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Meet Kelly Elaine of Kelly Elaine Photo in West Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Elaine.

Kelly, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
It all started with a black and white film photography class back in high school, 17 years ago. At the time, I had no idea I would eventually make my career out of the field. I don’t think I appreciated it so much back then, being able to utilize the darkroom and process my own photos. It’s such a wonderful art, and something that has definitely been fleeting quite a bit since the digital age began. I went onto college and got a degree in English and then spent four years writing technical manuals. I hated it so much and knew I needed a change, but I couldn’t figure out what my new outlet would be. It wasn’t until I took a leap of faith back in 2011 and left the East Coast for an extended road trip. I photo documented the whole thing in a blog — I can’t even look at those photos any more, they are so bad! But it was this blog that led me to understand which direction I wanted to go in with my career. I ended up moving to Los Angeles after Thanksgiving that year and started a new journey that would become Kelly Elaine Photo.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Oh man. There have been so many ups and downs. First off, Los Angeles is one of the hardest cities to make a name for yourself, even stay afloat. Seriously, unless you know someone, you probably aren’t getting a foot in the door. I worked for free or very little when I first moved here, but that was part of understanding which direction I wanted to go in with my photography. Initially, I really wanted to be a still photographer for film because I thought that made the most sense living in Hollywood. I spent long hours on sets only to realize that it wasn’t what I wanted. In late 2012, I took a questionable job with this stock photography start-up that ended up being a major failure; however, I think it was the experience I got at that silly job that eventually helped me get a foot in the door at the NFL, where I worked off and on for over two years as a photo editor. After having that on my resume, it’s definitely been a smoother ride. Still, there have been plenty of times over the last five years that I wanted to give up on photography completely. Late 2014 was when I decided to not allow failure to be an option for me, and that’s when things really started to take off. It was slow at first, but now I feel like I don’t really have to market myself too much because I’ve made enough connections in the industry — people who have also become friends — that someone will pass my name along to the next person.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Kelly Elaine Photo – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
My main areas of focus are portraits, lifestyle, and music. My fiancé is a bass player and music has always been a huge part of my life, so photographing musicians and live shows just made sense.

I really love working with people. It’s always inspiring and flattering to me when I work with someone who claims to be un-photogenic and then they love the images we get together. One thing I’m super proud of is being selected as a winner in PDN’s Ultimate Music Moment gallery in February 2017. I photographed Leon Bridges at Sassafras Hollywood for FuseTV and got some of my personal favorite photos for my portfolio there. Leon was also one of the kindest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. He shook hands with everyone and was very gracious. That’s always going to stand out to me. Great experience all around.

My personality sets me apart from others. I feel that there is quite a bit of diversity in my photography, and that wouldn’t be possible if I weren’t able to get my subjects to emote. People feel comfortable around me, and that really helps when you’re trying to get a great, candid shot of someone.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Through all my experiences from being a photo editor, a photographer, and now a freelance photo producer for Red Bull, I’ve come to the conclusion that I simply love the creative process, and I want to run it. My career trajectory is becoming a photo director. Don’t get me wrong, I very much LOVE being the photographer and producing the images myself, but even more so I enjoy being able to hire my talented photographer friends who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting over the years I’ve been in this field. I’m planning to run large lifestyle shoots for a brand or be the in-house photo director for a music label, creating album art + promos that make a statement.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Lil Nicol, Patrick Joseph, Emily Herndon, Leon Bridges, Kelly Martin, Lillie Love, Aiym Almas, Calico the Band

1 Comment

  1. Annette

    July 10, 2018 at 20:35

    Kelly is an amazing photographer and an amazing human being! What more could you ask for?!

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