The Actors Voice
by Bonnie Gillespie
week of March 10, 2014
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001790.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.
I need a column please.
Unless of course you’ve already written about it, though I’ve done my homework on the topic and can’t find anything beyond this:
“Headshots are important. Be in control of your own look and style for the headshots. Interview numerous photographers.” — Victoria Burrows
…and a few references to running the other direction when an agent says you MUST use their photographer… which mine didn’t.
I have a situation of sorts.
I was given a two-photographer list by my new agent.
They didn’t say I “had” to use them, though we all know it can cause problems when a new signee doesn’t… as it just rubs the suggester the wrong way, y’know?
I do NOT like one of the photographer’s style for me at all.
I DO for the most part like the other photographer, although (and it’s a couple of biggies), he does crop all crazy (you had a GREAT column years ago about that), and worse, he refuses to meet people before the shoot because he’s “too busy.”
Sadly, my best headshots happen when I’m comfortable with someone, which comes from meeting up ahead of time.
So, when time permits, would you please address both the “how do you politely decline to use the agent’s suggestions” without overstepping boundaries *and* “meeting with a photographer beforehand” issues?
(And yes, I get that you might have a different opinion than I do… if you think it’s not necessary, then cool. Or it could be a mix, depending on the person.)
All right! Let’s dive in.
The tradition to get new headshots with each shift in representation is always fascinating to me. I mean, clearly your existing headshots were strong enough to get you into the room with your dream team and then you closed the deal over a great meeting, so why is it so dang important to get new shots?
My theory is that it’s the same reason there’s a suit on set the day of the network table read looking to fire a co-star or have the writers rewrite a joke: They want to be involved, have their hands in the clay, feel their stamp of approval is on the new relationship.
Okay, so it’s tradition and that’s fine, and it’s also fine to go with a photographer OTHER THAN the one(s) your new agent suggests. How do you do that with grace? You ask, “What is it about this photographer’s headshots that you love? What does he capture in his subjects that helps you do your job?”
Use the answers to help you choose a photographer of YOUR choice (if you’re not clicking with the options you’re given, of course) who can do exactly those things and the resulting headshots will be great for you (because you worked with someone you adore) and great for your new team (because you got them the results they were seeking).
Especially in Los Angeles, there is zero stress finding a handful of photographers who can do exactly what it is your new agent needs done. In fact, they may not even realize you went to a different photographer! And since they didn’t give you this list due to a skeevy kickback scheme, in the end it won’t matter, right?
Now, as for the “meeting with the photographer beforehand” issue, yeah, I’m with you on that. For my comfort level, I’d want to have that first meeting. I’d want to check chemistry. I’d want to feel good about working together, so I could have the best shoot possible.
As someone who doesn’t allow auditing for my classes, though, I can *understand* the concept. Of course, I have millions of words, free, searchable, online for folks to get a sense of my writing, plus hundreds of hours of free, searchable audio and video content from interviews and podcasts and guest spots on talkshows worldwide. You couldn’t show up to one of my retreats, for example, and NOT know what to expect from my style. So, maybe this photographer’s work is so OUT THERE that you couldn’t possibly not know what to expect the photos to turn out like.
However! When a prospective client approaches me about private coaching, if he or she would like to talk on the phone or Skype or drop by my office to chat a bit before scheduling a session, I always make time for that! It’s a more intimate relationship with lots of trust required for the best results, and I don’t hesitate to offer up space in my schedule for a pre-session meeting due to the nature of what’s to come AFTER that.
I think the headshot photographer falls within that territory. He *should* make time for the client who hopes to check that chemistry before plunking down the dough for a headshot session. No matter how great his portfolio looks, if you feel you wouldn’t click with this person, how can you be sure your results will be as stellar? And why would you want to wait ’til after the headshot session to find that out?
So, I’m on your side with that being an odd business model, but hey, if he’s fancy enough and has enough clients who have no problem paying for shoots with him without meeting up first, I guess it’s a model that works for him and he sees no reason to shift it. Have you checked to see whether HE has vids and podcasts and articles and *stuff* out there that would at least get you in the ballpark of knowing whether his is the type of personality that could bring the best out of you in a session?
Lemmeknow what you end up doing, all the way around with this stuff. And thanks for reaching out! Here’s to great shots and an awesome, prosperous relationship with your new team! 🙂
Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Follow Bonnie on Twitter, circle up at Google+, subscribe at YouTube, download THE WORK podcast at iTunes, or hit “like” at the Facebook. For cool weekly emails from Bon and a free MP3, opt on in. Looking for Self-Management for Actors coaching? START HERE! Yay!