You probably know Pretty Little Liars star Keegan Allen as your beloved Toby on-screen, but the ABC Family star's talent doesn't stop there. He's also an incredible photographer and poet — having been a fan of photography since he was a child — and now you can get an inside look into his world with his brand-new book, Life. Love. Beauty, featuring his most personal photos and poems he's written throughout his life.
Most importantly, his photographic journey takes you behind the scenes of PLL, featuring exclusive photos of the cast and crew throughout the past five seasons. In honor of the book's debut, we had Keegan Allen stop by BuzzFeed's New York offices to give us the story behind some of his most fascinating photos. Here's what went down.
1. Ashley Benson with a co-worker's newborn baby on set.
Keegan Allen: It’s a photo with Ashley and this little girl Emma who is our co-worker Tommy’s daughter. I took it cause I really liked how Ashley was very trendy-looking and the baby is just born, so who knows how trendy the baby will dress one day.
Is everyone in the cast and crew super close?
KA: The cast is really close — every single one of us is close with each other. And we all have these moments where we celebrate new life on set with one of our fellow co-workers. So it was a pretty special moment, and I’m definitely glad I captured that.
2. Troian Bellisario at the Television Critics Association Awards.
KA: Look at that walk! It was when we were doing the Television Critics Association Awards, the TCAs.
It was pretty amazing because — she just looks stunning all the time — but the light behind her was really pretty, and I was walking, so it was a rangefinder camera and you have to focus manually, so I took I think two or three shots and all of them were out of focus except for this one. She’s stunning — I mean, look at her.
3. Troian Bellisario and Keegan Allen during Season 1 of Pretty Little Liars.
KA: God, I feel like we change every time we walk off and on set. This photo was a selfie — it was on a camera, though, it wasn’t on an iPhone. I see myself so much younger in this, but I remember that scene was really funny — it was when she comes up to Toby and opens the door and there’s a chain across his face. She was making me laugh that day. Our friendship has been constant throughout the show. She always makes me laugh.
4. A portrait of Troian Bellisario and Tyler Blackburn on set of PLL.
KA: Oh man, I love these. I love them so much because the lighting was so amazing. What’s really cool is Troian’s photo was indoor lighting from the makeup chair lights, and Tyler’s photo is outside natural lighting from the sun. And it’s interesting — you can see the sun in Tyler’s eyes, and you can see the makeup table arc in Troian’s eyes. But more so, you can see how photogenic these two are. Without even trying to be! And I didn’t pose them. They were just sitting there and I was like, “Troian!” And Tyler was less responsive — he was deep in thought, and I was just like, click!
In your book you say that Tyler is one of the most selfless people — can you give us an example?
KA: He’s just a pleasure to work with on every level. And as far as his selflessness as an actor, he just is, like, a very giving actor to work with, and he’s very focused and just a good guy.
5. Lucy Hale filming the black-and-white episode of PLL.
KA: Oh, yeah. That was during the black-and-white episode. And that’s shot through one of those unbreakable windows. That was an interesting day — everyone was really tired, and it looks like it’s daylight, but that was shot pretty much in the middle of the night.
You talk about covering one of her songs and sending it to her — which song was it?
KA: That song “Rock This Town” — she’s so adorable and amazingly stunning in that video, and I remember I saw it and did a Quicktime video of me playing it and sent it to her.
6. Nolan North on the set of PLL.
KA: He does all of the voices for most of the video games. He’s the voice of Drake in Uncharted, and a lot of Call of Duty stuff. I made a joke that he voices the Betty Crocker commercials [in my book]; he does not. There’s one voice that he can’t do that he tries to do — it’s like a robot voice — and my friend Brett Dier taught me how to do it. Nolan can do every voice in the world — he can do Christopher Walken so good that it sounds like Christopher Walken — but he cannot do the robot voice, I have him beat!
7. Lucy Hale memorizing a monologue before her scene.
KA: Oh yeah, I remember that. She had a huge monologue to memorize. Lucy comes in and hadn’t seen the scene yet, and she goes — seriously — “OK, let me see what it is.” (Reads the book for 10 seconds.) “OK, got it!” And goes in and nails it on one take. I was like, ahhh. I’m not that quick at memorizing. She’s got a photographic memory. I think all the girls do at this point.
How long does it usually take you guys to memorize?
KA: For that monologue that she had to do? I don’t know, she did it in one look. It would take me a couple more minutes than that (laughs). She just did it in one look — that’s what I thought was so amazing is that moment of her just sitting down.
8. Sasha Pieterse during Season 1 of PLL.
KA: That was, like, the first photo I took of Sasha, and she was so young, but she doesn’t act young.
When I first met Sasha she was very coquettishly looking over at me and she’s like, (waves) “Hey, what’s up?” And I was like, Sweet, this show’s great! And then I was like, “What’s up, what’s your name, who do you play...” And she was like, “I play Allison. My name’s Sasha Pieterse.” And I’m like, “Cool, nice to meet you.” And she’s like, “This is my mom.” I was like, “Cool, your mom… Bringing your mom?” And then she left and Ian Harding was like, “Yeah, that’s crazy, right? She just turned 14!” And I was like, Aaaahhh, so embarrassed.
9. All four of the Liars filming the black-and-white episode.
KA: I thought it was really cool because Joe [the director of the black-and-white episode] is so passionate about film noir and that genre as well. But what’s really cool is that we were shooting on stages that originally employed Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart and really iconic films like that. So there were spirits among us of epic classic cinema!
We’re there many major struggles or differences you guys had for this episode compared with the others?
KA: Yeah, it was just about really studying movies like The Big Sleep — and not only that, but also understanding the way cinematography was. You know, putting blue filters on the lenses, and the girls in what they were wearing. Had they been wearing that in real, color life it would’ve been jarring, but because of all the monochrome, and Mandi Line designing great textures — it's just kind of amazing all that goes into one little scene.
10. The cast hanging out in between filming.
KA: Usually I’m taking photos; Ian is tentatively paying attention to Ashley showing him Instagram photos, probably, or going through her camera roll of things that she did; Troian is sleeping and trying to drown out all the noise around her, and I think that’s Shay’s legs in the corner. Shay's usually reading a book. Or Troian or Ashley or I will be reading a book, and we’ll pass it along to each other. It definitely feels like a book club sometimes.
11. Ashley Benson and Shay Mitchell at the end of their night shoot.
KA: That was the last shot of that episode and they were so tired. They have these huge lights because we were illuminating to look like moonlight, and as they were walking through, it was blinding them. But they do look very glamorous — look at their eyelashes, I love it. And what’s really cool is that when this was emulsified onto film when I downloaded it digitally, you can go really close in and see each eyelash, it’s really cool. I’m such a nerd. I don’t know why people put up with this.
12. Tyler Blackburn and Ashley Benson making out on set.
KA: This is Ashley and Tyler rehearsing their kissing scene. They mess around so much and they do it sometimes I think just to make people uncomfortable.
There was a bunch of extras on set that day and she was just like, “Hey, Tyler!” And he was like, “Hey, Ashley.” And she was just like (sticks tongue out). And Tyler’s always just like, “All right” (laughs). And they did that I think for the photo and also for the [extras]. They’re just pranksters — I love ‘em.
13. Troian Bellisario during a table read.
KA: That’s, like, Troian writing something on her wrist in Sharpie to remember. I think she was writing down coordinates to an Arcade Fire secret show. She’s such a hipster sometimes — she slept I think on the street. But for Arcade Fire, I mean, I agree. It was during their album The Suburbs. But yeah, she was writing coordinates because the band was putting out tweets to where it was going to be, so she was doing some Troian-istic thing.
Is it ever awkward during a table read to have to act out certain things while you’re just sitting there at a table?
KA: Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’ll say, like, "Emily’s running through the woods and she screams, 'Help, Aria! Help!'” So, the way that Shay would say it would be like, “Oh, OK. Help Aria help.” And then everyone will laugh because it’s not in the moment as much because it’s being read in a room full of people, cast, crew, and executives.
14. Troian Bellisario as a member of the A team.
KA: I remember I took it and then Marlene King and Lisa Cochran our show producer and developer came over like, “Um, you can’t develop that for a long time.” And then like seven shadowy figures came up behind them like, “You can’t release that!” No, I’m just kidding (laughs).
15. Ian Harding, Ashley Benson, and Shay Mitchell at the PLL wrap party.
KA: OK, wait. There is an explanation for this! That was at the wrap party for Season 3. Yeah, I guess there isn’t really an explanation, it was just a moment in time in which I was, like, really trying to capture Ashley’s — this is really what happened, and believe me, I know it’s gonna sound ridiculous — Ashley’s fingernails were really cool. And she was like (puts hands up by chest), and then Shay did too, and Ian was like, "Yeah, yeah, let’s all do this.” And I was like, All right! But that’s what I mean, this is why the cast is so fun (laughs).