Describe the moment you decided it was time to pursue this as a career?
I don’t really remember when I decided to pursue it as a career, but as soon as I realized that nothing but people photography would sustain my interest in photography, I realized I might try to make some money at it. 🙂
What is one thing you’ve learned so far that has proven most valuable?
It’s hard to pick, but [b]ecker’s lessons on how important image and branding is ranks up there pretty high. Once your work hits a certain quality point, much of your success is due to the perception that others have of you. Money spent on a rockin’ image is money well spent.
What makes you different from everyone else?
I’m me! The way I see things is unique to only Ken Kienow, so the eyes that my couples want to see their photography through they can only get from one person – me. The images on my blog and website show my photographic thumbprint better than a description could, but I’d describe them as vibrant, full of laughter and happiness, and timeless (hopefully). 🙂
Who is your one favorite up-and-coming photographer?
Jonas Peterson. That guy’s photos are amazing, he’s got a real eye for bottling emotion in his photos. www.jonaspeterson.com
One item you can’t live without?
My Nikon D3. I love it. Every time I shoot with it I can’t believe how awesome it is.
Your best bokeh image and why?
Almost all of my images have bokeh in them, because I really try to separate my subject from the background, which usually means getting them away from the background a bit and shooting with a wide aperture. My favorite right now might be KenKienow-1202.jpg, I suppose. I like how the bokeh-fied grass looks in the background.
The bible. It’s got more wisdom and life in its pages than I’ll ever be able to comprehend. I only wish I was better about reading it often.
The Dark Knight, currently. But that’s probably because I just watched it a few nights ago. 🙂
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in the emotions of my clients. I usually don’t go into a session with templates of any sort – each individual client provides their own inspiration.
What do you think is the most valuable aspect of your business?
Me. There’s only one Ken Kienow. I’m under no illusions that I’m any kind of photography genius or anything, but the way I see things is 100% unique to me, and without that distinction there’s no reason a client should choose me over some other photographer.
If you could second shoot with anyone, who would it be?
Honestly, it would be my friend and second shooter Sam Potter (www.samuelpotter.com). We have so much fun at weddings. I look forward to shooting with him every time.
Are you a member of any organizations and have you won any awards?
I’m a member of PPA, but I haven’t won any awards yet. Haven’t really tried. 🙂
What did you have to do to actually take the leap? Did you have any hoops to jump through?
The biggest hoops were just becoming legal (filling out the county, state, and federal paperwork). I was blessed with a day job that provided the start-up funds that I needed, and after that I dumped everything I made on my photography back into my business.
Do you have suggestions for others trying to make the transition?
To those just starting out, I’d say: don’t cut corners if you can. Don’t shoot a single wedding without backup gear. Don’t try to be someone else – if your photos aren’t uniquely YOU and you’re simply trying to emulate another person’s style, then there’s always going to be someone out there who is better at doing what you do than you are. Find your own photographic voice and sell it!
What is the biggest or most creative thing you do/have done to draw new clients?
There isn’t anything too revolutionary, really. Most of my business is referral-based, so I just put extra effort and thought into how I can make each of my couples SO excited about my services that they can’t help but gush to their friends about me.
Anything else you would like to share?
It’s cliche, but be yourself. Show clients who you are and they’ll show you who they are. At shoots, hang out with people, be genuine, and relax! 🙂 And also, I’m only 1 year into this crazy thing called wedding photography. Some of my answers to the above questions might be totally different in 6 months, so take this all with a grain of salt. There are much more experienced wedding photographers out there than me. 🙂