Kevin Kunishi San Francisco, USA

Kevin Kunishi is a photographic artist currently based in San Francisco, CA.

His work has been recognized by numerous organizations and publications including The New Yorker, The Sunday Telegraph, VICE, The California Sunday Magazine, and Le Monde, among others.

His photographs have been exhibited at The Honolulu Museum of Art, SF Camerawork, Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco, CA, The Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography, Project Basho in Philadelphia, PA, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark, Black & Blue Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, Interurban Gallery, Vancouver, Canada, The Hashtag Gallery, Toronto, Canada, Galerie Nowhere, Montreal, Canada, The Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C., The Daylight Project Space in Hillsborough, NC and The Bekman Gallery in New York.

His first monograph Los Restos de la Revolución was released in the Fall of 2012 by Daylight Publishing and was selected as one of Photo-Eye’s Best Books of 2012 and selected as one of PDN’s-2012 Indie Photo Books of The Year

In 2011 he was the honorary recipient of the Blue Earth Alliance Award for Best Photography Project, an award that honors projects that demonstrate excellence in the field of photography.


Kevin Kunishi


Kevin Kunishi was chosen by photographer Dave Carswell



Laatikkomo’s interview with Kevin Kunishi October 22nd, 2018.

L:  Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in –or what places have influenced you?

KK:  I was born in Oakland, California and grew up in a small town in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve been on the move since I was 16. I lived in Nicaragua for a few years and various locations around the United States. I spent large portion of my twenties in Hawaii taking care of my grandmother. I just moved back to San Francisco after living in the Philippines with my wife and son for the past two years. For better or worse, all these locations have influenced me in some way. How I think, how I see, how I feel.


L:  What is your earliest memory of photography?

KK:  I have two early memories of photography. The first was having my photo taken while sitting on Santa Claus’s lap at the Sunvalley Shopping Center in Concord, California and then getting handed a polaroid. It’s old and fading but I still have the polaroid. The other memory is sneaking into my father’s office and looking at his photo albums from Vietnam. He looked younger and was in better shape in the photographs. They are old and fading but I still have his photo albums.


L: Reading one of your texts (I (in progress)) it seems you have had interesting adventures while working on some of your projects. Do you seek out adventuresome situations to make projects about or do the situations you find yourself in, have any direct connection to your projects?

KK:  Photography has the ability to make sense of things. My projects mostly come from questions I am grappling with and I seek things out or travel to locations that hold importance or relevance to what I am exploring.


L: Recent trends in popular photography favour a high contrast, glossy or glamorous sheen which is even used for difficult subjects. Your images however, are wrapped in a kind of nostalgic haze reminiscent of early colour photography.  Do you use analogue film? And what technical/visual qualities make an image (generally speaking) appealing to you? 

KK:  I use analogue film for the most part and will utilize a various camera systems depending on the project. With film I know what I am going to get when I use it.

In regard to what technical/visual qualities of an image appeals to me: If I can keep coming back to a photograph or series of photographs and it continues to reveal something to me and has the potential to evolve, expand or contract, then I am happy.


L:  Looking at your CV, you have done a number of reportages for various prestigious magazines and publications.  I am assuming that at least some of these are commissions, and I am wondering how much artistic freedom you have when working on a commission? And in addition, are there subjects you would refuse to shoot?

KK:  I have been very lucky to work with some incredibly talented photo editors. The level of freedom varies from assignment to assignment and the needs of the editor and the needs of the story.

I’ve never thought about what I wouldn’t shoot for an assignment. There have been certain subjects or assignments that I genuinely felt that I was just not a good fit for, and as a result I referred two or three individuals who I was 100% confident would do an incredible job for the editor.


L:  Could you list five or more words related to the work you are showing in Laatikkomo?

KK:  Family, affirmation, fabrication, culture, kuleana, suicide


Thank you so much Kevin Kunishi!!