JONATHAN CHERRY: What gets you up in the morning?
JOHN KEATLEY: My alarm, or my daughter depending on the day. But aside from literal wakeup calls, I am often really excited in the morning to see who emailed me. You never know who is going to email with a fun new project. Anything can happen at any time, and I find that really exciting. And since I am on the West Coast, I frequently wake up with emails from the East Coast about work.
JC: Are there any emerging artists inspiring you at the moment?
JK: Not at the moment. From time to time, I take a look around at other people’s work, but I find I am most inspired when I am not looking at other people’s photography on a regular basis. Although, I have really enjoyed the work of William Rugen this past year. Especially his Consumed series. It’s all pretty incredible. I really like his perspective.
JC: Do you find it easy to juggle commercial and personal work?
JK: Do I find it easy? That’s a tough question. It takes a lot of work and dedication, but I think my desire and need to shoot personal work helps me get through all that. It’s something I feel compelled to do, and need to do in a sense, so I haven’t really thought about it in that way before. Sometimes it is harder than other times, but I would say I do a pretty good job at staying balanced between the two. Thankfully I have had a good amount of commercial work recently, which I have been able to connect with on a personal level, so that is always a blessing.
JC: In a nutshell what is Liberia all about and what camera did you use?
JK: Liberia was my first experience on assignment overseas, and my first trip to Africa. I went with a team from MiiR, and I was there to photograph the construction of two clean water wells, as well as direct a documentary about the clean water crisis. In my free time, I found myself photographing children. It wasn’t something I had planned on, but over the course of the week I was there, I began to see a series come together of the children I was photographing.
I used my Hasselblad H3DII-31 and my Canon 5D MarkII for all of the images. Most of the portraits were taken with the Hasselblad and I used the Canon in situations where I needed to move a little more freely.
JC: One piece of advice to recent photography students?
JK: Oh man, only one!? Learn to trust your instincts, because that is the only thing that can make your work unique and a true reflection of you.