My name is Erika Killen and I am a Los Angeles-based Make-up Artist and Photographer specializing in portraiture.
I have spent many hours on film sets over the years as a Make-up Artist. Upon exiting the make-up room, I always made a beeline for the Director of Photography, watching as he found his frame and stalking the Gaffer as he set up his lights, fascinated by their processes. I always managed to come up with an excuse to peer through the DP's lens. It was fun imagining how I’d set the scene if I were the one behind the camera.
My make-up career started in 2001 after graduating from a 400-hour Journeyman Program from LA’s top beauty & special make-up F/X school, Make-up Designory (MUD). I loved creating characters and making every client feel beautiful!
My passion for photography started when my mom bought me my first film camera, which was (at the risk of dating myself) a Kodak Flash Fun II Hawkeye Camera. Since that time and various camera models later, I've become "that girl with the camera glued to her face."
When my nephew was born, I was inspired to expand my technical knowledge of photography in order to best capture every fleeting moment and all of his ever-changing expressions. My digital SLR camera allowed me the creative control I was looking for and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Not able to decide which is the best job in the world; Make-up Artist or Photographer, the next logical step for me was obvious; to offer my clients a one stop shop for their portrait sessions. Some may say I’ve found my calling, but I tell them I’m finally what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I am a genealogist by hobby and an animal lover, currently residing in Los Angeles, CA with my beloved fur and feathered children.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to contact me.
"I really enjoy shooting with Erika. Her knowledge of photography and dance is definitely an advantage to capturing a great shot. She is also a very genuine and kind person. I am always impressed with the end product and feel like she makes me look my best!"
Company Member, American Contemporary Ballet
"I have had the enjoyment of working with Erika on several occasions, for portraits as well as my engagement photos. She never ceases to amaze with the wonderful photos and moments she captures! Not only is she a dream to work with but her finished product is just phenomenal. I cannot recommend her enough!"
- Ashley LaPierre
"As a professional ballet dancer, I am always looking for great photographers who know how to frame a ballet dancer and who understand the art of shooting a dancer. Since dance photography requires movement, the photographer must understand the correct alignment and positions of ballet in order to correctly capture the dancer at his/her best. Of all the photographers I have worked with throughout my career, Erika Killen is definitely one of the very best I have had the pleasure to work with. Since she was a ballet dancer herself, she accurately knows how to frame and capture the dancer in the correct positions. Some of my best images have come from the shoots with Erika, and I have used her photos for auditions, my website, and social media sites. In addition to her vast knowledge of ballet and photography, she is a talented make-up artist, which is valuable for the dancer or model needing correct make-up for shoots. I enjoy her calm demeanor during shoots, and how she makes the dancer feel so comfortable in order to get the best images possible. She directs the dancer yet also allows for creative collaboration which is invaluable. I always look forward to shooting with Erika because I know I will not only get great photos, but also enjoy a creative experience during the process. I highly recommend Erika as your "go to" dance photographer."
- Natalie Kramer
Former Soloist, Pasadena Dance Theatre
"Working with Erika is always a unique adventure! Her understanding of dance is a huge plus since it enables her to capture complex movements with precision in just a few shots. Erika is extremely creative in her approach to photography and with respect to the locations for her shoots. I love working with her and look forward to our next shoot!"
"Shooting with Erika was a great experience! She was very professional, and made me feel very comfortable. From every photo shoot, Erika was always able to get great shots, and I was always happy with the final products."
Company Member, American Contemporary Ballet
“As a professional ballet dancer, I have been asked countless times by photographers to shoot "dance." The problem is that most know nothing about dance at all! So when Erika and I first connected, her background in ballet was a dream-come-true. Her knowledge of technique, line, and movement, in conjunction with photographic skill makes working with her a collaborative and exciting process. I've had the pleasure of shooting with Erika in many different venues, in-and-out of fountains and subway trains, and it's nothing short of an adventure! After working with Erika the first time, I referred her to many friends and colleagues throughout California; and because our dance community is so close-knit, it has been wonderful to see Erika feature us as individuals and as a collective. She is an intelligent, lovely photographer, and I adore seeing what she does with dance, fashion, events, weddings, and lifestyle shoots. Bravo! “
Freelance ballerina, teacher/choreographer and stiltwalker
"Every dancer knows, through trial and mostly error that a good ballet shot rests wholly in the expertise of the photographer. Being able to catch the full extension of a leg or jump, to center a traveling step in an archway or against a sunset, require a familiarity that few photographers possess. Erika's knowledge of ballet technique means her photographs are not only beautifully composed but technically correct. Erika is an LA native, and her knowledge of the city, her creative eye, and her generous spirit mean that she will crawl in fountains, caves, cages, and trees to catch you at your best. As photos become not a luxury but a professional expectation in the LA dance scene, Erika is an invaluable resource."
- Katie Rose, Ballet Faculty
"I have had the pleasure of working with Erika on a few separate occasions now and every time it has been such a wonderful experience. I use the term "working with" because she is one of those photographers who really works with you to bring out your best, to target and allow your inner beauty, your essence to just shine. I've seen it so clearly with others she's shot, as well. It's the main reason I choose her again and again. How she does it, I can't fathom. It is rare and it is clearly a gift. In addition the whole photo taking experience is always so easy and comfortable. Any nervous anticipation or apprehension is easily done away with in just minutes of shooting with her. She will always be our go-to photographer!"
- Amber Tabangay