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Meet Kristina Allen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristina Allen.

Kristina, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a photographer/videographer born and raised in Durham, NC. I am currently based out of Downtown Los Angeles. I prefer to be called Kristina Kelee (pronounced like Kelly). Kelee comes from my Grandfather Kelly “Ed” Elam which is how my business name Kristina Kelee Photography came about. My story begins when it was time to apply for college. I’d had my eye set on one university since I was in the eighth grade. I knew that I was destined for culinary school in a baking and pastry arts program. Things changed when I got hit with the incredibly high tuition costs. I went on to an HBCU (Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, NC) to pursue a communications degree. That degree allowed me to find my passion in photography when the local and student radio stations had an opening for an athletics and event photographer.

From there, I offered my services to students who couldn’t afford the costly university photos so that no one went without their last memories of their college experience. My business grew from there but I missed the idea of photographing events and traveling. I started a travel blog and focused solely on events and travel photography. I went out of the country a few times to and then began to travel back and forth to LA to reach my goal of finally making the big move to Los Angeles. My career changed for the better when I met celebrity hairstylist Micha B. Micha hired me as her content creator and gave me my first big break by flying me out to LA for two weeks in 2018. It was within those two weeks where I had the opportunity to shoot for Micha B., shoot at Beautycon for Black Opal Cosmetics, and Issa Rae’s Insecure Fest for season 3. In April of 2019, I packed up within two months and drove cross country with my fellow videographer friend Tony Veritas (@0fficial.tv) and started my career in LA. Since I’ve been in LA, I’ve found myself in rooms that I never imagined I would be in.

This past December, I traveled on a service trip for two weeks to Ghana with Khloe Thompson of @KhloeKares and recording Artist Major (@nowthatsmajor). To document the unveiling of a new water pump and bathroom at State Experimental school 1&2 in Kumasi, Ghana commissioned by Khloe. Since then, I have shot for Tinder, Frankie Collective x Normani for NBA All Star Weekend, Comedian and Actor Barry Brewer @BarryBrewerJr (currently on Tyler Perry’s new series BRUH on BET+), and I met Lena Waithe @LenaWaithe (One of my biggest inspirations in the film industry). I am working to become an established cinematographer. I love being behind the camera and bringing the story to life through my visuals. I’ve only been living in Los Angeles for a little over a year, and I can say this year has brought me nothing but joy. I am currently building my bakery business and exploring other ventures.

Has it been a smooth road?
After my two weeks big break trip to LA in July 2018, five days after I returned back from LA, I was involved in a hit and run car accident that left my leg injured and caused me to be out of work for three months. It was one of my darkest times where I battled my worst bout with anxiety and depression, but I managed to use that time to build my website (Kristinakeleephotography.com) and even shot Miguel, Thundercat (on the day Mac Miller died. It was a super emotional set), and the legendary Nile Rogers at a music festival (when I wasn’t supposed to be on my leg at all but you do whatever you can when you’re passionate). In February 2019, Two months after I recovered, I had a trip planned to travel back to LA. two weeks before my trip, one of my best friends passed away, and I got in a car accident where I was driving and had been T-boned on my driver’s side. My door was pinned shut and my car was totaled. By the grace of God, I walked away with no injuries. I was so out of it after that that I almost canceled my trip. My mother convinced me to take that break and travel. It was on that trip that I learned that I could finally move to LA.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Kristina Kelee Photography story. Tell us more about the business.
I started Kristina Kelee Photography as a portrait photography business. It was on the basis of creating beautiful images for those who wanted to feel confident, express, and celebrate themselves through portraiture. It has now expanded to growing businesses through creating standout visuals for branding and storytelling through videography whether it’s beautiful and exciting event recaps, social media content, visuals for print, or short film and documentaries. I am proud that Kristina Kelee Photography has grown exponentially by just challenging my own comfort zone and having the support of so many amazing people. I myself am a very shy person but pushing the limits and breaking down that shyness barrier has afforded the opportunities that I’ve gotten so far. What sets me apart as a newer company in LA, is having the ability to be flexible, always having the willingness to learn more, and most importantly having the drive TO DELIVER. No matter what it is that my clients want to create, Kristina Kelee Photography will always aim to make it happen above and beyond expectations. I am also using my business to mentor other creatives who want to start or build their photography content but may not know where to start. Since the Covid-19 quarantine has started, I’ve begun to host zoom tutorials and one on one sessions for creatives.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Especially with the climate that we’re in now and being quarantined, I see the film and production industry changing so much. We have now proved to ourselves that we can make things happen in any circumstance. We are pushing our limits and the creativity is flowing more than ever now that we have so much time to process and try new things. I feel like over the next 5-10 years, the way that we move will change tremendously. I think that more opportunities will be created. Some that we didn’t even know could exist. The way that films and content are viewed will continue to change. Movies are streaming from home immediately so I can only imagine that in 5-10 years, the viewing experience will evolve, giving consumers so many options to partake in new media. The working style of a film set will probably evolve as well. I think that we will reach new bounds when creating content digitally so location and other factors wouldn’t be as big of a game changer as well.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All images are property of Kristina Kelee Photography

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