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Meet Kevin Warn of Warn Photography in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kevin Warn.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Kevin. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
As a kid, if you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would have not told you a photographer. I was heavily involved in the computer world and that is what I figured I was going to do for my career. But things changed. I started looking at things differently after my father Rod passed away my junior year of high school.

My dad was an amazing man who worked very hard. I grew up watching him put on a suit every day and go to work. He worked many weekends but he always made time for his family. He coached our baseball teams, went on field trips, and was there for family events. After he passed away I knew I didn’t want to wear a suit, work in an office or follow a schedule and realized that going to work in the computer world was going to involve everything I didn’t want to do.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I fell in love with photography on my first trip to Hawaii, my high school graduation present. I didn’t own a camera and decided to purchase one for my trip. At the time, it was a 2-megapixel camera made by Sony. Oh, have times changed.

Throughout my trip, I photographed everything I could and I truly enjoyed it. I came back home and started going through the images and soon realized they were actually really good. I started photographing anything or anyone willing to be in front of my lens. I wouldn’t be where I am at today without all my friends, family and random people in my college classes willing to pose for me with and without clothes on for the sake of art.

After almost three years working on my computer science degree, I decided to drop out of college and pursue photography full time. As with any start-up, it was a slow and bumpy launch, and against advice of others, I kept at it because I knew this is what I wanted to do for a living. After some “convincing” from my mother, who by the way let me photograph many beautiful models in her home, I went back to college, this time to study photojournalism at the now defunct Brooks Institute of Photography in Ventura, Calif. Let me tell you what a waste of 6 months and $25,000 that was. It was a joke. I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know or could have learned by just going out and shooting.

I have a passion for storytelling and that was my big draw to photojournalism. I wanted to be able to tell people’s stories and open people’s eyes to the happenings around them. I enrolled in a newspaper class at Orange Coast College and had no idea how much my career was going to change from one class at a junior college, in part due to my amazing teacher Cathy Werblin who is a very accomplished journalist. I won several awards during my time and was offered an internship with the Orange County Register. After my internship, I became a freelancer for them and have broken and covered some of the largest news stories out of Orange County over the last several years.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
A smooth road is a boring road. I like taking the different path and going against the norm. I believe this has helped me stand out from the crowd and also has given me a work ethic and drive that I would not have had if everything was smooth.

I believe two of the biggest struggles I faced were getting my name out there and dealing with photographers who were giving their work away for free. A simple Google search for photographers in my area will bring up thousands of results and I knew if I was going to make it in this industry I would have to build a style different then what is out there. After looking through a ton of photographers, I realized so many people do the same boring poses, looks and locations and I knew that wasn’t going to be me.

Art is an expression of your thoughts and visions and unless I was able to freely express that, I was not going to do it. I believe you should push the envelope and make people stop and think about your images. I started putting out edgy, out of the box type work and people started to notice. I started shooting for fashion and tattoo magazines, was flown to Japan to shoot fashion models, started exhibiting in New York, Los Angeles and Orange County and it started to grow.

This did not happen overnight, more like several years of grinding to get to this point.

When it comes to artists, a lot do not feel like they have the self-worth to make great money from their talent. I was one of them. It took me a while to realize I could talk myself up to clients without sounding like a prick and start making the money I deserved for my talent and work. I hear about so many photographers who give their work away for free or work for so low a price they might as well have a minimum wage job. This is not the way it is supposed to be. Why wouldn’t you want to make a living by doing the things you love? Once you start believing in yourself, and your worth, the doors open. Work to thrive not survive.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Warn Photography – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I take pride in shooting a large body of work. I don’t just shoot one style of photography. I shoot everything from models, bands, movie sets, families, travel, products, head shots, hidden marriage proposals and aerial photography and videography. I have a passion for photojournalism and freelance for the Orange County Register, Associated Press and Zuma Press, and my news videos have been on local channels here in Southern California as well as AP, CNN and many other major networks.

I believe that each category helps sharpen my tools and I can learn new things from each and use it for the others. This helps keep my work fresh. I strive to deliver above and beyond my client’s expectations every time. I take pride not only in my work but in those I work with. I have the pleasure of shooting campaigns, advertisement and events for large companies and magazines and continue to be their go to photographer. I am proud of how far I have taken my career and part of that is how much effort and practice I put into my work to deliver a high-quality product to my clients. I firmly believe in being honest and upfront with people. I treat each of my clients how I would want to be treated, and I believe that is what keeps them coming back.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I am getting more into adventure vehicle and gear photography and have started producing content for a couple companies. I really love the aspect of exploring and photography, so it’s a win win. Fire season has started a little early in California so I will be spending time photographing wild fires over the next couple of months. One of my dreams is to photograph tornados and I am going to try my hardest to make that a reality soon. As you can tell, I live for the adventures photography has given me.

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Vehicles and structures burn off of Highway 138 as the Blue Cut Fire rages through San Bernardino County Tuesday August 16, 2016. The fire has scorched at least 18,000 acres and forced 82,000 people to evacuate their homes in San Bernardino County.


Image Credit:
Kevin Warn

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