In 1965 I was born in Saigon, Vietnam to parents in foreign service, but promptly evacuated with my mother as the Vietnam War heated up. Our family moved to Chiang Mai in Thailand, where my brother James was born. In late 1968 My family left Southeast Asia and moved to Brevard, North Carolina. It was wonderful growing up across the road from farms, surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I was given my first camera at four years of age, an old Kodak Baby Brownie. I learned black & white printing with my aunt Patricia Austin, a professional photographer. As a teenager I became more serious about photography, and I borrowed my father's Pentax 35mm SLRs. At the North Carolina School of Science and Math, I studied black & white photography under Joe Liles.

I had planned only to major in Biology at Rice University in Houston, Texas, but I took so many photography and art history classes that it became easy to add a second major in Art & Art History. I was fortunate to study under two terrific photo instructors at the Rice Media Center, Geoff Winningham and Peter T. Brown. I began printing color negative film in 1986, exploring downtown Houston at night with long time exposures. By 1987 I became good enough at color printing that Peter took me on as his darkroom assistant. Printing Peter's 4x5" and medium format color negatives was a formative experience. I loved talking with him about his photographic explorations of the geography and rural architecture of the High Plains of western America.

Left to right: my mother Joan, brother James and myself, on the path up to the Devil's Courthouse, Pisgah National Forest, NC, circa 1969.

Self portrait, 2007
Self Portrait, Boston, MA 2007

My senior year, I became very interested in multiple-image photography. I made 35mm diptychs, and photocollages inspired by British artist David Hockney's "Cameraworks." After graduating in 1987, I pursued a second degree at Rice, a Bachelor of Fine Arts, concentrating on photography. During 1987 and 1988, I showed extensively on the Rice campus, winning the First Place Photography Award, Jones College Art Show, 1988 and the Southside Camera Award, Rice Arts Students Exhibition, 1988 for photocollages. My friend Justine Avera (née Nowading) and I organized an art show at my off campus house, featuring several Rice students' paintings, drawings, sculptures, photography and music.

After earning the BFA in 1988, I returned to Brevard working as staff photographer for the Brevard Music Center, a summer music camp. I documented students at practice, musical performances, and even fully staged operas. It was a challenging and satisfying temporary job. In 1989 I moved to Boston, Massachusetts and worked as a photojournalist for the gay and lesbian newspaper BayWindows. Later that year I was hired by Harvard University's Biology Teaching Labs, where I met the man who would become my husband, Lansing Wagner, a genius at pottery. I continued to work on photography in my spare time. Lansing and I often vacationed in his native Maine and I loved photographing the coast around Brooklin and in Acadia National Park. In November of 2007 I married Lansing.

During spring 2007, I took a History of Japanese Art with Dr. Tanya Ferretto Steel at Harvard Extension School. Inspired by Japanese painting and ukiyo-e prints, I began to shoot diptychs in 645 format on film. In 2008 I began making larger prints at the New England School of Photography darkroom. In 2009, I self-published "In Eastern Light" at, a book of diptychs mostly shot on or near the Blue Hill Peninsulaand other locations on the coasta of the Gulf of Maine. In 2010 Geoff Winningham invited me to return to Rice to show six diptychs in the Rice Media Center's 40th Anniversary celebration group show, Light and Vision II, during Houston FotoFest 2010. Later in 2010, Gregori Fine Art of Beverly Hills California published a limited edition print of my diptych Morgan Bay Estuary, Surry, Maine, MMVII for the now moribund 52 Editions project. In 2011 five photos from my In Eastern Light Portfolio were selected for the Fresh Works photography show curated by Paula Tognarelli and George Slade for the the Flash Forward Festival Boston. I have also participated in group shows at Jae Ok Lee's house gallery in Sudbury, MA, at Gallery Seven in Maynard, MA, and auctions to support the Photgraphic Resource Center in Boston. In June 2015 I mounted an exhibition of my Quarries of New England portfolio of diptychs and triptychs at the Blue Hill Public Library in Blue Hill, Maine. A vertical triptych of Wetmore and Morse Quarry in Barre, Vermont from this series was shown in the Griffin Museum of Photography's 21st Members Exhibition curated by Jim Caspar.



Steven Keirstead Hac Facit MMXI, Copyright 1987-2015, Steven Keirstead Photography
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