We had the good fortune of connecting with Lex Kilgour and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lex, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I had spent the better part of ten years pursuing a career in the entertainment industry in New York and LA. The highs and lows were part of the thrill, but my day-job in administration and project management was taking its toll. I wasn’t remotely creatively challenged, and the efforts I was making to pivot my work into something more fulfilling and valuable at the company wasn’t being recognized. Hustling for the big screen was starting to lose its sparkle too, so I knew I needed a change. I wanted to stay in a creative field so I turned to only other thing that satisfied me – my photography. I’d been shooting casually and semi-professionally for over a decade. I loved how I could be in control of the creative outcome when I was behind the camera. I was also getting noticed and hired for my work; but I kept letting the financial leap scare me back into “practicality”. So when COVID hit, and my day-job finally fell away, I just decided to go for it. No more waiting for permission or ”the right time”. Just one foot in front of the other. I wanted to feel artistically challenged and accomplished at the end of each day, not burnt out from mundane tasks week after week. I knew pursuing photography and expanding into social media services could provide that sense of accomplishment. So, little by little, through the help of friends, I started making connections with people who could benefit from my skills. Turning my decade-long hobby into my every-day became the new thrill.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
It all started with a crush on Leonardo Dicaprio and a Minolta camera from my Dad. From the time I was eight years old, I “loved” Leo. (So much so that I became a professional actor.) The year The Beach came out I got an opportunity to go to Thailand on a volunteer trip and thought it might be a good idea to learn photography to document it. Fast forward a couple years, a couple trips, and the transition to a DSLR, I was regularly shooting my brother’s hip hop shows and building a decent portfolio. Capturing candid moments of artists in their element and vibing crowds was an awesome way to cut my teeth. Years later, while working a restaurant job, I took a position as a sales intern at a photography company on the strength of that portfolio. When one of their shooters couldn’t make an event, my boss subbed me in. That was my first paying gig and I kept that client for years, eventually shooting a national campaign for them. Still just a hobby for me: I would take my camera to parties, Summer cottages, or on walks around whatever city I was living at the time, refining my personal style. But everything changed when I became official media for Burning Man in 2016. Since then my work has expanded into portraits and lifestyle content for friends and entrepreneurs, and I’ve shot high profile events with the Toronto Blue Jays as well as international beer brands. I couldn’t have pictured my career evolving this way if I tried! But that’s what makes it so special, and what makes all of my sessions exciting. Connecting with my subjects and capturing their vulnerability, joy, or strength in that moment and then showing them just how incredible they are still gets me every time.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Hands down you have to start your day with Drag Queen Brunch at Hamburger Mary’s in WeHo! Their bottomless mimosas and exceptional Queens will blow you away and have you choking on champagne before noon. Then hop on down to Melrose and cruise the vintage and second-hand shops. This town is a goldmine of style! No trip to LA is complete without making that turn from the 10 to the PCH – when the ocean comes into view. It’s breathtaking. Head North to Malibu and stop at El Matador. Walk the beach and explore the cave and rock formations at low tide. If you’re there at sunset, you’re in for a treat. Croft Alley makes fresh yogurt and gluten-free waffles that will send you to another planet! (I still don’t know how they do it). Fave bars to explore: No Vacancy and Harvard and Stone for their kick-ass burlesque. Good Times at Davey Wayne’s for the 70s vibe and retro-fridge entrance. Check out the landmark Formosa Cafe for the nostalgic decor and Chinese comfort food. Then cross the street to Jone’s for their late night happy hour and pizza. It wouldn’t be a trip to LA without a hike up Runyon Canyon or to the Griffith Observatory. Take this whole city in. She’s a beaut!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I wouldn’t be where I am in my work or career-confidence if it weren’t for the support of the Burning Man Org. and the burner community. Prior to attending back in 2016 I had predominantly been an event photographer. I enjoyed floating around a gala, event, or concert, mostly unnoticed, snapping candids. I applied to become official media for my virgin-Burn, which required me to pitch a photography project. I challenged myself to do a portrait series, which would force me to connect and communicate closely with my subjects. I’d need their expressed consent in order to photograph them… and that scared me. I never thought my application would be accepted, but it was! And the portraits I took that year, and the connections I made at that Burn, are still my fondest. I keep in contact with many of those Burners, who I now proudly call friends. The community and support given to me from that experience is something I will always be grateful for. The playa provides.
I often think on this analogy: If you’ve been “knocking on a door” for a while, and no one’s letting you in, trust the door that’s open. It’s open for a reason.
Carl Carter Greene, Bea Mendonça