We are a reflection of those who influence us.
All of these influencers are there with you while you are being photographed. In this time of social media influencers and of actors being hired for their staggering number of twitter and Instagram followers, I ask, who influences you? Acknowledge those who influence you. Are they where you want to be? Are they really qualified to influence you? Or did they randomly get in your head? Do follow the rules or think outside the box? I have never known anyone who strictly followed the rules who “made it”
Most people are influenced by risk takers, yet are afraid to take risks and instead follow the rules.
I am a risk taker. My headshots do not strictly follow the rules. But they have produced measurable and tangible positive results. Many of my competitors have a “formula”, a specific shot list that they plug you into. Each one follows a pattern and first into a box. Agents and managers ask me all the time, “what’s your formula”, and I say, “I just pay attention to the actor, I access what I think to be their star quality, and combined with what they tell me, I decide with them on the wardrobe, then I do the hair and make up to finish the look, choose the set up, then shoot”. So there is no formula, it’s organic. If it’s your choice to stick strictly to the rules, then my job is to get an intimate connection in the eyes that transcend the boring static traditional rule book.
The truth is, if you choose to get a “follow the rules” headshot, you will attract the people in the industry that are old school who follow the rules, and take forever to get you anywhere.
I have had many occasions where I shoot an actor’s first headshot and they see the photos and say, “I can really see myself doing this”. That used to take be a back, but now I get it. It wasn’t until they saw that photo that I shot, that they could see the gravitas of a good actor. When you actually see it, it becomes a reality.
You learn from mistakes. Know this.
When someone calls me 45 minutes before our scheduled and confirmed photo session and asks for my address. (This happens on average once a week) I know that you did not read the preparation document I sent, as it not only has the address, but the address is near the top, so I fear the rest of the very important information I sent was also not read. I ask you to slow down, read the page, if you do not agree with the information, let’s talk, but you may find you learn something.
I ask myself, “Why?” and after speaking to oh so many people, and oh so many demographics, people say many things, but the most relevant answer is: MOST ACTORS HAVE ALREADY DECIDED WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO DO, WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO WEAR, AND HOW THEIR HAIR WILL BE. THEREFORE THEY DO NOT WANT TO HEAR WHAT YOU (MEANING ME) WANT THEM TO DO.
I say know what you know and know what you don’t know. (A few others have said that as well) Admit that someone might be qualified, and able to introduce you to something new that could help you. Give you another tool for your toolbox.
Recently I had a few clients who do not know each other, who say things like: “I can’t shoot with natural light I don’t look good.”
If you say the last few lines out loud you will hear how ridiculous that is. You never look good sitting down?
Let me tell you, not all natural-light is the same. There is nothing about any face on the planet that a good make up artist cannot work with and make you happy. And you can look good while sitting in a photo.
Some of you might be reading this and think, this is silly, who would refuse to sit in a photo? It really happens.
So here’s the deal. Really look at the work of whom you are choosing. And look for the right thing. Are the actors present? Are they individuals, or a product of a formula? Would you want to meet the person in the photo?
I have clients who look for someone who looks like them on a web site. That is not important, as we are all true individuals. Look for an intimate believable connection to the camera. I look for individuality in any shape or color.. SIDEBAR: If you have curly hair, you might look for anyone with curly hair to see if the photographer consistently gets the frizz out and makes all the curls look good.
Know this: Communication is key. Whenever I have an unhappy client, it is always lack of communication. I could list 20 or 30 things people say over the years but I will give you a few.
- There’s this thing I do with my hair that my manager loves and he wanted some with that hair and we didn’t get that.(Meanwhile I was never told about this at the shoot)
- My agent wanted me to wear a specific blue shirt to bring out my eyes and we didn’t get that. (The actor did not tell me nor bring the blue shirt)
Well, you get the idea.
Last topic for this blog :
MY AGENT WANTED ME TO WEAR A SPECIFIC SHADE OF BLUE TO BRING OUT MY EYES BUT I DON’T OWN ANYTHING LIKE THAT
I can go on for days about this, but I won’t. I will say that approximately 70% of all my clients say something like this to me. And yes I will admit this stirs up quite a lot for me.
So, when you say “I don’t have that blue shirt in my closet”, I will say, “Are you an Ameri-can or an Ameri-can’t? Can you figure out a solution? Or do you have 100 excuses why you didn’t get it? I suggest you find one. If you do not agree with your representation’s opinion, you also need to work that out before your session
It connects to the issue of how badly you want this career and what you are willing to sacrifice. That is another whole blog topic.
Be an AMERI-CAN. Find that blue shirt! You can do it!
- Write down the 5 people who most influence you. Then make realistic evaluation of which of these are helpful, and which are not helpful. (I am wishing that there are none of the latter) If there are influencers that are not helpful, you must acknowledge them and set a boundary that certain topics are off limits.
- Take risks. Take a look and see if there is flexibility in your approach. Or do you have a choke hold on the way your career is supposed to go. Trust me, it will not go on schedule. We know this but we still operate as if we are on a schedule.
Some things people say that tell me there is minimal flexibility
“I only wear pink lipstick”
“I never shave”
I always wear my hair like this”
“I hate denim shirts”
“ I can not be photographed sitting down”
WHEN I REFER A CLIENT TO A MANAGER OR AN AGENT THE NUMBER ONE QUESTION THEY ASK IS “ARE THEY COACHABLE?”
A wise man said, ”How you do anything is how you do everything. “ T. Harve Ekers
If you are coachable at your photo session I would think it safe to say that you are coachable in all things.
I want to close by telling you that YOU teach ME new things every day. That is one of the reasons I love you!