John Kenny

English Photographer
In 2006 I developed my style of portrait photography within traditional communities, heavily influenced by the dramatic pictures of chiaroscuro artists. Chiaroscuro is an Italian term which literally means light-dark. Back then, at the very start of my Africa journey, I was buzzing with energy having met people of real magnetism just days into my trip. I was excited by extraordinary people and fascinating cultures and wondered how I could possibly communicate and express these feelings of excitement to friends and family back home.

The solution, I imagined, would involve abstracting the remarkable from the not so remarkable: put simply, I felt that the vibrant and intense individuals that I had met in traditional communities would best show their magnetism on camera when they were removed from the (often) dull and dusty backgrounds of their immediate environment. After a few days I started to imagine each of these people in front of me emerging from the nothingness of darkness, with no distractions, hoping that this would provide a real feeling of proximity between the viewer and the person in the picture. I made a conscious decision at that time to leave a more documentary style of environmental portraiture to others. Practicing this new technique in remote African villages in 2006 I had nothing but sunshine and a hut available as a great ‘open studio': so I used these parameters and started experimenting (I've never really liked flash anyway). So it's simply the illumination of natural sunlight, and sun on dry earth, that reaches into the darkness of huts and lights up these remarkable people. Sun and dry earth are the only ingredients required for the lighting in my prints. And of course, you also need to find exceptional people!

Falling in love with photography, and the origins of this series:
I first fell in love with photography around 2003. I had not been fortunate enough to receive an art or photography education, but I knew back then, when I picked up my first SLR camera, that I had found the perfect way to express myself. Every time I had the camera in my hand I was looking to improve, needing to know what everything and anything looked like once it had been through the photographic process. It was a bit like a mad pursuit of alchemy - throwing everything into the mix to see if any magic came out of the other side. The process of photographic learning is very rarely a simple one, but to me it remains beautiful: discoveries, experimentation and seeing for the first time how a camera distorts and enhances the world.
In Africa I seem to have made it my goal to travel through some of the remotest areas of the continent where the reaches of urbanisation and 21st century living are barely detectable. Looking back, this wasn’t my intention when I first arrived there in 2006, but somehow I keep returning to Africa to photograph because I'm fascinated to encounter societies that are able to survive in some of the most arid, isolated and difficult environments that people have settled in. If you haven’t visited these places then the reality of living is not nearly as romantic or idealised as one might imagine. Life takes place against a backdrop of very uncertain resources and enormous hardships, but traditions and hospitality towards outsiders remain intact.
I specifically chose to photograph the individuals that you see in these galleries because I had a very real sense of wonder when I met them. Each one of these people had something that attracted me, sometimes a piercing intensity, or an uncommon beauty, that I felt compelled to try and capture. It’s true that I photograph for myself, first and foremost, but a close second is my desire to show others this magnetism that draws one into the eyes of these fascinating people.
I have usually travelled alone or with a guide on these journeys, along the way walking and hopping onto overloaded vehicles of every kind to head to remote settlements. Often the destination is a transient, weekly market where hundreds of vibrant, colourful people assemble somewhat incongruously against a dull, dusty backdrop for a few hours. Later in the day they will all melt away with their animals and traded possessions, until the location is again a patch of bone-dry ground with almost nothing to separate it from the rest of the featureless land that typifies much of the African Sahel. It is fascinating to observe this process play out in almost exactly the same way across countless African countries, many of which are separated by hundreds or thousands of miles across this huge continent’s surface.
My favourite tools are sharp prime lenses and cameras that let you capture the tiniest pieces of detail: whilst these details may be insignificant alone, when aggregated I feel they help paint the picture of the environment and how each person adapts to theirs.

My favourite series of work remains the Northern Kenya series which involved 6 weeks of intense travelling with my guide, Mo, across remote areas without a vehicle and often without any semblance of an idea how to get to the next tiny settlement. The trip was full of unique encounters in locations that seemed to be famous, to me at least, as places where no transport seemed to be heading. On one particular occasion we came across a lone Moran (warrior) emerge into the dawn light, miles from anywhere. He seemed like a mirage: a vibrant vision in pink cloth and bright colourful jewellery, and more acutely so when set against the hazy yellow monotone of land that he emerged from. Even for Northern Kenya, I thought he seemed to be in a remote, featureless location: devoid of any water, and within an hour it would again be blistering hot. Despite these uncomfortable realities - which clearly weighed more heavily on my mind than his - the warrior seemed confident of his bearings and stopped for a moment to exchange pleasantries with Mo and I. A couple of minutes later, after sharing cigarette with my guide, he purposefully set off walking again, to God knows where. This place that looked barren and foreboding, to me at least, was clearly his home.
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
John Kenny
David Bailey: SUMO
 
 

More Great Photographers To Discover

Jack Montgomery
Nationality: American

From www.jackmontgomeryphotography.com
Jack Montgomery is a portrait photographer living in South Freeport, Maine. He often photographs communities of people (Holocaust Survivors, firemen, fetishists, judges, elderly villagers) and shoots primarily in Maine, Massachusetts and New York. He has exhibited his work extensively in Maine and elsewhere. He is a former member (…)
 
Helmut Newton
Nationality: German/Australian
Born: 1920 - Died: 2004
Helmut Newton, a German-Jewish/Australian fashion photographer, is best known for his fashion and female nude studies. Born Helmut Neustadter in Berlin, Germany on Oct. 31, 1920, Newton attended both German and American schools. Newton's proclivity for the unusual, particularly in sexual contexts, is attributed to his early years, when his older brother showed him the "red light" (prostitute) district of Berlin. This early exposure would later lead him to create photographic (…)
 
Robert Adams
Nationality: American
Born: 1937

Robert Adams (born May 8, 1937) is an American photographer who has focused on the changing landscape of the American West. His work first came to prominence in the mid-1970s through the book The New West (1974) and the exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape (1975). He was a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow in photography in 1973 and 1980, and he received the MacArthur Foundation's MacArthur Fellowship in 1994.

(…)
 
Kerekes Istvan
Nationality: Hungarian
Born: 1977
I was born in 1977 in Marosvásárhely. I live in Mosonmagyaróvár – western Hungary I am taking part regulary in national and international photo competitions and exhibitions since 2004 My pictures have been shown in more than 40 countries, on five continents, and I won over 400 prizes and awards, in national and international photo contests I take mainly social life-, portrait-, and nature photographs.
Source kerekesistvan.com
Kerekes Istvan
Kerekes Istvan
Kerekes Istvan
Kerekes Istvan
Kerekes Istvan
Kerekes Istvan
Kerekes Istvan
Kerekes Istvan
 
Bear Kirkpatrick
Nationality: American
Born: 1965
Bear Kirkpatrick’s work has been exhibited at the Center for Fine Art Photography (Ft.Collins), The Rayko Center (San Francisco), wall-space Gallery (Santa Barbara and Seattle), photo-eye Gallery (Santa Fe), Flowers Gallery (New York), and the PRC Gallery (Boston). His Wallportrait series was recently awarded a solo exhibitions at the Center for Fine Art Photography by Amy Arbus who juried the Portraits 2014 exhibition. His work has been published in Eyemazing (Netherlands),(…)
Bear Kirkpatrick
Bear Kirkpatrick
Bear Kirkpatrick
Bear Kirkpatrick
Bear Kirkpatrick
Bear Kirkpatrick
Bear Kirkpatrick
Bear Kirkpatrick
 
Tim Flach
Nationality: British
Born: 1958

Tim Flach is an animal photographer with an interest in the way humans shape animals and shape their meaning while exploring the role of imagery in fostering an emotional connection. Bringing to life the complexity of the animal kingdom, his work ranges widely across species, united by a distinctive stylisation reflecting an interest in how we better connect people to the natural world.

He has four major bodies of work concerning different subjects: Equus ((…)
Tim Flach
Tim Flach
Tim Flach
Tim Flach
Tim Flach
Tim Flach
Tim Flach
Tim Flach
 
Stephanie Sinclair
Nationality: American
Born: 1973
Stephanie Sinclair, b.1973, is an American photojournalist known for gaining unique access to the most sensitive gender and human rights issues around the world. Sinclair graduated from the University of Florida with a BS in Journalism and an outside concentration in Fine Art Photography. After college, she went to work for the Chicago Tribune, which sent her to cover the start of the war in Iraq. She later moved to Iraq and then to Beirut, Lebanon, covering the region for (…)
 
Richard Ross
Nationality: American
Richard Ross is a photographer, researcher and professor of art based in Santa Barbara, California. Ross has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Fulbright, and the Center for Cultural Innovation. Ross was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007 to complete work on Architecture of Authority, a body of work of thought-provoking and unsettling photographs of architectural spaces worldwide that exert power over (…)
 
Laurent Kronental
Nationality: French
Born: 1987
Self-taught photographer, he discovers photography in China during a stay of several months in Beijing. He is captivated by the big metropolises there and by the variety of their architectures, their inhabitants, the way they tame the space and their personal stories. He has developed during 4 years an artistic series, Souvenir d'un Futur, on the elderly living in the large estates of the Paris region. The photographer intends to question us on the condition of (…)
Laurent Kronental
Laurent Kronental
Laurent Kronental
Laurent Kronental
Laurent Kronental
Laurent Kronental
Laurent Kronental
Laurent Kronental
 
Eikoh Hosoe
Nationality: Japanese
Born: 1933
Eikoh Hosoe studied at the Tokyo College of Photography. He made his first solo exhibition "American Girl in Tokyo" in 1956 at Konishiroku Photo Gallery. Between 1957 and 1959 he participated in the protest-exhibition of the new photographic movement "Juninno-Me" (The Eyes of the Ten) with photographers I. Narahara, S. Tomatsy, Y. Ishimito and the critic Tatsuo Fukushima. In 1959, six members of this group including Hosoe, Tomatsu and Narahara founded the Vivo Agency which (…)
 
David Bailey: SUMO
 
Join our newsletter
Be up-to-date with call for entries, deadlines and other news about exhibitions, galleries, publications, & special events
 
Discover the 6th Issue of AAP Magazine
All About Photo Magazine showcases the winners of AAP Magazine Competitions
 
 
 
The Jules Maeght Gallery is a contemporary art gallery who seeks to engage the San Francisco community by infusing European artists, young and established alike, into a diverse, multimedia dialogue.
 
TAKES U TO THE NEXT LEVEL
 
Since 2005, your guide through contemporary art from a French perspective to let you make exciting choices