All images © Tim Keller unless otherwise noted.


April 30, 2019    Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Jace R Brown, graduation announcement, Branson School, Colorado/New MexicoJace R Brown graduation announcement, Branson CO

Last month's photo shoot with Jace Brown on his family's ranch northeast of Folsom, New Mexico, was productive enough that I posted 15 images in five blog posts earlier this month, immediately below, and four more images in two blog posts at my TKA arts blog.

Hideout - The Brown Boys

Today's mail brought Jace's graduation announcement, above, incorporating seven of my photographs along with four baby pictures. My 2010 photo at left caught Jace midway between baby and graduate. That's Jace in the middle, wearing glasses and pointing his gun finger at me from inside the gun slots cut into the barn sides when the ranch was built after the Civil War, when settlers were sometimes subject to attack. Jace's brothers Kyle and Kade will be next up for graduation pictures, still a ways off. Meantime, congratulations, Jace. Good road!




April 2, 2019    The Ups and Downs

Tim Keller Photography, Brown Ranch, Folsom, New Mexico, 2019Jace Brown, Brown Ranch, Folsom, New Mexico, 2019

One of the fun perks of having my wife, Christina Boyce, along as photo assistant (see below) is that she takes some photos of her own, occasionally illustrating the photo shoot process. Above left, she shows me atop the Brown Ranch barns to shoot down at Jace Brown, right. I always consider all vantage points and try for variety. Many times I've driven our 1995 Ford F-250 FWD pickup to a photo shoot with a six-foot ladder in the back. I've even stood that ladder up on the truck bed for yet more height--this shot comes to mind. I didn't take a ladder to the Brown Ranch, but Jace showed me how I could reach the top of the barns, even better.

Jace Brown, Brown Ranch, Folsom, New Mexico, 2019

For the shot above, I used the dramatic play of light and shadow to compose an image of striking angles. Next, I took advantage of the high vantage to photograph Jace in the yard with the ranch sprawled all around him. The Dry Cimarron River meanders along the base of the mountain in the far right distance, running close by the home of Jace's grandparents, my friends Dianne and Darien Brown.

I'm just as likely to lie on the ground and shoot up as I am to climb high and shoot down. I've posted this portrait of Jace, which I've labeled Jace Up, over on my arts blog, with a little more from the Brown Ranch. Give it a look.




April 1, 2019    Reflections

Christina Boyce, photo assistant, Tim Keller Photography. Brown Ranch, Folsom, NM 2019

Increasingly, my wife Christina Boyce has been assisting at photo shoots. At Poetry Out Loud last month (scroll down), her primary function was wrangler, working our shot list and making sure we got every shot we were hired to get. That required wrangling a lot of busy grownups and nervous students.

Christina Boyce, photo assistant, Tim Keller Photography. Brown Ranch, Folsom, NM 2019

At the Brown Ranch, she tended to small but sometimes critical details of clothing, hat, hair, and backgrounds. Most important, though, as we shot in rapidly changing sunlight, was wielding the reflector to bounce light onto Jace Brown's face, especially important when he was wearing a cowboy hat (see examples below). At the end, we talked Jace into taking his hat off for a few pictures. Christina put his hat on top of her own and kept working. We finished up by asking Jace's mom, Laura Brown, to join him for a mother-son picture.

Jace Brown with his mom Laura Brown, Brown Ranch, Folsom NM, 2019

As we worked around the barns with the reflector, Christina designed the top shot above, asking me to take her picture and showing Jace how to hold the reflector to bounce sunlight into the dark barn. She has a great eye and gets strong shots of her own, posting images at her Facebook and Instagram (@ckabinnm) pages. Like her, I've also posted several of my Brown Ranch photos at my own Instagram (@hilocountry). As I said below, I've been photographing people and stories at the fabulously picturesque Brown Ranch for almost ten years now. Like all of the Hi Lo Country of northeastern New Mexico, it's a photographer's dream, a gift that keeps giving.




March 30, 2019    Environmental Portraiture

Jace Brown, Brown Ranch, Folsom, New Mexico

In my first post of these Jace Brown senior pictures, I said I don't get a lot of commissions for portrait shoots. I shoot portraits every chance I get, but booking an actual portrait shoot is more expensive than most families in my area can or want to handle. For the rite of passage that is high school senior pictures, these days many families do an impressive job on their own with their phone cameras. I'm glad there are some families that see the value in having me shoot their portraits, as you, I hope, can see right here. Over time the money will have grown smaller and smaller, until insignificant, even as the best photos grow into their own immortality and become family heirlooms.

Jace Brown, Brown Ranch, Folsom, New Mexico, 2019

I've done my share of studio photography with backdrops and multiple flash units, but I prefer what's known as environmental photography--portraying people in their natural environments. That's what you'll see here and throughout the various portrait galleries available here. I use my subjects' natural environments, and I also use available light, generally the sun, sometimes with a reflector, and sometimes indoors with window light, which I love (see March 18 below). For attractive sunlight, we schedule our shoots for sunrise or, usually easier, the couple of hours leading up to sunset. For outdoor shoots, midday is out because midday light is unflattering and unattractive. We use some changes of clothing and try a variety of "set-ups," the actual positions and environments. It's a collaborative process and almost always big fun.




March 28, 2019    Mike Devoy's Place

I can't count how many times I've used the Brown Ranch headquarters for photography--sometimes for portrait shoots, sometimes for stories in newspapers and magazines. A highlight of each spring's Dry Cimarron River History Tour sponsored by Folsom Museum, the corrals and barns of the Brown Ranch were built by former surveyor Mike Devoy immediately after the Civil War ended in 1865. When he died in 1914, his rancher neighbors the Browns bought the Devoy place at auction. Lots of fascinating history came along with the ranch, and the Browns continue to use it virtually unchanged.

Jace Brown, Brown Ranch, Folsom, New Mexico, 2019Jace Brown, Brown Ranch, Folsom, New Mexico, 2019

We took advantage of the dramatic 150-year-old barns to frame Jace and his favorite horse, Bluejack--see both above and below. (As always, click any image to enlarge it.) Jace and his three brothers are the sixth generation of Browns ranching in this valley. With Cole and Jace done, I still have senior pictures of Kade and Kyle to go, though the last of those won't be for six more years. Something to look forward to, and not so long: I've now been photographing the ranch and the kids and their family for nine years. Time flies.




March 26, 2019    Jace

Jace Brown, 17, Brown Ranch, Folsom, New Mexico

I don't do a lot of portrait shoots but when I do, they're always fun. Saturday's session with Jace Brown on the Brown Ranch a good example.

Jace Brown, 17, Brown Ranch, Folsom, NM

Jace is graduating from high school this spring and these are for his senior pictures. My last portrait session was exactly a year ago for Jace's older brother Cole. We shot at the ranch again, along the Dry Cimarron River northeast of Folsom, New Mexico, but both Jace and I wanted to avoid having Jace's pictures look anything like Cole's. We succeeded, partly because we tried and partly because Cole has his own inimitable style.

Jace Brown, Brown Ranch, Folsom, New MexicoJace Brown, Brown Ranch, Folsom, New Mexico

For both boys, we used a variety of locations, setups, and outfits. Cole's shoot ranged within a half-mile radius of ranch headquarters, while for Jace we never left headquarters. I'm looking forward to posting many of my favorite portraits of Jace over the next few days.




March 18, 2019    Window Light

Window light, The Plaza Hotel, Room 201, Las Vegas, New Mexico

I walked into my room at the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico, last weekend and immediately set everything down so I could take this photo. I love window light! Window light is so subtle and gorgeous, it has its own character and is potentially a subject in itself.

Window light, The Plaza Hotel, Room 201, Las Vegas, New Mexico  Window light, The Plaza Hotel, Room 201, Las Vegas, New Mexico

Room 201 is at the top of the elegant staircase from the lobby, overlooking the plaza (second floor, farthest right below), and it's the Michelle Obama Room: She stayed here while campaigning one week ahead of the 2008 election that made her husband president. The Coen Brothers Room is down the hall: Lots of movies (No Country for Old Men) and TV shows (Longmire) have been made here.

The historic Plaza Hotel, Las Vegas, New Mexico

It was a lovely two-bed suite but that afternoon window light was the highlight for me. I photographed both beds. The bedstand lamp between them is not pictured, but its shadow is. I see above that my processing made the left bed and wall lighter than the right, the opposite of reality: The right bed is next to the window and gets more light. The light was sublime on each. Outside, the sky was overcast and gray ahead of an arriving storm, limiting the photographic potential. It was a quick one-nighter photo road trip for me, just 100 miles down the interstate: I'm looking forward to doing it again, much like I return over and over to Taos, also exactly 100 miles from our Raton home. In rural northeastern New Mexico, I live in a photographer's paradise.




March 16, 2019    People : Poetry: People

Zoe Sloan Callan, 2019 New Mexico finals, Poetry Out Loud, Santa FeMichelle Montez, 2019 New Mexico finals, Poetry Out Loud, Santa Fe
Abeni Kelsey, 2019 New Mexico finals, Poetry Out Loud, Santa FeAbigail Escarzaga, 2019 New Mexico finals, Poetry Out Loud, Santa Fe

In my fourth year as official photographer of New Mexico's Poetry Out Loud state finals, I'm still relishing the opportunity to photograph inspiring young people competing and having fun here in New Mexico. My previous five years as a teacher/coach of students in this program (with one state champion) were invaluable preparation for photographing the competition. To avoid disruption during the students' recitations, mine is the only camera allowed during the competition rounds, above. Clockwise from top left above are returning 2018 champion Zoe Sloan Callan (Albuquerque), Michelle Montez (Taos), Abigail Escarzaga (Albuquerque) and Abeni Kelsey (Las Cruces), with the latter two being interviewed by New Mexico poet extraordinaire Jessica Helen Lopez. (As always, click any image to enlarge it.)

D'Nessa McDaniel, 2019 New Mexico finals, Poetry Out Loud, Santa FeJazz Band, New Mexico School for the Arts, 2019 New Mexico finals, Poetry Out Loud, Santa FeJazz Band, New Mexico School for the Arts, 2019 New Mexico finals, Poetry Out Loud, Santa Fe

D'Nessa McDaniel returned, too, to open the recitations as the "sacrificial poet" or icebreaker, reciting "Hip-Hop Ghazal" by Patricia Smith. At the other end of the competition, after the close of Round 3, the New Mexico School for the Arts Jazz Band entertained while the judges tabulated their scores ahead of announcing this year's champion, Neil Katzman (see post immediately below).

Judges & leaders, 2019 New Mexico finals, Poetry Out Loud, Santa FeVolunteers, Poetry Out Loud New Mexico state finals 2019

Afterward, I photographed the judges with event coordinators Jessica Helen Lopez and Phyllis Kennedy. From left above, they are Gene Case, Valerie Martinez, Jessica Helen Lopez, Tom Maguire, Alexandra Germain, Debbi Brody, and Phyllis Kennedy. Finally, the coordinators and judges were assisted by a group of lively volunteers who ran score cards to the tabulator at the back of the room after each recitation. I photographed the volunteers before the action began. (I apologize for not identifying the musicians and volunteers, none of whom turned out to be named in the program, which I was too busy to notice until I got home to the computer the next morning.)

Working from a detailed shot list from New Mexico Arts, I sorted and processed photos this week and sent 80 images, including those above and below, for use by NMA on their website, social media, and the beautiful color booklet they publish to document each year's contest. It's an honor and a pleasure to be chosen each year to photograph this fabulous and inspiring event--thank you, New Mexico Arts.




March 14, 2019    Poetry Out Loud

New Mexico Poetry Out Loud 2019 State Championship, Santa Fe

New Mexico's 14th annual Poetry Out Loud state finals provided another inspiring Sunday afternoon in the St. Francis Auditorium, inside the New Mexico Museum of Art on the Santa Fe Plaza.

2019 New Mexico Poetry Out Loud champion Neil Katzman of Albuquerque's Bosque School.2019 New Mexico Poetry Out Loud champion Neil Katzman of Albuquerque's Bosque School.2019 New Mexico Poetry Out Loud champion Neil Katzman of Albuquerque's Bosque School.2019 New Mexico Poetry Out Loud champion Neil Katzman of Albuquerque's Bosque School.

Flying to Washington, D.C., next month to represent New Mexico in the national competition is 17-year-old Neil Katzman (above) of Albuquerque's Bosque School, our newly crowned state champion. Ten students (top photo) came from throughout the state to compete for the honor, each already a winner at their local high school.

Poetry Out Loud, New Mexico state championship 2019, Santa Fe

Before my retirement from teaching at Raton High School, I had five students compete in the state final. My last one, Rachel Patty, was state champion, and the other four were all within the top three. This was my fourth consecutive year as the official event photographer--the only camera allowed during the competition. Christina was again my invaluable photo assistant and wrangler: Look at all of the people involved (above), and we had an extensive shot list from New Mexico Arts, who will use my photos in a beautiful annual booklet they publish (scroll down to January 29 at the bottom of this page) as well as on their website and in social media.

It's a demanding gig. We leave Raton at dawn and return home after dark. For five hours, I have to be absolutely focused and "on" without break. I love it. (Rod Kennedy posted this picture of me at work.) Then the next two to three days is spent sorting and processing photos, always a great joy. Although I'm "semi-retired," this is one gig I hope to continue for many years to come.




February 17, 2019    The Colorado Story

Settling the San Luis Valley: The Colorado Story by Noel and Faulkner, Tim Keller Photography, The People's Ditch

I'm always excited to see my photography in magazines, travel guides, newspapers, websites, posters, and more, but today I'm celebrating a first: my photo of "The People's Ditch" in San Luis, Colorado, anchors a two-page spread in The Colorado Story, a newly revised 2nd edition Colorado history book for use in the state's schools.

The Colorado Story, 2nd edition, by Noel & Faulkner, Gibbs SmithBook plate: Public schools book property log inside cover of textbooks

I'm excited because I taught for 34 years in public schools, in New Mexico, Texas, West Virginia, and California, teaching approximately 4000 students over those years and issuing approximately 20,000 textbooks to them. As a Raton High School English teacher, I would typically issue five or six books to students on the second day of school. (Yes, I had high expectations of my students, as any good teacher does.) Because school books are often left behind in a classroom or gym or friend's locker or bus or hallway, I supervised my new students to assure that each filled out the book plate inside the front cover of every textbook. Kids (and I) had fun seeing who had the book before them--sometimes an older sibling or cousin.

"The People's Ditch," San Luis, Colorado, photo by Tim Keller

"The People's Ditch" is the oldest acequia (irrigation canal) still in use in Colorado, dug by hand in 1852 by the original settlers of San Luis, in the San Luis Valley of southeastern Colorado, north of Taos, New Mexico. The photo came from Part 2 of my four-part travel series"Exploring the San Luis Valley," published in 2016 by The Chronicle-News. The textbook's publisher, Gibbs Smith, may have found Part 2 on my website but more likely simply Googled "The People's Ditch" and found this page with my photo right on top. From there they followed the link to me and licensed the photo for use in the textbook. That's my primary business model these days, simply fielding email inquiries for use of my photos, found in magazines or newspapers or most often on the Web, then negotiating a price and licensing (giving permission) the use of a photo. See News for recent licenses resulting in my photographs being published.

It's been fun to see my photography and writing careers overlap with earlier endeavors such as skateboarding and music, but today I'm enjoying this first overlap with my long teaching career, pondering the thousands of students who will encounter my photo as they hunch over their textbooks in second period Colorado History.




February 12, 2019    New Mexico True Adventure Guide

Capulin Volcano National Monuent New Mexico True Adventure Guide 2019   

New Mexico True Adventure Guide 2019 arrived in the mail over the weekend, a couple weeks ahead of the check for the three photographs of mine included this year. It's my ninth consecutive year to have work in the state's annual vacation and travel guide. This year I'm excited that my photos illustrate three regions of the state: Often my photography focuses on the northeast corner, the Hi Lo Country, where I've lived for 20 years, and where two years ago Capulin Volcano National Monument hired me to create a portfolio of photography for their use. I always retain the rights to my photos, so I can license them repeatedly. One of my monument photos (above left) has ended up on page 130 of this year's Adventure Guide.

Fort Stanton, Lincoln County, New Mexico

My page 18 photo of Fort Stanton in Lincoln County came from my three-part series, Chasing Billy the Kid: A New Mexico Travelogue, for The Chronicle-News. At the height of the Lincoln County War, in July 1878, Fort Stanton troops rode over the hill to restore the peace in Lincoln. (Taking sides, they did not take Billy's side.) I recommend Lincoln and Fort Stanton in southeastern New Mexico--they're fabulous, well worth a couple days. Stay at Ellis Store Country Inn and use my series as a guide to Lincoln and to Billy the Kid's adventures throughout the area, including White Oaks and Fort Stanton.

El Rancho Hotel, Gallup, New Mexico, Route 66

Gallup's El Rancho Hotel made its name during the golden age of Hollywood, the 1930s and 40s, when movie stars and other celebrities stayed here, either while making movies in the region or traveling through on Route 66 or the adjacent railroad now served by Amtrak. Their photos are mounted on the walls throughout the cavernous lobby. My photo of El Rancho's lobby appears on page 118 of this year's Adventure Guide.

Published annually by New Mexico Magazine, the New Mexico True Adventure Guide is available free at all of the state's visitor centers, in hotels and restaurants throughout the state, and online from New Mexico Tourism Department. (Yep, they'll mail one to you at no cost. Can't beat that!) As they say just outside of town, "Get 'er done!"




January 29, 2019    Poetry Out Loud

NM Poetry Out Loud book, photography by Tim Keller

January begins my season of work with New Mexico Arts. They put out for bids the selection of the official photographer for the annual Poetry Out Loud state finals--I've just been selected for my fourth consecutive year--and they publish their book of the previous year's competition, featuring my photography. (I posted four blogs here with extensive photography and commentary after last year's event.)

It's a challenging gig. The shot list has grown each year, to the extent that I've needed to add Christina as my photo assistant and wrangler, gathering the designated people and checking off the list as we work both before and immediately after the actual competition. Then, during the competition, I'm the only one in the darkened auditorium allowed to shoot pictures--even the press is prohibited, and I'm required to give them a photo immediately after the event for the next morning's newspapers--because it's too easy to distract the audience and the students during their performances. Having coached my own students years ago, culminating in one winning the state title and going to nationals, I'm sensitive to choosing just the right moments to click the shutter, while working hard to minimize my presence.

This year's event arrives Sunday, March 10, at St. Francis Auditorium on the Santa Fe Plaza. I'll be using three or four cameras: the Nikon D5 with 70-200mm lens to get close during performances, the Nikon D4 with 24-70mm lens for wider shots, and for immediate access to images for the press, the Fujifilm X-T2 with 16-55mm lens (for the smaller digital sensor) and/or my trusty and amazing iPhone 7. The full-frame Nikons have the advantage of being ultra-fast, allowing me to get close while capturing motion in very low light. Last year the D4 lens mount glitched on me just as I set up and I spent the event often changing lenses on the D5, sending the D4 off to Photo Tech in NYC for repair. I've never had that happen, but it's always there among the reasons pros carry multiple cameras. My fingers are crossed for a smoother experience this year. It's always an exciting gig.