Kim Keever

Painting or Abstract Photography?

A two-year-old thought turned into reality when art photographer Kim Keever was searching for a way to create atmosphere in his tabletop landscape images. Having tried smoke and clear plastic, Kim’s eureka moment came when a friend was throwing out a 100 gallon aquarium. He decided to start experimenting with painted water and his unique approach proved to be a hit. 

ABSTRACT 30690B

“I was a painter for a long, long time and eventually I got bored. I didn’t feel I could add anything more to the history of painting,” Kim lamented, explaining why he turned to photography.

“I actually thought about trying my technique for two years before actually going for it, but once I did, I thought ‘oh my god, it looks great!’ I love the randomness of it. That’s what is most pleasurable; it’s always a wonderful surprise. I choose the colours, but they go their own ways so I never know what the final picture is going to look like or what shapes will come out.”

Img

Abstract 30066b

Kim admits that his process is an odd way to work, as with conventional art the artist or painter builds the image, while Kim simply waits to see what happens. His creations take on a life of their own once the paint enters the water and it’s one of the features of his art that he enjoys and draws most inspiration from.

“The tank, filled with water, almost becomes a painting machine. I pour the ingredients in and snap away,” Kim explains. “It’s simple, but it requires a lot of work.” As simplistic as he describes it, his work takes an immense amount of patience and meticulous attention to detail. Kim will shoot anything from 10 to 100 shots every time he fills the tank, and then looks through each 100-megapixel file, scanning for shapes and compositions that catch his eye. Kim often spends months working on the selected images from a single shoot and has taken over 35,000 shots with his current abstract series.

Img

Abstract 27787

Inspired by the work of American photographer Cindy Sherman and her approach, Kim began experimenting with different takes on landscape photography.

He chose to start shooting tabletop landscapes where the challenge is to create scenes with depth and scale, despite their miniature size. But Kim faced one challenge in particular. “I couldn’t get an atmosphere,” Kim recalled.

“It was a real problem. So at that point I began surrounding the tabletop with clear plastic, and I played with having a roof over the top of it. That helped because it allowed me to create a fog with smoke and so on, but eventually it seemed to make sense to try paint in water to solve the challenge of creating an atmosphere.”

ABSTRACT 32220B
ABSTRACT 32527C

The resulting evolution of that early technique that Kim stumbled across gave rise to his immensely captivating abstract project. “It was a real turning point in my life. At the time, a friend of mine was throwing out a 100 gallon aquarium, which was perfect,” Kim explained. He eventually moved onto a 200-gallon tank, which he uses now.

The second key turning point in Kim’s photography was switching from using 4x5 large format film to Hasselblad digital medium format. Investing in the digital system allowed Kim to continue creating large prints with the added benefits of a speedier workflow, fast flash sync and other advancements of Hasselblad digital medium format cameras.

ABSTRACT 31137

I started my underwater photography in 1995, and at the time I was using a 4x5 camera. Then one day a friend of mine came over with a 50-megapixel Hasselblad H5D-50c and immediately I thought to myself ‘oh my god, I’ve gotta have it!’ I worked with that for five years or so, but then when the H6D-100c came out, well, I had to have that too. I really love it. The user interface is great. And of course, with all of those extra megapixels I can make much larger prints. The thing that drew me to the Hasselblad system initially was the speed, for one thing, versus 4x5. But also, being able to see the images on a high quality screen made it easier to judge what I was shooting and make adjustments more quickly.

Img

Abstract 32841

Kim decided to invest in the H6D-100c, primarily because it offered him the option to deliver larger prints. However, capturing photos at up to 100-megapixels also gives Kim the opportunity to crop into his compositions significantly and still produce quality large prints from the cropped images.

“Some people aren’t willing to give anything digital a chance; as far as they’re concerned, they have to shoot film. But I’m looking at the big picture. What does the whole print look like? It’s irrelevant to me whether it looks like film or digital. It’s more important that the files look good. So for me it’s all about the efficiency of working."

Img

Abstract 30780d

“I just can’t imagine returning to film, aside from the unbelievable cost. The amount of images I take would translate into an incredible amount of film expense.”

To create his stunning abstract images, Kim Keever works with a 6x2x21/2ft tank and shoots with the Hasselblad H6D-100c, partnered with the HC 3,5/50mm II and Omni lighting surrounding the setup.

See more of Kim's work here.

GET YOUR HANDS ON THE H6D

More Hasselblad stories

All stories
 Mathias Elmeskog | Image Quality Specialist Tests X and 907X Cameras in Namibia

Mathias Elmeskog

Image Quality Specialist Tests X and 907X Cameras in Namibia

As team leader and specialist in the Image Quality Team at Hasselblad, Mathias Elmeskog constantly puts Hasselblad cameras to the test in multiple locations to ensure the sharpest quality and smoothest colour accuracy.

 Ken Karagozian | Documenting Thirty Years of Building the Los Angeles Metro

Ken Karagozian

Documenting Thirty Years of Building the Los Angeles Metro

What started out as going underground for a one-time photo session with his Hasselblad 503CX turned into 30 years of documenting the creation of the Los Angeles Metro system by artist Ken Karagozian.

 Maria Svarbova | Swimming Pools of Another Era

MARIA SVARBOVA

SWIMMING POOLS OF ANOTHER ERA

2018 Hasselblad Master in Art Maria Svarbova is widely recognised for her captivating Swimming Pool series. After switching to the X System, Maria tells us about how it has dramatically affected creating her dream-like compositions.

 Julia Fullerton-Batten | The Art of Contortion

Julia Fullerton-Batten

The Art of Contortion

Dazzled by the enormous strength and flexibility of a young troupe of female contortionists, Hasselblad Ambassador Julia Fullerton-Batten brilliantly photographed these girls bending in all sorts of unimaginable positions.

 Commemorating 100 Years of Hasselblad Nature Photographer Sven Gillsäter

Commemorating 100 Years of Hasselblad Nature Photographer Sven Gillsäter

Swedish photographer and a friend to Victor Hasselblad, Sven Gillsäter used Hasselblad cameras to capture stunning wildlife photography from all corners of the globe while driving environmental concern and sustainability efforts.

 Linus Englund | Finding the Dramatic and the Delicate in Swedish Nature

Linus Englund

Finding the Dramatic and the Delicate in Swedish Nature

Whether wandering through forests or farmland, Swedish creative Linus Englund finds spectacular lighting that helps elevate his flora and fauna images on the X1D II 50C to another level.