This MPPA Member Spotlight is shining on one of the biggest photographic rock stars in our community: Andree Kehn. Or, Dre, as her friends call her. Owner/Photographer of Andree Kehn Wedding Photography out of Lewiston, Maine.
Andree joined MPPA just last year, and we are so excited to have her as part of the Maine PPA. She has been a photographer since college, where she earned a Bachelors of Fine Art in photography. As she describes it, “My education was less about the actual image and more about the ‘message’ and we used loads of critical theory to back up our work. It was a very post-modern, bleeding-edge photography education.”
Andree also attended a semester at Salt Institute, in Portland, Maine, learning photo-journalism and nailing down the technical aspects of photography. She went on to work as a souvenir photographer at a ski resort and on cruise boats, and worked at a regional newspaper in New Hampshire as a staffer, freelanced for the Associated Press, started three different photography businesses and is currently back working as a photojournalist at the Sun-Journal in Lewiston. Recently, Andree has also started showing a fine art project of underwater portraits in galleries.
Andree was inspired at a young age by her father and grandfather, who were both very avid photographers and shot slides, which is technically very difficult. “There’s no latitude in exposure at all!” Andree explains. “My sister and I are the subject of volumes of scrapbooks and endless slideshows.”
Check out some of Andree’s answers to a few questions we had for her:
What do you like the most about photography/your job? I love the shooting. The rest of it, the processing, the website maintenance, the client management, it all supports the ability to make creative decisions with my camera.
Are you a studio or location photographer? I am a location photographer. I work as a wedding and portrait photographer as well as holding down a new full time staff photographer position at the Sun-Journal in Lewiston, Maine. I would love to have a studio at some point, but it would be a swimming pool, so I could more easily shoot my underwater portraits!
What’s on your inspiration wall right now? I made a vision board over the winter with a couple of photography friends. We drank some wine and cut out pictures from magazines. My vision board has a progression of images that start with the types of weddings I would like to shoot, and my target demographic of client, moving through some images underwater, to signify the fine art work I am working on and on to the world I have not yet seen, camping photos, ski photos (I am an avid skier) and finally beautiful vistas I would like to look at in my retirement. In the center is an image of a woman meditating, with a belly full of fresh fruits and veg, and little yoga dreams floating around her head, reminding me that a strong body is at the center of my life, enabling me to do everything else. I look at this inspiration board often to make sure the micro-decisions I am making are leading me on the direction I want my life to go.
Who inspires you right now? My major inspiration, since I was in high school, has been Grandma Moses. I have re-invented myself many times throughout my life, and when I get discouraged, I remember Grandma Moses, who started painting when she was 77 years old. She went on to become one of the greatest folk artists of our time. She died before I was born, but she has always inspired me with the idea that it is never too late to change your life.
What has been your favorite moment as a photographer? Tough one- I was arms length from George W. Bush when he was running for president the first time. He was walking onto the stage at a rally in Concord, New Hampshire. It was quite the thrill to be in a crush of sycophants and secret service agents and be able to keep enough composure to get a good shot with a super wide angle lens. I was stringing for the Associate Press at the time. I don’t think any news outlets picked it up, but I had a print of it in my living room for the eight years he was president.
What photographer would you most like to have lunch with and pick their brain? I would love to sit with Terry Richards for a lunch and find out what the heck he is thinking. I do not understand that man.
What has been your greatest learning experience? If you are doing work for clients, the quality of your image is less important than the quality of your client. This has been a hard lesson to learn. I love making good images, but if I am earning my living at it, then pleasing the right client is vastly more important than doing quality work. Of course the sweet spot is doing both at the same time!
How are you different from other photographers? I’m not sure I am! No more than I am different from other people in general!
What is one thing most people would be surprised to know about you? That the “carny life” I led was no passing fancy. I worked at the fairs (on and off) from when I was 13 until I was 41. Not full-time the whole time, of course, but a few shows here and there. Enough so I will never have to pay for french fries at the Fryeburg Fair for the rest of my life.
What was your best vacation ever? I’ve got to say New Zealand, I went with another photographer friend, although I went a week early (and she stayed a week late). I did something called River Surfing, which is riding down through class four rapids in a wetsuit, wearing a helmet and clutching onto a boogie board through actual Lord of the Rings scenery. It brought new meaning to the word exhilarating.
What is your favorite TV show? I’ve been watching NYPD Blue lately. I love me a good Denis Franz grimace.
Do you have a favorite lens or piece of equipment? My “$400 zip-lock bag”; an awe-marine underwater housing.
Are you a doer or a procrastinator? Ha! I’ll get back to you on that.
Check out more of Andree’s work on her website, www.AndreeKehn.com, and in the Sun Journal! Thanks so much, Andree for spilling the beans on your inspirations, your goals, motivation, and what makes that brilliant photographer mind of yours work!!