10 Questions for Destination Wedding Photographer Kenny Kim

July 19, 2019

By Libby Peterson

Photos © Kenny Kim

1. You’re known for being a destination wedding photographer and have been traveling quite a bit lately. What do you do to stay sane amid all of the jetsetting?

In just the first three months of 2019, I traveled to six different countries and visited over 30 cities. I think to do this, you have to formulate your own daily disciplinary actions and set routines to help you adjust to different time zones swiftly. One quirky thing I do is keep my clock on my MacBook always set to Central Standard Time (or, as I like to call it, Chicago Central Time). If I change that, it messes up my appointment and flight times, so I keep it the same no matter where I go. But my phone and my watch will adjust to wherever I am accordingly.

2. Which location has blown you away the most so far?

While some locations are breathtaking and beautiful, the purpose of travel has never been just about the destinations. It is about the people and the friends I meet along the way that makes me return there. The world becomes smaller as you develop relationships with people around the world. But if I had to choose just one or two places, I would have to say Italy is on the top of my list, followed by Greece and Ireland.

3.When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

I wanted to be a lead guitarist in a famous rock band traveling around the world, or a professional athlete in basketball or tennis. Unfortunately, I learned quickly in life that this was not going to be possible and that I had to come up with a backup plan. Thankfully, I found my dream job in wedding photography. Now I get to live vicariously through some of my friends who are doing what I wanted to do. 

4. What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

My major in college was graphic design and I got a job out of school as a full-time website and graphic designer. Switching from this steady job to the unknown territory in the photography world at that time seemed like a big risk. I was straddling the line between the two careers for a while until a good friend of mine nudged me to give up my day job and dive right into photography. I am grateful for that nudge and I have not looked back since. 

5. What sparked you to start your Food & Wine PhotoVenture Tours?

I met my friends Max and Cristiana through Facebook ten years ago and they invited me to come visit their homeland in Italy. I was already planning on going, so I extended my trip for another week and met up with them in Umbria. They spent the whole week showing me around and shared their idea of hosting photography workshops with me. I felt my inner creativity come alive with each place I visited, so I wanted to share that same sensation of discovering Italy the right way for the first time. Over the years, the mission has evolved and I started opening the tours to anyone interested in photography, with the emphasis on experiencing Italy the authentic way. Now the attendees consist of some photographers, my former wedding clients, family members of those clients and anyone else from different walks of life. I have also expanded this into different locations, like Ireland and most recently, Napa Valley. 

6.What’s your favorite bottle of red wine and your favorite white?

My current favorite red wine is Kupra by Oasi degli Angeli. It comes from a small private winery in the lesser-known region of Italy called Marche. But this wine itself is famous all over the world. On our last PhotoVenture Tour, with the help of Cristiana, we were able to get a tour of their winery and tasting there. This was one of the group’s favorite memories from that trip. My favorite white wine comes from a small town called Furore on the Amalfi Coast, in the Campania region of Italy. It’s a blend of four grapes made by Marisa Cuomo, one of the top winemakers of Italy. I had a chance to visit their winery to do an unbelievable wine pairing lunch, on a mountaintop restaurant that faces the Tyrrhenian Sea and the cliffs where you can also see the grape vines growing sideways. In both instances, we had a chance to meet the winemakers who actually live on the property and have dedicated their lives to growing these grapes. You can taste their passion and hard work in their wines. 

7. Based on your Italy itinerary, you seem to have fairly intimate knowledge of the sites, villages, chefs and restaurants in the area. How did you acquire it?

It took years of going back to Italy multiple times for weddings, PhotoVentures, vision trips and leisure, collaborating with my business partners (and now my Italian family members) to develop the relationships we have. It takes time, energy and authenticity to develop these kinds of special connections. 

8. You’re involved with quite a few educational platforms, inside and outside of photography. What value do you see in taking the time to do that?

I learned a lot from other photographers in the beginning of my career. Each of them has taught me invaluable lessons that I incorporate into my business. Now that I am slowly transitioning more into the “veteran” status, I want to do my part by giving back to others. Our industry only gets better as we educate and help build each other up. We can strengthen and improve the state of our industry.

9. What’s an unchecked box on your personal bucket list?

I am a big tennis fan and have been fortunate to attend three out of four Grand Slam tournaments: Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. The Australian Open is the only one that I have not been to, so I would like to check that off the list soon. 

10.What’s the best piece of advice you’ve heard about running a successful destination wedding business? 

I would say that it has to be about the people—your clients and their loved ones that surround them. Invest in them and your business will prosper. I spend quite a bit of time talking about this during my master class at WPPI.

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