We had the good fortune of connecting with Kirk Hensler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kirk, how do you think about risk?
I was just having this conversation the other day. I’ve always tried to figure out if I was a risk taker or not. I think you hear risk taker and picture these confident and charismatic entrepreneurs who go for big ideas even if it means losing everything. In a way, it sounds romantic. Kind of like how the idea of being an artist sounds romantic. By that definition, I am not a risk taker. I also wouldn’t be considered an artist. Maybe from an outsider’s perspective, but not how I approach risk on a daily basis. There’s another way to look at risk – the way I look at it – that feels a little more rooted in reality. In my experience, there have always been subtle indications of moves to make. The creation of a business or an idea doesn’t happen in a flash, necessarily. It’s a series of flashes and actions that create a real thing. I’ve tried to pay attention to these little indications and string them together to see the creation of a new business all the way through. In the same way, it helps me minimize risk. If someone is asking me to take their picture because they liked something I posted there is a good indication that I am good at taking pictures. That would be a clue for me to consider starting a photography business. If I take their picture and charge money and then one of their friends sees the work and asks me to take their picture also then I am all but certain that I am onto something. I would continue to follow that thread until I ended up in a place where there was nothing left to do. I’m not taking huge risks as much as I am listening to my instincts and observing what the market is honestly telling me. On the outside, many of my friends, family, and employees would say I was a risk taker. I’ve had multiple businesses, lived in several countries, and moved to San Diego without ever having visited. I started this production company out of a small office in South Park before building out the largest lifestyle loft in all of San Diego a couple years later. It seems very risky, and maybe it is, but I’m always waiting for a small indication before making the next move. If you look at it all at once, it’s big. But if you look at each step then it seems very manageable.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
What sets us apart… probably the fact that we are reliable. I’ve said this many times but artists and creatives have a horrible habit of only working when they feel like it. We bring creativity to brands and we do it on a dependable schedule. A lot of that has happened by hiring hybrids – people who are able to work in both the creative and analytical worlds simultaneously. Another thing, we have been really lucky to attract great clients. When someone works with us for the first time they often comment on how relaxed the set was for a shoot. “I’m used to being so stressed while shooting,” is a common thing we hear. Some of that how to do with the client and creative team having ego battles. Some of it is because client expectations aren’t reasonable for the budget and the creative team is panicked the whole time. We’ve been able to avoid a lot of that by communicated early and often and making sure we work with companies that also support our vision of treating people well and having a good time creating beautiful content.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, right now…. my apartment. Pre-Covid we could hit all the sites – La Jolla Cove, Coronado, Law Street in PB, and then cruise through North Park for some tacos. Now, I’m really into road trips. If I had a friend visiting, we would pack up the van and take a drive to Big Sur, stopping in Santa Barbara for lunch. If you’ve never driven the 1 it’s one of the most gorgeous pieces of land on this Earth. I never get tired of that drive.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is probably the most important book I’ve ever read. It talks about going from an amateur to a professional. Not just in art, but in all of life. It talks about resistance and how we trick ourselves into not starting. Once I read that everything changed for me.
Headshot by @rachelesthertate All other photos by @haleproductionstudios