Kelli Scates is the owner of 430 Productions, located in the Downtown Los Angeles arts district (Courtesy Photo)

Inglewood native, photographer, videographer, and editor Kelli Scates is the owner of 430 Productions, a full-service commercial, brand photo, and film production studio space located in the DTLA arts district.

The inspiration behind 430 Productions is simple…

In 2021, Scates wanted to create a space/home for her work/business, but also produce a safe space for Black creatives to make magic happen behind and in front of the camera.

“I know content creation and production is important to have in a creative space, so I wanted to curate a one stop shop for all creatives,” she explained.

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“A space where there were plenty of furniture, equipment and sets that you can customize; I wanted to build community and offer services, resources, and education to my community.”

Scates creative bug came at an early age. She received her first video camera at the age of 14 and was “vlogging before vlogging was a thing.” She would record her and her friends doing various activities such as hanging out or going to dance rehearsals. Unbeknownst to her, she would later pursue film as a career.

She received a double B.A. in Dance and African American Studies from Loyola Marymount University, and it wasn’t until she was completing her senior thesis project that she got her first taste of writing, shooting, and editing a multimedia video project.

“While doing that, I realized I had already self-taught myself how to edit videos, and I started to realize that things I was naturally good at with the camera and editing, etc., was something not everyone was naturally able to pick up,” she said.

“So, there was a point where I realized I had natural talent, and I knew that pursuing a dance career in the entertainment industry would limit me to someone’s perspective of if I fit the “type” and dancing also had an age limit on it.”

She went on to say that moving behind the camera would offer longevity and open different doors opposed to pursuing a dance career. Her goal was to tell stories and document culture. And she did just that.

With over 10+ years as a photographer/videographer, Scates’ portfolio speaks volumes to the quality of her work. She has secured bookings with some notable talents/productions such as Keke Palmer and KeyTv, Complex Magazine, Caresha Please, Emmy award winning YouTube series, “Tough Love,” actress Kamillion from Issa Rae’s “Rap Sh*t,” and actress KJ Smith from Tyler Perry’s “Sistas,” and so many more. She has taken her talents internationally, traveling to South Africa, Paris, and Jamaica creating work with professional models.

“I’ve shot music videos for Alex Isley. I’ve had clients like Disney/Espn, McDonalds, MissDiddy’s Brandgroup LA. I’ve had work in exhibitions in LA, Virginia, and New Orleans,” she stated.

Out of the many clients she has worked with, photographing Nipsey Hussle’s album release party for “Victory Lap” was one of her most memorable experiences. She knew who he was, but once she was able to meet him and see him at his event, she instantly became a fan. That album became her soundtrack following the party. She described his energy as being “beautiful.”

“I also think losing him so soon after being able to have iconic photos from his last album release party also reminded me how important and powerful photography and documenting is as a culture,” she expressed. “It allows us to continue to live on and tell our stories after we are no longer alive.”

Scates worked for the L.A. Sentinel around 2016 as a photo/video journalist building the digital media YouTube channel, describing it as a “great experience.” She called this a “full circle moment,” having once worked for the L.A. Sentinel, and now being interviewed and featured in an article. This was her first opportunity to work with a legitimate publication and gave her access to events and opportunities which allowed her to really build her portfolio.

“Shooting events and red carpets for L.A. Sentinel helped me learn how to improvise and work in competitive/small spaces,” she detailed.

“Also, working at a historic Black publication was in alignment because it allowed me to work with and learn from other Black creatives/journalists, etc.”

She called it “empowering to see yourself and the possibilities of what you can pursue.” Her advice for other up and coming filmmakers if to always remember that everyone’s path is different, and that there is no right or wrong way, or one way, to do it.

Her father gave her advice when she ever felt stuck or if she felt like no one way paying attention to her work, and that was to focus on creating a body of work. Instead of focusing on whether you have a certain amount of likes or follows, or if a gig is secured or not, focus on creating work you love and are proud of.

Currently, Scates is enjoying the fruits of her labor from her first solo exhibition in February for “Where Do We Go From Here?” She is asking herself, “What’s next” as she figures out what path she wants to take next.

“I’ve created a lot of meaningful relationships…I’m asking myself and God, ‘where do we go from here,’” she voiced. “I’m open to all the wonderful possibilities.”

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(Sentinel News Service)