A Look at The Inspiring and Heartwarming Work of Fine Art Photographer R. J. Kern

A Look at The Inspiring and Heartwarming Work of Fine Art Photographer R. J. Kern

Have you ever seen someone's work and been not only blown away by the technical ability of the photographs, but how it emotionally touches you as well? That is the epitome of the beautiful work of Minnesota-based photographer R. J. Kern. In this article, take a look at his amazing work, and I can assure you you'll walk away inspired too.

How I Was Introduced to R. J.'s Work

Photo by: Matt Steaffens

About a month ago, I attended my first ever industry event, the Stand Out Tour put on by Phase One. The event took place in sunny Miami, an easy 45-minute commute away, and was a day filled with an amazing lineup of presentations from world-class photographers, artists, and entrepreneurs in the industry. R. J. was one of the artists presenting, and he put together a beautiful presentation about the art of moving from an “Emerging” to an “Emerged” Fine Art Photographer. In his talk, he shared his journey in the photography field, which was accompanied by an array of heartwarming photographs of animals and their owners. After walking away from his talk, I was instantly inspired to not only become a better photographer, but a better and more understanding person. 

What Inspired Me Most About His Work

The thing that struck me the most when seeing his photos, was not only his technical abilities to make the images look like paintings, but the emotion and the message that is evident in all of his images. In all of the pictures of sheep and animals, they are all so sensitively composed, and the animals take on a human-like form in the way they are lit, posed, and composed. The seamless juxtaposition of nature and humanity plays homage to his humble routes of rural Minnesota. When producing art, it is so important to include your own personal vision and emotions in the images, and R. J. does this perfectly. When I look at each photo, I feel the love he has for the outdoors and people. 

He describes the message behind his work as: 

Exploring ideas of home, ancestry, and a sense of place through the interaction of people, animals, and cultural landscapes.

Below, you can see a brief collection of his amazing photos. 

An Overview of the Work

Dumb and Dumber, Freeborn County, Minnesota, USA from the series Out to Pasture (2016)

Quigley, County Kerry, Ireland from the series Divine Animals: The Bovidae (2012)

Mr. Hofsós, Skagafjardarsysla, Iceland from the series Divine Animals: The Bovidae (2014)

Hazel, Geiranger Fjord, Norway from the series Divine Animals: The Bovidae (2013)

Kenzi and Hootie, Anoka County Fair, Minnesota from the series The Unchosen Ones (2016)

Louis and Dumb, Freeborn County Fair, Minnesota from the series The Unchosen Ones (2016)

Kol and Annabell, Anoka County Fair, Minnesota from the series The Unchosen Ones (2016)


As we were wrapping up and saying our goodbyes, he left me with a great piece of advice, and something that I still keep in mind today when pursuing my personal projects. He told me that:

At the end of the day, I want to remind people of the importance in engaging audiences interested in their subject matter. There are much deeper supports than a bunch of likes that will help longer-term (grants, books, fellowships).

I think his sentiment is so important and relevant these days, because it teaches us to be patient with our work and focus on the long term impact, not just waste the impact of our work on the reward of getting a dose of dopamine. 

If you would like to see more of his work, or support his ongoing projects, be sure to check out his website, or follow him on instagram for project updates and news. 

After looking through his collection of images, how do his images make you feel? Let us know in the comments below!

All images used with permission of R.J. Kern.

Eli Dreyfuss's picture

Eli Dreyfuss is a professional portrait photographer based in sunny Miami, Florida. He focuses on making ordinary people look like movie stars in his small home studio. Shortly after graduating high school he quickly established himself in the art world and became an internationally awarded & published artist.

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He has a very interesting collection of work. I like the ones from the Anoka County Fair.

It truly is fascinating! The work is so delicate.

Super............but which one was Kenzi and which one was Hootie??.........(tic)

A small part of me is screaming to crop in those shots where you see the entire backdrop, or move closer.

But for some reason, I am liking the shots as they are. Weird. Theoretically it feels wrong, yet in practice it looks just lovely.

Nice images ofthe animals in the fields. The studio ones make me think of Yann Arthus Bertrand ones (french photographer famous for Earth seen from above) : http://www.yannarthusbertrand2.org/collection/animals-farms/

Been following his work for some time now, going back to when he was shooting weddings. It's a shame he doesn't have some of that work up any more. Some of it was the best wedding photos I have seen.

Mike: it's all there: http://www.kern-photo.com