Keegan Allen has been interested in photography since before he hit double digits. He began taking pictures when he was nine years old, and he still shoots with the camera his father gave him back then — though his collection has expanded significantly. 

Now, the actor is on a book tour for his new book Hollywood, which features his original photography along with personal captions, lyrics and more. When Allen originally set out to capture Hollywood, he was shooting pictures of his home.

“As a photographer, as a young photographer, I wanted to bring the truth, protect the place where I grew up and also expose the beautiful and sometimes very dark elements of Hollywood as well,” Allen told uInterview exclusively. “All over the world, people look at Hollywood as this place that is an idea of the dream, a chase, a place of great triumphs and successes, but also where dreams come true, dreams are shattered — everything. It really is the central point of sometimes media and creating iconic Hollywood movies. You know, you think of things that have made you feel certain ways. So it was an interesting journey to set forth on.”

 

Hollywood shows both the beautiful aspects of the city as well as its seedier side. Allen said the book is both an exposé in addition to his sort of protection over the city.

“I wanted to show what it truly is,” Allen said. “We get caught up in the idea of Tinseltown, of the glitz and glamor of it. We see, you know, red carpet events, we see interviews, we see the lights turned on and the makeup and all the stuff, but once you remove all that [you] see the reality and the people that live there.”

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Allen said that it’s inspiring to see people who haven’t quite had their dreams work out but are still chasing after them. He wanted to capture that and show his version of it.

“Now, is it the be all, end all version? Absolutely not,” Allen said. “That’s the beauty of it, and as I do these interviews, I’m starting to learn more about my book through others’ interpretations of what they’re seeing. As you start to look at the people — that was the thing that started to come to the surface for me — was as I was shooting the book, that people would come up to the surface and really change how I looked at the world around me now.”

While he sees the book to be a huge picture of Hollywood as a whole, one photo in particular resonates with him — the one on the very back of Hollywood.

“It’s a photo of the sunset — and that actual photo is in the book — towards the end of the book before this Foreverland story,” Allen said. “That’s always really resonated with me because here we are in the hustle and bustle the jive and the constant hunger for the fame monster or to make it or just to live another day and be seen, no one really looks up and notices how beautiful Los Angeles is.”

Full interview transcript below:

Keegan Allen

Allen: When I was about nine years-old, my dad introduced me to the concept of film and understanding light. And even when I come in here today I immediately was taken by how beautiful the natural light is in this room, but it’s sort of something over my life that I’ve noticed. I’ve kind of always been looking for where the light is.

Q: What was the goal of your book?

A: When I set out originally to shot and capture Hollywood as a city, it was always presented to me as home, as a photographer, a young photographer, I wanted to bring the truth, protect the place where I grew up, and also expose the beautiful and sometimes very dark elements of Hollywood as well. All over the world, people look at Hollywood as this place that is an idea of the dream, a chase, a place of great triumphs and successes, but also, where dreams come true, dreams are shattered, everything. It really is the central point of, sometimes, of media and creating iconic Hollywood movies. You think if things that have made you feel certain ways, so it was an interesting journey to set forth on. It was a little daunting in the beginning, but I’m glad that it’s come to fruition, and I’m here with you talking about it today.

Q: When did you start shooting?

A: When I was about nine years-old, my dad introduced me to the concept of film and understanding light. And even when I come in here today I immediately was taken by how beautiful the natural light is in this room, but it’s sort of something over my life that I’ve noticed. I’ve kind of always been looking for where the light is, where the most beautiful times of day are to capture moments and how that changes the dynamic of the photos that you take, the amount of light that you use. When I was about nine years-old, my dad let me borrow his camera, because I remember he took a photo of me eating an ice cream cone, and I remember being “dad stop,” cause of the ice cream cone, I mean I was like, “dad stop,” and then he took this photo of me, and then like a week later I saw the phot and I couldn’t stop believe how beautiful the light looked and everything. I was like “wait that’s me?”, I need to understand how you did that. So ever since then I’ve been kind of obsessed with photography.

Q: Do you still shoot with your first camera?

A: I do I still shoot with the m6 my dad let me borrow, and I never gave it back to him. But I’ve acquired, kind of a collection of cameras over the years. They are tools and some cameras serve me better in certain situations than others, but I’ve always really trusted that Leica m6.

Q: What did you want to show about Hollywood?

A: Well like I said, it’s an expose as well as a me protecting the city. I wanted to show what is truly is. We get caught up in the idea, in the Tinseltown of the glitz and glamour of it, we see you know red-carpet events, we see interviews, we see the lights turned on, and the makeup and all the stuff, but once you remove all that and you see the reality and the people that live there. And some of these people had dreams and aspirations to go out and be the Hollywood star that they set out to be and maybe it just didn’t work, or maybe they couldn’t still to their regimen, or maybe something happened. But it didn’t stop them from changing their dream, they’re still chasing their dreams. There’s something inspiring about that. I needed to capture that and show my version of it. Now, is it the be-all end-all version, absolutely not, that’s the beauty of it. As I do these interviews, I’m starting to learn more about my book through others’ interpretations of what they’re seeing and as you start to look at the people, that was the thing that started coming to the surface for me, is as I was shooting the book, the people would come up to the surface and it really changed how I looked at the world around me now. I would make eye contact with people more often, with permission, and come into a very intimate space while I was photographing them, learn about their life, learn about their stories, whether or not they were real or fake. In a town like Hollywood you never know what’s real or what’s fake. It was quite an experience to be a part of that.

Q: Do you have a favorite photo from the book?

A: So there’s two parts to that answer, the first part is the entire book in its entirety to me is one great, huge picture of Hollywood, but then the phot that always has resonated with me is on the back of the book. It’s a photo of the sunset, and that actual photo is in the book, toward the end of the book before this forever land story. And that’s always really resonated with me because here we are and the hustle and bustle and the jive and the constant hunger for the fame monster or to make it or just to live another day and be seen. No one really looks up and notices how beautiful Los Angeles is. It’s my favorite photo that I’ve taken in the book, and it means different to me. That’s my experience.

Q: Wat’s your favorite place in Hollywood?

A: My favorite place to take photos would be the Hollywood Walk of Fame because you always just get character after character, and sometimes people won’t even dress up they’ll just be like, “look at me, I’m Edward from Twilight,” you know or something, and they’ll just be like totally not look anything like Edward from Twilight, but they believe it and that’s what’s so fun about it. It’s the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it’s so exciting and interesting. And I really wanted for the portraiture or the people to almost be like you, yourself, the reader are walking in a dream through Hollywood and touching the shoulders of people, and kind of just making eye contact and looking around to see you can tell what’s real or fake. I place a lot of different iconic people in the sorceress of who would be named mundane or transient, but in a lot of ways we’re all just one step away from each other’s lives in different ways.

Q: What do you think of Instagram photography?

A: I love it. I think that it’s important for everybody to kind of share their story with photography because photography is one of the most important means of human communication, in my opinion, in my opinion. There’s tons of other ways that we communicate, but through photograph sometimes we can explain something that would take so many words to even begin to understand ourselves. Because it’s subjective, you’re getting people that normally are not in your creative realm, they find so much solace and comfort, a calm place to land in photography and sharing their vision of their viewpoint, but I think it’s really amazing and important. As a photographer, I do feel like it’s my duty to share a view point of some point, so in 50 years, a hundred years, maybe someone blows the dust off this book and goes, “oh my god, this was that point in time. This is what is was.” Because things change so rapidly, as you can see if you look at in 1812 Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce takes a photo out of his bedroom window, takes a piece of pewter and put some chemicals on it, and puts it outside. And now that is one of the most iconic photos that started photography. It’s just that, that it’s a mirror with memory.

Q: What’s your next book about?

A: It will probably follow along these lines, I’ve already begun to shoot it. Can’t really talk about it too much, but it is in the works right now, and it will follow along these lines. Because I really do response to it, and I find that a lot of people respond to it in a way that it inspires not only others but it really inspires me to hear what other people think. And they created their own versions of their own forever lands, their own perfect moments that they’re sharing with others as well.

Q: How can we buy the book?

A: It’s available everywhere the books are sold and if you’re international, you can get it at www.keeganallenlive.com, signed, or if you’re in the United States, you can go to www.keeganallenbook.com for tour dates and purchasing your book. Thank you.