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Meet Kort Havens of Downtown Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kort Havens.

Kort, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I worked in a bank to get through college. I would go to work and feel like my brain was numb, staring at my computer. I had no idea what I would rather do though, and anything I felt remotely interested in felt out of my reach. One of the last courses I took was a course called digital storytelling taught by a journalist named Florangela Davila. In the course, she taught us how to create videos, edit audio stories, and take photographs. Something clicked in my brain during her course, and I knew that I had to figure out a way to make a career out of digital storytelling.

I quit my job at the bank after five years and sought any opportunity to write, photograph, and create videos even though I had no idea how to make a living doing that. I worked as a cook, barista, and server at a restaurant to help supplement my income while I figured things out. I wrote for a cheesy men’s style blog, submitted photos to a local newspaper, interviewed people I thought were interesting, and shadowed a local reporter at NPR by offering to photograph her stories for free. Little by little, people gave me opportunities to try new things and take on more responsibility creatively. Now, I work full-time directing commercials, photographing advertising and editorial campaigns, and writing. My passion is telling stories about people, and I could spend my entire day interviewing someone for a project. Because of that, my work has a strong documentary style to it. I have had the chance to work on a wide range of projects from interviewing inmates at a rural jail to filming a mezcal distillery in Mexico. Most recently, a partner and I opened a compact gallery space in Downtown Los Angeles called Limited Space Gallery showcasing the works of local artists.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There is no such thing as a smooth road. I’ve struggled with knowing what to do, how to do it, with whom I should work, imposter syndrome, and feelings of not liking the work I create. It’s not an easy road, but the thought of doing something more traditional doesn’t seem remotely possible. I try to remind myself of that when payments from clients are late, a project falls through, or any other number of setbacks occur.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Kort Havens – what should we know?
I create videos, photos, and multi-media campaigns for editorial, advertising, and personal work. I specialize in lifestyle and documentary type work. I’m known for creating strong connections with my subjects and clients, which creates an environment for easy collaboration and genuine interactions on film and in photos. I am proud of the work I’ve been able to do that highlights non-profits that are doing important work in our community, women that are creating incredible work, and the queer community. I always feel proud when a video or photo I work on has the power to amplify the voice of someone who is doing something really incredible.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I can’t even list the number of people and businesses that have helped me along the way. I think the only way to have a fulfilling and successful career is by building strong relationships with others where you mutually support and lift each other up. There’s no room for tearing others down.

I especially feel grateful to a handful of people who have always supported me and pushed me to move in the direction I aspire to. There’s a production company in Seattle called Kontent Partners that gave me the chance to step into the creative industry and has supported me along every step I’ve taken. They’ve become my family. The LA Downtowner is a local publication that gave me a creative platform when I relocated to Los Angeles. They provided a space for me to experiment with different forms of storytelling. It’s rare to find that kind of Freedom. My brother, Logan Havens, taught me the basics of working a camera and always pushes me to reach further and try harder. My other two siblings, Kas and LaKell, are relentlessly supportive and are the ones who pick me up when I’m on the floor. My partner, Ryan, has always been there for me as well and is my loudest cheerleader.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 675 Kohler Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021
  • Website: www.korthavens.com
  • Phone: 2133006443
  • Email: kort@korthavens.com
  • Instagram: @korthavens

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