Born and raised in East Peoria, Kelli Drake of DRAKEphoto has a passion for creating beautiful spaces that intersect with stunning images. “Designing photography sessions and crafting impactful portraits for a client’s wall is so gratifying,” she says. “I believe showcasing portraits of your family affirms your love for them and adds beauty to your home.”

And family is central to Drake’s life—she and her husband, Greg, live next door to her parents in a house they designed themselves. Whenever possible, he accompanies her to photo sessions, and Drake says his silliness helps put clients at ease. The couple also has an 11-year-old daughter, Breeza, who is already working her artistic chops. “She draws and writes, and like [her] mom, is always ready to redesign the spaces around her.”

Drake’s love of photography isn’t just about the art, she says; it’s about helping others “showcase their best to the world.” Besides DRAKEphoto, she also runs Red Haute Images, offering boudoir-style photography to help women see their own beauty. “It is so important to celebrate and love yourself and who you are,” Drake explains. “[It] gives me the opportunity to prove to a woman just how lovely she is.”

  1. Favorite smell: Fresh ginger.
  2. Favorite leisure activity: Hitting thrift stores for props and DIY projects. (The Habitat ReStore is great!)
  3. Which talent would you most like to have? Public speaking… without shaking!
  4. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? To work the same shift as my husband.
  5. What are you most proud of? My daughter, Breeza. She is so kind and caring and brings so much joy to others.
  6. What is your favorite childhood memory? Seinfeld nights at my grandparents. Every Thursday, my dad would make stir fry and we’d laugh together.
  7. What’s your most embarrassing nickname? I was coined “Queen Bee” as a self-centered teen.
  8. What do you do when you want to relax? Nothing beats a good book plus a glass of red wine in the bubble bath.
  9. What social issue fires you up? Social injustice and racial and gender inequality.
  10. What or who inspires you? Robbie Criss at Dream Center Peoria. His passion to give kids opportunities for their future is awesome! a&s