A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support, and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
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We are #OKGNtech is a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters, and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth, and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Ken Hagen. Ken is a freelance photographer and videographer. When he’s not capturing the beauty in everything from nature to events to people, you’ll find Ken out in the wild hiking, backpacking and camping around the valley.
Why did you choose the Okanagan to call home?
I was born in Japan and moved to Kelowna with my family in 2005 because my parents had visited my grandma here and thought that the valley was beautiful. Looking back, I think it was the best choice they could have made. A lot of people who grow up here decide to move out east or to Vancouver, but I haven’t felt that need—for now, I’m staying right here.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
I’m a freelance photographer and videographer, I also work for an agency called BUZZ Marketing. I work with clients like Tourism Kelowna, Kelowna Yacht Club and Accelerate Okanagan. As a freelancer, I create a variety of different content like portraits, landscapes, events and weddings. I’m still trying to figure out what my speciality will be, but I’m having fun exploring different styles and trying to identify that next stage.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I love capturing what makes people, nature, businesses or events look good through photo and video and then being able to share that view with others. You may not guess it from seeing me now, but I was pretty introverted when I was younger. I used to avoid being the centre of attention and spend time observing things from the outside. I’ve always felt that I had an eye for highlighting the beauty of things; when I got my first camera, capturing them in their best light just felt natural.
How did you get into this kind of work?
While I was at Okanagan College for business, I was taking photos but not getting paid. Through that experience, I found that I enjoyed the work and wanted to do it professionally. I learned the importance of having an active network and started by fostering connections with my fellow students and professors. That’s when I started to get more extroverted. I eventually joined a group of creatives called Cameras & Coffee that met every two weeks to network and share advice. Those connections have really helped me grow and shape my craft.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
Your work is important, but it comes second to the people you know. No matter how skilled you are, if people don’t know who you are then they’re not going to hire you. It’s important to build your brand, put it out into the world, and spend time connecting with others so that you can be a recognized and trusted part of the community.
What do you enjoy about the community?
I’ve enjoyed how close the camera community is in the Okanagan. It’s great to talk with other photographers, videographers and creators to get their insights on how they approach projects. Everyone is doing something unique so being able to learn what they enjoy about their style of work has helped me to explore new aspects of my own. That has been a big component of searching for my specialty.
Who inspires you?
In the creator space, I’m inspired by people like Emmet Sparling and Sam Kolder. I respect their work but what I really appreciate about them is being able to see their journeys as professionals. Through their portfolio, you can see where they started and followed their passion to create amazing content that really pushed the boundaries.
When you’re not at work and when you’re not online, where are you?
My passion is hiking, backpacking and camping. It’s not exactly “not work” because I often get paid to do it. That’s the nature of being a freelance artist though—that’s not a complaint; I’m lucky that I get paid to do activities that I love doing. I’m normally getting paid for photos or videos I took while I was out hiking or I’ll get paid to go out and capture certain areas.
It’s important to build your brand, put it out into the world, and spend time connecting with others so that you can be a recognized and trusted part of the community.