A freelance Cinematographer who loves working on his personal projects in his spare time, Kevin Horn is a man with talent… lots of it! When he’s not out about doing his cinematography thing, you’ll find him roaming the streets looking for good light, skating or in his darkroom, printing. And with a cat named Cosmo, he admits he’s probably the biggest Seinfeld fan.
Each day is different
Kevin loves the fact that with his job, there’s no such thing as a typical day, each one different to the next. He could be up before dawn preparing for a 12hour commercial shoot while the next day he’ll have the time to enjoy his cup of coffee, listen to records and processing film. “If I’m not on the job I try to work on my personal photo and video projects as much as possible.”
“I wanted to work with cameras”
Growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota, he says that one of his biggest influences has to be his high school photo & video teacher, Patricia Canelake. “I realized at a young age that I wanted to work with cameras and Canelake motivated me to make my dream a reality. She was the only teacher I ever had that truly believed and supported me in the arts.” For a school film festival he decided to make a series of skateboarding films with his friends that were heavily influenced my filmmakers like Spike Jonze, Ty Evans and Benji Meyer.
Light is the subject
I asked Kevin to define his style of street photography and he said that people are rarely the subjects of his photographs, light is. He’ll go out in the streets and look for a streak of light or a harsh shadow and wait for a person to walk through it to help complete the composition. You can hear that he gets wonderfully excited when talking about light, which is really inspiring. “The sun is always moving, so the wall I walked past at 1pm one day will look drastically different at 5pm the next day.” He finds it fascinating that people walk the same routes to and from work every day and don’t pay much attention to the light that shapes their surroundings… Something that I hope all our readers will pay more attention to!
Lets talk CAMERAS!
When it comes to street photography, Kevin uses 4 main cameras and decides to pick one based on the content he plans to shoot on the day.
- For ‘The 5 O’Clock Club’ he decided to shoot the entire book using his Nikon F and Kodak Tri-X pushed to 800 ISO. “That was a creative choice I made when conceptualizing the piece.”
- When he wants a bigger negative or sharper image he’ll use his Mamiya 6.
- If he’s just going out for the night with some friends he’ll take his pocket Contax T3 for convenience.
- He also explores the digital medium by using his Canon 5D MkII.
All about the grain
Film is making quite the comeback and people find it appealing for different reasons. Kevin started shooting photos using film at the age of 16 with his first camera being his grandparent’s Canon AE-1. His reasons for shooting film are first and foremost the grain and the contrast given in his images, especially when using the Kodak Tri-X. Then, shooting with film comes with a discipline that you don’t get when shooting digital. And lastly, the process of creating an image on film, processing it by hand and printing it in the darkroom is unmatched.
The 5 O’Clock Club
The whole idea behind ‘The 5 O’Clock Club’ is an exploration of the 9-5 culture outside of the office. The work interprets the day-to-day monotony of office workers in a dystopian manner. Combine that with the beautiful, late winter sun, lying low, creating extremely harsh shadows and reflecting light; and you’ve got a masterpiece in the waiting.
Cinematography vs. Photography
Being both photographer and cinematographer he gets to exercise different approaches to creating imagery. He finds that both approaches are important to his creative growth and he his thankful that he’s able to practice both.
When shooting a movie or commercial he uses his skills to help tell someone else’s story that requires a lot of discipline and good team-working skills. “I may have some say in the creative direction of the project but it’s ultimately up to the director.”
When making a photo book, he can create something that comes completely from within himself. There are no clients, deadlines or team members to seek approval from. “I get to create something organically with my own hands from start to finish.”
Cinematography: Tips and Tricks from a pro
“The most important part of my creative process when I was starting out, trying to find myself, was watching as many films as I could.” So his tips to a beginner would be to:
- Familiarize yourself with as much film as you can and decide what you like.
- If a film inspires you, find out who the cinematographer is and study up on their work.
- Look at all of the pieces of the puzzle that make a film visually interesting. Study the work of cinematographers, directors and especially art directors.
- Make films! Figure out what you’re good at but more importantly, what your weaknesses are. Make mistakes and learn form them.
Future plans for the budding talent…
By the age of 26, Kevin Horn has been fortunate enough to have worked with big brands such as Target, Levi and Fiat. He originally got into the film industry to shoot feature films but soon found that he really enjoyed commercial productions as well. He’s “slated” to shoot a feature film this year called ‘The Harvest’. So aside from shooting commercials and music videos, the ultimate goal would be to shoot one feature film a year. On the photography side of things, he’s excited to be releasing ‘The 5 O’Clock Club’ and is also in the process of starting a film photography co-op.
On a lighter note, I asked him if he has any weird or quirky habits? He said he doesn’t notice them himself but if I asked his friends and colleagues, they could most probably give me a whole laundry list of weird thing he does. Kevin is on the brim of something beautiful with his career. His talents are countless and his love of photography and cinematography, infectious!
You can follow Kevin on his social media platforms: