I know right now I am talking to actors. Some of you are new, some are seasoned, so this may be redundant. What I’m going to say this may sound like I am telling you how to breath. Well, this blog could be called “Teach me how to breath” . Breathing is life. You’d be surprised at how many ways there are to breath incorrectly. When you breath incorrectly you can become nervous and unbalanced,tense, stressed, tired, loose brain power ,and die. Well, you can’t really die from breathing incorrectly but I Googled everything else. Why am I talking so much about breathing? You might be asking yourself that right about now, or you may have figured out that I am about to talk about how to simply “SHOW UP” in your photos.
In the last month, I must confess, I have photographed many actors who were buried in “Things they were supposed to achieve at this session,” and notes from their agents, managers,and acting teachers . They say things like, I need a profile picture, another one that is intense, that breaks the fourth wall and is hilarious . Or, I need a photo that pops, one that will “take you to the next level”. An intense terrorist who wears a bright red shirt. Show your physique and be sexy, but don’t wear anything tight or revealing. Give me seductress like the girls wearing smokey eye shadow, but don’t wear smokey eye shadow. Give me dark and edgy but don’t wear dark colors. Make sure you are photographed under a bridge . Only shoot with your head slightly tilted to the right. Give me a blank canvas. Do not be specific. WHAT?! These are actual notes I have gotten, crazy right?
So, to start with you may need to hire a translator to figure out how to “Pop”,or how to show your physique in a baggy top? I am serious when I say, I get instructions every day that are more confusing than putting together an item from Ikea.
Well, search no more for that translator. I am here at no extra cost, woohoo! Here are a few examples. Show your physique without wearing anything (Too) tight, translates as, “Do not wear bike racing clothes, spandex, or anything an 80’s street walker would wear, or anything “too tight”) To show your body the clothes have to fit correctly.
(These two pics are examples of how to dress to show your body in a heashot)
Your rep asks you for an intense break the fourth wall, hilarious. That is usually meant to be two separate photos. They are busy, they kind of blurred that together. End of confusion. Hilarious, breaking the fourth wall, is one shot. And intense breaking the fourth wall is another.
Not to blow my own horn, but if you haven’t chosen me to take your picture yet, one of the things I get is that all of my pictures break the fourth wall. Meaning they are looking at a person not a lens, there is that relationship.(On stage the forth wall is the audience.) When you are not breaking the fourth wall, the audience is not there theoretically and you are in your moment on stage. One of my great teachers, Silvana Gallardo, used to whisper as you were working on stage “Let the camera see you”. I loved that! My classmates included Angelina Jolie, Vin Diesel, Keanu Reeves. They used Silvana’s method on camera, and I use it in still photography.
LET IT GO! (Cue the music..no wait) AND LET THE CAMERA SEE YOU
My how to’s are simple.
How to bring it
- Know what you are going for
- Clear your head
- Break the fourth wall
I was almost done and I thought of two jarring things that many people do, and I must say, whoever you shoot with, do not do this. This is a coming soon to the Paul Gregory Photography blog posts.
- As I mentioned you want to be real and present and truthful and communicative. So, when you are shot frame 1 intense, frame 2 laughing, frame 3 sad, frame 4 neutral. I feel like I am watching a psychotic episode and I am about to call the paramedics. But instead I gently say, “Stay with one intention for a bit , then ease into another.”
- The other thing is when you move after every single shot. Most people who do this have done print work, and their movements are abrupt, face left face right, head down, or head up. On the rare occasion when these actors move forward and back and side to side at the same time I actually get nauseas, because, guess what? I am focusing on a moving target. Side note, moving toward the camera or backing away from the camera is going to affect the exposure, never do this! The exposures will be off. You can move, but make the moves fluid, and with each change of your thoughts give the camera a second to see you. That’s about how long it takes to focus. I’m sure no one has had a great picture out of focus. Well, it would only be out of focus if you were moving too quickly. When I see a photographer who’s pics are 100 crystal clear, I know the subject was not allowed to move at all. I take that risk of letting you move fluidly so you are still but alive.
DON’T Forget to watch the Oscars! And practice your pretend speeches until they are real.
Closing thoughts: I had a “moment” watching the SAG awards. This is my blog so I can say anything I want to. First, I see my old client and imaginary best friends Amy Adams and her handsome husband Darren Lagallo. I reminisce about past photo shoots and mutual friends, the time I saw her back stage and on stage in Shakespeare in the Parks, “Into the Woods”. I saw my best friend, manager, Nelson Paredez of ESI, with his client Ashton Sanders from “Moonlight,” then cast mates I have worked with from “Orange is the New Black,” Miriam Morales, and Selenis Leyva, then a commercial for Sneaky Pete, with old acting Class mate Giovanni Ribisi. then the President of Sag comes out and it’s another Lynette Katseles classmate, Gabrielle Carteras. And last Toraji P. Henson, who I referred to Vincent Cirencione oh so many years ago, and who I last saw on the set of “Person of Interest”in New York a few years ago. Then I think of all the wonderful and amazing journeys I get to be a part of. I was in New York at that moment and had ordered in Italian, and yes, I may have shed a tear of joy onto my cannoli.