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Elias Photography

6734 Greenleaf Ave
Whittier, CA

(562) 696-6868

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Learn more about what makes us different.

+ A Meaningful Portrait

If you have ever been in an average photo studio before, you will notice the huge difference between traditional portraits and “Real Life” photography. It takes a lot of time and consideration to create a meaningful portrait of each individual or family.

To attain the images you see in this gallery has taken practice, determination, and perseverance. Rather than accept industry standards in portrait photography, we have taken steps to set ourselves apart from others; to be original, to create something personalized for each individual.

We take extra time to ensure that each portrait is beautiful to the eye, reminiscent of the whole person, and tells a story about the individual. To do that, our clients must commit with us and trust us to create such a portrait.

Have you ever noticed the beauty and the character in photographs of people in National Geographic Magazine? It is because those photographers and journalists take the time to understand their subject. The magazine finds out what is important to people, and tells a story about it, in which meaningful photographs are as important as words. We do the same, here at Elias Photography.

Our determination, a commitment from the client, and a little exploration on our part is what it takes to create a “Real Life” portrait. While it is certainly more effort to create the work you see in the Elias Gallery than to make an average studio portrait, we feel it is worth the extra steps.

Remember that the final images you see as samples in the studio are just the “tip of the iceberg.” To create an image that is aesthetically pleasing, yet has personal meaning for the subject takes a bit of work, and much lies beneath the surface in the way of preparation and methodology.

Commit to making a beautiful and meaningful portrait of who you are or what your life is about, and you will be completely satisfied with the results.

+ Accepting the Artist

You have decided to hire a photographer to make a portrait of yourself and or your family. Are you ready to accept the artist?

First, look at the samples displayed in the studio. Do you see what you are looking for and does it fit your expectations of what a portrait is? If so, you are in the right place.

Do you find yourself wanting to tell the photographer what you want the photograph to look like, down to the last detail? If you feel that way, you may not be accepting of the artist’s style and philosophy.

Even if you are in love with the photographer’s work, but you just want something “different” than what you see in the samples, you will probably like what he will do for you, but are not yet ready to give up control over your portrait. This is not hard to understand; after all, it is your portrait we are discussing, here!

Part of hiring an artistic photographer to make your portrait is to accept his “style”, allowing him or to follow his method in completing the entire job For example, the famous artist Renoir is held in high regard for his accomplishments, as is the artist Rembrandt. It would seem strange to approach one of these artists and ask him to make a painting such as the other would; especially considering that one of them created highly controlled “studio portraits”, and the other worked loosely, in the environment, with varying elements interacting with his work. Undoubtedly, both were great, but they were very different.

If you like what you see at Elias Gallery, and you are ready to hire a photographer, then we have no doubt that you will love the results in your own portrait. Once you accept us as your photographer, by hiring us to make your portrait, we accept the responsibility of creating a beautiful image that you will be proud of and will treasure for years to come.

+ Our Method

The Method: What is a portrait?

portrait \’por-tret\ n 1: a pictorial representation of a person, usually showing his face.

How is an Elias portrait made? That is a question with many answers. The simplest answer is this: in a natural, honest way, without altering the environment or the subject in any way. This explanation goes a long way to answer many of the questions we are commonly asked, however there are a few more details about which our clients often have concerns.

We do not work in a studio. Certainly we could, but the point is, we don’t need or even desire to do so. The goal is to make a portrait in a way that truly captures the essence of a person’s very being. The location may make no difference in the long run, but if you capture the image in an environment that is not natural for the subject, you are already taking away from the character of the person, and therefore, taking away from their portrait.

Our surroundings have a continual effect on us, whether or not we see it or even notice it. How often do we stay at our desks, working or sit in a room, visiting with another person for hours, then suddenly, we notice that it is dark, and we need to turn on the lights? The change was happening for hours, but it went unnoticed because that’s not the kind of thing we spend time thinking about. These same surroundings (especially the lighting, where photography is concerned) are very much a part of us, and play a huge part in any honest pictorial. Because of this, we use no additional lighting equipment for light, only what is normally existing in the subject’s environment.

The next consideration is the location in which to photograph an individual. That’s fairly easy. It is just a matter of discussing with the photographer what is important in this era of your life. Is your life busy with your kids, your career, extended family, and organized events? Or is your life basically quiet, spending time with your spouse or even by yourself? You don’t have to have any ideas when you come to have your portrait made. If you are considering having an Elias portrait, and you have seen the results, all you have to do let us guide you through the process of making your portrait. You can relax and just let us answer the question of “what to do.”

You may be thinking, with all this honesty and reality: That’s fine, but I want to look my best! And you will. It is our job to find the right angle and the right composition to capture each person looking their best. By you being in your own environment, doing the things you usually do and being yourself, we can capture an image that will be a true portrait. In the finishing, we also include retouching, so you can have every confidence that you will be proud to display your photographs for years to come.

+ The Photographic Artist

As an artist in the photographic medium, opportunities to create original portraits of people are endless. Life is a constant transition of experiences and change. By taking time to know my subject, an era of time is captured, and the emotional experiences of people become historical data that can be passed on for future generations. Each and every person I photograph as a unique individual. Therefore no two images I create are the same.

During the photo session you will not be required to make any additional effort beyond the normal course of a routine day or situation. People frequently comment how easy it is to be photographed and how enjoyable their session was. You will feel comfortable during the photo session and the best part is, you will look great.

We take extra steps to ensure that each portrait is beautiful to the eye, reminiscent of the whole person, and tells a story about the individual. To do that, our clients must commit with us and trust us to create such a portrait.

Photography sessions are done with spontaneity on location, without the need for lighting equipment or artificial posing. My method of doing photography is achieved anywhere, anytime, in any setting and any lighting conditions, achieving superior results to traditional portrait techniques. This in turn compliments the spontaneity of capturing people in true-life situations.

With a natural method of impressionistic light captured in each image, the light is as much a part of the visual composition as the setting or persons in the image. Light, shadow, color, and emotion are delicately composed in an artistic design to give the finished photograph a feeling of the presence of life, movement and emotion.

Remember that the final images you see as samples in the studio are just the “tip of the iceberg.” To create an image that is aesthetically pleasing, yet has personal meaning for the subject takes a bit of work, and much lies beneath the surface in the way of preparation and methodology.

By approaching every assignment with a sincere passion for life, I am able to capture the intimacies, love and emotions that we all inherit from life itself. In a not-so-perfect world, I am thankful that it is my quest to focus on the positive experiences of people. Cherishing every moment spent behind the camera, I am grateful to have a front row seat in people’s lives. It is my belief that all people are beautiful when they are simply themselves. My gift is the ability to see the true self in people. With photography I am able to capture their emotional experience.

-- Rick Elias

+ Our History

A brief history of Elias Photography:

In 1976, a young and enterprising Rick Elias began a photography business that would grow to be one of the most unique and imaginative photography studios in the world. It is unique, not only because of the originality of the photography, but for Rick’s ability to bring it to life and survive the many struggles through which it has been.One of the early locations of the business was in the William Penn Hotel, on Philadelphia Street in Whittier, CA. It was a great location on the mezzanine floor, with the front desk of the hotel acting as secretary to the public, and the rent was great.

In the late 1970’s, if you will turn to your Whittier history books, the Penn Hotel suffered a devastating fire caused by a faulty heating pad in an elderly man’s apartment in the hotel. Rick grabbed his Rolodex, negatives, and his favorite chair out of the store after the fire, and set off to look for a new location.

The new location, at 6738 Greenleaf Avenue, is the same location as today. This was not to be the studio’s last move, however. Rick made improvements on the building, moved into an apartment in the back, rented out the available offices and commercial space next door, and was on his way to a very successful career. It was at this address that many of our customers became familiar with us.

In July of 1987, another young artist, Carol Engebretson (then Daniels) walked in the front door, and began work as a receptionist, clerk and retoucher. This was an event that seemed routine at the time, but for both Rick and Carol, it would turn out to be quite significant.

In October of 1987, turning to our history books again, a devastating earthquake hit, the epicenter only a few miles away, in Whittier Narrows. Much of Uptown Whittier was in ruins. The building in which the studio resided was standing, but needed a complete retrofit or to be torn down. Either option was extremely costly. It was to late to buy the earthquake insurance that he had been shopping for six months before the quake and was unable to find a carrier.

Just to make it clear: Rick lost his home, his commercial income property, and his business location in that quake. Homeless, without a good portion of his income, and nowhere to conduct business, an urgent fight began to recover from this devastation.

Rick, Carol, and the rest of the staff became movers. The studio relocated a few doors south to the basement of the old United California Bank building on the corner of Greenleaf and Philadelphia. The building at 6734-38 Greenleaf was torn down shortly after the earthquake. For two years, working out of that location, the studio photographed record numbers of weddings, while Rick worked on obtaining a disaster loan.

By the end of two years time, a disaster loan had been obtained, and Rick had purchased a home close to Uptown Whittier. Rick moved the business to work out of his home while the commercial building was being planned and built. Carol conducted the retouching at her home while she finished her college education.

Working from his home allowed Rick to be more experimental in his photography. He learned much about what makes people do what they do, and how to photograph more natural and realistic images.

In 1995, a few years after the completion of the new commercial building, Rick moved the business back to the store on Greenleaf Avenue. It was an instant success. Familiar faces returned, and new ones appeared. Many remembered the studio from it’s former reputation, and many had never seen us before.

1996 marks the year that things got so busy, that Carol came back, full time, to work in the studio. In 2002, she became a partner in the business. 2009 will be the 33rd year of business for Rick, and marks the 21st year that Carol has been with the studio. Elias Photography has survived extreme hardship over the years, and if you want to know more, you are welcome to come in and ask Rick about the whole story.

~ Today ~

In 2005, we undertook a project that would change our studio forever. Rick set out to shoot thousands of photographs of dancers for our “I Want to Be a Ballerina, Part II” project. In order to facilitate this project, we purchased our first digital equipment. We still had our doubts and were also still shooting film alongside with digital. In the end, we found that digital would be our future and we switched over to digital immediately. Digital has turned out to be more rewarding for both us and our customers, allowing us to do things that were never possible with film.

We hope to continue providing quality, artistic photography to the public for many years to come. Our history indicates that we can weather even the worst storm… but we hope that it will be smooth sailing from now on.