Photographer based in Dallas, TX

Brendon Kahn, Innovate Grant Winner Fall 2019
Brendon Kahn, Portrait of the Photographer by Peter Prato
Brendon Kahn
Neighborhood Watch, 2018, Archival Pigment Print, 55 x 44 inches


When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?

I credit my parents support from the beginning for a creative education. Fast forward past high school years after making art in different disciplines, I had to get a job, sales, which I hated and that experience made me take a different approach to life where I needed to make art full time and take the challenge seriously by whatever means necessary.

Brendon Kahn
Finding Neverland, 2017, Archival Pigment Print, 32 x 40 in


"I am looking for things that act like the first half of a sentence that you cannot finish."


Brendon Kahn Portrait
Untitled #7, 2019, Archival Pigment Print 40x32


What are you currently working on and where did the inspiration for it come from?

I am currently exploring a body of work that is looking at home, the desert, my adoption, and an emotional dislocation. It comes at a time when I am now mature and stable enough to engage with the emotional struggle around my adoption. Never before had I even asked questions of who and what but now I am in a place of desire and uncertainty to learn more about this through visually exploring this distance.

Brendon Kahn
Untitled #1, 2019, Archival Pigment Print 40x32
Brendon Kahn
Untitled #6, 2019, Archival Pigment Print 16x20

Innovation does not only happen in the field of technology — it occurs everyday in an artist's practice. What do you do for inspiration?

I find inspiration walking around everyday, through books, recent cinema, and constantly looking at as many photobooks as I can get my hands on. But recently my inspiration is looking most at those around me and my family. But when in doubt I look to the library and mother nature as defaults sources of inspiration. I try not to watch much TV. 

Brendon Kahn
Untitled #2, 2019, Archival Pigment Print 40x32

Brendon Kahn
Untitled #5, 2019, Archival Pigment Print 40x32

Where do ideas start for you? In the studio or being in the world?

Ideas almost always start in the natural world and an emotional state of the world. One body of work I have been continuing with is 2+ years in the making and almost exclusively non-studio based.

Brendon Kahn Process
Brendon Kahn Process
Studio in Oakland

How do you make your work? Where do you start and how does the process evolve?

I think apart of this approach comes from me consistently trying to mix disparate elements that reflect the curiosities of my existence thus far. Indebted to Tillmans, Broomberg and Chanarin, Martin Kollar, Larry Sultan, and a long list of artists, I appreciate the visual contrast and different ways of communication visual stories they apply in their work. At the moment for this work, I find that working with at times different formal photographic approaches is associated with somewhat of a hypnagogic feeling where energy and feeling can be jostled around when you're trying hopelessly to sleep but are very much still awake. Mixing flash, monochromatic and color images, alongside dreamy representations is instinctually driven by disjointedness and everyday absurdity in this cacophonous soup. I am looking for things that make me confused or act like the first half of sentence that you cannot finish. I often think about how this idea plays out if it were not visual but only written.

Brendon Kahn Process
Sequencing and edit for book
Brendon Kahn

Many artists live by their creative routines, do you have your own studio ritual? What does that look like for you?

My eating habits and music are always consistent but this is in and out of the studio. I do not think I have a set ritual at this time, my schedule is a bit disjointed and mixed.

Studio View
Scale experimentation and color correction on chromogenic prints
Brendon Kahn
Rise, 2017, Chromogenic Print, 70 x 57 inches


Who are your biggest influences?

Alejandro Jadorowksi, Trevor Paglin, Broomberg and Chanagrin, Cristina De Middel, Ryan Trecartin, Roger Ballen, Irina Rozovsky, Katrin Koenning, Martin Parr, Richard Mosse, Gregory Halpern, David Benjamin Sherry, Richard Misrach, Aspen Mays and there are probably more I can’t think of at the moment.

Are there books or films that are an important source of inspiration?

Dog Tooth, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Al Desierto, Timeshare, The Double Life of Veronique, Weiner Dog, Belmonte.

Brendon Kahn
Running Scared, 2016, Silver Gelatin Print, 22 x 26 inches

How will Innovate Grant contribute to your practice?

This grant will contribute to my practice because this support will go directly to helping me with material costs for film and development for this new project, Wet Grass, Dry Shade.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Hank Willis Thomas, whom I greatly respect and admire, once told me one word of advice 'Don't be realistic'. I still think about that now from time to time and what that means in different contexts.

What is the best advice you would give to other artists?

Follow your gut and persevere endlessly.

Brendon Kahn Installation View Untitled #3, 2019, Archival Pigment Print 16x20

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