Frank Keesee: The Lone Ranger of Photography

Bear Glacier by Frank Keesee

“I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” says Nashville accountant and volunteer photographer extraordinaire Frank Keesee, “which is good, because creative accountants go to jail.” While this may be true (the “creative bone in my body” part), what’s not debatable is the size of Frank’s heart and dedication to supporting those organizations and causes in Nashville that are important to him.

Those who frequent NPT’s co-presented ITVS Community Cinema series at the downtown library will recognize Frank as the guy taking pictures at the receptions and during the Q&As. For a monthly series put on by ITVS, NPT, the Library and Hands On Nashville — organizations that wouldn’t exist without volunteers — his help is invaluable to us. His photos often make it back to ITVS and serve as documentation to satisfy grant requirements.

Anyone who goes to events or special screenings at The Belcourt will recognize him, too. He might be at the Ryman, at the Station Inn, or any day at the Nashville Film Festival, often catching the moments others might miss.

At this year’s Nashville Film Festival juror lunch at Savarino’s Italian Cucina, Frank not only showed up and took pictures, he helped carry food up from the kitchen.

After taking the pictures (for free) he’ll often email them or drop off a disc (for free) allowing whoever wants to use them, to use them (for free).

Consider him the Lone Ranger of photography, his trusty camera his sidekick Tonto.

“I do it to help support the organizations I like,” says Frank. “I like the Belcourt and pretty much any group that uses the Belcourt, especially not-for-profit groups and locally-produced films. “

“I’m just a film fan,” he says of his support of the Belcourt. “I’ve loved movies since my Dad took me to see 2001 for my fifth birthday in 1969.”

In addition to NPT, The Belcourt, ITVS, NaFF and The Ryman, other organizations and groups Frank supports with his photography include WPLN (he shot Carl Castle’s appearance a few months ago), Davis Kidd Booksellers (“when there’s an author I like, like Dr. Bill ‘Body Farm’ Bass, Hugh Ambrose or Mike Huckabee”); Nashville Public Library (“Doris Kearns Goodwin, Gene Hackman, Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn”); and the Nashville Coalition for the homeless, especially Tom Wills’ paper, The Nashville Contributor (“I’ve been taking pictures of their vendors downtown”).

He also volunteered over 200 hours for the Obama campaign.

An Oak Ridge, Tennessee native and Marine Corps veteran, Frank has been taking pictures since he bought a Canon AE-1 for $100 from a pawn shop in Knoxville in the early 80s. He was “a film purist,” he adds, until three years ago when a friend gave him a mid-range digital camera.

He has since bought a better one, and we at NPT, the Belcourt, the Library and more, are better for it.

(You might be wondering why this post was accompanied by a photo of Bear Glacier and not Frank Keesee. Well, we asked Frank for a picture of himself, and that’s what he sent us: a picture he took of Bear Glacier. Which is very Frank, to divert the attention toward the things that are important to him).

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