by Rob Lewine on April 26, 2011
When you’ve chosen a photographer and are seated (or standing) before the camera, remember this most of all: be yourself, and don’t worry about who that is. Trite but true.
Many actors feel challenged by a still camera. No character! No lines! Who are you, then? Don’t ask these questions. You are who you are, and that’s perfect. Let go. Share yourself.
by Rob Lewine on March 31, 2011
The truth is there’s little you need do to prepare to be photographed. You don’t prepare to have your hair cut, or to get a massage, or go to a doctor. You put yourself in the hands of an expert, someone you trust. It’s the photographer’s job to take care of you – to light you well, to put you at ease and bring out your best performance. You shouldn’t have to work hard. Be rested and relaxed. Don’t feel you have to prepare for your headshot as you would for an audition or a job.
by Rob Lewine on March 15, 2011
Years ago I was photographing an ad campaign for a feature film on location in Culver City. It was a night shoot; 3:00AM found me and the film’s star in an alley adjacent to the set, with a tricked-out four-wheel-drive, lots of light, and a fog machine. The actor wasn’t rising to the occasion: not really performing. We were comfortable with one another, but also we were tired, and I’d gotten frustrated. C’mon, I said, you can do this: you’re an actor! (An uncensored moment on my part, impertinent and risky.) You’re right, he said, I’m an actor — not a good one, perhaps, but I am an actor. Candor, humility, humor and grace! I was lucky. He refreshed us both.
Photography is synergy. Photographer and subject need each other.
by Rob Lewine on March 7, 2011
Your headshot is all that anyone in the business knows about you, unless they know you already. It’s much more important than a passport photo. As I’ve said, a good photos can come from an inexpensive session. But if a headshot session were a medical procedure, would you choose a doctor with limited experience and a limited skill set because of price?
To be fair, you can also get a less-than-great result from a higher-priced photographer, and that’s arguably worse than coming up short at a lower price. But the likelihood of a great result lies with the higher-priced shooter.
by Rob Lewine on March 5, 2011
It’s possible to get a good result for not-so-much money. I believe that can fairly be called luck. But often lower-priced photographers don’t have much experience, or can only shoot in available light (possibly not all that well), or know only a few basic tricks in the studio. They haven’t been tested by shooting “to the trade”, i.e., for publication, where mastery of craft is essential.
by Rob Lewine on February 18, 2011
Don’t go bargain-hunting for a headshot photographer. It’s possible to get a headshot for $149. You’ve seen guys twirling signs on Hollywood Boulevard for this kind of operation. You can get a headshot that cheaply. You can also get a couple of guys to do body work on your car in a supermarket parking lot for $50. (I made that mistake when I was in my 20s. When I brought the car to a body shop to be painted, the owner shook his head and said, why did you have this done? Now I have to undo it.)
by Rob Lewine on February 11, 2011
Having a camera doesn’t make someone a photographer. Sometimes someone with a camera is a dentist. When I was getting started, used equipment was all that was affordable. One of the best moves was to buy a camera from a doctor or dentist who’d dabbled in photography as a hobby but had lost interest. Because you’d get a very nice camera, barely used.
But a camera doesn’t make you a photographer. A good photographer can take a good picture with a toy camera, or a cell phone. A not-so-good photographer can’t make it happen with state-of-the-art equipment.
The moral: take a good look at the photographer’s work and be certain you’re comfortable with his or her skill level before booking a headshot session.
by Rob Lewine on February 5, 2011
I’ll be saying this again, in other posts: it’s up to the photographer to help the subject relax. Even major film stars may not be comfortable being photographed. (In fact that’s common. Being a photography subject isn’t the same as acting, which is the actor’s trade.) A good photographer will also be your guide throughout the session.
by Rob Lewine on January 30, 2011
Meet the photographer first, if that person’s schedule allows. AT THE LEAST have a good talk on the phone. Make sure you feel ABSOLUTELY comfortable with the photographer. This doesn’t guarantee a great result, but discomfort is a reliable negative indicator.
by Rob Lewine on January 22, 2011
If the photographer you’re interviewing starts to talk about how to interpret you, or who you remind him of, or what “type” you are, find another photographer. These are his (or her) preconceptions, and they have nothing to do with who you are. You’re not a “type”. You’re you.
A young actor – one of my wife Phyllis Katz’ improv students — told me recently that the photographer he’d hired to do his headshot had told him he looked like “someone from the future, or from the past, but not from now”. The actor asked me what I thought that meant. Nothing, I said — at least nothing I could understand. What should I say to him, asked the actor? I said: tell him to shut the fuck up and take your picture.
The actor brought me the selects from the shoot. The photographer didn’t know how to light a white background. What do the future or the past have to do with that?