Choosing the right photographer is more appropriate. Make sure you choose a specialist actors headshot photographer and not a general all-rounder who may not be completely up to date with the specific needs or current styles, but may well be a fantastic Wedding or PR photographer.
Choosing the right photographer is probably the most crucial decision you’ll make. Let’s start at the beginning with one of a couple of possibilities; you need a new headshot and are not sure where to go to find a photographer, or perhaps your friend’s have recommended someone to you but still you’re not able to make up your mind.
What do you do?
There are several ways of finding a photographer, you’ll probably use the web via search for ‘headshot / theatrical’ photographers and then go onto their website. However unless you put in a specific location i.e. London or UK you’ll get guys turning up from all parts of the globe. So be specific in what you’re looking for otherwise you may spend ages looking at website of people in Hollywood or New York when what you really need is someone that’s accessible and a specialist.
There are other great ways to find a photographer one of the best is the annual Contacts book, currently 2009 is the current edition, this is like the ‘Bible’ of acting resources in the UK. It’s also a great way to find Agents, Personal Managers, Casting Directors in fact everything you need in a resource for your acting career. (I recommend everyone has a copy)
In here you’ll find many photographers advertising examples of their work. You will see everything from full-page adverts to small quarter pages. You can browse the adverts and find several photographers whose work that you like, the style of their shots and the quality of their work and make a short list.
The next step is to call them and ask a few simple questions, see my video on YouTube for some good questions you can ask. Have a conversation with them and decide if you like them. I think this is crucial to getting the best out of your photo session, if you don’t have an affinity with the photographer over the phone the chances are that you won’t like them in person. This is particularly important when you think that you are placing a huge amount of responsibility and trust in them to give you a headshot that’s hopefully going to get you work. They are going to ask you to smile, to look serious, be pleasant, show personality or be happy etc., if there is any kind of discomfort or tension this can be all the more difficult to express. These little tensions and worries can emerge from the pressure to perform, the wrong kind of comment from the photographer or pressure on the time constraints – you may only have an hour’s session and that may not be enough for you. Perhaps they are not conveying clearly enough what they want from you or maybe they or their reputation is intimidating to you. There are many reasons why a session may not be going well and if this is the case you need to be able to stop take the time and refocus.
Above all you are paying your money to the photographer and they are working for you, you should not be afraid to make suggestions or tell them what you want. Neither should you be afraid to complain either, there shouldn’t be need to complain these days with just about everyone shooting digitally and letting you see the shots as you go along.
I hope this as of some use to you please feel free to leave comments.