Tommy Keith (b. 1993) is a photographer from Huntsville, Ontario. His work explores his own personal history of being conceived through a sperm donation clinic by making constructed photographs of himself and his family. After meeting his first half-brother in high school through the internet, he began making films and photographs that focus on his unique relationship to his parents, himself, and the growing number of half-siblings he has been connected with. He received a BFA in Film Production from Concordia University in 2016 and will begin his MFA in Photography at Columbia College Chicago in the fall of 2019. Tommy currently lives and works in Toronto, ON.
With this project I am making constructed photographs that help me explore, narrate, and discover my relationships with my half-brothers, my parents, and myself. I am exploring my own personal history of being conceived through a sperm donation clinic by including myself in the picture, aiming for a more balanced relationship between photographer and subject. This collaboration has exposed aspects of my relationships that I was previously less aware of, such as how my family members want me to see them, how they want to perform for the camera and for me, and through our conversations, we have while setting up the frame. Using real-life events as inspiration, I am fascinated with how the camera and lighting are able to fictionalize the world and transform it into something entirely new. I’ve directed this interest towards myself and my family because the whole idea of having this anonymous, and in some ways fictional, biological father has felt bizarre.
Previously, my work was heavily influenced by the potential loss of my father, which I felt imminently when he underwent triple-bypass heart surgery. This caused me to reflect on how I relate to each of my parents and has acted as a starting point for “Success Strategies.” Also, not knowing who my biological father is had made typically simple questions unanswerable, which has always interested me. In what ways am I physically similar or different from my biological father? Why does he not want to be found? Is he alive? Making photographs helps me express and gain insight into this conundrum.
To view more of Tommy Keith’s work please visit his website.