Today I want to introduce you to one of my favorite photographer, Michael Keena.
Born 1953 in England, he currently lives in Seattle, USA and is one of the best (IMO) landscape photographers i know.
The youngest of six children in a working class, Irish-Catholic family. There was certainly no tradition of art among his family at the time. Art had been one of his strongest subjects and he went on to study at the Banbury School of Art in Oxfordshire. Photography was one of many art mediums that he was exposed to as part of the course-work.
Later on, he saw the works of such luminaries as Bill Brandt, Josef Sudek, Eugene Atget, and Alfred Steigliz. They were profoundly impressive and influential. He was particularly entranced by the painters Casper David Friedrich, John Constable and Joseph Turner. After graduating, he did some assisting and printing for an advertising photographer, Anthony Blake. Landscape photography became his hobby and passion which he did in the mornings, evenings and on the weekend when he wasn’t “working”. It was really only when he went to the USA in the mid seventies that he considered the possibility of making a living in the fine arts. There were photography galleries in New York and there seemed to be a higher acceptance of photography as an art form.
Michael Keena produces almost exclusively black and white photographs. They tend to be very intimate, mysterious and at the same time rough and appealing. Here’s his take on the subject:
“I believe black and white is immediately more mysterious because we see in color all the time. It is also more subjective. I think it is quieter and more calm than color. I like to print all my own work and I can interpret black and white very subjectively in the darkroom. It is a personal preference.” – Michael Keena
Honestly, although landscape photography can produce beautiful images, and it does, i was never able to really be mesmerized by it. I don´t know why but for me it lacks some kind of element that tells the story, that grabs my attention. When I see a gorgeous landscape photo I like it, I know it’s beautiful but I don´t find myself much interested in it, because at the end of the day it’s just a photograph of something pretty.
The great exception is the work of Michael Keena, I was truly surrendered by the stunning images he produces, they’re not just landscape photography, definitely not just photos of pretty things. They tell a story, they had a great impact on me. Especially the work he did in Japan, my favorite.
And you can tell his work is something else when you see his list of clients, that include Rolls Royce, Audi, BMW, Adidas, Bank of America, Moet et Chandon, Maserati, Mercedes, etc. I was impressed enough to feel the urge to contact him, so i even sent him an e-mail some years ago, when I was just starting to enter the world of professional photography. He was kind enough to reply and we exchanged some e-mails where he advised me and gave me words of strength and confidence for the journey I then started.
I leave you here with my personal favorite images from Michael Keena. And please take some time to visit his website!