Keith James Photography | About

My dad shot with slide film in the 60s and 70s, and my three sisters and I loved when he pulled out the slide projector. It was better than a Saturday night at the movies; we ate home-popped popcorn and drank grape juice mixed with lemonade, and we laughed while reciting familiar captions for each of the photos on the silvery screen. He had frozen memories for us of family vacations, cousins we loved, trips to the snow, and Christmases past.

I love imagery. I have always been creative, have always seen the world in terms of imagery. As a boy I drew a lot. My parents recognized my need to draw and bought sketch pads and India ink pens for me. I spent hours tucked away at an old school desk in my closet, trying to recreate the works of the great Mort Drucker, a caricaturist from Mad Magazine.

I also spent hours poring over LIFE magazine. Lately I've begun to realize that LIFE's photographers taught me how to see, how to compose. Studying the works of greats such as Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White, W. Eugene Smith, Gordon Parks, Carl Mydans, and more subconsciously taught me what was important in constructing an image. 

The first camera I owned was a Kodak 110 Instamatic my parents bought for me just before we took a trip to the Grand Canyon when I was nine years old. I purchased black and white film for the trip, probably because it was cheaper than color film in those days, and the pictures seem timeless now.

I fooled with photography over the years but didn't begin taking it seriously until the digital age. I went through a couple Canon Powershot cameras before getting my first Canon DSLR in 2010. Since that time I have worked hard to learn photography from the ground up; I believe I will always be a student, as there is always something new to learn. Recently I switched to mirrorless, opting for the faster, smaller, more powerful Sony cameras.

I started a lot like Jake Olson of Nebraska, taking pictures of places mostly, trying to see them from new and interesting perspectives. I am intrigued by light and how it affects things. I spend a lot of time in Lightroom and Photoshop working to strengthen the photos that come out of my camera.

These days I'm taking a lot of people photos, and in each session I work to incorporate the surroundings with my subject. My goal is to find the beauty in each person and enhance it with their surroundings. When they look at my photographs later in life, I want them to feel the way I did as a child when we watched those slides; I want them to have happy memories frozen in time.