Kenneth Hamlett – Taking the Leap

Love photography, but on a different path? Kenneth was on a few different paths too, before he returned to his roots. If you don’t believe that you can change the direction of your life, think again. Check out his story below.

Say hello to Kenneth:

Where are you from?  Where have you been?

I am originally from Atlantic City, NJ. I have had the pleasure of visiting almost every state in the U.S. plus I’ve traveled abroad.

What’s your favorite place in the world?

My favorite place in the world is San Diego, CA. I’m hoping to convince my wife to move there one day. I love it because it’s simply a beautiful city, plus I grew up on the beach and I really miss that vibe ( – I live in land-locked Atlanta, GA).

What’s on your “bucket list” of ideas to create?

A Vogue cover shot!

How would you describe your visual style?

My visual style is simple and clean. I don’t like clutter in my images (or in my personal life). I love the human face and to me, that is the most interesting thing in the world, so I try to make the face the center of my images.

How do you find your inspiration?

I love looking at other artists’ work. It doesn’t matter what medium (e.g., painting, photography, sculpture, etc.)

Do you get photographer’s block? If so, how do you overcome that?

Yes, I do. I think at some point we all do. For me, staying away from the camera for a while and concentrating on something else usually gets the creative juices flowing again.

Was there a particular photographer who inspired you to pursue this path in the arts?

Wow, there were so many. At the very start of my path into photography, there were guys like Pete Turner, Jerry Uelsmann, and others whose work I really liked. As I started to get more into fashion and beauty photography then, my inspirations were Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Patrick Demarchelier, and Herb Ritts. I guess the one photographer that has influenced my style the most is Patrick Demarchelier. I think he is a master at lighting and subjects the way old Flemish and Dutch painters used light in their work.

Have you ever considered what career path you would’ve pursued had you not chosen photography?

I actually had a few career paths before I made photography my full-time career, including working for the state police, being a stockbroker, and working in the supply chain field.

What types of photography do you do? What’s your favorite and why?

I started off many years ago shooting fashion and beauty right out of college. After going through a few different careers, I decided to go back to photography specializing in architectural photography. I did work for many national and international companies, but my heart always longed to shoot fashion and beauty. So, a few years back, I decided to go back to my roots.

What was the moment you decided to become a photographer?

When I was 17 and took my first course in high school. I knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

What has been your biggest setback as a photographer?

Everything I owned burned to the ground in 2011, including all of the images I had ever created, plus my equipment. Not a good time.

Of the photos you’ve taken – which three are your favorite?

The three I haven’t shot yet!

Photography is competitive. How do you stand out?

I don’t compete against other photographers, that’s fruitless. I compete against the last image I created. My next image needs to be better (in my eyes) and that’s all that counts. I’ll leave the competition to others.

What’s the best advice you can think of for someone just starting in photography?

Shoot! Shoot as much as you can and as many different things that you can find. Eventually, you’ll find the thing that really lights your fire.

What is the best thing a model can do to make the most of a photoshoot?

Don’t try to be a model. Be yourself or the character the photographer needs.

If you could photograph anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

Sade – I think she’s the most intriguing woman in the world.

Who do you want to give a shoutout to?

My favorite MUA and partner in crime, Aletha Braxton! She’s simply the best and I wouldn’t have some of my favorite images without her handiwork with the makeup and her impeccable styling!

What’s your philosophy when it comes to being a great photographer?

Shoot what you have a passion for shooting. Everything else will work itself out.

What’s a deal breaker for you when deciding to do a shoot?

When a client doesn’t understand licensing and insists on owning the copyright to the images created. Not going to happen.

How do you bring out your model’s personality in a shoot?

I always want them to just be the person that they are naturally. I try to emphasize that point throughout the shoot. Don’t “model” – be yourself and relax. I like the mood in my images, so being yourself is the best thing you can do when working with me.

What do you think is the biggest thing holding you back in your photography?

Absolutely nothing!

How do you express yourself through your photography?

I love women – I photograph women. Simple.

What’s the most inspiring photo you’ve ever seen?

Steve McCurry’s – Afghan Girl

What photography advice do you wish you had when you were first starting out?

Don’t stop shooting simply because photography isn’t paying the bills yet. Keep shooting and one day it will.

What are 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?

1. Learn how to shoot in manual immediately.

2. Learn lighting. It will define your work in the future.

3. Be yourself. Create your own work. Fuck the critics.

What kind of gear do you have? What’s your favorite and why?

Everyone always wants to know about gear, so here it goes. I shoot with Mamiya medium format camera bodies and a Mamiya DM28 digital back. I use Elinchrom lights and accessories. My favorite lens is the Mamiya 150mm f/3.5 lens. It’s tack sharp and I just love it. I only shoot with one light ( – it’s not that I only have one light), I just choose to use one light because, why use more?

What’s one lighting tip you’d like to share with other photographers?

Sometimes less is more.

Do you have any projects you’d like to show off?

I’m working on a big project, but I can’t share it right now!!

What is your most life-changing event?

The loss of a son and a brother all in the same year.

What’s something no one knows about you that you’d like to share?

Ha! If I share it then everyone will know, right?

Who’s your biggest hero in your life?

My mother, but not because I grew up without a father. I lived in a very happy two-parent home. I say my mother because as my parents have aged, my father has become very ill and my mother takes care of him day and night.

What’s one of your biggest fears?

Failure as a parent and a son.

What will you be doing five years from now?

Photographing more beautiful women for major publications.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?

Visit Egypt.

For anyone that wants to get in touch with Kenneth, here’s some contact information:

FStop: Profile


Instagram: @kenhamlettphoto

MM: Profile

Kenneth, thank you so much for sharing your story with us!

If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Also, remember to download the FStop app for iOS or Android!

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