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Check Out Franny Kenney’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Franny Kenney.

Hi Franny, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I was born in Rolla, Missouri. My parents are hippies. Shortly after my birth, my father bought a school bus and built a second level on it. My father, mother, older sister and I lived in the school bus and drove West. We followed the Grateful Dead across the country. I attended over 30 Grateful Dead concerts and Rainbow Gatherings before Jerry Garcia passed away in 1995. We ended up settling in Half Moon Bay, California. I spend the majority of my childhood living near the beach. In 1997, my mother was accepted to graduate school in Nebraska so we moved to Lincoln. We lived there for two years and during this time, I was in a near fatal go-cart accident. I was nine years old and we went to my uncle’s house. He had built a go-cart and I took it for a ride. I had long hair past my waist and was not wearing a helmet. My hair got caught in the chain drive and my head was pulled back with such force that my skull was fractured on the clutch. I had a piece of bone broken out of my skull the size of a quarter. After four major surgeries, I was able to fully recover from the incident. We returned to the Coast Side (Half Moon Bay) and in 2002, I was introduced to underground hip hip and Minnesota based rapper, Slug from Atmosphere.

I have always have a deep love for music. Atmosphere is hands down my favorite. In high school, my parents relocated to Turlock, CA. I graduated from High School and started taking studio art classes at Modesto Junior College. I dropped out of college shortly after and started a family. My family began to fall apart as I spiraled into a drug addiction. I began using Heroin and struggled to recover for many years. On August 12th, 2016 I began my recovery journey. I have been completely abstinent from all drugs and alcohol since that date. A huge part of my growth as a person was going back to school and obtaining an education. I went back to Modesto Junior College and received my Associate Degree in Photography in 2019. I then decided to transfer to Sacramento State where I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Photography in 2021. During this time, I also obtained a commercial drone pilots license. I am currently working as a Media Specialist for a company called Forward Web. I also own my own business in which I do event and portrait photography. In my free time, I attend concerts and photograph my favorite artists. I have a bucket list of artists who I am planning on photographing in the near future. I also have a love of large format film photography. Most of my personal projects are made using an old 4×5 film camera. I develop my own film and print silver gelatin prints in the darkroom at Modesto Junior College.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
My drug addiction was a major obstacle. After being introduced to pain killers at an early age (due to my go-cart accident), I ended up becoming a heroin addict. I struggled with the disease of addiction for many years until I was able to get the resources and the help which I needed to get sober.

Another obstacle to my career and artistic endeavors is being a full-time mom to three boys. They are my world. They are the reason that I get up in the morning and I cherish them. But I was young when I became a mother so I grew up with my oldest son. They teach me to be patient and to preserver. I never imagined being able to attend an undergrad program, work and raise my children. I’ve always wanted them to know that they can achieve any goal they set for themselves as long as they’re willing to work hard for it.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a photographer. I specialize in concert photography, large format film photography, drone work, weddings and portraits. I am most proud of my concert photography and my large format film photography. I’ve had a deep-rooted love for music pretty much since birth. Being able to capture images of my favorite musicians is an amazing feeling. I love attending the concerts and being able to make the artists’ images is the icing on the cake. My other specialty is large format 4×5 film photography. I love doing my projects in this manner because it forces me to slow down and make thoughtful images. I have to be mindful of the composition and exposure with every shot. If I don’t take my time and move methodically then I will waste a lot of time and money. Film is expensive and the process of developing the negatives is time-consuming. I enjoy the 4×5 film images because of the amount of detail you can capture within the photograph. There is no comparison from digital photography to film. In the past, I’ve tried to convince myself that a person can make comparable digital images to film, then I look at my images and realize they are so incredibly different and special.

Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
I use the Lumu Light Meter App when working with my 4×5 Camera. It’s definitely not as good as a spot meter but I find it to work well for what I do. I listen to the Pod Cast “Ear Hustle.” Nigel Poor is a friend of mine and fellow photographer so I enjoy listening to that a lot.

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