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Meet Chris Kilkus of Chris Kilkus Photography in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Kilkus.

Chris, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in a small town in Northern California near the coast, and always had an interest in photography…. it’s hard not to in a place with such beautiful landscapes. Photography was always a hobby but I didn’t begin to think of it as a potential profession until college when I began working in the school newspaper. I started doing a bit of freelance work for the local newspapers and thought I would pursue photojournalism. But a sidetrack into a totally different world had me thinking differently. I took an internship in a model agency, and was hired as a model agent. Through this job I began to photograph some of our models really just for fun in the beginning, building a portfolio of work almost by accident. But after a few years I made the switch to full time fashion and lifestyle photography. I moved to New York and focused completely on developing a style and a client base. I was in New York for 8 years, but my heart really was in California. I found that I was working there more and more, and enjoying New York less and less, so I finally made the move full time. It was a relief to be living by the beach and in the beautiful weather of Santa Monica, and you can see that reflected in my work.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
This career is never smooth, it is always fits and starts… one year your style is “hot” and the next clients may feel like it’s over. But then the next year, you are hot again! It can be a wild ride, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything. The biggest challenge really is just having a balance of commercial work and personal work, sometimes you just need to take time for yourself to rediscover what makes you love photography in the first place.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Chris Kilkus Photography – what should we know?
I’m known for “fashion lifestyle”, a hybrid that is well suited to the California vibe. It’s generally sunny, fun and natural, and works well to sell clothing or even commercial products. I am most proud to say that I have been a professional photographer for 20 years… that’s not an easy accomplishment, and I have worked hard for it. There are a lot of photographers, especially today, and it’s not easy to set yourself apart. We all overlap in styles and fight for the same clients. But I try to be a fun, pleasant, and no drama collaborator, and that has done well for me in this business.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I am one of the few photographers out there that didn’t start as an assistant or come from within the organization of another photographer, or any sort of art school. I am truly self-taught. The biggest credit would always go to my excellent team of assistants, many of whom have gone on to have great photography careers themselves. And I couldn’t be happier to see these wonderful people move on to be successful, and I hope that something from our time together has rubbed off and helped in their success too!

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1 Comment

  1. Ben Stadler

    June 5, 2017 at 08:37

    Nice work, great “California” style.

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