If I had to use just one word to describe Chris Keeley’s work it would be soulful. How he does it I do not know but even docks on a harbor speak with character and an intangible spirit. In this week’s Fresh Face Friday profile, Keeley speaks about his work as an artist and his recent life changing trip to Tanzania. To learn more about Chris Keeley visit: www.chriskeeleyphoto.com, www.facebook.com/chriskeeleyphoto, www.instagram.com/chriskeeleyphoto. Enjoy!
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Chris Keeley grew up in Midcoast Maine and now resides in Dover, New Hampshire. He became a photographer at age 25. From humanitarian and portrait photography to business promotion and seascapes, Keeley is an artist drawn to all areas of photography. Most recently, Chris was capturing images in southwest Florida, Downeast Maine, the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountains, and Tanzania, Africa. His work can be viewed at galleries throughout New Hampshire and in numerous environmental publications.
1) What does wholehearted and mindful living mean to you?
Wholehearted and mindful living means applying myself to everything I do while being conscious of all of my surroundings and where I am in time and space. This means considering where the light is coming from, whether it’s the sun or artificial light, and how that light changes the subject, and how the subject or landscape might change or the stories it holds in its current condition. It’s also about considering how this photo will affect the future and what it means to the subject, especially if it’s a photo of a person or family. I think it’s only when you consider these and other elements, when you’re being wholehearted and mindful, that you succeed in capturing “the shot.”
2) How do you practice wholehearted and mindful living?
Well, being a photographer certainly helps. A camera is an incredible conduit for meeting new people and discovering lesser known places. I think it’s also incumbent upon photographers to give back with our skill set. That’s why two friends and I ventured on a philanthropy-photography workshop in Tanzania, and have since started an exhibit series and school supply drive to bring attention to the needs of schools in Tanzania.
3) What or who inspires you?
I am inspired by many talented photographers in my area who I’ve been fortunate to shoot with and share knowledge. My family is a galaxy of inspiration, especially my mother. She sets goals, works hard, and has the patience and selflessness of a saint.
4) Answer this quote: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one, wild, and precious life?” ~Mary Oliver
I aspire to live a life such that if someone were to write my biography, it would be something worth reading over and over again. To that end, we don’t have much time, and so I want to make every day count. I want to feel and be accomplished in all that I do.
5) What words of wisdom would you offer to your younger self?
Set goals, work hard, and when you meet your goals, set them higher! Never settle. Also, surround yourself with role models, people that posses skills or experiences that you strive for, and learn from them and their challenges along their path to success.
1) What is your project “Journey To Tanzania”?
Journey to Tanzania is a project that grew out of my experience from two weeks in Tanzania in 2013. I went with a team of photographers as philanthropy-meets-photography-workshop trip. We were there to capture photos for on-the-ground NGOs to help them show the work they do with HIV/AIDS programs, orphanages, and schools. I fell in love with the country and its people. I want to help them. So when we got back to the US, myself and two others who I went with developed a mission to use our photos to share insights into their culture while raising awareness of the critical need for school supplies for children. As we launch gallery exhibits, we are collecting school supplies and holding mini-workshops about Tanzania.
2) How have your travels through Tanzania influenced your photography and life?
Tanzania really opened my eyes to humanitarian photography. It also surprised me to see how such happiness can shine through people who are meeting only basic survival needs. It was such a reality check on what’s important in life, and how trivial all of our material possession really are toward reaching true happiness.
3) What have you learned about humanity and life through your work and artistry?
Everyone has a story, a moment to share, an impression to leave. In Tanzania, the people I met and the places I saw really drove home to me that we are all one community on this planet. It’s easy to say it, but it’s harder to understand it. Once you experience it, it becomes very clear. We’re all people, we all have so much in common once we take down our cultural barriers.
4) What is the relationship between art and service?
Art is service! A friend of mine describes sustainability as all that “sustains” us as humans. And art is a major part of that, it distinguishes us from other lifeforms. Photography, as a form of art, is a tool to give back and help those in need. I feel fortunate to be developing this skill set that allows me to give back.
5) What do you hope is the impact and meaning of your work?
I hope for my work to show that the world is an incredible place, with interesting places and compelling stories in every direction you look. You only have to open your eyes.