Author, musician and actor Keegan Allen met with us recently to talk about his new book, “Hollywood: Photos and Stories From Foreverland,” and his role on the Freeform TV series “Pretty Little Liars.” He even gave us photography tips.
What was your experience on “Pretty Little Liars”?
There were a lot of experience. It was an amazing show to be a part of. Being part of a television series that so many people all over the world were watching and engaged in was amazing. And the opportunity to create my own work outside of the show was really special, too.
What do you think you had in common with your character?
I feel that when I started on the show I didn’t have as much in common with the character, but I have learned a lot from my character in ways that Marlene King, who wrote the show, wrote parts of Toby’s character that I ended up emulating. I would do things that Toby would do. I would try to take the best pieces of advice that he would give on the show.
What would be your favorite play to see when you are in New York City?
The Harry Potter play. I have been hearing good things. I wish I could see “Hamilton” here on Broadway as well. I saw it in L.A.
Do you have any strong connections with your cast members?
I do have strong connections. The one thing about shooting a television show for so long, you get to know how they are going to be. As we have grown up, the connection has only grown stronger, and we are all supportive of one another.
What is your favorite song that you have made?
My favorite song hasn’t come out yet, but it will this summer. I really like “A Million Miles Away,” which came out on Spotify. I am working on an album that is coming out, and it has one of my favorite songs on it. I wrote it in New York.
When did you start writing?
I was about 15 and I tried to write a novel, which was so hard to do. I wrote it about the Fermi paradox, which is about if there are aliens outside, why haven’t we been visited by them publicly. I got really into that. I have been trying to write a novel ever since, but I have really loved doing photography books because a picture really is worth a thousand words. People have responded to photography over my words. I will probably continue to do photo books.
Are there ever times when you don’t want to be so famous?
Fame is subjective. It ebbs and flows. There were times when I would have enjoyed that aspect because of the circumstances around me. One time I was with someone when they were in the hospital and I was really worried about it. Some people are unaware, and I am crying, and they come up and I am crying, and they ask, “Oh, my daughter is huge fan. Can we take a selfie?” Maybe at that point I would have enjoyed not having the fame monster. There is good and bad, but I am very much enjoying it.
If you could only choose one career, photographer, musician or actor, what would it be?
That is difficult because sometimes I can never identify as one thing. I love acting so much, but if I choose that, then I wouldn’t be a photographer. I can’t really answer that because it hurts my soul to say! I guess I would be an actor and sneak photos.
Who are your heroes?
My mom. I really love my mom, and she inspires me daily. She is very artistic. My mom is always creating, and it is great to be around that.
Did you always want to be a photographer?
Yes. When I was your age, I was always taking photographs. I was very obsessive with it. It became more than a hobby — I felt the need to constantly share photos with others. I always wanted to take photos of my surroundings, since 9 years old.
What tips would you give for someone who wants to be a photographer?
I would say the No. 1 thing people ask me is how to be inspired or what to photograph. What has always worked for me was to pick up a point-and-shoot camera that has film — a throwaway camera. And take a photo a day for a month. Every day, wake up and say you want to take a photo of this today, whether it is the sunset or the sunrise or something that has meaning for you. And always be aware of the light. At the end of the month you will have an entire sheet of photos that mean something to you. It might inspire you to create more down that path.
Do you think your photos are good?
It is a subjective thing. That is a good question! I enjoy my photography and I really, really love my photography. If I think it is good, then I am comparing myself to someone else and I never want to do that. I want to own my work, and it fulfills me and makes me feel good, and I will continue to do it.
What do you like taking photographs of the most?
I really like taking photographs of people. I like to take it of people who are not posing. It is natural when a camera is pointed at you, you are going to pose. I like capturing moments when you are more like yourself and not posed. I like atmospheric moments as well.
What type of role do you feel most comfortable with?
I felt really comfortable on “Pretty Little Liars” because I did that role for a long time. I really like to be challenged, and I like doing roles that have meaning and speak to me.
How old were you when you wrote your first song?
I was about 13. I wrote a love song for this girl in my class. I was really nervous and I tried to play it for her. I was in the music room and I was playing it, and she was looking at me, and I was sweating really hard.
Meagan Miller’s students, Ivy League School, Smithtown