There’s a piercing intensity to British photographer John Kenny’s portraits, a magnetism that draws you into the lives of the people before his lens

Go Magazine


Born: 01/01/1975 in Manchester, UK

Bio: Over the last decade John Kenny has travelled to some of the remotest corners of sub-Saharan Africa to highlight the pivotal role that traditional communities play in places where the earth’s resources are minimal and under growing threat. His striking portraits emphasize beauty and inherent strength as well as giving us insight into traditional dress and adornment.  John has also extended this work to document ethnic groups in India.

His work is exhibited worldwide through art fairs and has been featured in many periodicals and newspapers including interviews in Professional Photographer, Eyes In Magazine, Digital Photographer, Black and White Photography, Tribal Art Magazine, Go Magazine among many more.

John actively supports organisations that work within traditional African communities and from this he has been a guest speaker on BBC Radio 4 and at the London International Documentary Festival. John regularly donates works in support of charities such as Survival international and Concern Worldwide.  His piece “Lines that lead to perfection” featured in the  ‘Art for Africa’ auction at Sotheby’s in New York in 2011 selling for $10,600. It now resides in the Getty family private collection.

About his work John says:

“I felt that the vibrant and intense individuals from traditional communities would best show their magnetism when they were removed from the (often) dull and dusty backgrounds of their immediate environment… I imagined these people emerging from darkness, with no distractions, giving a feeling of proximity between the viewer and the subject.

I developed my technique in remote African villages in 2006.  I started experimenting with nothing but sunshine and a hut available as my “studio”.  Sun and the dry earth proved the only ingredients I required for lighting my portraits.  And of course I needed to find exceptional individuals to photograph!” 

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