

"American Youth" Photography Book

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Personal Work

American Youth photography book cover.  Photo by Erika Larsen.

Outtake from American Youth photography book.  Seattle Sea Gal Lindsay.  Photo by John Keatley.

Street youth portrait from American Youth photography book.  Photo by John Keatley.

After a year of hard work and waiting, I am excited to announce that “American Youth” will be in stores and available online May 2009.  That’s just a couple of months away!  ”American Youth” is a 240-page photography book, that examines the newest generation of 18 to 24-year-olds in detail.  The photographs are by Redux photographers, which I am proud to be one of.  

I photographed two groups of young people for the book.  Street youth in Seattle’s U-District, and three of the Sea Gals cheerleaders, the NFL cheerleaders for the Seattle Seahawks.  The cheerleader picture above is an outtake, but it is one of my favorites.  ”Define Girlfriend” is in the book.  You can read a little more about my work on this project in a recent interview I did at Feature Shoot (read here). 

I will post more of my favorite outtakes and pictures from the book as the book release gets closer, but for now you can head over to the “American Youth” blog and website.  The website has bios of all the contributing photographers, as well as many of the pictures from the book.

“American Youth” website - http://images.americanyouthbook.com/
“American Youth” blog - http://americanyouthbook.com/blog/

Cover image © Erika Larsen/Redux