Keith is a powerful and rare talent. I am truly taken aback by his latest series.
Though he began his career in fashion photography Keith has transition his creative focus collection of intense yet lush portraits that are artful and full of texture, theme, story, and personal expression.
His latest work is a series of portraits of a rather radical group of people who are not typically associated with beauty or fashion, known as “crusty punks” who choose to live on the streets.
These are people who would normally be unseen and looked down upon as cast-offs, yet Keith clearly sees the humanity that is attractive in them. That is why he has chosen to make them the subjects of his newest collection of portraits.
These people are warriors and fighters, creatives, and choosers of their uncommon lifestyle. They look awake, clear-headed, and happy, which is inspirational. These people are smiling through their counter-culture lives and actually look happy, which I find fascinating, particularly since I have never seen this anywhere before on film.
Even wealthy people with luxurious homes are often unhappy, and this creates a potent paradox – and even an emotional confrontation between the art-collector and the subjects.
The images are raw, tattered, and unclean, but Keith has chosen to shed light on an important contradiction, thus revealing an entirely different perspective than the norm. By juxtaposing them against the classic Avedon white backdrop, the layers of their uniqueness and character is magnified.
I also really am taken by the creativity in the personal expression of both the subject and the artist. In addition to the people, the pictures are gorgeous and perfectly produced. They are neither overly done or under-done, and Keith uses muted washes to compliment the emotion of the images. Keith’s images are not for fashion magazine but for gallery and collector walls that are meant as points of provocation, thought and discussion.
It is this idiosyncratic artistry that makes Keith a talented photographic artist and visual communicator. So it is no surprise that people are collecting his personal work, or that he is being sought out by private clients to make “the everyman” shine.
-M I C H A E L T R O N N
First off, can you tell us about yourself and how you got started in photography?
Sure. As a kid my mom had a camera and I was always taking pictures. I was really intrigued by the process. But it wasn’t until I was around 16 when I start going to nightclubs in NYC and seeing all the fashionable people that I really thought photography was something I could do as a career. However, when I started taking pictures, at one point I became pretty deterred and almost stopped, until I won a photo contest for Harper’s Bazaar magazine. From that point on there have been ups and downs but I always knew it was what I loved doing so I continued to push on.
How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?
It’s me. It goes through moods; happy, unhappy, in shape, out of shape, sexy, sexless. It’s just me trying to understand myself and my life. My latest portrait serious that I am working on is about me trying to understand living your own life and the subject of societal rejection.
At what point did you realize that photography is what you wanted to do as a career?
Photography and interacting with people are the things that make me happy, so I just do them.
What are the biggest challenges of working in New York City?
The corporate culture, speed overpowering creativity, and how closed-minded people are.
What is your favorite city and why?
I really love Paris. People move slower there. There’s time to have a coffee, have a conversation, and take a picture. When you get to photograph people there, they want to take the time to understand you. Like they’re committing themselves to this personal creative act with another person.
Your projects are a collaborative process. Tell us what is like to always be working with new stylists, models, and designers.
I treat the whole thing very personally. When I get to know people and they get to know me, the collaboration process is so rich and rewarding.
How do you compare your earlier fashion work with the work you are doing now and plan to do in the future?
In fashion, we keep giving our work over to today’s medium because we’re desperate for instant gratification via social media like Instagram. I think art is really more about the delayed gratification, taking time to create and capture images. The art world is where I find I am liberated to create without the restraints of the corporate culture. That is why art is where I’m turning my attention.
How do you categorize your work? Fashion? Art? Both?
Fashion’s about making an impulse of the moment into a statement. Art has to be timeless. Though sometimes your fashion images turns into a timeless art images.
Art and photography are very personal. Fashion to me, is the sexual foreplay we as a culture participate in.
What projects are you working on now?
I’ve just completed a series of portraits – punks, street kids, and people on the road, basically people whose eyes tell you a deep story.
What’s the best thing about being a photographer?
Not having to wear a suit to work.
Where can we see more of your work?
On my site www.Keith-photogaphy.com
Or on Instagram @keithphotographer