Saturday, December 19, 2009

Acting headshots in Florida

This week winter hit in NYC, but thanks to the FSU/Asolo Conservatory Class of 2010 in Sarasota I got to miss most of it. They brought me down to shoot their headshots, individually and as a group. I've traveled all over to shoot acting headshots, but this experience was among my very favorites. The weather didn't hurt (Sarasota- 75 degrees/ NYC- 25 degrees), but the real joy came from working with the class. They were terrific hosts- warm, funny, enthusiastic and easy to drink with! They are a tight group, and refreshingly supportive of one another (a quality I wanted to capture in their group photos). Hopefully they had as much fun as I did.

My approach to class headshots is the same as my approach to my NYC clients- it's essential that I shoot each class member in a unique way. Given that all their headshots will be displayed side by side for their showcase, it will be glaringly obvious if I don't achieve this goal. Usually photographers will take a class job as a big payout, and try to shoot as many students as possible every day. Of course, they can't possibly make each shot unique, so they just set up a room with some lights and bang it out. Obviously this doesn't serve the actors, but it makes the photographer a lot of money with little effort. My approach is to shoot 4-6 actors per day, and concentrate on the variety- never repeat a location if possible, and feature each actor as an individual. If this means I have to take a little time to get to know them while sharing rounds of drinks, so be it! It's a small sacrifice for great headshots.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What is a comp card?

Earlier today I was discussing a modeling portfolio with a prospective client. She wants to get into modeling, and asked me about shooting a beginner's portfolio. She wasn't familiar with the concept of a comp card. Here's what I told her...

For a beginning model, a comp card is the essential first step. We shoot 3-4 different looks, and you use the comp card to find a print agent. Once you've met an agent, they will help develop your portfolio by sending you out to various photographers. Usually you pay these photographers, but sometimes the arrangement is "work for prints"- both the model and photographer are building their book, so nobody gets paid (stylist and makeup artists also work for prints). Usually everyone involved is inexperienced, so the results can vary wildly. Sometimes you can get a great shot, and often you leave with nothing usable. It's essential to have a professional comp card to begin with, otherwise the agents won't call you in. If you try to put together a comp card with free or inexpensive shoots, chances are the results won't be good enough to interest them. Once you get an agent, trust them to help build your book. Of course, the photos for your comp card will be in your portfolio as well, but shooting a full portfolio right off the bat doesn't make sense. A portfolio is built up over time with many different photographers. Stick with the comp card initially.

By the way, comp cards are not just for models- actors should have one as well. Anyone interested in pursuing print work should have a comp card. For actors, a portfolio is unnecessary- just a comp card and headshot is all you need. For fashion models, a portfolio is a great tool in addition to the comp card.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Broken Lizard Live Performance Photos

Last night the five-member filmmaking comedy group Broken Lizard (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske) completed a 50 city improv comedy tour with a nearly sold-out performance at the Nokia Theatre in Times Square. The company invited me to photograph the event. Broken Lizard has released five movies- Puddle Cruiser, Super Troopers, Club Dread, Beerfest and their newest, Slammin' Salmon, which premiers next week. They showed a clip from Slammin' Salmon and it looked hysterical- definitely worth a trip to the theatre.

I was especially interested in Slammin' Salmon because it's a behind-the-scenes movie about waiters. Years ago, Steve Lemme and I waited tables together at City Crab on Park Avenue. Now he's got a movie inspired by those experiences, and I'm photographing his Times Square concert. Life moves forward, and is this case very positively. Since I haven't seen the movie, I'm not sure how much of everyone's hi-jinx made the final cut. Hopefully the parts where I'm naked with a stripper on my lap and Steve's drunk and pissing in the coat check room landed on the editing room floor.