Kenny Kim | Confessions of a Wedding Photographer
The following article is a guest post by Drexelle Park, a photographer with her high school sweetheart and other half, David Park, from Orange County, CA. More of their work can be found at www.dparkphotography.com.
Watch out for this rising star.
Kenny Kim went from corporate graphic designer to professional wedding photographer 5 years ago. But, in just the last year, he skyrocketed and:
- Became the newest Kodak speaker (1 of only 20 photographers in the world)
- Got invited to WPPI as a Master Class Speaker
- Photographed several weddings in Italy, Arubba, New Orleans, Monterey Coast, Beverly Hills, New York, Korea, Haiti (including a celebrity American Idol wedding)
- Reached 100K status on United Airlines
When you talk to the people around him and other photographers who know him, they just can’t stop saying nice things about this guy. We’d have to agree. He’s a great photographer with a good heart.
You can view more of Kenny Kim’s work here.
His good friend and mentor introduced Kenny Kim to the stage, the world famous, Mike Colon:
“THIRSTY FOR INFORMATION, LEARNING MORE ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY, MORE ABOUT PEOPLE, MAKING FRIENDS, SEEING THE WORLD. [KENNY'S] TOOL WAS BEING A SERVANT, HELPING AND PROMOTING OTHERS.
- MIKE COLON
Kenny started out with his confessions on being a wedding photographer:
- He was very intimidated by the industry
- He had no education in photography
He wanted to learn the industry from the beginning. That journey led him to the front of the wedding aisle at a local bookstore to research more about the wedding world. Once magazine outshone the rest and he picked up a copy of Grace Ormonde’s Wedding Style. Flipping through, it seemed like all the images were taken from some photographer named Mike Colon.
So he decided to email Mike Colon himself.
“IT NEVER HURTS TO ASK.
- KENNY KIM
After reading every single blog post and looking at all his photos, he found himself constantly communicating to Mike Colon via email and blog to ask for time to learn from him.
The opportunity came when he took one of Mike’s 4-day. He brought a little gift bag for Mike when he attended. He went straight to wanting to help Mike out by taking photos, blogging, and networking during the time there. After connecting with Mike and volunteering to help out wherever he could, he met key people in the industry Skip Cohen, the President of WPPI (who offered him a free registration to WPPI), Christopher Becker, and the Pictage President, Jeff Jochum all in 2006.
All the money he made in 2007, he invested into attending workshops. He went to every single one: Becker, Buissink, Bell, WPPI, PartnerCon, PhotoPlus, David Jay, Gene Higa, Jesh de Rox, Jose Villa, and Mike Colon. In the coming years, he learned from and assisted other star photographers such as Bob and Dawn Davis, took on celebrity weddings, and never gave up on learning more.
He shared what he’s learned along the way.
1 | Being personable is being professional
It is important to improve your communication skills. Know people’s names! Listen to them. Read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
2 | Be prompt.
When they contact you, respond right away. The faster you respond, the better your clients will react and decide.
3 | NETWORK!
Inspired by the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, Kenny constantly meets with vendors every chance he gets. Find out their needs and see what you can do for them. Pick up the tab. Build a relationship first before asking for work. People have to trust you!
4 | Don’t be afraid to ask.
He asked Bob and Dawn Davis 15 times to meet over a period of 6 months. It took 2 weeks of persistence to get his now girlfriend to go out with him. Persistence works.
5 | Build your FUTURE clients NOW
Build relationships. You never know where your referrals will come from in the future. Spend time with former and new clients. Attend events outside of photography to meet different people.
6 | Become a specialist.
By becoming a specialist, you become more marketable and desirable. Turn down jobs that don’t fit your specialty. You become more desirable by saying no.
7 | Build a strong brand.
Every successful photographer has a strong brand and identity. The quality of your work is based on the quality of your presentation, so be creative with promoting your business!
“HAVE THE BEST GEAR, BEST DRESS AND BEST BEHAVIOR.”
- KENNY KIM
After investing in good gear, being presentable and professional, remember to be positive, nice and have fun!
Other Recommendations by Kenny Kim
- Engagement sessions are now a must.
- After struggling so long with prices, he just started raising them. The clients got prettier and nicer.
- If you can, try to attend the rehearsals.
- Meet all the important players at the wedding. Build trust and relationship immediately.
- Take advantage of the reception by sticking around! Use the time to backup your images, network and take advantage of the power and sales for grab and grin photos.
- Stay connected and keep up with social media: Use Facebook. Post. Tag. Be the first to upload photos from the wedding with some teaser photos.
- Build a good team around you.
- Continue to learn and educate yourself.
- Travel: near or far. it brings out the artist in you. In fact, you can join Kenny Kim on one of his PhotoVentures to Italy here.
- Give back and serve without any expectation.
“WE HAVE AN ABILITY TO GIVE BACK LIKE NO ONE ELSE CAN.”
- KENNY KIM
Kenny Kim has a servant’s heart. That is the biggest takeaway and desirable attribute we want to have in our business, in our character. This is the lesson that is the foundation for everything else he shared during that class.
I hope we can all learn how to apply that to our daily living.
Kenny, thank you for sharing your confessions and your lessons learned. It was truly an inspiring class and we feel so blessed to have met and spent time with you! Can’t wait ’til we meet again!
Article and Images by Drexelle Park of D. Park Photography
We’re David + Drexelle – high school sweethearts, complete opposites but God amazingly brought us together, 2 kids who were scared of marriage but now passionate about a lifetime committed to love, the good, the bad, the crazy, the lovely.
Our desire is to inspire a generation of people like ourselves who were jaded about love through incredible imagery that celebrates marriage: love – lifelong, lasting, and lovely.
We’re D. Park Photography. Modern classic wedding photographers for the truly original, authentic and timeless love stories.