We had the good fortune of connecting with Justin Key and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Justin, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
In 2018 I started the Long Shutter Project, an extension of my work with the purpose of giving back. The body of work within the Long Shutter Project donates a portion of sales to causes that are important to me. Currently, I’m partnered with the Muscular Dystrophy Association but have plans to expand to other causes in the future.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My eye has always had an obsession with details and patterns. It quickly became apparent as my art developed that there was a focus on textures and colors within the landscape rather than grandiose scenes. That in itself has made it hard for my work to gain traction. Because of today’s technology, people are scrolling through jaw-dropping panoramas bursting with color that hold their attention for seconds before a new image appears. My work focuses on the details that get ignored to begin with so it takes more time to digest my photography than most people are willing to commit these days. Some of my favorite and most popular pieces took me months to appreciate and ultimately approve. Today’s world is too fast-paced for my work so I’ve had to find ways to slow it down and give people time to absorb it. To do that, I’ve constructed a very specific layout for my festival booth that attempts to isolate the viewer from the crowded fair and give them a secluded moment with my art. My photographs also carry a lot of emotion which I help convey through the titles. I use song titles to name my pieces and often times that makes for a good conversation starter when people recognize a song and make that connection. If I can have the song playing while the viewer looks at the piece, it helps build a deeper connection to it and allows them more time to take in the details that make it special.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m all about soaking in the simple pleasures of life. Colorado is full of opportunities to do just that. If I wanted to blow them away I’d take them down to the sand dunes or give them a view from the top of a fourteener. If I were trying to sell them on the Colorado lifestyle though, I’d take them up to Lookout Mountain and find a spot to watch the sunset with a couple of beers. We’d sample some of the local breweries of course. Maybe find a rooftop patio somewhere to take in the city at night. While I’d feel obligated to spend a day taking in the sights like Red Rocks, my priority would be showing them what living in Denver is really like on a daily basis and how there are so many ways to separate yourself from the grind.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Far and away I owe everything to my family and primarily my wife, Sarah. My parents helped put me on the path to become whatever I wanted and I owe them a million thank yous for giving me that freedom from the beginning. Sarah was the one that convinced me I could make it though. Having someone that not only believes in you but pushes you to be your best and chase your dreams is huge. I wasn’t in the right place mentally to pursue this path that I’m on before Sarah came into my life and whenever my determination waivers, she’s right there to put me back on course. That support system is always there for me and when you’re on the self-starter journey you need a strong support system to keep the wheels moving.