A Long Beach professional photographer raked in numerous awards this year at the Professional Photographers of California Pro Photo Expo and Conference Awards Ceremony in March, held at the Pasadena Convention Center.

Kristi Elias of Kristi Sutton Elias Photography, who lives and works in Long Beach and upholds her studio and art gallery in Shoreline Village was honored with the 2015 California Photographer of the Year Award, her second consecutive year receiving the honor. All her award-winning portraits were created in her Shoreline Village studio.

elias1“I have been an artist my whole life, it’s not just what I do but who I am,” she said. “When I was in high school I knew I needed to find a way to make a living as an artist.”

Elias, who lives and works in Long Beach and upholds her studio and art gallery in Shoreline Village, studied her living at Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara and graduated in 1998 with a BA in Advertising/Illustration Photography. She has been working as a professional photographer and artist for the past 17 years.

Her photos tend to be romantically stylized and especially dark in some aspects, to insinuate perhaps, that a deeper narrative sits beneath the viewer’s first glance of the portrait. Her photographs are Caravaggio-like in their drama, as each subject matter seems to barely escape their obscure background. 

“I have always been attracted to romance in all forms of art. Where others might find darkness I find romance,” she explained. “There is so much life and storytelling that are placed and can be seen in the details of the shadows.”

“Dark, dramatic, romantic, storytelling and timelessness is the creative space I like to visually live in and so I create it,” She said succinctly.

elias3Elias’ photograph, “Waiting for You,” which she created for a client, received the 2015 California Portrait Photographer of the Year Award, the Judge’s Choice Award, the Sunset-Lexjet Award and was featured in Professional Photographer Magazine.

“The Magician’s Son,” commissioned by a working magician at the Magic Castle in Hollywood who wanted a masterpiece portrait created for his son’s first birthday, won the 2015 California Master Artist Photographer of the year Award, the ASP Award from the American Society of Photography and the Judge’s Choice Award.

elias2Both “Contessa the Violinist” and “Ascending” achieved California State Merit Awards. “Ascending,” Elias said, tells a story of loss, hope and transcendence, while she wanted the image of a violinist to portray the sophistication of an old world portrait and added the unlikely background to hint at a bit of mystery.

Elias is on a quest to stress the importance of producing printed portraits in a day and age where photos are no longer precious keepsakes, but expendable data on our smartphones.

“Unfortunately, where people used to have printed and or framed documentations of their life’s journey, we now have legacies on hard drives and CDs that break or are lost on iPhones,” she said empathically.

“Without printed portraits, there will be nothing left for your children or grandchildren to look at,” she said. “The art of the printed portrait is not just for us but for our future generations to enjoy, experience and pass down. I believe that having your portrait created by a professional photographer and then mounted for you through archival printing is just as important now if not more than ever before.”

For more information about Kristi Sutton Elias Photography, click here. Her studio is located at 429-D on Shoreline Village Dr.

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Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].