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Creative Contributor: Anna Killian

Photographer Anna Killian

Anna Killian is a photo taker, light lover, serendipitous stylist, and loyal pizza eater currently residing in Salt Lake City, UT. She is a firm believer that good imagery can create change, bring people together, and strives to always reflect that through her work and photographs. Invested in all her clients, she loves being involved in the entire process of a photo project- from brainstorming concepts to styling and everything it takes to create a successful and beautiful shoot. In her down time she’s probably listening to the newest podcast, making sure her rabbit doesn’t chew up charger cables, or rewatching The Office for the hundredth time.

What got you interested in photography? How did you get started?

Seventh grade pre algebra. No, not a joke! I met one of my closest friends in that class, and her mom was a photographer. We’d go to her photo studio on weekends sometimes and create our own little shoots. For my birthday that year I asked for a camera and I can’t remember wanting to do much else since then. Looking back, I remember bringing several disposable cameras on every vacation and sneaking my dad’s film camera from the top shelf of his closet. I remember taping quilts to my entertainment center to create a “backdrop” and styling all my friends outfits for a photo shoot in my basement. And even earlier, I remember being absolutely fascinated by light. I feel like it’s in my blood. It’s something I couldn’t stop doing even if I tried.

What is your favorite thing to shoot?

By far, people. You never know what you’re going to get. Bonus points if it’s people + a product or concept I love and help style. That’s the real dream.

Photo by Anna Killian

What is one of your favorite projects that you've done?

This is a truthful, not-trying-to-earn-brownie-points answer, but Bravery! Working with Ashley + Elyse is a dream. I’m so passionate about strong women, storytelling, and good design. Bravery marries all of those loves! As a freelancer I also feel really lucky to be able to work with some incredible interior designers, brands, and businesses who create the most beautiful products or concepts for me to photograph. I also photographed a wedding in a dreamy English garden a few years ago, and I’ll never complain about that, ever. It’s hard to pick just one!

What do you love most about what you do? 

The people and the light. Always, always the light. I’ve made some of my closest friends from behind my camera.

What's something hard about what you do?

I’m really thankful for shoots where I have help, but sometimes it’s a one man show! Most of the time, at the end of the day, I’m my own boss, employee, assistant, retoucher, stylist, receipt organizer, invoice sender, prop hauler, etc. I love wearing all those hats, but it can be exhausting as well. 

Photo by Anna Killian

What is your dream project or collaboration?

I’ve got a long list of these. I’ve always dreamed of shooting a large collection or editorial concept in a different country. Somewhere that requires a bit of a stay so I can scout locations, source local props and models, etc. I’d also love to shoot for Dôen and/or Schoolhouse someday.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I’m not sure what I put down on all those second grade “when I grow up” questionnaires, but from what I can remember, a fashion designer. Once I realized how much I disliked drawing, I channeled that love for styling and design into photography and it clicked.

Talk us through your process for creating the DIY images for an issue.

Ashley + Elyse will send me spec sheets and a rough shot list for all the DIY projects for an issue. I’ll review them and create a photo directive with location options, models, wardrobe, some styling, and other ideas based on the featured woman and color palette. Ashley and I will either have a call or email chain to iron out the details, and then I get to work! I make all the DIY example projects in the shoots (the medals for i12 were one of my favorite projects to make!), source the wardrobe, contact models, scout locations, and track down everything I need to style the shoots. Sometimes I’ll have an assistant if I shoot all DIY projects in one day, or if we have a lot of models or moving parts. It’s nice to have another set of hands! After I’m done editing the images I send the gallery of photos to Ashley + Elyse and they make the final selections for the issue.

Anna Killian taking a photograph