I first met Keegan Boyer on social media when his mother, Annie Scholl, began sharing his “faces of the world” style of photojournalism. Thousands of Instagram users follow along as he captures humanity with the lens of his Sony A7. Keegan was included on the mic.com list of “15 Portrait Artists Who Destroy the Stereotype of the Self-Absorbed Instagram User.”
When I considered introducing Keegan to the Daily Word audience, I decided, who better to delve into his mind than his mother Annie!—Elaine Meyer, Editor
When Keegan was 5, we moved into a new home and he was forced to change schools.
“He’ll be fine,” his kindergarten teacher assured me. “Keegan’s never met a stranger.”
She was right—then and now.
My son’s ability to be at ease and put others at ease makes it possible for him to take photographs of everyone from fashion models in Italy and South Korea to Syrian refugees in Greece.
It’s clear from the thousands who are following him on Instagram and the media attention he’s attracted that his photos resonate with people. As his mother, what delights me even more than the success he’s having as a photographer is watching him evolve into a creative, sensitive, and compassionate human being who values the simple life.
Q: When did you discover photography was for you?
Keegan: In December 2013 I went to South Korea to teach English and to dig deeper into what I really wanted in life. During that time I volunteered for a few days to help clean up after the typhoon in the Philippines. I took a friend’s camera with me. After my last day of that volunteer project, which was spent mostly cleaning out sewage drains, I decided to go out and take pictures to capture everyday moments with people. I was so immersed in what I was doing that I didn’t even realize I had been walking around covered in raw sewage. I thought, Wow, I really love this!—so much so that I had totally forgotten about myself. I had been fully in the present moment, focused on the people who were in front of me. I came back and posted about 20 photos on Facebook and received good feedback. I thought to myself, Well, I love doing this and it seems like I have some natural ability—maybe I should explore this more.
Q: Why do you focus on people instead of, say, landscapes or buildings?
Keegan: When I was living in Korea, I was out in the suburbs, fairly isolated. I was working all of the time. I didn’t know the language, so I couldn’t really connect with people. I discovered that I could approach anyone and ask to take their photo, and even though we didn’t speak the same language, there was a connection. The camera was my icebreaker—this amazing tool that allowed us to drop our barriers and connect with each other.
Q: Why do you think your photography resonates with people?
Keegan: They feel a connection. I always focus in on the eyes and I think that translates into people feeling like they’re standing in front of that person; like they’re there with them too.
Q: Is there a commonality in your photos?
Keegan: We’re all human beings. Sure, there are differences and different circumstances, but what stands out to me is we all feel and do the same things. However you’re defined at that moment—model, refugee, whatever—doesn’t really matter. People are people. That’s what I try to capture in every photo.
Q: How do you approach life?
Keegan: What matters to me is bringing positivity into the world. We all have the power and ability to create our own destiny, but I think before you can do that you need to know yourself. Once you have an understanding of who you are, then I think it gives you the confidence to use your strengths to make the world a better place.
Q: What were you like before you graduated from college and discovered photography?
Keegan: I was definitely an independent thinker, but I wasn’t confident in carving my own path. I look back and I can see I didn’t trust my intuition on some things that were trying to tell me, Hey, this is not you. After I graduated I thought, From here on out, I’m going to do what I love to do, not what I think I should be doing. I’m going to trust my intuition and let that guide me. That’s led me to more success in my life and much more happiness. I’m doing my life for myself now—not in a selfish way, but, really, if I’m not happy and I don’t love what I’m doing, then how can I add any sort of love into this world?