At home with Kenneth Lam
by Stephanie Hannington-suen·
Kenneth Lam is a photographer and art director based between London and Hong Kong who captured our latest campaign inspired by our Chinese heritage. We visited Kenneth in his industrial London flat and talked to him about his inspirations, goals and how he balances home and work life.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and how you got to where you are?
Hello, My name is Kenneth Lam, I'm a Photographer and Creative Director based in London. I trained as a Fashion Photographer, but recently I've been working more closely with my personal work, which is very autobiographical. It covers themes of my heritage, my life and above all is an act for storytelling. I now work with a lot of still life, art, and portraiture. Since moving onto this direction my work has been on Nowness Asia, Weiden + Kennedy, Antenne Books and Far-Near.
Do you have any advice for anyone trying to pursue a career in the arts?
Take photos of people you love, it makes It a whole lot more enjoyable, you'll capture them, you'll hopefully capture that relationship. I also think don't put so much pressure onto yourself. I am business minded, but I have ensured my work, especially my personal work does not turn into purely a business. It's all about creating something you love which is important to you. Also just be honest, with yourself and others - I've worked with some amazing people but my most valuable clients and contacts have become friends.
What is your work inspired by?
My work is definitely inspired by what's going inside of me. It's a form of therapy and also as cheesy as it may sound - self-love. Anything painful I've experienced it's turned into a photo series. Any heartbreak, any love I have experienced I choose to capture it. It's why so much of my photography includes people I love. I have photographed my grandmother numerous times; I've photograph topics I want to talk about which have affected me.
The most rewarding thing about my work is when someone tells me the images and words have resonated with them. Normally when we're going through something tough, we may feel very isolated - when someone reaches out to me and tells me one of my series really connected with them, I feel very empowered and connected. Connection is key and it trumps a pay cheque at the end of the day.
Have you got any exciting projects lined up?
I've got some amazing personal shoots coming up, one about being gay and Chinese which I'm excited. about - it explores the rewriting of what it means to be gay, what it means to be in a relationship. It's a pretty personal project. I've also got some amazing clients I'm excited to work with this season.
What has been your proudest moment and the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Proudest moment, I think that's a hard one to narrow down. I think I don't have a proudest moment but I am proud of how I have handled things in life, which is on going. I've always been very honest with myself and I've worked hard on myself and faced a lot of challenges (which answers your next question) I lost my mum at a young age, had a bad coming out experience, and I've had my share of heartbreaks. There are moments of the day which aren't exactly huge where I see how far I've come and that's when I feel pride.
Talk us through what a typical day looks like for you?
A good day? I'll wake up around 8.00am, have some black coffee, drink out from my favourite mug (maizu obvs) I will write in my diary, and then meditate and then work out, either its a run, yoga or weights - depends on how I feel, then I get on with my day.
I have two lists every day - a "Ken" list and a "work" list - the work list is just normal work things I need to complete and the "Ken" list is things I'll do for myself and they're literally things like read, take a bath, watch a film, yoga - it's kind of a maintenance of me list, which normally takes priority. I literally schedule in bath time which is pretty lame but I take bath time seriously.
On a bad day ? I will literally sit in bed like a potato and do nothing and eat bad food, and watch bad t.v and feel ugly and sorry for myself and send ugly selfies of myself to my friends.
How do you find balance in your daily life?
Rituals - as I mentioned the coffee, writing, meditation, exercise routine are small things I do every day to keep balance. Anything which connects me back to myself I find very important, and that could be a phone call with a friend, a really good film, a podcast, a good song - they all bring me back.
What are your aspirations for the future?
A few, I mean I would love to release a book, have an exhibition work with some of my favourite publications. But in work I think it's pretty simple ambitions, live somewhere nice, afford food from those fancy shops, be able to buy relatives very nice Christmas gifts. No big crazy ambitions.
Which is your favourite homework scent and why?
The Garden bath soak I can't really explain it, but I just feel really comforted by it, it's a very romantic scent, almost smells like spring. I like floral smells, I think its because my mum had a very floral perfume she uses to wear when I was a child. Anyway those bath salts I can confidently say literally transport me.
Follow Kenneth on instagram @kenlams