Francis Kenny was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was raised by his grandfather Colonel Herman Adkins. Colonel Adkins was a test pilot for the United States Government program for testing experimental aircraft for the FAA. Kenny would spend much of his childhood around airfields, flying in the co-pilot's seat, playing in the flight simulator, or visiting the Indianapolis 500 Speedway Trials. Francis is convinced that he became a cinematographer based on the many hours sitting in the cockpit looking out the front window. Francis recalls it being "the ultimate screen of moving images. Pictures of John and Robert Kennedy hung in his room.
He attended 15 different grammar schools each in a different state and some abroad. High School in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The University of Texas, Harvard, and Hofstra University. Francis met his first mentor, David Hoffman, at Hofstra University. Hoffman, a Cannes Film Festival Winner, taught at Hofstra for one year before starting up a company that specialized in making corporate documentaries. It is there that Kenny began his training as a documentary cameraman and editor. Ed Lachman, ASC, gave Kenny his first opportunity to work on a feature film (Desperately Seeking Susan) where Kenny served as the camera operator.
Francis Kenny was the chief documentary cinematographer on He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. He's photographed numerous feature films, commercials, and television shows. His dramatic films include the television show Justified (Peabody Award), Bonnie and Clyde (Bruce Beresford), Steel Magnolias (Kenny Leon), Finder's Fee (Jeff Probst), Sweet Bird of Youth (Nicolas Roeg), and the feature films She's All That, Harriet the Spy, Jason's Lyric, Coneheads, New Jack City, and Heathers.
Francis is an active working cinematographer who specializes in the use of the Red Digital Camera. He spends his off time teaching cinematography at UCLA, AFI, the ASC, and the Maine Photographic Workshop. He is proficient in Adobe's Photoshop and the printing of digital pictures where he studied under Mac Holbert of Nash Editions.
In 1996 Francis Kenny was invited to become an Active Member in the ASC. He is currently an ASC Governor and a member of the AMPAS Executive Committee for Cinematographers. From 2001 until 2010 he served as the Chairman of the ASC Membership Committee. In 2003 he began the ASC Photo Collection and redesigned the ASC Membership Card. In 2012 Kenny was awarded the ASC President's Award.
Kenny is an avid sailor and has participated several times in the 800 mile Trade Wind Race that takes place annually in the Caribbean. He once sailed solo from New York City to Camden, Maine with his 31 ft Cheoy Lee Sloop. He is a passionate windsurfer although his work schedule currently prevents him from such activities. Kenny loves badminton and once entered a tournament while playing for the United Nations Club in New York City. He did terribly. He is passionate fan of baseball and the New York Yankees.
Francis Kenny currently works and resides in Santa Monica, CA with his daughter Kate Frances Kenny. In 2008 his daughter Kate was elected to the National Scholar Program, Washington D.C.. She currently is an honor student at the Crossroads School for Arts and Science in Santa Monica.