Kenna is one of five children born to Irish-Catholic parents. Before discovering his passion for art, he aspired to enter the priesthood because of his Irish-Catholic background. Kenna moved to San Francisco in 1977. The photographer took his first trip to Japan in 1987, and he was deeply impressed by the terrain of the country. Over the years, Kenna has visited and photographed almost every part of Japan. These visits spawned the book Japan, which featured more than 95 photographs of the country. This book is one of 18 published works by Kenna. Some of his other photography collections includeMont-Saint-Michel, Montecito Garden, Hokkaido, The Rouge, and The Hound of the Baskervilles. Kenna often takes photographs at dawn or close to dusk.
He has been quoted as saying: "You can't always see what's otherwise noticeable during the day... with long exposures, you can photograph what the human eye is incapable of seeing." Kenna’s work has been displayed all over the world, with permanent exhibitions in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., and the Biblioteque in Paris. Kenna has also done a significant amount of commercial work for companies such as Audi, Rolls Royce, Volvo, Sprint, the Spanish Tourist Board, and Dom Perignon. He has received numerous awards for his artwork.
Some of these awards include an honorary Master of Arts in 2003, the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2000, the Institute for Aesthetic Development Award in1989, and the Imogen Cunningham Award in 1981. Kenna lives and works in Seattle, WA.