Not only is he incredibly skilled with a camera, but when it comes to customer service, California wedding photographer Ken Kienow totally gets it! He will do everything he can to make sure his clients receive the wedding photos they deserve, which means his lucky couples are captured in beautiful portraits of easy-going elegance, and photojournalistic moments that capture the true heart of the day. Read on to learn more!
What gets you up in the morning? Coffee, haha! My two hobbies are cycling and coffee, so I love getting a good cup of home-roasted and home-brewed coffee and then going for a mountain bike ride in my home town of San Luis Obispo. Best way to start the day.
A tip or two for couples who are looking for their perfect wedding photographer? Meet them! Get a feel for the general personality of the wedding photographers you’re considering. It’s crazy to think about, but you’re going to spend more time with your photographer on your wedding day than your SPOUSE! He or she has got to be a person that you are comfortable with, and that your friends and family are comfortable with. Read online reviews, too. Yelp and Wedding Wire are great assets.
Also, ask to see a full gallery or two. Wedding photographers, like all businesses, put their best foot forward. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you’ve got to be aware of it. You’re not purchasing a wedding portfolio – you’re purchasing a large set of images from ONE wedding – your wedding. So make sure you see a large set of images from ONE wedding before you sign a contract!
Realize that wedding photography is a bit of a “Swiss Army knife” photography genre. You want great portraits, but you also want great candids and detail photos and dance photos. Right? Don’t focus too hard on one genre (portrait vs. documentary, etc.) because wedding photography really represents MANY genres of photography. Find someone who can do it all well, and make sure that when you hire them you’ve seen their portrait work, their detail work, their candid work, their flash work, and their low-light work.
What is your favorite moment or tradition at weddings? Recessionals are consistently my favorite moments. It’s the first time the newly married couple has turned and faced all their guests as husband and wife, and there’s so much significance and joy in that moment. It’s the beginning of the marriage road, facing all your loved ones and saying “Here we go!”. I love it. Every time.
Do you have a favorite first dance song and why? “Feels like Home” by Chantal Kreviazuk. My wife and I danced to it for our first dance, so it has special significance to me. If you play that as your first dance, ignore the sniffles and eye-wipes that the photographer is doing.
A tip or two for couples on how to look amazing and feel comfortable in their photographs? First, find a photographer you’re comfortable with. Second, be yourself. Forget about what you’ve seen in other photos or what you think you SHOULD be doing. This is about you and your spouse, your quirks and personalities. Talk, move, laugh, have fun. This should really all be pretty effortless if you’ve found an amazing photographer.
One thing you’d like every bride and groom to know before their wedding? Something will go wrong. You’re throwing a massive, complicated party for a ton of people. Know that things will go wrong on your wedding day, and don’t sweat it when they do. Your guests will key off your attitude – if you’re not worried about minor problems that pop up, neither will they be. Have fun!
What really gets to you at weddings? Makes you cry? Makes you laugh? Oh man. The father-daughter dance almost undoes me sometimes. Imagining giving my own daughter away someday and dancing with her on her wedding day floods my heart with joy. Dads and their daughters at weddings totally gets me choked up. Great toasts sometimes do it too – hearing how influential a couple has been in the lives of their friends and family is so awesome.
How has being a wedding photographer made you a stronger photographer over all? Wedding photography is a bunch of photography genres rolled into one, so it’s really made me a stronger photographer in every way. I’m better at portraits, I’m better at landscapes, I’m better at shooting in low light, shooting candids, shooting details, shooting with flash…everything really. It’s such a diverse photographic role to be in.
Best thank you that you’ve ever received? I love it when a couple tells me that having me around on their wedding day felt like having an old friend around. I think that’s so critical to getting relaxed, natural, organic images – having a photographer around that feels like he belongs with your friends and family. It makes people drop their guard and be comfortable having their photos taken.
Best advice you’ve ever received about being a business person? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is the best business and life advice that anyone’s ever given. It’s pure customer service gold. I’m not sure who said it – his initials were J. C. or something like that.
Favorite image you’ve taken lately? My favorite image changes frequently, but I LOVE this image (see above) from Emily and Brian’s reception. The DJ set up amazing lighting and had a fog machine, and once I’d gotten the right exposure I just needed the perfect moment to happen. And them BAM – it did!
Favorite trick to capture images of reluctant subjects? (kids, grandparents, nervous-in-front-of-the-camera-types) Kindness and efficiency. Being really quick with my camera helps a lot too. Having gear that lets me quickly get the photos I want to get helps people not notice me photographing them for candids. Sometimes I’ve only got half a second to frame, expose, and focus a photo before someone notices, stops what they’re doing, and looks at me. Having the best gear, and knowing how to use it well, enables me to capture candids without subjects noticing.
What gets your heart racing – both personally and professionally? Seeing an epic image pop up on the back of my camera makes me giddy, especially if it’s a candid. Knowing that the couple will be blown away by an image that they didn’t even know was captured is always a fun thing to think about.
What is the best possible/your favorite reaction from a client when you deliver their images? “OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!! WE LOVE THEM!!!!!!”
How do you know you’ve done a great job for your wedding clients? I know I’ve done a great job when they tell me they love their photos, that my customer service was amazing, and that their friends and family loved me. That’s kind of the trifecta for me: they love their photos, they love me, and their friends and family love me. Makes me feel super good.
Thank you so much Ken!
For lots more from Ken Kienow, be sure to jump over to his website!