Teen photographer Kelly Needleman is drawing attention near and far for his stylized landscape images.
Needleman, 15, has had photos appear twice on the National Geographic website, twice on the CNBC news website and once on ABC-TV online. His images have been on the Serengetee clothing company website and, more locally, a gallery of his images appear at both G’s General Store and at Salsa Trading Company in Sonoma.
Needleman’s passion for photography started just over a year ago when he received a camera as a birthday present.
“I’m a self-taught photographer,” he said. “I learned by researching online and reaching out to other photographers on Instagram. I am also fortunate that I can consult with my cousin David Needleman, who is a professional photographer in New York.”
Needleman already has almost 13,000 followers on his new photography Instagram account, and he has sold a number of photographs to his followers.
“I’m now developing a website to sell directly to the consumer to save money for college,” he said.
On a summer trip to Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, Needleman met and worked with professional landscape photographers and he says that is when his photography reached the next level.
“I learned so much from using filters, to shooting the stars, to getting the right compositions, and shooting in extreme weather conditions,” he said. He has since started to shoot Northern California landscapes weekly.
“I have now created my own unique style of editing and shooting photos,” he said. “Since working as a photographer and filmmaker I look at the world in a different way.”
At one point last month, one of Kelly’s photographs was ranked No. 5 out of eight million “Your Shot” images posted by photographers on the National Geographic website and it was ranked No. 2 on the editors’ favorites list. His photo was also picked for the Daily Dozen submission contest on the magazine’s website.
In July, one of his photographs also came in first place in the Youth and Teen Photography Contest at the Healdsburg Center for the Arts.
Needleman has also made four short travel films and he is currently working on a film from his travels in Iceland. In middle school, he made a film that was screened at the Napa Valley Film Festival.
Needleman also has worked in front of the camera. He is represented by MDT Agency in San Francisco, and he has acted in commercials. Over the summer, he had a small part in a film with Steve Carrell.
Needleman, 15, attended St. Francis Solano School and he is currently a sophomore at Sonoma Academy where he plans to continue to explore his passion in the school’s digital media studio.