Ken is going to end up being the luckiest Lucky 13 interviewee yet — the internet is so horrible here in Lebanon that I haven’t been able to download any embarrassing photographs to add to his replies. Given how much I love his photography, perhaps that is just karma working in his favor. If you haven’t checked out his photos (including the one that made the cover of National Geographic recently), you are missing out on one of the best out there.
Many of us pretend to be travel photographers — Ken is the real deal.
I get the chance to meet Ken in person in a couple weeks in Jordan and am looking forward to it immensely. He doesn’t know it yet, but I am going to see if he can manage to educate my non-techie self on how to do some basic HDR photography techniques. Don’t tell him — I want to make sure to surprise him with more work talk, when he instead expects me to already have figured out where to buy beer and get him a few for the previous help he’s already given me.
So check out his amazing photography on his website and follow him on Twitter, and in the meantime, enjoy his answers to the Lucky 13:
1. Top spot in the world that you want to take photos at, that you haven’t been to yet?
The Sombrero Galaxy. Okay, it’s not “in the world” but, I mean hey, I love Mexico, Mexican food, Mexican beer, Mexican people, and Mexican beaches. So, I’m thinking that there has to be a whole lotta that good stuff in a Galaxy shaped like a sombrero, right? Viva Mexico!
If I have to choose a particular spot, then I’d have to go with Venice. I made a promise to a dying friend who I loved very much, that I would go and photograph her favourite place on the planet. I really want to do an amazing job when I do go, I’m a bit nervous about the whole thing to tell the truth.
2. How many languages can you order a beer in?
English, French, Spanish, Ukrainian, Italian. Plus I can point at the guy’s beer next to me, then to me, then flash an index finger to symbolize one. Pretty awesome, right? I excel at the last one, especially after consuming a half dozen Kilkenny cream ales.
3. Word or phrase that makes you cringe every time you hear it or read it?
“I’m a photography purist.” You may as well just tell me that you’re dim witted, lazy, pretentious douchebag.
4. Favorite sports team?
The Montreal Canadiens. The most storied hockey club in the history of the sport. I bleed bleu, blanc, rouge. Go Habs Go! A close second is the Washington Generals basketball team, but learn from my mistakes, do not, I repeat, DO NOT bet on them.
5. The longest you were grounded (or most you were punished in some form) by your parents was when you did _________.
I was 12 going on 13 the first time I saw a dead human being. It happened in the summer of 1959-a long time ago, but only if you measure in terms of years. I was living in a small town in Oregon called Castle Rock. There were only twelve hundred and eighty-one people. But to me, it was the whole world. Oh, wait… That’s not my life, that’s the opening line to Stand by Me.
What was the question again? 😉
6. Worst award winning movie you’ve ever seen?
Hurt Locker. Best Picture??? What were they thinking? Did the academy members actually watch this movie, or were they just paid off in advance? I would have stopped watching, but I was transfixed by the movie’s breathtaking awfulness.
7. Charity that we should all be more informed about?
The Big Life Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Africa’s wildlife and ecosystems, with particular emphasis on countering the recent alarming escalation of poaching of African wildlife, due to increased demand for exotic and endangered animal parts in Asian cultures. I’ll be doing a piece on them and their founder in an upcoming article on my blog. Look for it soon.
8. Musical group you would most want to see live?
Johnny Cash (during the period where he was collaborating with Rick Reuben), playing an acoustic solo set, in a small bar in the middle of nowhere. After all, he’s been everywhere, man.
9. Who’s tweets make you smile the most when we see them in your feed?
I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. I see it more as an overall experience, and not so much as a way of communicating directly between two people. I’m a big hater of 140 character texting, but to me Twitter is much more than a text message. Unless of course, you feel the urge to tweet that you’re at Starbucks getting a halfcafsycaramelmochafudgewhippedcreamwithbaconbitslatte.
I’m finding new people on Twitter all the time, so the answer to this question is constantly changing. I’ve “met” some incredibly cool people on Twitter and that is what I love about it. The hate part is the time I spend. While Twitter has been a good thing for me, I’d rather be out shooting. One person who Tweets incredibly cool stuff is a fellow Montrealer and traveller, Jodi Ettenberg or @legalnomads. I often learn something new from Jodi’s tweets. Her Twitter stream is a mix of heart, soul and intelligent thought, she’s really worth following!
10. Biggest photography mistake you see most commonly.
When I travel, I see lots of people hand holding cameras with long telephoto and zoom lenses. Big mistake, telephoto lenses are quite useless for travel photos (in my opinion), save your money! I usually don’t carry anything longer than an 100 mm for travel photos. Long telephoto lenses are perhaps good for sports, wildlife & photojournalism. I’d even argue that the best sports, wildlife, and photojournalism photographs are not taken with telephoto lenses. I think that there is a misconception about looking like a “pro” when you have a long lens on your camera. Expensive equipment doesn’t necessarily help you take better photos. Better trained photographers with the correct equipment and knowledge of post production, take better photos. Spend the money on some seminars, classes, or better yet, hire me!
11. You favorite movie of all time.
Hurt Locker… I kid!
My favourite film is not really a major motion picture, but this masterpiece of a short film has one of the most amazing soundtracks in the history of cinema. The casting is perfect in this dialogue driven magnum opus, and the character development is unparalleled in the annals of screenwriting. While the theme of the film is inspired by a celestial body, the story is more about pure love.
12. Would you like to know the exact date of your death now — why or why not?
No thanks, ignorance can be bliss. I’m walking proof.
13. Give us your favorite pizza toppings.
Diamonds, rubies, and saphires. Put on as many as you possibly can please, I’ll scrape off the ones I don’t want to eat 😉
I think Ken may be my long lost brother. A habs fan and the dude drinks Kilkenny… do you want to settle down and have a small family, or something?
Yes, yes I do. With Monica Bellucci 😉
GO HABS GO! When we meet for coffee in La Belle Province we need to each wear a habs jersey. Deal?
Um, the 2nd half of my comment didn’t go up, which was to thank you kindly for the Twitter shout out. Really appreciate it! Your stream has been great to follow too, from photography to science to astronomy. Looking forward to meeting in person (and in uniform) this summer. Until then, safe travels!
Woohoo! More Habs fans! Safe & happy travels to you as well. See you this summer!
I had the pleasure to meet Ken and he is even more awesome in person!!! How cool you guys will meet up in Jordan!
PS His photography is out of this world amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s people like Ken who are the reason why I prefer drawing with MSPaint to taking photos…lol
What do people mean by “photography purist”? I’ve also heard the phrase but not sure what it means. Does it mean film only and no digital or what?
Best to ask a “photography purist”. I’m still trying to figure that out 😉
I am purely full of shit. Does that count?
Ken’s photography is awesome! And that he find a telephoto lens useless is a definite bonus for me since I don’t have one. 😉
I’m really glad to see that you have interviewed one of my favourite photographers! Great interview.
Ken – if you ever find yourself in DC area, let me know – I’d love to have a photographer-to-photographer chat with you.
Same goes if you’re in Montreal!
Is that where you’re based? I’ll actually be in Quebec sometime in September.
Keep me posted 🙂
I had so much respect for KK until I read the Hurt Locker shit throwing. I thought we had something going Ken? What happened? 🙂
Joking aside, I really liked that movie.
“You may as well just tell me that you’re dim witted, lazy, pretentious douchebag.”
Muahahahahaha! Well said, sir.
Also: Glad to see another Habs fan!
Great interview Ken. Although I almost stopped reading when I found out you were a HABS fan. I guess it comes with being a Montrealer 🙂 You’d get skinned alive if you said you were a Leafs fan. Hope to catch up with you in Jordan while we are there. By the way great photo at the top!!
Ha! Leafs fans… Here is some advice: https://ow.ly/4qiF7 😉
Hope to see you guys in Jordan!
Another great interview! Put a smile on my face. I totally agree with Hurt Locker. I personally got mad at Academy for not giving the best picture to Avatar! Well, I can’t say that’s ‘The best’ but it’s better than Hurt Locker in my opinion.
And when you get that pizza, please call me so I can share it? Thank you very much.
Awesome interview Ken 🙂
I’m not very much into HDR myself but your photography is an inspiration. I always try to read your posts to find hints and clues on how you succeed while I’m still waiting for the shadiest underground magazine to dare publish some of my stuff.
Your photography is fantastic Daniel! What you need is better marketing, and come to think of it… So do I. Photography is not an easy gig, unfortunately there is so much importance of “who you know”, and all too often that means more than how good you are.
you two are my two favorites — lets all figure out a way to get thousands of more people to see how great both of you are.
Y’all need to get a room…. sheesh. 🙂
Such cut answers-love the pizza one! How to make am awesome guy more lovable? Give him an interview on go, see, write! Great job to both of you!
Woohoo! I’m AWESOME!! https://ow.ly/4qk2l
Thanks Bethany 😀
I love this poster (linked). Fabulous.
Oops. Cute answers…. Not cut
FUN! love ken’s photography and gathered from a really nice initial twitter follow DM exchange that he was super nice, but now hilarious to boot! i’m a filmmaker and i’d have to agree that the Best Film Of All Time is truly that- a piece of cinematic genius. BAHAHAHAHA! i needed that giggle fit big time 😉 good stuff that is. great set of questions that really suit your interview subject yet again michael!
Love your photographs Ken! The fact that you hate The Hurt Locker, well… I’m willing to overlook it 😉
I need to see that movie — just haven’t been in the emotional mood to handle it lately.
Ken, awesome photography tips and photos! And it’s nice to see you have a great sense of humor. You and Jodi are the only two people I’ve ever known from Montreal!
his tips are wonderful — I can’t wait to pick his brain on tons more in person
You take amazing pictures man. Also glad to see another hockey fanatic out there in the travel world. I bleed blue for the St. Louis Blues. Thank you very much for Halak, even though we aren’t making the playoffs this year, I have a feeling it will pay off down the road. Good luck to the Habs in the playoffs
Thanks Scott. Enjoy Halak, he’s a really nice guy and a talented goalie who was really loved here in Montreal.
I’ve been admiring Ken’s photography for a while now. So cool to learn more about what an interesting and funny guy he is. Loved the interview!
Great interview, as an Italian I can confirm that the your favorite pizza is truly delicious 😉
Great interview! You’ll have to do another post when Ken reveals his HDR secrets.
But if I tell you, I’ll have to kill you 😉
I can’t believe no one has mentioned how utterly smoking hot Ken is with a handlebar moustache!
Going to pay heed to his tip about not needing a big lens too.
It’s all about the stash, but the sombrero is wicked awesome too dontcha think? 😉
Great interview – Going to have to check out this film now!
And thanks for the lens tip – noted! : )
I’m a ‘senior’ newbie at photography and love Kens work, sure wish I could take lessons from him
Hey Ken, if you come to Wisconsin let me know…Great interview..love your sense of humor,
show the heart that goes into your work.!!
Thanks Geri, glad you enjoyed it. Big thanks to Michael for showcasing so many inspiring travellers!
Great interview! I love Johnny Cash…agree with you on Twitter, too, Ken. I have been spending more time lately reading people’s blog posts and connecting with them there because Twitter takes so much time. I can’t keep up with everyone I follow but feel that only looking at certain lists limits me as well.
From 13 to 15, I had a love affair with the Canadians. As a goalie myself, Patrick Roy got more real estate on my bedroom wall than Gretzky and Lemieux.
I was never a Roy fan, but I sure do like Stanley Cups, so it is easy to overlook my dislike of Roy. Looks like Price is on his way to being a star and PK is puttin on a great show. I’ts fun watching th Habs again. Wooohooo Playoffs!
Ken’s left some really nice comments on my site in the past. At the time, I was like, who is this guy??
Now I know! He takes photos that leaves the observer speechless or asking questions. That’s damn fine art in my book. Without the douchebaggery.
And hells yes to Sombrero Galaxy! Haven’t been to Mexico, obviously it’s time to go.
I’ll probably pass through Montreal this summer as well. If you’re up for late night rounds of poutine consumption. 🙂
It kind of makes me smile but I’m not sure a lot of people got the “Sombrero Galaxy” reference.
Which part of Mexico is that? *wink*
Ken, I heard Tamron is releasing a 18-50000mm lens soon. Your wishes might come true soon!
lol… Daniel, I’ll be all over that lens like white on rice. hope that it’s a fixed f1.2 and weighs 500 grams at a cost of 42 dollars.
Craig and I love Kilkenny. Living in Ireland for a year was bliss. It surprised us at how little the Irish drank it. It’s been great meeting Ken online and learning more about him here.
Ireland is HUGE on my must see list. I’d like to spend a month at leas, touring the country, damaging my liver and constantly recuperating from the permahangover.
It looks like such a uniquely beautiful place, I’m jealous of you and Craig for one more reason now!
Great interview. Love Ken’s work. He’s one of my idols. His photography keeps me wanting to learn more about photography and travel generally.
The pizza comment cracked me up! Love Ken’s photography, great interview!
Personally, I like the Outdoor Canada and the Up! magazine cover photos the best – they really look great. Just my opinion, but I think too many people over-process HDR photos too much to the point where the photo looks like it came out of a video game. The ones I do like have restrained treatment only intended to bring out the correct exposure. I’m not a purist either – I love shots that have that photorealism look – I just don’t like the that hyper-look for landscapes. However, I do like that look in gritty portraits and advertising work – think Dave Hill.
I agree with the lens comment. I would prefer to travel only with a lens that photojournalists would prefer, such as normal lens or one that ranges on either side of that, say like a 24-70mm. However, I find that I oftentimes what to zoom in for candid street photography without having to get in someone’s face, so my go-to lens really is a semi-wide to long telephoto – 28mm – 300mm – it’s actually lighter than my 24-70, and it gives me more range. The biggest reason not to pack some huge lens though (if your assignment doesn’t require it) is weight.
I can only say that, after following Ken’s work for a year or so now, I am more awed than I was before. Not only is he hugely gifted in his vision and his ability to put it on the page/screen, but he clearly has a great sense of humor, is compassionate and very intelligent. Am tempted to ask what his Achilles heel is because he sounds just about perfect!
However, much praise to you, too, Michael, for such great questions instead of the usual, predictable stuff, which allows folk to show their “real” selves – that ain’t easy either!
Oh, and I have to add that Ken and Jodi along with Deb and Dave and others have totally made me think of Canada in a new way – what a wealth of talent and what energy people from there have!