The wisdom and knowledge I achieve on my travels is what I am seeking to share. Everyone I have known has been my teacher and mirror.
The older I get the more I realize how so many things - interests, strengths, weaknesses, skills - find their origin in childhood.
I was born in Freiburg in southern Germany and moved to a village of around 400 people at the age of three. I spent my formative years running through fields and forests, building little wooden houses, and making bonfires at twilight. I’ve been in love with nature since.
My father, a physics and mathematics scholar, built our house and throughout the years made it into what is now considered an ‘eco-home’. His commitment to creating and building sustainable solutions for our family’s needs had a huge impact on me. His will and determination taught me that I can do anything if I believe in it and work for it. My mother has a deeply compassionate and sensitive nature and passed this depth of caring on to me. She is responsible for nurturing my inquisitive nature about the world. Her voice is often in the back of my mind.
But it is my brother, Alexander, who has influenced my life and work the most. Alexander is two years younger than me and has a mental disability that has challenged him since birth. From a young age I had to take responsibility for both of us. He was unable to set boundaries or respect the spaces and rules that society expects, so I had to navigate the world for him. This instilled a great sense of empathy in me which continues to impact how I relate to other people. Alexander has a passionate insight into people, places, and moments. The depth of his emotional intelligence is boundless, and he remains my greatest inspiration.
As children, we traveled with our parents and they showed us the the beauty of diversity. They lit the flame of curiosity about other cultures that continues to burn within me.
Everybody has a story. A portrait photograph is my way of honoring someone. My aim is to show the essence of who they are, allowing others to connect with a stranger and find the similarities that we all share in our souls.
At age nine, I got my first camera. I connected quickly to photography, and over the years, I learned how to read and understand light and tweak manual settings for my intended results. Through learning to understand Alexander’s facial expressions, I began to have an interest in capturing the spirit of a person through portraiture. This psychological aspect is as critical as the technical aspect to my portraits, and both are ongoing interests for me as an artist.
When I look through the lens and observe, I focus on the emotion and feeling of the person.
Time slows down through the viewfinder, and I am drawn to that single moment where they show their true selves. These moments pass so quickly, and it’s my challenge to capture this sliver of time. This is the core of my work.
I am an observer, and my passion to discover and absorb other cultures adds dimension to my photography. By sharing my portraits internationally, I want to give insight into other cultures through faces.
Through my creativity I seek purpose in this world.
My vision for Keiyo is an extension of my personal dreams and values, which touches many of us: the ability to make others happy by doing the unexpected. I believe art can build bridges between cultures and people, and has the power to change the world.
It’s beautiful for me to see that this vision isn’t just mine anymore.
Since coming up with the idea in 2015, I have dedicated my life to Keiyo. During this time, I’ve learned a lot of new things and reached out to people all around the world. The result has been a fantastic journey with compelling energy from everyone involved - a global cohort of artists, suppliers, friends, and creatives.
When you contact an artist to tell them about an idea like Keiyo, you never know how they will respond. I spent a lot of time connecting remotely with those involved. I championed their work, and I learned more about them through our exchanges. But it was a truly special moment when we met face-to-face for the first time, after months of dialogue, at the first Keiyo show. It is almost magical to share inspiration with people who wouldn’t have met otherwise, and I am so thankful for experiencing it. This momentum is what tells me that this is the right time for art and social enterprise to blend, together bringing happiness and value to the buyer beyond merely owning a piece of art.
Luck has been another component of making Keiyo happen. I’ve run into the right people at the right time and have been willing to take risks. I often sense life speaking to me and guiding me, and I must be doing something right, even though I may not see the complete picture yet.
To make this happen, I live out of a 30-liter backpack most of the time, and have sold off photography equipment to pay for stages of Keiyo’s development. It has been a painful struggle, both financially and emotionally, but the growth of this idea has been so rewarding. After all, destruction ends in creation!
Don’t be afraid of letting go of the things you love to create something bigger.
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