So… you have a few questions. That’s understandable. Here’s a few answers.
Why shoot with Impressive Headshots?
Too often in my career I’ve had headshots taken by photographers who just didn’t get the job done, and quite frankly they didn’t seem to care. They took my money but just didn’t seem to care. Well, I DO care. I care about both the headshots and your success. I WANT you in the doors of the best agencies, and then into casting offices that will help you succeed. I’ll talk to you as an actor and photographer. As a photog I will look for the best lighting to show you the best “you.” If I don’t see life in your eyes then I don’t think that the CD’s will either. I’ll work to get “you” to shine through in your headshots and to get exciting shots that you’re proud to hand out. That means more success to you, and ultimately more success to me when you refer me to your friends.
Many people think that anyone can take a good headshot. I wish that were true! They think you just go to Best Buys, get a nice camera with a nice lens, stand outside under some shade and shoot a great headshot. But that’s just not the case. But for many so-called photographers that is all the work they put into their abilities. They learn the most basic camera functions and hope for the best. “Okay” shots are simply not good enough to compete to get you in the doors. Plus, they don’t instill you with confidence that great headshots give you.
As a younger actor I always went to the cheapest photographer I could find so I could save money. The headshots looked somewhat like me… and I could afford them, so they must be good “enough.” That’s all they were: good enough. But I got no action from them. No one ever told me why. They didn’t tell me that my headshots looked amateur and that the message I was sending out was that I was an amateur. So I “saved” money on the images at the immense expense of making myself look like a non-committal amateur hobbyist actor. Oops! Please don’t make that mistake! Whether you go with me or another terrific photographer please get a photographer who really understands both light and getting life in your eyes. Without those elements you are just doing what I did so many years ago.
They say you only get one chance at a first impression. So shouldn’t that impression begin with great headshots? The answer is a very simple YES! Help yourself by only spending money on great headshots. Nothing else matters. That’s why I say, “If your headshots aren’t IMPRESSIVE, then why bother?”
Do you use natural light?
Many headshot photographers in L.A. go out of their way to advertise they “specialize in natural light”. They’ll take you on a walk around the block, or under an overpass or maybe even a parking garage. Well, I like to do those things as well if the conditions are right or if that is what you want. BUT, more importantly, I can shoot with any situation because I also know how to use studio lighting in a natural way… and I like that I can serve your needs so many ways. Let’s face it, sometimes it might be too windy if your hair is long. Do you want to spend a ton of money having someone edit out all the fly-aways. Or it may be too hot or cold… or wet. If you set up for a certain day and have planned for days or weeks to have your shots on that date, do you really want weather to cause a cancellation? And then you have to reschedule and still hope for the best?
I use natural light as it enters my studio. And I also add in studio flash when I need to. Simply put, I do what needs to be done to get great images. I have the skills and the gear to accomplish that. It took a lot of work and a lot of training that maybe some others didn’t put in, but you benefit from my time and work put in to make your shoot successful regardless of the weather. I’ll even take my strobes outside for headshots with a cityscape background if that is what is really wanted.
I do love shooting outside as much as the next photographer. I’m just prepared for anything. That may be one thing that separates me from many. I’m certainly not knocking those photogs that do a fantastic job with natural light. Many are terrific. And many of those are trained in being able to do it both ways, as I do. I just don’t want to be forced to shoot with whatever weather comes on a particular day.
Here’s my main argument for people who say that headshots are best if shot in natural light and those who are dogmatic about it. The fact is that almost every set you’ll ever work on has some sort of augmented light, even if you are shooting outside. So if the sets are lit artificially and that is how you’re going to be seen, then why do headshots require natural light. All of Spielberg’s films are impeccably lit but they look natural, right? The actors look great in his films, right? I’m not a lighting master like his DP but I make my clients look great! At least I think so.
What time of day are the sessions?
Sometimes I’ll even shoot the session at night using either studio backdrops or maybe step out for some ambient settings like alleys or even Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. I’m up for fun shoots. Sometimes the clients are working day gigs as they pursue their dreams and night is the only time they can shoot. I try to be their for my clients in any way I can.
In some cases I can even go to the clients house to shoot the session. There is an extra charge for me coming to you.
Do we review images during the shoot?
Gosh, to be honest sometimes I just can’t help myself. But I really shouldn’t. The reason is that too many people judge themselves way too harshly and then they won’t loosen up to be the real person they are, and that’s what casting people want to see- YOU.
I had one client, a guy actually, who started the session and demanded to see every image for the entire first set-up. It was terrible. Of course, he wasn’t doing anything to change the look from shot to shot except focusing on all the external garbage that he should not have been worried about. After that first set-up and about 20 times of having to stop everything between every click, I told the guy that I wasn’t the right photographer for him if he didn’t trust that I knew what to look for. I told him his shoot could last 6 hours if he looked at every shot, and we’d never get one “‘real” shot of him. I offered his retainer back to call it off. He thought about it and said he’d let me do my thing. It took about 10 more minutes but he finally loosened up. After he got his images back he said they were the best headshots he’d every had taken. His agents loved them and had a helluva time narrowing them down.
I do show you images to let you know whether or not we are achieving your goals. I would not want you to view them once you got home and decide that we missed something. Our goal is to prepare you for the audition opportunities, so we’re gonna do everything we can to have you confident that we nailed your session.
When do I get my images for viewing? And what then?
I suggest that you send the link to friends to help you narrow down your choices. After you’ve done that then I’ll let you give me the numbers of the images to put in a second folder for your representatives to view.
After you and your reps have made your choices I’ll go back and do further editing on the agreed number of images and will set them up for print, including name, etc. This will usually save you money at the print houses.
How do I make an appointment?
You simply call me and we check the calendar for our nearest coinciding availability. A $100 retainer is required through PayPal or Venmo to secure your appointment.
What if I have to cancel or re-schedule?
What do I wear?
This may be the most common question any photographer gets. Before your shoot we will talk about what you’re goals are as far as characters you want to portray, etc. You’ll have discussed that with your representatives so we can nail what you and they want. The attire for one client is not the necessarily the same for the next so I don’t want to give a blanket answer. I can say that generally earthtones are best as a rule. Also, avoid plaids or paisley or colors that are too bright. Avoid logos as well. You could not get an audition for Brand A if you are wearing a T-shirt advertising Brand B. The main thing the CD or agent should focus on is YOU, not your wardrobe. We’ll get much further into all of this before your session.
Do the images need retouching?
All images can benefit from a touch of adjustment, whether it be bringing a little more pop or sharpness to the eyes, or lightly whitening teeth. I’m very good at photoshop and even have clients strictly for my retouching from when they had headshots done poorly by someone else. My retouching is always with a light hand. I don’t make you look like a plastic version of yourself. You will look natural. Whoever looks at it may not even know there had been any retouching at all. The key is being subtle and specific.
A couple of areas where too many retouchers overdo it are on the eyes and facial skin. Many over-whiten the eyes making them look cartoonish. They’ll take every sign of red out of the eyes and then turn up the brightness. That is NOT the right way to do it. Our eyes all have a little red in them and it needs to stay there to look natural. It should be toned down but not removed. And the skin should not be sharpened to the point where you have an unnatural face like a plastic doll. I’m very careful to be subtle with my editing.
Most of my packages include a certain number of retouched images included in the package. Others can be added for a fee.
Do you get the photos for your use?
Do I need a make-up artist?
I do not provide a make-up artist or hair person. They can be helpful if you are not used to wearing much make-up. I kinda feel that the make-up should be very minimal in the way that you could replicate it if you had to go to an audition. But that can be communicated very easily to a good MUA. It can be great to have that set of eyes on the shoot to make sure that hair isn’t flying around or so that you don’t over-do your mascara. Putting on too much mascara can kill your shoot, pure and simple.It is not easily corrected in Photoshop either. Also, MUA’s can make you feel better about yourself so that all you have to think about is the shoot. They can even be good for guys as well to cover up things and just give you the vibe of being on a set. And good make-up, not over-done, can save you a ton of money and time by not having to spend as much on retouching blemishes or wild hair later. There are lots of terrific MUA’s, and I love using them for the right situations.
Now, that said, I tend to recommend to hire a subtle MUA for a headshot session or none at all. After all, do you plan to have a MUA before you go to auditions? No, you will be applying it yourself. Actor Headshots are not beauty shots. I think you should look in your headshots like the CD, agent or producer will see you when you walk in the room. For those reasons I also don’t over-edit headshots to make you look 10 years younger or much thinner or give you aline skin. It really can anger folks when they call you in based off your headshot and then you have misrepresented yourself with your image.
Years ago there was a big CD named Hank McCann. He had quite the history of casting feature films. He said that he started every audition by giving the actor 100 points before they walked in the door. He said when they walked in the door he either gave them 10 extra points for looking like their pics or minus 10 for not. He said the trust was already lost if you tried to misrepresent yourself. I’ve remembered that as both an actor and a headshot photographer.
What about Corporate headshots? Do you do those?
Some want pictures made in each office, or at least various places around the office. That, of course, takes more time since there are lots of set-ups. In those cases many times I’ll bring an assistant. I know that time is money for you and I want to accommodate your busy day as best I can. To date most of my clients have been medical, law and real estate practices. But everyone needs a great image to put their best foot forward on the internet or print.
So, a most emphatic YES, I do corp0rate headshots.