Check out Part I of our new series "The Art of Booking" as headshots Los Angeles photographer, Shandon Youngclaus, talks with celebrity booking coach, actor and author Amy Lyndon. Watch as they discuss the ins and outs of the audition room and dive deep into Amy's book "The Lyndon Technique." For more in-depth insights, check out Amy's website, TheLyndonTechnique.com, and be sure to pick up her book, "The Lyndon Technique" on Amazon!Read More
What should an actor do when they feel stagnant? Be patient, wait for the opportunity and be prepared when it comes. Check out the last episode in the series "Coffee with Anna" as headshots Los Angeles photographer, Shandon Youngclaus, talks with talent Manager Anna Lewkowska. For more in-depth insights, check outAnna's blog at ActorsForLunch.comRead More
How to Use the Visual Imagery of Movie Posters to Help Create the Perfect Headshot
Years ago I visited a fashion photographer friend in his (then) new studio. As we shared a coffee in his waiting room, I was fascinated by a sort of art installation covering an entire wall. Half wallpaper/half fine art, the wall was covered with tear sheets from various fashion magazines. Dozens of models in various styles shot in a wide range of lighting and art direction. It was a beautiful collage of everything the fashion industry was at that very moment. This was my friends inspiration wall—an ever changing kaleidoscope of suggestion, aspiration, and a visual dictionary to get his team and his clients on the same page. A library of up-to-the-minute photos where he or his clients could point to an image and say: I want to create something like that.
This idea of an inspiration wall or vision board for the the studio was intriguing to me. As anyone who has read my blog knows, I’m a big believer in planning and analytical approach. The best photoshoots don’t just happen; they are planned for, curated and only then, effortlessly executed. An inspiration board is a physical, visual manifestation of research—the easiest and fastest form of communication. If you’re gearing up to create your own concise and informing image (your headshot) that will compel casting directors to call you in, what better way to inspire your headshot session, than with an image search of your target genre of film or television shows.
Here’s a primer to creating your own vision board for this year. Bonus stars if you go the extra mile with an arts and crafts project involving cut outs, poster board, glue sticks and glitter.
- Determine Your Strengths as an Actor. This is sometimes harder than it looks. It’s important to know how you’ll be cast. What genres do you feel most comfortable performing. I ask this question of my clients all the time. I get frustrated when I hear answers that lack specificity. “I like to do it all.” “I’ll take whatever I can get.” “I’ve never thought about that.” These are all answers from non-working actors. Those that work know their strengths. You may enjoy performing in both dramas an comedies, but chances are you are better at one, and more likely to be cast in one. If you want to take the specificity up a notch, consider what type of drama or comedy you’re best suited for. Are you a half hour multi-camera comedian, or a single camera cable dramedian. If you need help narrowing it down, ask your acting coach or mentor, or veteran actor friend who’s objective and savvy. Do not take this step lightly. It is the foundation of all your other preparation. If you miss the target here, the rest is expensive busy work.
- Determine Your Target Television Shows and Films. After you determined your strengths as an actor, start thinking about what current Television Shows and Films you could be genuinely cast in. Make a list of the most popular shows in your genre and even the shows you’re not familiar with. A great internet resource is TasteDive.com. There, you can type in a show title and the site kicks back a list of similar titles in that particular genre. Try to compile the most comprehensive list of films and shows that could actually employ you. Again, specificity is key. You must be specific with your talent, and you must find specific examples of recent projects that would showcase your talent.
- Research your Target Show or Target Movie’s Promotional Materials. Once you’ve made your list of shows you want to target as an actor, do some very basic research to find promotional materials from those shows. Google Images is your best resource for quickly finding promotional materials from the shows you’re interested in auditioning for. Go to Google Images in your web browser (images.google.com). Then type in the show you’re looking for. You can include the network or streaming service or the word “poster” or “promotional” or “promo” or the year “season 2” etc. to help narrow your search. When you hit “enter” on your keyboard, you’ll open a Pandora’s box of images created to help promote the show. You should see a lot of great portraits that have been styled and curated to pique your interest in the show. Your next job is to mimic those portraits and create something similar to pique the interest of the casting directors.
- Style Yourself. Take a good look at the clothing you see in the images you pull up for your target show. Every film and television show has a unique energy and that energy should be well displayed in the promotional posters. Take notes on the wardrobe and then go shopping. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.” (If not, now you have.) Go style yourself like you’ve already been hired and you’ve just come from your fitting.
- Hire a professional photographer. A skilled photographer will help you achieve your vision of movie poster magic while at the same time staying within the tightly bound confines of headshot photography. Choose a photographer with a consistent yet varied book. Get recommendations from your agent. Find a photographer that will understand this process and enjoy his role in it.
- Get your Headshots On. Now comes the easy part. Combine and serve! Put the pieces together to create a headshot that looks like it could be part of a show’s promotional materials and pat yourself on the back for being a one-person Art Department.
One more word of advice. When you are looking through your inspirational material, don’t feel the need to recreate one specific photo. Use your inspiration as just that—something that inspires a brand new visual product. You’re looking for an energy and a style, and finding styles that compliment your talents. Here are a few searches to help get you started.
https://bit.ly/2rtx2gL Television Lawyer
https://bit.ly/2rlq25w Crime Dramas
https://bit.ly/2I8uIGi Disney Channel Posters
How do you submit to a manager? Find out what works and what doesn't work by checking out the next episode in the series "Coffee with Anna" as headshots Los Angeles photographer, Shandon Youngclaus, talks with talent Manager Anna Lewkowska. For more in-depth insights, check out Anna's blog at ActorsForLunch.comRead More
What makes a headshot stand out and what do managers look for in a headshot? Check out the next episode in the series "Coffee with Anna" as headshots Los Angeles photographer, Shandon Youngclaus, talks with talent Manager Anna Lewkowska. For more in-depth insights, check out Anna's blog at ActorsForLunch.comRead More
How do managers get their actors agents? Check out the next episode in the series "Coffee with Anna" as headshots Los Angeles photographer, Shandon Youngclaus, talks with talent Manager Anna Lewkowska. For more in-depth insights, check out Anna's blog at ActorsForLunch.com
How to Spend your Money in Hollywood
Money isn’t everything, but it can sure help when pursuing a career in Hollywood. Breaking into the entertainment industry is hard, and one of the biggest hurdles is funding your acting career. The payoffs can be lucrative, but getting there can bankrupt you. If you’re moving to Los Angeles from anywhere else in the country (with the exception of Manhattan), you’re going to be moving into a more robust economy, where everything is more expensive from food to housing, to transportation. It’s important to know the best ways to spend your money, so you can optimize your time in Hollywood.
Training—There is no better investment than learning your craft. A pretty face might book an audition, but a talented actor will book roles. Take the time and the expense to learn the ropes. There are a few types of classes in Los Angeles that will help you in your acting pursuits. Scene study should be a regular part of your curriculum. If you’re not acting regularly, you're not an actor. It’s great when you reach the point in your career when you are consistently paid to act, but until then, it would behoove you to spend some money on an acting class where you can regularly work and explore your craft. Great teachers will give you the tools to deconstruct scenes, find objectives and make strong and interesting choices to elicit emotional response. If you aren’t regularly acting, your artistry will atrophy. When that great audition comes up, you need to be at the height of your conditioning. If you’re not prepared, the opportunity is lost.
Marketing Materials—You have to cut through the clutter of Hollywood. If you don’t have a professional headshot, do yourself a favor and hire a professional to give you one. So many of our clients have been sent to us from their agents with similar stories. The photo that your boyfriend took with his new iPhone looks good but isn’t making the phone ring. If you want to look like a professional actor, hire a photographer that can make you look like you're already working. A compelling headshot that reveals who you are as an actor and a commodity will pique the interest of the casting director and increase your odds of auditioning. In an industry overwhelmed with hopefuls, you must find a way to quickly and concisely portray your uniqueness. A great headshot is an investment that must be made if you want to succeed.
Representation—it’s important to pay your representation, especially if you want them to work hard for you. This might sound obvious, but there are so many actors who are resentful of their agents and managers taking their ten percent. I’ve heard so many stories of actors cutting their agents out of deals and justifying it in a variety of ways. You should always honor your contracts (and read them before signing). Agents work hard to get their clients work, and even when you book a job on your own or through another source like your manager, it’s important to pay all of your team their share. They only make money when you’re making money, and working around them will only sour your relationship and breed distrust. Pay their share and use the current job to help you book the next. Remember, it’s a team effort.
Clothing—you have to look like a viable candidate to play the roles you're auditioning for. If you don't own an audition wardrobe, go shopping. You’re being judged and considered from the moment you step into the audition room. If you don’t look the part, or worse, if your clothing is distracting the casting director from your talent, you’ve done yourself a huge disservice. Great audition apparel helps cast you in the role you're auditioning for. It flatters your body type and compliments your coloring. It enhances your identity without distracting from your work. It fits well and is properly cared for. Make the time and investment in looking good. It’s easier than you think to dress for success.
Workshops—unlike acting classes, workshops are a great way to learn audition techniques and meet industry professionals. The best workshops are classes taught by industry professionals who are NOT casting directors. Many of these workshops teach audition techniques for several weeks and end with some sort of industry showcase where agents and casting directors come to view your work and find budding talent. Casting director workshops, on the other hand, have come under a lot of scrutiny over the years, but are a great way to meet people with the power to give you work. Every now and then there seems to be a crackdown on these types of classes, where companies are fined and players are jailed because they are, in essence, selling paid auditions and work opportunities. At their best they are a great resource to better understand the audition process and a way to meet industry professionals who can give you work.
If you are going to plop your money down to meet casting directors, make the most of it and do your research. Take workshops from Casting Directors who are ACTIVELY casting. Many feature casting directors use industry workshops as a way to make money between gigs. If they don’t know their next project, the chances of them remembering you down the road isn’t that great. Also, take classes from Casting Directors who cast shows that are appropriate to your talent. If you're not a comedian, don’t take a class from someone who only casts sitcoms. Also, make sure you are taking classes from the Casting Director or Associate Casting Director and not from an assistant at the casting office. You can burn through a lot of money taking workshops with little-to-no results. If you're going to spend your money to meet Casting Directors, have a plan and do it wisely.
It can be very frustrating when you feel like you have to pay to play in an industry, and because the competition is so fierce in Hollywood, it’s inevitable that you will have to spend money to make money. It can be a hard juggling act to stay solvent and continue moving forward, but if you learn to spend your money wisely, it won’t be long before you’re earning dividends.
How far does a manager push to get their talent seen after submitting? Check out the next episode in the series "Coffee with Anna" as headshots Los Angeles photographer, Shandon Youngclaus, talks with talent Manager Anna Lewkowska. For more in-depth insights, check out Anna's blog at ActorsForLunch.comRead More
Learning to Trust Your Representation
Recently we photographed headshots of a young actor in Los Angeles, whose dad was very concerned about a small serious of photos in his daughter’s proof sheets. Frankly, he didn’t like them and found them unflattering of his child. He called and requested that the photos be removed from the proof sheets before sending them to his daughter’s agent. This doesn’t really happen too often and when it does, we’re a little baffled by it. The whole point of a photoshoot is to take a bunch of photos and then choose the best of the best to help market you in the months that follow. While we strive to shoot as many great photos as possible, it’s the nature of the beast that the vast majority of photos we take will wind up on the editing room floor (or the computer’s recycle bin). Being fixated on a handful of bad photos instead of the handful of great ones, is a classic case of looking at the glass half empty, but the bigger take away is the need to trust the process.
While it seems like a pretty straight forward process, I’d like to take a few moments to explain how it works to the unindoctrinated. After you’ve chosen your photographer, you’ll typically show up to the shoot and collaborate with him. You might want to bring your ideas, or talk to your agent to see what their needs are. We shoot photos based on yours and the agents’ needs and then we post those photos online in galleries, or proof sheets. The agent chooses photos that will best represent you and help get you auditions. Once the photos are chosen, you’ll touch up the photos if necessary and then post them on casting websites for the agents to view when submitting your photos to casting directors. It’s a collaborative process and there are a lot of opinions. You’re the boss and you’ve hired a team of professionals that you trust—your agents, manager, photographer, makeup artist, retoucher, and sometimes publicist. And as the boss, it’s important to not micro manage and instead, trust the process and those you’ve hired to represent you.
The happy ending of the story above, is that the agent did her job. She looked through the girl’s photos and found some really compelling images to help sell her client to casting directors. As predicted, she didn’t choose the “bad” ones, and didn’t drop her from the agency suddenly because she realized her client wasn’t perfect. Your agent is on your side. Your photographer is on your side. That's what you're paying for.
When we shoot celebrities, many times the artists never even see the proof sheets. Either the ad agency or the artist’s representation will choose the photos. The artist usually has photo approval, but in the end they are approving their team’s or employers’ choices. They trust the people around them with the minutia, so they can concentrate on their craft.
Trusting your representation is essential to moving forward in the industry. We hear constant stories from our managers and agents about clients who have seen roles in the breakdowns that they want to be considered for. They call or email their reps urging them to throw their name into the hat. Usually the agent has already submitted them or they have a valid reason for not submitting them. But the constant checking-in and micro managing result in an erosion of trust. The agents resent the mistrust and relationships begin to sour.
When there’s a dry spell in your auditions and you ask your agents advice, trust them. They have insights and experience that have led them to their opinion. At the end of the day, if you really don’t trust that your agent is working on your behalf, it’s time to move on. If you’re right, you’ll do much better with another agent. If your wrong, you’ll know it soon enough and hopefully you’ll have learned from the process.
Ever wonder how a talent manager submits actors for a role? Check out the next episode in the series "Coffee with Anna" as headshots Los Angeles photographer, Shandon Youngclaus, talks with talent Manager Anna Lewkowska. For more in-depth insights, check out Anna's blog at ActorsForLunch.comRead More
Every wonder what the difference between a Manager and an Agent is? Check out the first video in our new series "Coffee with Anna" as headshots Los Angeles photographer, Shandon Youngclaus, talks with talent Manager Anna Lewkowska. For more in-depth insights, check out Anna's blog at ActorsForLunch.comRead More
As a headshot photographer in Los Angeles, my goal is to get my clients kick-ass marketing materials that will help them cut through the clutter of submissions in the entertainment industry.Read More
What do Los Angeles casting directors look for in the audition room? Check out the last video in the series as Shandon talks with award winning casting director Jen Rudin about headshots, communication, and confidence! For more in-depth insights, check out Jen's book "Confessions of a Casting Director" which is available on JenRudin.com and Amazon!Read More
What do casting directors look for in an audition? Check out Shandon's latest video as he talks with award winning casting director Jen Rudin about what casting directors look for during auditions! For more in-depth insights, check out Jen's book "Confessions of a Casting Director" which is available on JenRudin.com and Amazon!Read More
The entertainment industry is chock full of professionals who are willing to share their stories and expertise with up-and-comers. Many casting directors, managers, agents and photographers have blogs and books that give actors keys to opening doors in Hollywood.Read More
Check out Los Angeles Headshot photographer, Shandon Youngclaus, in his latest video as he talks with award winning casting director Jen Rudin about the different types of casting. For more in-depth insights, check out Jen's book "Confessions of a Casting Director" which is available on JenRudin.com and Amazon.Read More
Los Angeles, and California in general, has a distinct reputation around the globe. Angelinos are seen as health-conscious, image-conscious, self-helping liberals who start or quickly follow the latest dietary, fitness, or spiritual trends (and that’s one of the more diplomatic categorizations).Read More
What does it me to have a good headshot? Check out Los Angeles Headshot photographer, Shandon Youngclaus, latest video as he talks with award winning casting director Jen Rudin about how to have a headshot that stands out! For more in-depth insights, check out Jen's book "Confessions of a Casting Director" which is available on JenRudin.com and Amazon.Read More