Photographer Layne Kennedy began his career in the fine art world – but then the great big, fascinating world of editorial assignments beckoned, and he jumped.

Since then, he’s traveled the globe to shoot for National Geographic Traveler, Outside, LIFE and the Smithsonian, among a slew of other outlets. While he may wander the wilds of Costa Rica one month and scout the boulevards of Moscow the next, his work is rooted in the myriad ways in which place and perspective define us. “What you learn about photography as an editorial shooter is that our backyard is the same as everybody else’s backyard,” he says.

Even at home in Minneapolis, he captures his weird-and-wonderful neighbors in their natural element and swaps one-liners with them during poker games. And then there are the dogsledding workshops in northern Minnesota, where he coaches budding photographers to hone their style and skill.

The stories behind LAYNE’S favorite photographs

For a professional photographer, picking a set of favorite photos is probably akin to a parent asked to settle on one favorite child. But Layne Kennedy has his favorites, and he shares the backstories behind them below.

First Communion in Costa Rica

In a small town in Costa Rica during the peak of First Communion season, Kennedy was mesmerized by the white cloud of the girls’ dresses and shoes, and the way in which mothers buzzed around like bees. Weighing his options, he was struck by the way one mother’s pink shoes offered an unexpected contrast to the girls and their starch-white garments. In that moment, he captured the shot that told a powerful story.

Girl in Moscow

On assignment to cover a bandy tournament for Sports Illustrated, Kennedy wandered into Red Square in a moment of downtime and witnessed a powerful site: Surrounded by a sea of soldiers in uniform, a young girl looked up and locked eyes with him, as if to acknowledge their shared discomfort.

Amazon Sunset After Murder

Venturing up the snaking Amazon with researchers to capture the legendary pink dolphins, Kennedy arrived at the last checkpoint only to discover the grisly news that three of the seven rangers had been murdered for confiscating illegal fishing nets. As they party was about to leave, he noticed two men in a small boat with a pile of bananas between them. Even in that tense moment, Kennedy was ready with his camera to capture their swift motion.

Darren Priest
Jack Davis
Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge
Our Kitchen
Jack Davis, Camera
Brennan Vance, Camera
Joe Demko, Field Audio + Sweetening
Ezra Gold, Senior Online Editor + Sweetening
Matt Mead, Production Coordinator
Ashleigh V. Rowe, Managing Director of Arts and Culture
Ryan Klabunde, Producer