Magazine / Portraits / par La Rédac' le 30 septembre 2018 à 20:19 , mis à jour le 30 septembre 2018 à 21:10

It is with great pleasure that Citylia presents the portrait of Kelly Needleman today, and it is an honor too. This young man embodies this young generation who very early masters most of the technological tools, which would be commonplace in itself. But when this mastery is reinforced by a large volume of work, patience and passion, it magnifies an aesthetic look on the world. This gives superb, visually appealing images. Shots on the ground, aerial, time lapse, video, staging, post-treatment, this boy knows how to do everything with talent. We will have to get used to it because this young prodigy will be in our visual landscape for a long time. He has indeed decided to make a career and just started it! Did I tell you? Kelly Needleman is only 16 years old!

« Do you want to make an article about me? » When Citylia asked for an interview, Kelly Needleman’s astonishment showed some youthful candor. « Why not ? Your photo and video production seems to us to deserve it. » And it is with confidence, enthusiasm and availability, that Kelly has made his contribution to our magazine.

Kelly started photography at the age of 15, so it was barely two years ago. But it is not the precocity of his talent that has caught the attention of Citylia, nor that of his followers on social networks. They are more than 100,000 to follow him on Instagram and his Facebook page has registered nearly 8,000 subscribers in just 3 months. It is rather the fact that his images catch the eye and challenge our emotions and imaginations. We asked ourselves four questions about Kelly.

Where are you from, Kelly?

Kelly Needleman lives in Sonoma, a small town located in the heart of the famous eponymous wine valley. All the surrounding landscapes are natural spectacles and this environment could have stimulate Kelly’s desire to capture them in a photographic frame.

I have been exposed to the art world through my parents, who own a home interior design business. My parents bought me my first camera when I was turning 15. These influences guided me to take photos and videos. I was also drawn to the beauty of the landscapes and nature that surrounded me.

Right next door, in Marin County, Mill Valley is one of the most pleasant cities in the US. Sometimes, the ocean blows an incessant stream of clouds whose sequoias that dot the city are struggling to emerge. Head west on a winding road that crosses the maritime hill to Point Reyes Lighthouse, a rugged cape that seems to crochet the sea. John Carpenter shot here scenes from one of his films, « Fog ».

Golden Gate, San Francisco

Heading south towards San Francisco, you will follow Sausalito along the bay before crossing the iconic Golden Gate and descending to the ocean-lashed beach with silver highlights. In contrast to the waters softened by the long exposure, clouds of blood are threatening the bridge that seems to escape towards the horizon. Already very beautiful and perfectly composed, the image intrigues by the presence of an observer perched in the center of the image. And everyone can start to imagine a dramatic outcome to the scene. This is an example of Kelly’s touch in landscape photography. The appearance of characters, often himself, gives us a clue about his future ambitions.

Who are you, Kelly?

But let’s first get to know our young prodigy and review the influences that may have helped shape him. Its beautiful region, with its nature sublimated by amazing weather conditions, is likely. The example of his cousin, David Needleman, professional photographer of celebrities, for sure. And his travels on the other side of the globe is certain.

Immersed in new horizons, confronted with the harshness of the elements, faced with new challenges, graphic, technical, physical even, a passion did anchored in him.

I was connected to landscapes. We were one. » he said later in one of his clips.

On a trip to Canada, Kelly is working on his classics and doing his scales. The composition, always, the low and cold lights, the mirror games between sky and lake, like this field of stars whose lights sting the water of small spots troubled by smooth ripples.

In 2017, his holidays were far and away, studious and wonderful, all at the same time. : Iceland, Scandinavia, Italian Alps. He did there a patient job of collecting images, experimenting new techniques in new conditions.

The progression seemed then to be a quantum leap in a new dimension, a new quality, a new status, with a real signature.

Random course or wink? Viewed from the drone, the road seems to write an inclined N in this forest of the italian Dolomites

What are you, Kelly?

This image can be found in one of the short films that Kelly directed: « Flying over Italy ». Because, while working the still image, Kelly also films every photographic spot.
He has produced and directed numerous short films. Many of which have been awarded by the film industry in both the US and Europe.

FLYING OVER ITALY from Kelly Needleman on Vimeo.

If the art of photography is beautiful, Kelly realizes also that he cannot ignore the movement of nature and the emotions it gives. And this movement involves the control of both visual and sound rhythms, enriching the experience of other new emotions. And navigating in the 3 dimensions of space brings even more emotions.
Integrating both his thirst for natural landscapes and his passion for the image world, he reflects on what he wants, his authenticity, his identity. He puts his thoughts, his choice and his deep ambition in a video in the form of an identity message, for him and for the world: « My identity ».

MY IDENTITY from Kelly Needleman on Vimeo.

Remarkable. And also awarded by a « Best Young Director » Award at the Hollywood International Independent Film Festival. When viewing it, let’s ask ourselves the question: what did we do when we were 16?

What will you be, Kelly?

Kelly feels it is a natural progression from photographs to film (movies). He has created more than 38 movies focused on travel and nature. But for the summer of 2018, he has stepped out of his comfort zone to challenge himself to write, produce, and direct a feature film in the genre of physiological thriller/mystery. He has ambitions to move to Los Angeles and pursue his directing and acting career in the movie industry.

Kelly Needleman is on the right way to achieve his goals and has already been honored by many awards. His pictures have been published by National Geographics 5 times, by Canon and various others magazines.


His film’s resume is even more impressive :

  • Official Selection for the Los Angeles Film Awards
  • Semi-Finalist for the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards
  • Semi-Finalist for the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards
  • Award Winner for the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards
  • Award Winner for the IndieFest Film Awards
  • Award Winner for the LAFA
  • Semi-Finalist for the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards
  • Award Winner for the Festigious International Film Festival
  • Official Selection for the New York Film Awards
  • Semi-Finalist for the Festigious Los Angeles
  • Semi-Finalist for Top Shorts
  • Best First Time Director for Festigious Los Angeles
  • Semi-Finalist for the Los Angeles CineFest
  • Award Winner for the Timelapse Film Festival
  • Award Winner for the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards
  • Award Winner of the Hollywood Moving Pictures Film Festival
  • Semi-Finalist for the Festigious Monthly Competition
  • Semi-Finalist for the Los Angeles CineFest
  • Award Winner for the IndieFest Film Awards
  • Film of the Week for the Airvuz Awards
  • Staff Pick for the Aerial Video Award

All this is Kelly: photographer, actor, film director and nature lover


And let’s not forget Kelly’s other talent without which we would not know him. He is a true communicator by nature. As proof, the many links below that will allow you to follow it :

Follow Kelly Needleman on Instagram
Follow Kelly on Vimeo
Look at Kelly’s work on 500 px
Kelly on Your Shot, National Geographic
Follow Kelly on his Facebook’s Page
Or on his Facebook’s profile 
Follow Kelly Needleman on Twitter
Take a look about Kelly on IMDB
Kelly Needleman on FilmFreeway

Discover Kelly’s photographic report about San Francisco in Citylia

Take a look on his latest interview :