Featured Photographer – Keith Major

NOTE: The article was written and posted before Kevin Hart’s awful accident on Sunday September 1st. We’re huge fans of his comedy and overall positive energy, so we’re wishing him a speedy recovery and sending our own positive thoughts his way.

This month’s featured photographer is one of the most established commercial photographers in New York, having shot for publications like Cosmopolitan, as well as celebrities ranging from Kevin Hart and Usher, to David Koch and Frank Lucas.

In addition to the usual questions our featured Photographers answer, Keith is also taking part in our upcoming PhotoPlus Expo series of Photographer Talks where he’ll be sharing his story and experience on learning to check his ego in order to get the desired shots from some of the biggest names in entertainment. Space is limited, so if you’re planning on being in New York October 24th, sign up now to attend this unique opportunity for an industry leader to share his knowledge.

Describe your approach to photography— What makes your work unique? What makes a good image?

I shoot portraits, beauty, fashion, music…professionally I almost always shoot people but not always. When I first picked up the camera I’d shoot ‘things’ more than people, through high school and college it was divided equally between objects and people.

What inspires you? Who are your influences?

Art of all kinds inspire me, movies, writing, painting, theater, music. My influences are many, at the top are Gordon Parks, Anthony Barboza, James Van Der Zee, Jean Michel Basquiat.

What was your first camera?

Yashica T35.

Can you think of the first time you realized the camera you owned was holding you back?

I was shooting young models around 2012 and realized that the ‘math’ of an analog camera with a digital back was not in line with how younger talent of the digital age reacts to the camera. The subject would be ahead of the rewinding/shutter cocking function of film cameras.

What’s a photography-related purchasing decision or experience that you regret?

Renting my Manhattan studio from 2005 to 2014 rather than buying a space in 2005.

How did you make the transition to professional photography, and how did making a living from photography impact your style of shooting?

My progression was a steady climb, from shooting as an elementary student to attending Art And Design High School. I graduated from R.I.T. with an A.S. and B.F.A. in 1984 and went to work assisting then production management at an art copy photo studio…all the while shooting on days off, weekends, taking time from work to shoot, until I was able to work for myself completely by 1998.

What was your most difficult project?

Shooting portraits for a reality TV show called KC and JoJo Come Clean…I always describe the studio gear that was provided at the studio rented for me in LA as shooting with a flashlight and a candle.

If you had to do a project using the bare minimum of equipment, what would you bring?

A high ISO capable digital DSLR with a 28mm to 135mm zoom lens.

What’s the most interesting/surprising/invaluable thing you keep in your equipment bag?

Phase One Multimount for Hasselblad V Lenses.

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started out?

Wise real estate choices are as important as your image making.

Do you have a “Passion Project” that you enjoy working on in your free time?

Black women in natural hair, ei Afros, Corn Rolls, Locks, etc.

What’s your favorite book/movie/album that you’ve experienced recently?

book ‘Upity’ by baseball player Bill White / movie, I’m going to cheat and say the HBO series ‘Euphoria’/ album ‘Water’ by Gregory Porter featuring ‘1960 what?’



See more of Keith’s work at www.keithmajor.com and be sure to sign up to see him speak at our PhotoPlus Expo Speaking panel.