Brutal and beautiful.
Those are the two words most frequently associated with the work of photographer inkedKenny. Whether capturing silhouettes against a skyline or leather daddies at play, his images convey a stark masculine beauty and a raw eroticism that has made him very popular in the queer community. Five years after launching himself as a solo artist, he has released a collection of some of his most striking work called The Men of inkedKenny.
“I get inspired in the moment with whomever I’m shooting, and I’ll create scenarios to shoot them in,” Kenny says. “And of course, I’m projecting myself, projecting my roots and projecting my own personality when it comes to taste in men — [even in] how I light and the grittiness of it all. But it’s all very random and of the moment.”
Kenny cut his teeth over two decades of commercial art direction in the fashion industry and says that he enjoyed the collaborative experience of working with a team. But a combination of personal hardship and a desire for independence eventually led him on a different path.
“My partner died and then I got sick, so I basically had two years off to figure things out,” he says. “And when you leave fashion, it’s hard to get back in. But then out of the blue, somebody asked me to shoot something for them. The client loved it and so I thought, ‘Okay, I’ve got something going here.’”
From there, he teamed up with a bunch of friends and shot his first “Fight Club” editorial, which was quickly picked up by Instigator Magazine.
“I got published five months into [launching inkedKenny],” he laughs. “So I came out of nowhere.”
His gritty depictions of men in fetishwear resonated with many in the bear and leather communities, and he credits them with being the first to provide him a platform to promote his work.
“The Black Eagle gave me my first solo exhibit at the bar. They were the first to support me and use my images for their advertising and with the leather association. And then through social media . . . it just blew up.”
Although Kenny continues to shoot men’s fashion editorials alongside his individual work, he says his solo project gives him the most satisfaction.
“[With fashion editorials], the inspiration comes within a team effort — dealing with stylists, coming up with concepts and things like that. And with 24 years in the industry, I get that whole brainstorm crew thing.”
“But this? It’s all me.”