SOME THOUGHTS ON MY PROCESS...
I have been a professional photographer for 15 years.
When shooting headshots, I have found a process that really seems to work and my clients have truly benefited from it. It doesn’t matter if you are new to the business or established. This approach is an interesting take on the process as it is rooted in specific archetypes and creating a poetic feel in each look. Poetry is incredibly concise. I want each one of your looks to be concise, honest and compelling.
HERE IS HOW IT WORKS - HAVE FUN WITH IT AND DON’T TAKE IT TOO SERIOUSLY!
1. LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND SEE WHERE YOU FIT.
Look in the mirror and be honest. Put vanity aside if you can. Look at yourself as a casting director would. Start with your hair, eyes, and skin tone. Then go to your body type.
This is about honesty. The more honest you are with yourself the more likely you are to position/brand yourself appropriately.
What are your “specs”? Check in with your representation and get on the same page. You can send me the list of “looks” and archetypes when you book an appointment. This helps me and my makeup artist understand how you see yourself and how the rep is marketing you.
Remember, the headshot is a tool. The best tool is 100% authentic and positions you in the best category to get the job. Your photo needs to match your look and energy when you walk in the room.
2. ARCHETYPES TO GIVE YOUR “LOOKS” A BACKBONE.
At the end of this page you will find a short list of archetypes (you can find more online). Apply these to the list of looks you came up with. Meaning: If your representation wants a “Detective” shot, use the list to find the archetype that best fits your type of Detective. A Detective can be a hero, a villain, a hunter, etc. What type would YOU be? “Detective” is way to general. This will help you focus your looks and make them personal. Bring yourself to the look. It also gives me a way to feed you playable actions when directing. I shoot the archetype, not the “look”. The look is what other people see. We shoot the archetype. This gets you out of your head about the look itself and any baggage tied to it.
SIDE NOTE: “LOOKS” DEFINED
Generally, a look is a change of clothing. Glasses or a tie on and off does not constitute a new look. Removing or adding layers may. Ask me.
The clothing, lighting and background will help tell your story. These are completely open to interpretation based on your choices for each look. We can shoot indoor, outdoor, color, black and white, light / dark. Whatever is right for the look is we shoot it. Let’s keep it simple and honest.
3. CLOTHES NOT COSTUMES.
Established actors don’t need to dress the part and that is cool. It is even less about the clothing. However, most actors need to hint at dressing the part. Honestly, it is not about the clothes. It is only about the clothes if you make it about the clothes because you don’t trust what you are bringing to the camera. I hope once you define yourself and find the archetypes that fit, you can see clothing in a different light. This is about finding clothing that is true. Where is the truth? Ask yourself: If I was auditioning for a “Mom” what would I wear to the audition? This is how you dress the look. Your shirt does not need to match your eye color and all that nonsense. If you are auditioning for a “Teacher” and you have decided that “Scholar” is the best archetype you can already start to see the clothing that is right for YOU. I can write forever about this, but I think you get the point. It is better to hint at it rather than playing dress up and looking like an amateur.
4. THERE IS NO PERFECT, ONLY HONEST.
There is no right way to shoot headshots. This is a creative process from start to finish. The rest is just getting out of the way. That goes for me too. We just try to shoot the truth in what is usually a very odd process for actors. I promise you this: if you put some work into it, you will feel incredibly prepared and you will be shocked by the results...and you might even have some fun while doing it.
Thanks for reading through this. I hope it helps. Pete