Pretty Little Liars fans will recognize the name Keegan Allen, as character Toby Cavanaugh.
But this isn’t Entertainment Tonight.
This post is about his new book.
I’ll admit that when I was first contacted about the book, my Hollywood spidey sense was tingling, as I imagined it could be a vanity press book, about a bored actor on set.
In the first pages my mind was changed. This was a passionate photographer, exploring life around him, and documenting it in a current style of images and journaling. Not someone who used a Leica as an accessory.
From his early images of his mother and father, added to the explanation of getting his first use of a real camera, you get the sense of a thoughtful, open, person. The passion leaks off of the pages and I was hooked after the first section.
As many personal photographers chronicle life around them, when Hollywood is your street scene, it has a color all of it’s own.The grit is gliztier and reflects all the dreams that have faded or blossomed, but he chose first to photograph and feature the nearby natural beauties, sprinkling in the Venice Beach scene, as the journey advances.
Very aware of himself, as many actors are, there is a generous sprinkling of self portraits, all through the book.
But here’s the thing: I really don’t get a sense of arrogance with the self portraits, as much of a self reflective exploration. the difference? They appear more curious, as the accompanying text gives you a scenario or his state of mind. You wonder if he is building a compilation of his appearance as he ages. A little “Boyhood” perhaps.
As every photographer does, you photograph those around you. And in his case there are many attractive women; friends and lovers.They are shot as honest, friendly, portraits. If there is a revelation, it is that the subjects are very comfortable with the person behind the camera.
As a successful, working actor there is an abundance of set photos and portraits. You can feel that he strives to make these images more than just a record of the time.
Was it Jack Nicholson who said “I don’t get paid to act, I get paid to wait”. Keegan Allen takes his down time on set, and buys himself time to indulge in his passion.
Overall this book is a good read, and because of the blend of images and text, it glides you through the 320 pages, easily. The writing style is easy going, and tells the story of his life till now with an accessibility, you may find more likely in social media.
It all feels fresh and emotional. Not sappy, but honest.
One particular thing I appreciate is the lack of many images going across 2 pages. He seems to know what that costs you in a narrative. Even with that restriction, the images live well within the page size. About 7×9. The trend is towards smaller photo books these days, other than the Steidl reprint of The Decisive Moment. Less shelf space, and I’m glad to have a hard copy of this.
Admittedly, the poetry, which is liberally sprinkled throughout, is not my cup of tea. Not much poetry resonates with me, other than Baudelaire.
Well worth your $20. You can pick up the book, here.