If you followed Barack Obama's bid for presidency, chances are you are familiar with photojournalist Keith Bedford's work. Without an initial assignment, Keith loaded up his gear and headed to the 2008 Iowa Democratic Presidential Caucus to see what would come of it. He ended up spending the next two years traveling with the Obama campaign and documenting his path to eventually winning the presidency. During that time, he and five other photographers founded The Stumping Grounds, a photo blog which featured some of the more iconic images from the 2008 presidential race.
Although Keith contributes regularly to news outlets like Reuters and The New York Times, and has had work published in Newsweek, Time, and Paris Match, he still views himself as an emerging rather than established photographer. Seeking out new sources of inspiration and challenges, he continues to chase the stories that interest him the most, and worries about financing later.
Keith has been taking photos for his entire life. "There are very few pictures of me as a kid because I was the one always taking the family photos" he recalls. He originally joined PhotoShelter because he wanted to archive his library of images somewhere accessible from home and abroad, at any time. He uses PhotoShelter's plugins to upload his images directly from PhotoMechanic and Aperture. With over 8,000 images uploaded in his archive thus far, Keith has not even used half of the storage provided with his subscription.
What free time Keith has is often spent sleeping enroute to his next assignment. It's definitely not devoted to web design, which is why he is happily using Nolita, one of the ten PhotoShelter premade themes which can be setup in minutes — no prior experience with building websites necessary. The simple addition of his own customized logo lends the template a personalized feel.
This affords Keith more time to work on the stories that matter to him, like his series on the burn ward at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, where over half the patients are being treated for serious wounds resulting from attempts to replace kerosene with more affordable fuels while using kerosene pressure stoves. He's chosen to feature this piece in his portfolio.
Keith is regularly contacted by publications that have found his work through Google searches. "I've made sales and gotten assignments just by sitting on my couch and eating cheerios," Keith says. Lucky for Keith, PhotoShelter sites are designed to automatically perform well with search engines. But don't let his laissez-faire attitude fool you; Keith's earned those cheerios, using resources like the SEO Site Grader and SEO Cookbook to educate himself on the steps he can take himself to take his SEO to the next level. Those step include adding descriptive captions to every image, which he is always sure to do.
Keith employs a number of methods to keep his latest images in front of his existing clientbase. "I use the lightbox and RSS feeds to keep clients up to date on what I am working on" Keith says. "It's a great resource for getting my work out to people." RSS feeds are built into every member's website, require no setup or maintenance, and anyone can subscribe to see updates. The lightboxes, which allow clients to rate and comment on their selects, facilitate collaboration with his clients. When they've made their final selections, Keith checks with fotoQuote's rights managed calculator for the appropriate price quote.
Keith is currently in Northern Japan, documenting the aftermath of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami that devastated the country in March. not surprisingly, covering a humanitarian crisis presents considerable challenges.
It's been quite difficult emotionally and logistically. Resources such as fuel, food, and transportation are still in short supply. While that makes it challenging to get around, it's pretty trivial in the face of all of this. Since I arrived I've heard so many people tell me the stories of loved ones lost or homes destroyed. At the same time I've heard people talk about hope and having a never give up spirit through all of this. I've met a mayor of a town who lost his wife, yet has barely slept since the tsunami, trying to hold his town together.
Based in Beijing, Keith has been working in Asia for two years now. Much like when he traveled to Iowa, he did not have any real guarantee of work when he first arrived. Keith was willing to take that risk for a change of pace, and devoted the first six months of his time in Asia to developing personal projects. Eventually, he did land a story for the The New York Times, covering the reemergence of commercial fishing after the war with the Tamil Tigers. "In the end that assignment was as important to me and as pivotal as my very first paying gig because it proved to me and my editors that I could work abroad and come back with the goods."
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