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Actors’ Photography – discussion for actors from “The Actors’ Hot Tub”

[Music] – Hi, I’m Leanna Chamish!
– I’m Brian St. August… – and welcome to “The Actors’ Hot Tub”. And what are we discussing today?
– I thought today would be fun to talk about actors’ photography.
– Okay, what’s encompassed in that?
– Well, I think headshots, full figure shots, comp shots for models
– Oh yeah
– Those of you who do those different things will know
those terms but generally this is the photography that actors and models use
in order to obtain jobs and also to be seen.
– It is so very important that you have shots that represent you well. So I
guess we’re going to talk about how you get to having those shots that you can
send around and put on the actors websites and other ways that we find
business. I guess my first question is how do you find a good headshot photographer?
– I think it’s a great question. I think it depends on a lot of
things. It depends on your area, what part of the country you live in, whether there
are a lot of people doing entertainment business kinds of things in your area. If
there are then the chance of finding a good headshot photographer that shoots
for entertainment is better, and if not one thing that you can always do is ask
your friends that are in the business. – Right, I think it is important to find
somebody who shoots for entertainment. It’s not as easy as going to
Sears or wherever they do kids’ portraits and things like that it’s a
different animal and you do need some recommendations. If you have a club for
actors in your area ask around. If you know casting directors and casting
people in your area ask around and look at their websites and get
recommendations. Don’t let yourself be steered toward a specific photographer
from a casting director. You may want to go with their recommendation but I think
it’s important that you shop around and and definitely compare the prices of packages.
– Mm-hmm, and also when you get closer to identifying a potential
photographer you want to probably contact them. Speak
to them. Because chemistry is very important in the actor/photographer
relationship. If you’re not comfortable with the person shooting you you’re
likely not going to be able to demonstrate yourself in the way that you would like.
– Well, I agree you do want to have fun with the person you’re with and it
does mean a lot. I had a headshot session with a
photographer that didn’t make me feel good about myself. I don’t know, it was
strange, I felt judged or something, whereas with another photographer I just felt
relaxed and happy and they seemed receptive to what I wanted and my ideas
and that just made all the difference in the world. So I think when you’re going
into the headshot session you should know what it is you’re getting in your
package. How many changes of clothing, for example.
– Mm-hmm
– What’s typical?
– Could be a one or two look shoot, could be three to six
look shoot. And typically those number of changes have some degree of influence
on the cost of the shoot because they’re going to be longer.
You know, you’re not going to just change and take three pictures in that outfit
and then change again. That’s a waste of your time and a waste of the
photographer’s time, so typically they’re going to shoot quite a few pictures of you
in each look, which means that if you brought six looks, which is a lot but
it’s not unheard, of it’s going to be a relatively long shoot and time is money
in any business and certainly is in photography. So it’s something for you to
really identify up front. First, by yourself and secondly talking to your
photographer about it, just how many looks you want to be, you know, moving
towards, being prepared for what you’re going to choose and bring with you.
– Right, and it depends on your goals and also
what kind of work you’re going after. In my last has shot session I knew I
just wanted one good head shot of me in a casual shirt that’s all I really
wanted out of it, so I discussed it with the photographer ahead of time and I
think I brought three changes and it was very simple and very quick,
low-key, which is what I needed for my purposes. Now if you need a full-body
shot, you and the photographer have to plan ahead for that because they may not
have their background set up if they think they’re just doing a headshot
session, just, you know, torso or extreme close-up, so again that is something you
discuss in your pricing package and then you decide how how many changes you’re
going to have and work that out with the photographer whether it’s full-body and close-up.
– Right, in the headshots the lighting for a headshot is very
different than the lighting for a full figure. So you have to figure that every
time you make a change like that, that the photographer has got to go to quite a
bit of, you know, change themselves in order to accommodate your shoot.
Leanna, one of the things that I think is really important as you’re developing
and relationship with the photographer is looking at what’s going to be
required as far as makeup is concerned, who’s gonna provide it.
– Oh gosh, that is so important. In our business sometimes we
talk about being camera-ready, which means doing your own hair and makeup.
Or especially with headshots you really should have a professional makeup artist for women and men.
– Mm-hmm…
– So discuss with your photographer if they have somebody
they recommend or you can book somebody, again through networking asking
questions, who’s a good makeup artist, and then arrange to have them show up at the
same time at the photographer’s. So, that is a separate charge but is extremely
important. And you should ask whether or not hair is included with the makeup
artist. They may not know how to do hair so you should have your hair done or be
prepared to touch it up on site if your makeup artist only works with your face. So do you get makeup?
– Yes, I do. I do I think every actor, whether they’re
male or female, they still need to be sure that the makeup that they’re using
for their shot is correct. Makeup really has a lot of interface with the
lighting that you’re using as well, so you know it’s really
important the people that you’re working with that are helping you with hair and
makeup understand those qualities, so that you as the actor who’s just posing
can rely on them to make the right decisions with that.
– All right, so definitely get a makeup artist, this is an investment in your
future. And as far as clothing choices go, you really should think about that
strongly ahead of time I. I think generally it’s solid colors,
non-distracting clothing, no big jewelry, nothing that’s going to, if you’re doing
a headshot, nothing that’s going to take away from looking at your face, you don’t
want them focusing on stripes or wild patterns or logos, logos are big no-no,
you’re not advertising any products, and you don’t want them looking at giant
cluster of diamonds earrings or weird stuff, it’s just you want them to see your face and your smile.
– I think another thing to consider with your clothing
choices is how are you selling yourself or marketing yourself as a model or
actor? Because those clothing choices are going to reflect how you want to be seen,
how you want to be marketed. So if you’re a younger actor that wants to appear kind of hip or, you know, whatever
– Good point.
– Your, your choices, that you bring clothing choices that reflect that.
– Right. For myself, I’ve usually made the decision that I
wear very neutral and plain clothing that allow a casting director to project
different identities onto me. I just want to be simple and clean, that, that’s my
choice. Again, I’m not trying to be young and hip, I’m trying to say, oh, she could
be the doctor or the lawyer or the mother and all that. And if you’re going
for the full body shot, we talked about this little earlier, you have to be sure
about your underwear. For women, I think the choice of brassiere is really
important, you want something that’s smooth, doesn’t show seams under your clothing
or bumps… are you wearing the right brassiere today? – I think so.
– Okay, and for pants you do need to be concerned about panty lines. So, yeah, without getting into too much detail, make sure that the
underwear you choose works with the outfit that you are wearing for these
shots. Yes, you could maybe do some Photoshop later but why complicate
things. Wear the right undergarments that look good with your
clothing, and if you don’t want your bra straps to show make sure that you’ve
got the right kind of bra on, if your top is a halter or whatever you just make sure that that works.
– You know, I think that’s something that’s really
neat about “The Actors’ Hot Tub” is that you have somebody like Leanna who’s going
to share that with you, because, you know, frankly you go through a lot of the
modeling books and so forth, they won’t tell you, watch your brassiere! I will..
– You’re watching my brassiere?
– Yes, of course! But that’s why you’ve got to make those choices
when you’re doing the shot so that you don’t have somebody flaky like me out there who’s checking that out. No, I think it’s a great insight, I really think it’s one of the benefits of
“The Actors’ Hot Tub” to be able to share that kind of information because you don’t
typically get that anywhere else. I’d also like to mention that one of the
things when you get a headshot shoot is looking at the possibility of editing
the shot afterwards in case the hair, there’s a
hair out of place or you have a zit or something that came through, how many of those kinds of edits will the photographer make, what’s their charge
for it and so forth, I mean, those are important things to consider. That being
said though, I want to share something as open and honest as Leanna just did, and
that’s to say that it’s great to have Photoshop and the different things it
can do to disguise things on your person and that can make you look more perfect.
But the truth of the matter is very few of us are perfect, and I have a mole on
my face that I’ve had since I was born. Now, there was a photographer at one time,
a very good headshot photographer, who when he dressed up my
shots, he took off my mole. And I said, you know what, I appreciate what you did, but
in truth, if people booked me to come in to audition from that headshot and I
walk in and they see a mole on my face, they might say, that’s not what we saw,
that’s not what we wanted. So my recommendation to you is, there are
certain things we have that are part of us, and maybe we’d like them to be
different, maybe we wouldn’t, but they are who we are,
don’t try to erase them. You can always diminish them a little bit, I can use
makeup to lighten mine, but to make it go away would not be fair. It’s not fair in
the presentation, it’s not fair to the client and it’s ultimately not fair to
me. So keep that in mind when you make those decisions.
– I totally agree. I’ve had photographers who have tried to Photoshop
out crow’s feet, or this or that, I’m like no no, this is what people get, that they
have to see what I look like, my best me admittedly, with the best makeup on, but
please don’t erase anything. I am secure enough to say, okay, I’m not a spring
chicken, but you know what, that’s what people have to… when I walk into the room
that’s what they’re going to see. So again, we are secure in our
appearance. And sell what you have and be happy with with what you have and don’t
get stuck in portraying yourself as eternal youth because then people would
just be very confused when you walk into the audition room.
– Yeah.
– But again, like he said erasing a stray hair or a
wrinkle in your clothing, that’s a different matter, and yes, that that is
something you should ask your photographer– how many shots am I going
to get at the end of the shoot from you, how many of them are you willing to
touch up and what’s included in my final price.
– And what’s my availability to use those photographs, can I use
them world-wide, is it totally my choice, can I have them in magazines, what have
you. And I don’t know what the answer is going to be, it’s going to be a matter of your
photographer’s answer, but I strongly suggest that you ask them that question,
because usage is what you’re looking for. You need to determine if there’s any limitation to that usage.
– And if this is your first time getting headshots you
should be prepared to take a lot of direction from the headshot photographer.
Often they’ll be asking you to move in just very small ways, so when they say
just move a touch, or move a hair, or take a baby step, you know, just be prepared
for those kind of directions. It might feel a little awkward. They may say tilt
your head, move your shoulder back, put your elbow there, all sorts of
contortions, but if you’re new to the business these are the type of things
you’ll be asked to do on real shoots, especially if you go for print work, so
get used to the idea of taking direction and knowing the photographer wants you
to look great. It’s in your best interest and his or hers to make you look
fantastic so learn how to take those directions and be prepared for them.
– Excellent, and I think to piggyback on that, because trust is part of what
you were just talking about. Leanna, how do you feel about photographers who have their studios set up in their home.
– Wow, okay, you’re touching on a big topic
which is important to women especially, but also men and and young people. You
have to be careful about walking into somebody’s home. I would generally advise
people not to audition or go places where they will be alone in an isolated
area with somebody they don’t know, so please check all the recommendations
of your photographer, make sure they have a real track record and if you don’t think
there’s going to be somebody else around or that it’s an observable public place,
take somebody with you. Take a family member, take a spouse, or a boyfriend or
girlfriend and/or have a buddy system set up where you’re checking in by phone.
So please be careful, do your homework, make sure this is a legitimate person
with a track record and take a buddy, ideally. – Yeah, because you can always introduce
that person to the photographer as somebody that is a friend of yours who
is conscious of the way you’d like to look and that they’re very careful
saying if your makeup is the way you would like it, if there’s anything that’s
changed, if you’ve changed clothes and your collar is down that they give you
that input. That person may in fact really do those things but it’s a nice
way to introduce them so it doesn’t sound like, you know, you’re, you only
brought them because you’re scared or you’re concerned. That can be handled, I
think, in a, you know, more unique, friendly way than that.
– Right, and when you’re interviewing the photographer prior to
going, if you bring up the thought that you’re going to bring somebody with you,
gauge their reaction. If they object, then don’t go! – Yeah!
– Don’t go! Big red flag if they said, no my process is I work best when we’re alone
and we can interact, and, wooooo, your antennae should go up! And then some… And along those lines if you’re at a photography session, hopefully some somebody’s with you or
you feel safe with this person, but if you happen to be isolated and alone and they
start asking you to do something sensual, or to reveal more than you had agreed to
beforehand, maybe you do like to do sexy shoots or something with nudity, if
that’s agreed to beforehand, fine. But if someone starts to coax you into
it, I’d say run, get out of there as fast as possible.
– Excellent. – Absolutely. So there are also some kinds
of shots that people take for comp cards where you might be outside and not in a
studio situation. Can you explain what happens at those?
– Well, I think that’s something, again, you need to talk to the photographer about
in advance of the shoot. I just, after I had done a studio headshot shoot,
I approached that same photographer and asked him if he could do some shots of
me outside in some more citified of locations, and he was agreeable to
that, but recognized that in doing it there are certain things he can’t bring
from the studio, certain things he has to mimic from the studio such as
reflectors and so forth to be able to give him that same control of his
lighting. So let him know up front or let her know up front and you’ll get the
best shoot that you can get. It’s always a nice to have a wide variety of shots.
If they’re all studio shots, that gives, you know, your audience one impression. If
they’re a mixture of studio and more locations shots, that gives them another
mix of ideas about how you look and how you can look.
– Right, and I just want to make sure that we’ve made the
distinction between headshots that a, an actor might have versus/and shots that a
model might have for what has been known in the industry as a comp card, showing
characters and/or glamour and fashion photography. For my purposes, what
I generally get are headshots, because I’m pretty much just an actor. I do
print occasionally but I have a few comp card shots which are what models get
where I have portrayed myself in some characters, such as a doctor and a woman
shopping in the supermarket and things like that. So I have those just in case
even though it’s not my primary goal. So when you’re going for your session with
a photographer, know if you’re getting one or the other or both, headshots and/or
comp card shots. Would that be accurate to say?
– It would be for me!
– Alright, so after the session is done how do you get the shots delivered to you?
– Sometimes they’re delivered online, that’s the most
common way now, Dropbox is very common for that, because then even if they
reduce the shots to a smaller file format it’s a lot of them, so it’s a lot
of space. So Dropbox is common, there are some other types of situations like that.
There are still photographers who call their actors are models in to view them in
their studio together, and that’s a benefit to that because you
can then chat with the photographer to get their impression, why they like this
versus that, and also if you saw something in one shot that you would
like to have a little differently, if it’s something that they could in fact edit for you afterwards.
– Mm-hmm. So what has been happening with me lately is somebody
will deliver electronically, usually via Dropbox now, a whole lot of, maybe the
entire photo session, for me to choose which ones I would like finalized or
touched up and reframed for final distribution. So that’s generally what
you do, you have the opportunity to look through all the shots and, say the
photographer, let’s say if they said 5 retouched shots are included in your
package, you say here are the five I want. They will resize them 8 by 10, take out
any wrinkles or spots in your shirt, the flyaway hairs, and then you have a
shot that is nice and clean and ready to send out or to a reproduction house if
you’re going to get physical copies made, which we don’t do much these days anymore. do we?
– Not that often…
– I don’t have a need…
– Not like we used to…
– Yeah, I’ll tell you what I usually do with my shots
that I get from the headshot photographer now. I used to send it to a
reproduction house where they would superimpose my name and send me a
hundred hardcopy headshots, but since we’re not sending out many hard copies
these days, I will take the finalized shot from the photographer I will bring
it into a photo editing program, add my name onto it and then I use that when I
send out when I electronically submit for projects so that my name is actually on
the shot so they will know who I am, I just don’t like to send out shots that
don’t have my name on it. Do you do that, too? – Yeah, I do and quite a few of the casting
directors want your shots sent to them electronically with that kind of a identification on the shot.
– Right.
– With your name and file format and so forth.
– Yeah, so I think it’s really important that you get
shots that show who you are and who you want to portray. We talked a little
earlier about being comfortable in your own skin. If you realize that you are a
certain age and a certain type I would play to that and make sure that you’ve
got a lot of shots that show that off and make sure that you are
portraying the type that you want to. – I always tell the photographer for my
editing afterwards to Photoshop me to look about thirty years younger that I am!
It’s a challenge, it’s a challenge, but why not ask?
– It creates work for photographers, gives them something to do.
– Keeps them in business.
– Keeps them off the streets. – Alrighty!
– I think we have covered a lot about headshots. If
you think there’s something we didn’t cover, if you want us to go further about
what you do with these shots and where you submit them to now that you have
them, we will go into that on a later episode, let us know in the comments
below what you’d like us to talk about next. – Sounds great, we look forward to talking to you then.
– See you soon in “The Actors’ Hot Tub”!
– Bye-bye! [Music] you


  1. Jaime Kalman Author

    Back when I was a professional actor, I had so many headshot experiences and they all varied. I had plenty of fantastic shots that were taken by good friends for no cost and I had some great shots taken at higher prices and I had some terrible prints from extremely expensive photographers. Chemistry with the photographer is so important and the make up should accentuate your features so that you photograph your best, but you should still look like YOU. Also, getting shots that neutral and some that are character-specific are helpful. And Leanna, YES about the undergarments – I totally forgot to bring different types of bras to a shoot once and it really was an issue because certain tops I was wearing just didn't photograph well (padded bras versus smoother bras, etc – it really does change the look significantly!)


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