Oh, if only I could send Casting Directors photos of my favorite pissed-off-and-sweaty hiking photo instead of a headshot.
In last weeks' installment, I shared how I went through every effort to avoid paying hundreds of dollars on new pictures of my face. We are all guilty of cutting corners to spare a dime, but when it comes to essential marketing tools, it was time to make an investment.
First step in any investment is research, and thankfully there are plenty of resources out there for actors. After searching the Backstage Message Boards, Backstage Photographers listings, asking & poking around my actor-friends' websites, getting recommendations from my commercial agent, co-workers, and (my favorite resource) asking the really supportive, generous community of twitter friends for their thoughts, I had seen dozens and dozens of websites. Prices ranged from $100 - $900 a shoot, and galleries ranged from cheesy and poorly lit to incredibly beautiful and expressive, and everything in between. After factoring in my budget and personal aesthetics, I came down with a list of 6 photographers to meet with. It was very important to me to not only respect the work of my photog, but also to feel relaxed and confident in their midst.
The first guy I met with had a great studio, with lots of natural light and a 60% impressive print portfolio (the other 40%, which was conveniently left off his website, was awkward at best). What if I were to be part of the 40% that he just couldn't photograph? As I shook his hand goodbye, I noticed one of his eyes begin to wander. No, not like a perv, but like a person who sometimes looks at you cross-eyed. It's hard enough for me to not feel self-conscious on a 3 hour, photos-of-your-face shoot, let alone if you're trying to hide you're confusion at a wandering eye. Next!
I contacted one photographer via a form on their website and instantly was berated by phone calls, e-mails, and spam messages. While I appreciated the quick response, the message (that actors are so wary of) was Hello! Hi! I'm desparate! Pick me pick me pick me! No thank you...
The third lady I met was very sweet on the phone, had a very professional website (She had even shot one of my favorite actors from Glee!), and had a gorgeous studio downtown. We sat & chatted about my looks and the different backdrops she could use, blah blah small talk, which all went really great...until her next client walked in and she completely blew them off to talk to me. I know it's important to make the sale, but you also have to follow through with a quality product. I was not sold.
Next up, I checked out my fabulous Casting Associate (& children's book author!) friend Amanda Lenker's suggestion, Stephen Busken. He agreed to meet me on skype (so I didn't have to drive anywhere) and instantly got to work helping me pick out my outfits, discussing type, and making me laugh and feel really at ease (it didn't hurt that he's an Ohio boy). As I clicked the End Call button I knew my search was over, and couldn't be more relieved that I was not only happy with my homework but excited to work with him.
We scheduled a shoot, I lined up my hair & make up artist - the fantastically talented Martine Le Blanc - and a week later we traipsed around a quiet spot in WeHo shooting for a couple of hours. When I felt my energy dropping or got self-conscious, Stephen made me laugh, switched things up, and let me see how incredible the compositions really were looking. It flew by and I think I can speak for all three of us when I say the session was a lot of fun!
In the end, when I wrote out my checks to Stephen and Martine, I was 100% positive that I made the right purchase (and not entirely blown away with the amount I was spending!). I can say with certainty (well, unless someone offers to shoot me for free ;) that I will only shoot with Stephen from here on out.
Now it' time to pick through all the shots & finalize the new headshots...more on that next week.
Everyones experience is different and I encourage everyone to find someone that vibes with you - but just in case you wanna check out my favorite people, here's the links:
Excited for next week! Thanks for reading :)