Taking Responsibility for your Responsibilities
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. We go to great lengths to get your hair right and choose the best clothing. I direct clients using emotional objectives while focusing lighting and adjusting camera settings. We provide a casual warm environment where actors can play and become vulnerable. We witness that truth and then frame and freeze it. We provide the stage and welcome the players to it. So it’s incredibly frustrating when a player simply doesn't want to play. As photographers, we can do a lot of the heavy lifting to get the photos you want, but there are several things that are essential to a successful shoot that we absolutely CANNOT provide.
Here are 3 things that only you, the artist, can contribute to your photoshoot:
Energy. This is a no brainer, and yet every so often a client shows up to his shoot braindead. Do yourself a favor and treat your headshot session as a career changing acting job (after all, it is just that—an acting job with the potential to change your career). Get plenty of rest the night (or two nights) before. Eat before you come, and maybe bring a snack in case you get hungry. Drink plenty of water. If your body responds well to caffeine, have a little coffee, tea or soda before your shoot. Avoid late nights before your session, or extreme exercise. We are capturing your essence from frame to frame, and if you are sluggish or run down, that will show. Part of being castable is appearing alert and present. Be rested and ready to work.
Charisma. Your charisma is that unique blend of invisible energy that makes you likable, relatable, and also extraordinary and aspirational. When you reveal yourself and your charisma you are attracting others with your spiritual magnetism. You must be willing to be vulnerable and charming. Your goal is to be likable. When you are collaborative, interested, and willing to lead and follow, when you are present and emotionally truthful, when you temper your work with a little bit of play, your charisma shines like a star worthy of a place in Hollywood’s firmament. Don’t be afraid of being uniquely you—worthy of love, but not desperate for it.
Passion. This is the big one folks. If you don’t love what you’re doing, no amount of lighting and makeup will make us believe otherwise. You have to want to be there. So many actors tell me they hate photoshoots—that it’s the worst part of the job. Honestly, get over it. It is a part of the job, even if you don’t like it. If you are a successful actor, you will be required to take photos from time to time. Start learning to enjoy the process. You’ll get better photos, you’ll have people working harder for you, and subsequently, you’ll work more. And if you really don’t enjoy the process of creating art, you need to ask yourself if you are cut out to be an actor. Are you driven by process or goals? You must passionately enjoy the process, because that’s all you’ve got while your working toward your goals.
So when you’re packing for your next headshot session, leave your shoes behind (they’re heavy and you probably won't need them). Instead, bring your A-game—your passion and excitement coupled with confidence and accessibility. And snacks… you might want to bring snacks.