Ali Gilliams standing on settee gets perfect overhead shot
of Tatiana Mclane as Queen of Hearts
result? Ali's favorite photo of Tatiana!
Whether lacing up her satin ballet pointe shoes or snapping photos of famous celebrities including her big sister actress Melissa Joan Hart for People Magazine, Malibu Teen Photographer Ali Gilliams life is all about knowing just how to Pointe and Shoot her camera to capture the moment. To watch her in action is to witness a true professional.
Only sixteen, she already wears an intense expression on her face while framing her photographic subject in her view finder and creating high end magazine ready portraits of a quality comparable to the masters such as
The vivid imagery, colors, and attention to detail definitely will capture the attention of any patron of the arts to bask in its beauty. Growing up in a household of actresses, writers, TV and movie producers, it appears the entertainment bug runs in Ali’s family. Ali, a child actress and SAG member herself, is one of "7" children of her amazingly talented mother Paula Hart casting director, executive producer, and part owner of Sweet Harts Sweets with Melissa Joan Hart and her father actor, writer, director Leslie Gilliams.
Ali I noticed you were a child actress and a member of SAG. Can you tell me what was your favorite thing about acting and what shows, commercials etc. were you on? Also, did watching your sister Melissa Joan Hart act on several successful TV series including Clarissa Explains It all and Sabrina The Teenage Witch inspire you to become an actress too?
I have only really done a few projects that my mom produced, including a few episodes of Sabrina and a part in a TV movie called "The Right Connections" that aired about ten years ago. I am extremely inspired by my mother and my sister to pursue my dreams and end up successful; they are two huge role models in my life and I look up to them every day. I liked acting, but I felt like it wasn’t really for me.
You are multitalented. It is amazing that you are an actress, ballerina, and a professional photographer at only age sixteen. How long have you been taking ballet lessons and what made you decide to start taking lessons?
I have been doing ballet since I was two years old, and to be honest my parents were the people involved with that decision. I used to really dislike it and was tempted many times to quit, but when I changed studios three years ago I have really grown to love it a lot.
You are also a very talented photographer. When did your passion for photography begin and do you plan on pursuing photography as a career when you grow up? If yes, then what do you plan on specializing in as I notice you love to take photos of rock bands, fashion, and celebrities. Who is your favorite famous photographer right now and why? How have they influenced your style?
My passion for photography started at a very young age, as I would take my parents digital and disposable cameras when we went on trips and take pictures of random things, and my parents always got mad at me for that. But, when Melissa let me use her Canon 20D when I was about eleven or twelve, I fell immediately in love. It was so professional and so serious, and I loved it. Of course, I had no idea how to properly use a camera when I was that age, but I have taken lessons and I feel very confident in my ability now.
Can you describe your photography style? How does someone looking at your photos know it’s an Ali Gilliams original? What would you say is your signature?
I think a big part of my style is back and natural lighting. It isn’t incorporated into all of my photos, but it is a big reason why I fell in love with photography when I learned how to properly use a camera; I love metering a camera and finding the perfect lighting. I recently learned how to use studio lighting, however, and I am in love with it. I still need to get my own lights though.
If you could photograph any famous person in the world right now who is that person, why do you want to photograph them and where would you want to take the photo?
I have never thought of this question before, but one band came immediately to my mind: Kings of Leon. I would kill to photograph them. They are all amazing musicians, incredibly attractive & would probably be amazing to work with. They are such an influential part of my life, and I am in love with every single one of their songs. I am such a fangirl for Kings of Leon it is ridiculous!
Describe what a typical day in the life of Malibu teen photographer Ali Gilliams is like?
Honestly, a typical day in my life is school, homework, ballet, photography and my friends; that’s all I really have time for in eleventh grade.
Do you do a lot of photo shoots in Malibu? If yes, where are some of your favorite spots in Malibu to take photos?
Yes! I have one more month until I get my license, so as soon as I get that I’m going to go other places, but Malibu is gorgeous for photography. It is all nature induced (my favorite place to photograph people is in nature with natural lighting); there are tons of empty fields, open roads, waterfalls, beaches, forests… it’s beautiful here. The sad thing is that I have actually never done a single beach photoshoot & I’ve lived here for three years now haha!
What do your friends think about you running your own photography business?
They love it! My friends are basically the only people I take pictures of when I’m not doing music photography, and based on every photographer I have ever learned from, it is the correct way to start out. I’m just doing my part & photographing as much as I possibly can, & my friends love it!
How about describing the most awesome photo op you ever had? Where was it taken and who was it of?
I think you mean photoshoot right? My favorite was with my little sister and her friend from last summer. We literally were doing nothing, so we went out into the street in our neighborhood and I brought my camera, and we just started taking pictures. Those are my favorite types of photoshoots, the really spontaneous, fun ones.
My favorite two from them are below:
I know you have had your photos published in major magazines like Billboard and People. Name some of those magazines describe how you got the gig and who was the photos of.
I’ve actually never had my work published in an actual magazine; I wish I had though haha! However, a picture I took of Melissa is on people.com: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20282306,00.html
My sister asked me to take pictures of her when Sweet Hart’s was just opening for some press, so I did and one of them ended up on people.com! I was thrilled.
How did you get your internship with Dana Fineman Photography? Please tell us a little about Dana and what you do as her intern.
Dana is actually a local Malibu photographer, and I have been friends with her daughter for a while now. Dana basically brings me along on shoots to help her set up and hold reflectors, and I actually recently shot a wedding with her, it was a blast and an honor to work with her; she is amazing! Check out her stuff too: danafineman.com
You have photographed 2 fashion related events for Queenie4ever so far. I consider you to be one of my favorite photographers BTW! I was really excited when I found out about you through your sister Melissa. I invited her to be a special celebrity guest at my L.A. fashion week runway show, but she was busy rehearsing for Dancing with the Stars at CBS Studios. Instead you, your sister Sammy, and your mom Paula were able to attend. As you know, I met your sister Melissa at one of my favorite fashion designer’s Betsey Johnson’s 60th Birthday Party when I had just started Queenie4ever. I was 9 years old, but Melissa took me seriously when I told her I was a fashion designer. She became my first female celebrity supporter after that event by wearing my designs on the red carpet. She is probably the most down to earth and generous celebrity I have ever met. So you are really lucky to be her sister! And I am lucky she introduced us! Who are some of your favorite fashion designers? Describe your personal fashion style and what are some of your favorite pieces in your wardrobe that you wear all the time and why?
Aww, thank you! To be honest, I am not really too involved with the actual fashion world, but I would have to say my favorite designer is Coco Chanel. I love the classic look. I would describe my style as artistic, carefree, and natural with a little edge. I love shorts, skinny jeans, dresses, short skirts… Two things in my closet I cannot live without are tights and moccasins. I have three different styles of moccasins in my closet & I wear them all the time. An outfit you would probably catch me in is a pair of tights, shorts, Doc Martens or moccasins, a top and a cardigan. I am a very simple person, and I don’t try too hard when I get dressed in the morning.
Describe what it was like to be the youngest fashion photographer shooting my Queenie4ever L.A. Fashion Week Runway show? I was so excited to be the youngest fashion designer invited to present my collection that everything was a blur to me, so I m really glad you were there to capture it in photos for me to look back on and see what my models looked like wearing my designs on the runway. What is your favorite outfit and/or photo you took from my runway show and why?
To be honest, I was very intimidated at first, especially with all of the adult photographers around me shooting away; but I believe I stepped out and wasn’t going to let anyone get in my way!
My favorite outfit and photo I took are below:
I loved your Queenie4ever runway photos so much, I hired you to shoot my Queenie4ever Alice in Wonderland theme fashion shoot featuring some of the designs from my new Party Dress Collection. I know me and my muse Frankie Clarke and I took forever to get out of hair and makeup. I had to sit still for over 2 hours to have my hairstylist curl my hair into that regal Queen of Hearts up do. So thanks for being so patient and waiting for us at Sweet Harts. I know you were busy setting up the shoot with the furniture, props, and lighting etc. Can you describe how you came up with the vision for the Alice in Wonderland Shoot? What kind of camera did you use to shoot Alice in Wonderland?
I just connected an Alice in Wonderland Prom theme to a Mad Tea Party setting, so when I received the correct props I just made sure everything was where it was supposed to be. I just imagined chaos with class. The camera I use is a Canon Rebel XS; it isn’t the best camera out there, but I know how to use it and it gets the job done.
What is your favorite photo from the Alice in Wonderland shoot and why?
My favorite photo is:
Just because this was the first idea I came up with, and I loved the stretched poses with everyone in one shot.
What is the name of your photography business and how can people contact you for your photography services via the internet?
I go by “aligilliamsphotography.” To see my pictures you can either:
Check out my portfolio to see my best work: http://aligilliams.carbonmade.com/
Go to flickr to see all of my photos:
Join the facebook group!!:
Watch my stop-motion videos on:
Vimeo (I suggest checking my vimeo before my youtube):
You can contact me in a number of ways:
Twitter(this is the best for me, personally, unless you are writing a long message): http://twitter.com/aligilliams
Comment on my Blog: http://aligilliamsphotography.blogspot.com/
Message me on myspace (WARNING: I do not check myspace very often!!!): http://www.myspace.com/aligilliamsphotography
What advice would you give a teen who wants to start their own photography business just like you have done by creating Ali Gilliams Photography?
Photography is not a joke; it is an art form. You cannot pick up a paintbrush & expect to know how to paint; it is the same situation with cameras. Contrary to very popular belief these days, there actually IS a proper way to use a camera (I know, SHOCKING!), and no matter how fancy your camera is, if you don’t know how to properly use it, you will not be considered a serious photographer. If you want to be serious, you must take a class and learn. I suggest learning how to shoot on film first, and learning how to develop your own film and print your own pictures; I have learned this way & I believe I am on the right path.
After you learn, just shoot shoot shoot, even if it’s little shoots with your friends, or dragging your camera around with you when you hang out with your friends or go on a walk! Build up your portfolio!!
I really am very pleased with the Alice In Wonderland photos! They really captured the vintage yet elegant youthful modern style I was going for. It is very Queenie4ever! I hope we can work together on future projects because you are an amazing photographer and I have lots more fashion shoot ideas I would love to have you capture! Thank you for helping me bring Queenie4ever’s Fashion Fairytale to life through your camera lens!
XO Tatiana Queenie4ever