Keegan Allen has showcased many of his talents over the past several years as an actor, photographer, bestselling author and musician. Following the success of his first book, 'life. love. beauty.', Keegan returns with a unique view of Hollywood. I had the opportunity to sit down with Keegan at his signing at Barns & Noble - Union Square to discuss the book. Keegan admits, "Growing up in Hollywood and then becoming an actor, that was also a photographer since a very young age, I felt like I had a unique perspective to share with my fans, with people that might not know of my work as an actor, but also for people that are interested in what Hollywood is because we all have different views of Hollywood."
Keegan wanted to create this book so it can speak to people like myself who have experienced Hollywood first hand, but for those who have also have yet to visit. "We look at Hollywood as this thing, as this grand palace of imaginations and dreams that are coming true. As someone who has grown up there, I wanted to expose it and protect it in a way that allowed the reader to come to their own conclusions." The book takes you on an interesting journey of living a life in Hollywood. While the book features a scenic view of of Hollywood, it also features portraits of the people who make Hollywood what it is today. Keegan admits the process of capturing the people of Hollywood began about five years ago. "I've always been interested in people. When I was shooting the book, I would see people on the streets and they were so interesting. They are very connected to all of us. Everyone is connected on the streets of Hollywood in a way that they just want to feel appreciated. They are street performing, they are performing for strangers."
There was an element of that vaudevillian display that made me remember what is was to be an actor and be interested in sharing stories that writers had written, with strangers." Keegan admits that even being on Pretty Little Liars, they had the opportunity to share their emotions with strangers. "I wanted to really show who these people are that put on these veils that cover their identity and they just make people happy. Granted they are doing it as a job, most of them. Once I got into that, when I made eye contact with them and really talked to them about who they are, the people started to come to the surface of creating this book." Allen shares that he realized that Hollywood would not exist if it wasn't for the people who reside in it.
Keegan spent seven years working on Pretty Little Liars, but admits that the transition from on camera to off was seamless. "There was never really a transition, it was more like taking a different street home. I very much have always had my camera on me. I'm a photographer 99% of the time, and then I am an actor when I can be. Acting is interesting in the way that, you can always be in classes as an actor, you can always be studying as an actor, reading books by famous acting coaches. But to actually go and do the job, you have to be hired or you have to find a space in which you can play. As a photographer, living in one of the most photographed towns in all of the world, I'm always at work and I am always able to use that creative outlet. Similar to having a guitar all of the time."
There is something special about the creative process of a project you are working on. For Keegan, the release is just as special. Obviously Keegan knows his book well, as he created it, but he also admits that the people also extend the knowledge in different ways. "I start to learn more about it from the people that have read it and they bring their information to me. Life. Love Beauty, was such a huge thing for me to share. Part of me was scared to do it, but I had an amazing team at St. Martins Press that got together with me and really saw what I was doing with that as a photo essay. Then bringing it to fans all over the world, I got so much inspiration to then create Hollywood."
As we wrap up this interview I found one aspect of this book to be extremely intriguing. Keegan not only shoots in digital, but on film as well. "To me, every time I have shot in film vs. digital, the romance to it is really exciting. Something also happens where I slow down, take my time and make sure that when I am photographing, it means something to me. In those moments of introspection, I am able to appreciate the process more than I would if I were shooting digital." Those moments of shooting in film definitely shine through and showcases Keegan's talent as he has taken us on this journey of Hollywood. For you guys at home, don't forget to pick up a copy of Keegan's latest book, Hollywood, now available in stores and online everywhere.