Starting Tuesday, Karen Keating and Colleen Henderson — longtime friends and photographers with Multiple Exposures Gallery at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria — will present their latest work in a joint exhibit.
Keating, who said she considers herself a street — or documentary — photographer, will exhibit a collection of photos titled “Street Portraits.” The photographer captures people, often in other countries she visits, going about their everyday lives. Henderson’s collection, “Daily Differences,” are selections from her “Shot of the Day” series she began in 2008.
Both Bethesda, Md., residents, Keating and Henderson met in the mid-1990s in a photo class at Glen Echo Park.
“Karen was my first teacher,” Henderson said.
Keating is now the director for Photoworks at Glen Echo Park, a program that offers darkroom classes and instruction for student and professional photographers. Henderson enrolled in a Photoworks course after her son started school and the stay-at-home mom found she had a lot of free time on her hands.
“I spent the first part of my adult life in finances,” Henderson said. “I spent about 20 years in that ... when my son was 4 or 5 years old, both my husband and I were working and I quit ... Photography was always my love but I never thought it would be something I could create a living out of.”
But by 1996, Henderson was working as a professional photographer. She continues to teach classes out of her in-home studio.
Like Henderson, Keating’s career in photography started out as a hobby. And she too honed her skills at Glen Echo.
“After some experience, I went to work for the Potomac Almanac,” Keating said.
From 1980 to 1984, Keating worked at the small monthly paper as the photo editor and sole photographer.
“It was really a great learning opportunity,” she said.
In addition to her job at Photoworks, Keating also teaches a darkroom program at The Field School, an independent high school in Washington, D.C.
Professionally, Keating travels, snapping portraits of people in their element.
“I really care about people and how they go about their days and their routines,” Keating said. “They all end up being people ... not studio-type portraits ... [but] what people are doing naturally and not poses. Their posture, gestures ...”
“Street Portraits” consists mainly of a collection of photos Keating took during Easter 2012 in Sicily and Easter 2013 in Key West. During her 2012 trip, Keating visited two towns in Sicily in the week leading up to Easter Sunday.
“The week before Easter, the town celebrates the days leading up to the resurrection of Christ,” Keating said. “There are moving parades depicting the Easter story ... It’s incredibly solemn.”
This year, the photographer traveled to Hammel Village in Key West, where she said the experience was much more celebratory.
“[The photos] are sort of in two parts,” Keating said. “They’re completely different. There’s a little bit of contrast in these images in terms of the solemnness of the Sicilians and the feeling great in Key West.”
Henderson said she traditionally shoots landscape and seascape, though she also does some architectural work, especially in D.C.
“I was born and raised in this area and to me it’s home,” Henderson said. “I tend to work at home, and I tend to work in a snowstorm. It just makes the city feel more intimate.”
But Henderson’s “Daily Differences” series feature photographs of varying subject matter. It’s a series she began in 2008.
“Five years ago, I got hooked on these shot of the day images,” she said. “Shooting everyday and sharing with people everyday.”
The “Shot of the Day” concept is one Henderson now uses in the classes she teaches. Students are encouraged to shoot everyday and upload their photos to a group Facebook page or blog and then offer constructive criticism to their peers.
“To commit to doing this everyday is difficult,” Henderson said. “There are some days when there’s just nothing to shoot.”
In addition to urging students to practice their craft every day, Henderson said the sharing aspect of the “Shot of the Day” concept is also beneficial.
“We’re so self-critical. We’re so used to saying, ‘Oh, that’s not good enough,’” Henderson said. “If you get used to saying, ‘OK, this is the image for today and they’ll be another tomorrow,’ you won’t get so caught up in having to be perfect.”