Everardo “Paco” Keeme: Co-Owner of Photo Fusion Studio

Everardo Keeme, co-owner of Photo Fusion in Scottsdale, photographed at his studio, by Nicki Escudero

Everardo Keeme, co-owner of Photo Fusion in Scottsdale, photographed at his studio, by Nicki Escudero

Everardo “Paco” Keeme

Everardo “Paco” Keeme has captured some very priceless Valley shots, from documenting the Waste Management Phoenix Open as official photographer, to shooting events for American Cancer Society, to creating the perfect senior portrait for high schoolers around town with his Twelfth Year Senior Portraits. The 37-year-old Phoenix resident and certified professional photographer recently became co-owner of Photo Fusion Studio in Scottsdale, a relaxed space, open for rental, for shooting his Everardo Keeme Photography clients.

Keeme lets readers in on his secrets to a great shot, and he names his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m born and raised here. I grew up in Tempe and went to Marcos de Niza High School. I got a degree in web design from the University of Phoenix, and went back for business marketing.

What’s your first memory of being interested in photography?

I’ve always loved looking at pictures but never took them or considered myself a photographer. The website StumbleUpon came out, which was a way to browse the Internet on certain topics, and I fell in love with it from there. You could browse through thousands of photos of a certain topic.

In 2009, I used to race bicycles and was involved in a club called White Mountain Road Club as secretary and race director. We were losing a big sponsor, and we needed to get our guys photographed on the podiums and needed refreshed marketing materials. I started taking some pictures at the races, and sent them to my friend, who at the time was the sports editor for the Associated Press. I asked her for advice and her opinion, and she asked me to send more. At one point, I asked, “What’s the delay? I’m trying to get feedback from you.” She said, “Well, I’m trying to figure out if you’re lucky or good.”

She said she saw a lot of talent, and I needed to look into doing this more. Shortly after, I went on a vacation to Italy and rented a camera and equipment and fell in love with taking the photographs, not just looking at them. I began to study some more and follow other photographers, and from there, it kind of took off.

How would you describe your photography career now?

When I first started, I photographed everything: sports, people, cars, food, etc., partly to find out what I really liked. Now, I’ve spent the past year concentrating my focus on certain areas of photography.

Commercial photography has been a big part of my career since starting as the official photographer of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. January 2015 will be my fifth year in the role, which has led me to work with some fantastic larger corporate and smaller independently owned businesses.

Each has been a very rewarding experience, including shooting property and aerial photography in Lake Tahoe, Califonria that was later featured for the HGTV Dream Home (sweepstakes), to working with charity organizations like the American Cancer Society on event photography for local and national campaigns, to shooting food photography for local businesses like Super Chunk Sweets in Scottsdale and Wedge & Bottle in Ahwatukee.

High school senior portraits make up a very creative part of my business, which is why I created Twelfth Year Senior Portraits, largely because of my daughter. She graduated high school this year, and I loved spending time with her that way. For a young woman or man, this is a huge transition point in their life. It’s fun for all of us because they get involved in the creative process, as well.

What kind of equipment do you use?

I’m a Canon guy, and that’s even become a nickname of mine. People should remember a camera is just a tool used to capture the image in a photographer’s mind and transfer that to a photograph. I chose Canon cameras and lenses because of the quality of their equipment and my network of friends.

What advice do you have for people purchasing a camera?

I rented a lot of cameras. I wanted to see what the ergonomics felt like in my own hands. Some cameras tend to work better for people with small hands. Some people prefer certain buttons or switches, or a tactile feel, and that’s why I liked renting. At the end of the day, that’s the only connection you have, and you should be able to operate your equipment without actually looking at it. Then, you can be one with the camera.

How would you say your style distinguishes yourself from other photographers in the Valley?

I went to a workshop one time, where the photographers in the group wrote down what they thought of each other’s style. I had thought of my style as vivid, bold and dynamic, and the adjectives all matched up during the workshop.

I really enjoy black and white photography from the perspective that you focus on the person in the photo, but since I can see in color, and most people can, too, I love showing it off. It drives that much more emotion in the picture to me when you can show off color.

I dislike selective color, where the photo is black and white, and there’s just one color showing through. That’s cheating the spectrum. I want bold, vivid color in my photographs. I try to imagine how I would describe that to someone who is blind, using temperature, taste or touch to describe the colors.

How would you describe the client interaction side of your business?

I try to get to know all my clients on a one-on-one level, which is why, even with running a studio, my goal is not to become an assembly line. I like hearing their stories and getting to know them. Part of the fun is figuring out how the picture is going to be used and where it’s going to be used, to put together the best portrayal.

What is the most common mistake amateur photographers make?

The joke is the “spray and pray” — taking too many photos. Amateur photographers should just take an extra second or two and get a better shot, not 50 of them.

In the case of a portrait, get to know a person. Get to know if they naturally smile, or if they have a forced smile. What can you do to help that person out? Can you talk to them a little more? Can you get them relaxed?

Sometimes, I go out to a site, and I don’t even have a camera in hand. I want to talk to them first and see how they react to things. I think too many amateur photographers have the mindset they’ll take a bunch of photos and choose one, or let their customer choose.

I think that’s kind of a disservice. I don’t go to a restaurant and have them serve me five different hamburgers to pick the one I like. I let them do their best and put the ingredients together. A lot of times, photographers either don’t have confidence in themselves, or make the decision too hard for their clients.

Listen more, and talk less.

As far as physically taking the photos, what advice do you have for amateur photographers?

A tripod is probably a photographer’s best friend. What helps is they don’t have to worry about the steadiness or lining up the shot as much. They can learn what the best aspect is for that image. Steadiness or unsteadiness will ruin a shot.

Having a tripod also leaves your hands free, so you can interact better with a client.

How would you characterize the Valley’s photography scene?

We have an immense pool of great photographers. Several in Arizona are Canon Explorers of Light, photographers sponsored by Canon who are considered by many as Jedis. I some day hope to become one.

There are enough people in the Phoenix area where not any single person can take every picture. There’s plenty of work to go around, and if everyone works a little more smartly in working with their clients, and works together as opposed to competing or being cutthroat with each other, we all help each other.

What advice would you have for aspiring photographers?

Work with each other. It helps the industry. There’s always something I can learn from another photographer. That’s the really cool thing about photography – everyone sees it from their own perspective and own angle. When photographers learn to work with each other and help each other out, it helps the whole craft.

What’s your favorite photograph you’ve ever taken?

Partly for sentimental reasons, my daughter’s senior pictures. She’s fun to collaborate with. She’s a softball shortstop and catcher who got a scholarship to college through softball, so we had a lot of fun taking pretty girly shots and dirty, gritty, athletic shots. My favorite is her in her catcher’s gear, catching a ball.

Learn about other Valley photographers:

Learn more about Arizona Office of Tourism photographer Mark Laverman here on Phoenix People.
Learn more about Maria Vassett Photography owner Maria Vassett here on Phoenix People.
Learn more about Sadie Such Photography and Films owner Sadie Such here on Phoenix People.

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