In life, when reaching for our goals, our vision becomes more clear after each step we take. For Keith Watkins, his vision was always clear: use the camera to help showcase his talents. Since 2012, Watkins has worked to build his foundation as a filmmaker and photographer, for he has recently put together his own production company Strangenius Vision. With the career choices and sacrifices he has made, Watkins’ vision has been more clear than ever.
Born and raised in Oakland, Ca, Watkins started off interested in music as he aspired to be a hip-hop artist and DJ. Strange Keith, as he was known, started to gravitate towards the visual aspects of media after taking a digital production class in Junior College. He instantly fell in love in with cameras, as he wanted to shift towards being in the film industry. After doing some research on becoming a director of photography, he found some interesting information that he was able to take advantage of:
“While I was doing some research on the top DPs in Hollywood, I noticed a lot of them had extensive backgrounds in still-photography, so I started taking stills as a way to practice working with my camera and get more experience,” said Watkins.
In the fall of 2012, Watkins made the decision to move to Los Angeles after he accepted a track scholarship to California State University, Los Angeles. Despite the move helping his athletic career, he knew that being in Los Angeles would help further his career in film:
“If I want to be successful, this is where I need to be. I always tell people that I came down for school and just decided to stay afterward but I knew before I moved that I was going to have to make this my new home. I turned down full track scholarships to a school in Kansas and another in Irvine because I knew LA is where I needed to be,” said Watkins.
As his time in Los Angeles progressed, his craft in photography improved rapidly where he received more and more recognition from his peers:
“I realized I was good when a friend of mine would invite me to take pictures for her at events she organized and the pictures would come out really nice. I realized I was REALLY good when I started building my portfolio and was noticing that my pictures rarely needed much editing, just a few small adjustments because of things out of my control like the intensity of the sunlight or something like that,” said Watkins.
With the foundation of his work being built over the last few years, Watkins decided to start his own production company which would focus on photography and move in his big goal of becoming a filmmaker. The name, StrangeniusVisions, was a combination of names that came long before dealing with visuals:
“I used to want to be in the music industry, as a rapper I was Strange Keith and as a DJ I was DJ Mad Genius”, Watkins said. “The first thing I did when I picked up a camera was start shooting music videos, so for the name, I wanted something that paid homage to my foundation in music which is what eventually led me to photography. So I merged Strange Keith and Mad Genius into Strangenius and it’s been a good fit ever since.”
As Watkins stays in Los Angeles permanently, he knows how to handle the pressure of becoming successful and standing out in such a competitive industry:
“I just try to be as genuine as possible. And I like to try to keep my pictures as organic as possible. LA is a city where a lot of people come and try to reinvent themselves and I’ve seen people completely lose who they are trying to do that,” said Watkins.
With so many artists trying to make a name for themselves in the city of angels, Watkins still remains humble and wants his work of art to be seen more than just a visual:
“I see art as anything that someone puts a piece of themselves into and it’s beautiful. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be visually beautiful but if it moves people or makes them feel something, then that’s what makes it beautiful,” said Watkins.
The Strangenius brand plans to be a powerful movement that will help Watkins break into the movie industry but provide help to the next generation of artists:
“Strangenius Vision for me right now is a business but my ultimate goal is for it to be a way for me to give back and mentor underprivileged youth and give them access to resources they may not usually have access to.”
To learn more about Keith Watkins and his work visit StrangeniusVision.com