John Keatley makes me want to shoot more portraits

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If you don’t know photographer John Keatley by name, you might know him by his work. He’s photographed portraits of a lot of celebrities including Macklemore, Dan Savage, and many others.

Sometimes I go through the gamut of gear emotions, including happiness and regrets for buying a Hasselblad a couple years ago.

But then I see an Instagram like the above screen grab, and it pleasures me to no end.

John Keatley recently upgraded his Hasselblad system, but his first Hassie was a H3DII-31, which is what I use.

He writes:

5 years ago my wife convinced me to pull the trigger and buy my trusty @HassyUSA H3D II 31 camera. It was a terrifying experience because change can be scary, but it didn’t take long to realize what a good decision it was. Today is the start of yet another chapter, and the next camera. This one was not so terrifying to pull the trigger on. Say hello to my Hasselblad H5D. It’s a beautiful piece of equipment and I like the addition of black and less silver. A very big thank you goes out to Bruce at @glazerscamera for all of his help. Everyone at Glazers really did go above and beyond as they always do. I’m excited to take this for a spin and see what she can do. Side note, it feels a little strange photographing a Hasselblad with an #iphone. I got some strange looks. 🙂 @hasselblad_official #Hasselblad #camera #Seattle

One day I’ll upgrade to a better version of the camera, but for now, the one I have suits me just fine for our needs.

Not to mention, if you browse his instagram, he’s got so many portraits, taken with every kind of camera including iPhones. I love that inspiration.

Go follow John Keatley here.

A portrait of a guy named Junior


We photographed more furniture recently for a new client of ours. The furniture was incredibly large and heavy this time, so we needed a few people dedicated to carrying pieces in and out of the room.

Junior was with us all day. While friendly, he was a bit eccentric, and we determined that he might have a touch of autism or other social handicap that rendered him a little slow and not able to read his audience very well.

But he was incredibly kind and thankful to work with us.

At one point, he sat down, and I grabbed this portrait of him. When he saw it on the screen, it completely blew his mind. I don’t think he’s ever seen a photo of himself in professional lighting.

September self portrait: “Under Water”. Theme: reflection.


For September, I chose the theme of the shoot.

I chose reflection.

I developed different ideas, but landed on the above as my submission photographed in our tub at our condo.

I thought this particular image of me immersed sideways and looked at camera with big red eyes and upside down bulgy eye bags reflected a sense of fatigue from the insanely busy month we’ve had. We’ve shot beautiful high-end furniture, an editorial, a catalog and several interiors.

Our tub is very small, doesn’t hold water when the stopper is pulled and we never use it, so to get this image was a good challenge.

My original idea was to be completely submersed in a tub and I would be facing camera for a bust/neck up shot (as opposed to this shot from the side). The reflection of my face would fall directly above my head like a growth coming out of my hair.

This month turned into one of our busiest ever, and finding the tub/whirlpool large enough to house my torso down proved difficult.

My first attempts at this shot proved even more difficult because I tried laying a black plastic bag down in the tub, as I wanted a moodier atmosphere and something not tub like.

The bag floated, and made all kinds of stupid bag hills that blocked my face.

The other challenge was finding something to give the shot an underwater look without renting an underwater rig. I used a glass vase that proved difficult to use as well.

Difficult is definitely the theme I’m trying to present here.

I’m also turned on by treatments that people like Billy Rood do to photos, which is why I tinkered around with multiple images at multiple exposures and angles.

A big thanks to Tina for pulling the trigger on this one and putting up with my crazy water antics by risking our gear’s deadly demise if we slippery/sloppity dropped flashes and cameras in the water.

Just a reminder: I’m working on this self portrait challenge with fellow photographer Sunny Lee, whose completing her challenge in the great state of North Carolina. Her submission this month is a motion picture. Check it below and read her rationale here. By the way, you NEED to read the rationale. It’s moving and beautiful:



Tina and I are traveling to Turkey and Italy in October/November.

Travel is food for the brain. It nourishes the body in a way that food cannot.

So gobble up travel tips. I don’t agree with all these tips from Anthony Bourdain, but I can’t help but highlight a few here.

The one about not eating, I disagree with only because some of the longer trips I need a bite. That doesn’t mean I finish the damn thing. But I eat the bread and a bit of the meat, despite how nasty it looks.

These are my highlights. The rest are here. Enjoy.

I check my luggage. I hate the people struggling to cram their luggage in an overhead bin, so I don’t want to be one of those people.

I don’t get jet lag as long as I get my sleep. As tempting as it is to get really drunk on the plane, I avoid that. If you take a long flight and get off hungover and dehydrated, it’s a bad way to be. I’ll usually get on the plane, take a sleeping pill, and sleep through the whole flight. Then I’ll land and whatever’s necessary for me to sleep at bedtime in the new time zone, I’ll do that.

There’s almost never a good reason to eat on a plane. You’ll never feel better after airplane food than before it. I don’t understand people who will accept every single meal on a long flight. I’m convinced it’s about breaking up the boredom. You’re much better off avoiding it. Much better to show up in a new place and be hungry and eat at even a little street stall than arrive gassy and bloated, full, flatulent, hungover. So I just avoid airplane food. It’s in no way helpful.