Creative Cafe // Design & Architecture Photographer Ken Hayden

Ken Hayden photo of Philippe Stark's Miami hotel, Icon. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Reception and front desk at Icon Brickell in downtown Miami. Designed by Philippe Starck and photographed by Ken Hayden.

I’m inspired by shadows and light, nature, abstract form and the work of my two idols, Julius Shulman and Horst P. Horst.

Design and Architecture photography attracts me because I’ve always loved architecture but after spending a decade in a relationship with a successful London designer, I became obsessed with interior design as well.  When I decided to pursue photography to make a living it just seemed natural to focus on a subject that I so adore.

If not pursuing photography, I would pursue Film Direction or some other profession with a visual scope.  I am currently playing around with video and have just produced my first short video for a luxury river boat cruise for Sanctuary Ananda, Myanmar.

Professional photography has influenced my view of the world- it has taken me around the globe quite a few times and I’ve had the chance to experience different cultures first-hand as a result.  Just spending time being immersed in a culture or language very different from your own is a life-changing experience in itself.  This is particularly true when visiting Third World countries where you come to realize the privilege you’ve had your whole life without really noticing.   I’ve been lucky enough to have a number of those opportunities over the 20 years that I’ve been a photographer and look forward to more to come over the rest of my career.

Havana cover by photographer Robert Polidori. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

“Havana” book cover by photographer Robert Polidori.

The most recent photography book I’ve read and would recommend is, ‘Havana’ by Robert Polidori.  I really adore his expertly captured images of crumbling interior spaces in various states of decay.  I think it is equally interesting to see portraits of the people who still live there as well as the colors, artworks and the contrasting way in which these grand spaces are used today.  One of my favorite examples of this contrast is a highly baroque building’s entry lobby filled with laundry hanging on a rudimentary line to dry.   I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys architectural and Interior design photography and/or has an interest in visiting Cuba.

Photograph taken by Ken Hayden of roaring campfire at the mountainside resort in Utah, the Aman Giri. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

AmanGiri resort in Utah.

 The most challenging shot I took was shooting a mock room setup on a very cold desert evening in a remote area of Utah for one of my favorite clients the ‘Aman Resorts’ at their new resort  ‘AmanGiri’ which was still under construction.  I had my camera and lighting setup and had built a fire in the sweet little fireplaces they have built-in to the terrace.  I was waiting for just the right moment to capture the magic blue light of dusk when the generator went out followed by a howling wind coming down the canyon that blew out the fire.  Standing there in near total darkness I thought that was it and that I’d lost the shot.  I had to fly home the next morning so no chance to get the shot the following evening.  All alone out there on this remote building site, the migrant construction workers had gone home for the day,  I was running out of time to catch the light. In a bit of a panic I scrambled around the site to find the main generator and saw that it had run out of fuel. Fortunately, there was a full can nearby so I filled the generator, got it started and was able to capture the shot with about a minute to spare. Sometimes it’s not so much about your talent but about having good luck on your side and a tad of persistence to go along with it!

Stunning photographic capture of Prayer flags at Bhutan's Tigers Nest. The Decorating Diva, LLC

Photographer Ken Hayden captures a magical moment at Bhutan’s Tigers Nest, as ribbons of prayer flags dance rhythmically in the wind playing amongst the clouds.

The most beautiful place I’ve visited thanks to my photography career is Bhutan. It is the most spectacular place I have visited with the warmest, most sincere and honest people that I have ever encountered.  This coupled with the  majestic beauty of Himalayan mountain views, ancient Buddhist temples like ‘Tigers Nest’ clinging to a 1,000 ft cliff face and (the literally) breath-taking drives along narrow curvy roads carved into the sides of mountains.  All of this makes Bhutan a very exciting place to visit in my opinion.  Additionally, There is (at least) one odd aspect of this awesome country that one notices while traveling to and fro, and that is that Marijuana grows absolutely everywhere.  It grows In front of elementary schools, police stations and in-between sidewalks in their nations capitol of Thimphu.  What’s surprising is that nobody is interested in smoking it to get high, so there are no social or abuse issues caused by it being so readily available.  In fact, it would seem its only perceived use is for feeding pigs – which does seem to give the pork a very delicious flavor indeed!  Recently, the country announced its desire to go 100% organic.  For me, just one more reason to love this beautiful kingdom high up in the clouds.

The project I dream about photographing someday is the futuristic (and as yet unrealized) ‘Venus Project’ by Miami architect Jacques Fresco.  I love this man’s Utopian view of our future and the way that we as society will potentially live one day.  His design creations are such beautiful organic forms incredibly fresh and new architecture seemingly straight out of a Sci-Fi movie.  I think photographing Jacques Fresco’s work would make a terrific visual story that I would feel very privileged in conveying through my photography to the world.

I see photography as a marriage of technology and visual perspective in my opinion. There are many varied facets of the profession but most of them involve a basic editing process. One of either inclusion or exclusion. This coupled with the artistic use of filters, lenses, software programs and more help convey the photographers language, style or vision in the resulting image.

My advice to those who feel the call to pursue the art of photography is to pursue a photography career if and only if you are very passionate about creating images.  The business of photography has seen many changes in the 20+ years since I picked up a camera – some good, like the transition to digital, some not so good, like the recession of 2008.  Making a living being in business for yourself as a photographer is much harder than it used to be even with a great portfolio.  Also, nowadays we have the very necessary add-on job of self-promotion. Social media platforms and other online efforts to get or stay on the first page in Google searches have in themselves become a full time job.   Confucius says, “Choose a career you love and you will never work a day in your life.”  Well, I often think of this wisdom towards the end of a very long day shooting while my feet are killing me and my back is aching or late in the evening when pushing to get final edits done for a client that needs it yesterday.  Be prepared to work hard, put in long hours and evolve with photography and its ever-changing new technology and I think it can be a very rewarding career that can take you to the places of your dreams.

[content_band style=”color: #333;” bg_color=”#ffffff” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline type=”center” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h3″ accent=”true”]Ken’s Favorite Five[/custom_headline] [slider animation=”slide” slide_time=”5000″ slide_speed=”650″ control_nav=”true” prev_next_nav=”true”][slide]
IM Pei portrait taken by architectural photographer Ken Hayden. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Portrait of esteemed international architect, I.M. Pei with his design, the Oare House Pavilion in the distance. The pavilion was commissioned by Sir Henry Keswick for the Millennium project.

"Ken Hayden captures Chaing Main lanterns in flight at Amani Puri Resort. | The Decorating Diva, LLC"

Chaing Mai lanterns being released into the evening sky at Amani Puri Resort.

Ocean front architecture and interiors photographed by Ken Hayden. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Contemporary coastal living. Beautiful home photographed by Ken in Jupiter, Florida.

European inspired shabby chic bedroom photograph by Ken Hayden. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Canopied bed in bedroom filled with plaster plaques, brackets and medallions created by renowned Plaster artist, Peter Hone.

Aman Jenna Morocco arched corridor. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Exotic geometries in Morocco captured through the magical lens of Ken’s artistic eye.

Ken Hayden photographed in Port of Moscow.  | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Photographer, Ken Hayden.

These five photographs resonate with me for different reasons – the portrait of I.M Pei who is the world’s most famous architect was a milestone for me professionally and the opportunity to photograph him was one of the most exciting commissions of my career.  The others resonate with me for different reasons, mostly because they simply please me visually.  With the new material that I photograph each year, my favorites are always changing and with over 20 years of work in my library narrowing it down to just five can be quite a difficult choice to make.

Indulge in more of Ken’s exquisite photography at the following online venues: Ken Hayden Photography website,  Instagram,  Facebook and Twitter. His beautiful work can also be seen gracing the covers and pages of the world’s most prestigious magazines. Follow Ken’s updates on any of the above social media channels or his website to learn where his divine photos will appear next.[/content_band]