It would be impossible to say how many people on both sides of the Ohio River have looked at a photograph taken by Michael E. Keating and seen their community, their neighbors, themselves.

The man who adopted Northern Kentucky as home 33 years ago when he took a job snapping pictures for The Cincinnati Enquirer (as it was then called, capital T and all) has been there for it all. Floods, a riot, smiles, a Reds sweep of the World Series, crime, disasters and festivals.

Toss in scores of images of bucolic rolling hills and feature photos of the sun shining on the waters of the Ohio River, and you get a sense of his portfolio.

Top of His Game

When he accepted a buyout in the latest round of staff reductions at the newspaper, he left at the top of his game with a regional Emmy and a passel of awards. A legion of very talented photojournalists remain in the newsroom, but it is still a moment of passage.

Keating is a storyteller. "I just happen to tell a story with photos"¢and with a good copy editor, I can write a pretty good tale," he says. You trust this guy because he searches your eyes when he talks to you. He winks when he realizes you've got his point and he can move on. Always aware of his audience.

News legends Jim Schottlekotte and Luke Feck hired the young shooter, straight from Evansville. "They liked what they saw (his photos) and put up with what they heard," he says.

Then-Publisher William Keating came down to the newsroom to meet the new hire when he heard his name, which, the photographer adds, was the only thing the two had in common. One was a tall, rich guy; the other was a short, poor guy. He's told that joke before, but it still works. He added his middle initial to his byline to avoid confusion with William Keating's son of the same name. The initial may have seemed pretentious among photo credits like Dick Swaim and Fred Straub, but he wanted to be sure people knew who he was. It stands for Edward. But, Keating laughs, some may have thought it stood for ego. "One that's still too large," he jokes. But, he adds, "years and wisdom have helped trim it back to make it manageable or at least acceptable."

Keating reflects on changes in journalism and photography just as easily as he waxes eloquently on the development of the region. "Northern Kentucky is as important to Cincinnati as Cincinnati is to Northern Kentucky "” in the same way your two eyeballs work together." Without both, there is no depth. You're only seeing part of the picture, he says.

His most memorable photographs capture this place we call home.

Keating says his photo of a small black child looking at a white man holding her mother's hand at a community gathering after the 2001 Cincinnati riots speaks to hope.

"It is symbolic of the understanding that Cincinnati has been able to grow past the ugly business"¢Cincinnati could have gone two ways and they ended up going in the right direction"¢" toward tolerance and understanding.

Of the Delta Queen chugging past the skyline toward the bridges at sunrise, Keating says, "it links the past with the present"¢it makes you feel like this is your place."

A third top image, he says when pressed for his top three, would have to be of Pete Rose.

Probably something black and white. Probably something at Riverfront.

"Baseball is vital to this place" and Rose, he adds, is as responsible for putting Cincinnati on the map as anybody."

Clyde N. Day Foundation

Keating has taken a new direction now as co-director of the Clyde N. Day Foundation, along with lawyer Jan Kipp Kreutzer.

The mission? Invest the estate amassed by Keating's friend and neighbor of 32 years and give away the dividends to organizations working with children and efforts to improve lives.

"It's a small fortune which we hope to grow to a large amount of good fortune," Keating says.

"Instead of enabling, why not empower?" He brings his documentary photojournalism skills and a deep friendship with Day to the mix. Kreutzer brings her legal expertise.

"We hope to change the idea a little bit of how charitable foundations do things," he says.

"Wouldn't it be better if you could reach out to other groups or to other people to help? Matching funds, enlisting volunteers, challenging others by asking "what can you mobilize?"

With that, Keating launches into another story. -