Hi Bonnie,

My name is Claire Hampsey. I am an actor who is just starting out after college. I have two questions for you.

I am based out of NYC and I was wondering if you were planning on having any seminars on the east coast? I love all of your online tools right now but would love working with you in person.

Also, I have been shopping around for headshot photographers and I read that actors should ask agents and casting directors who they would recommend.

I know you are based in LA so this might be out of your domain but have you heard of a photographer named Jeff Mosier? I really like his work and I met him in person and I am planning to schedule a shoot with him. I really like his work but I have a bit of an untrained eye when looking at headshots.

Thank you,
Claire Hampsey

Hello Claire, and thank you for your email!

Let’s start with the headshot photographer question. 🙂 I don’t know Jeff Mosier and rather than Googling him to check out his work, I’m going to share some tips for choosing a headshot photographer that lines up with your needs, whatever market you’re in!

Absolutely, asking agents, managers, casting directors, and acting coaches in your market about the headshot photographers whose work they like is a great idea! Always beware of a potential kickback scheme, though, because if someone *only* recommends ONE photographer (or coach or service provider) and insists that you not only use that person but that you use their name as a referral, sometimes there is money exchanging hands for that “recommendation,” and it doesn’t mean that the person’s work is of the quality you might hope.

Everyone you ask about photographers should have a few favorites to suggest, and there should be very little attachment to their recommendation (like, they’re not INSISTING that this is the ONLY photographer to consider). Once you start getting a few names — and especially after you see a pattern of several pros mentioning one or two of them — it’s time to browse their online galleries.

See how they shoot actors of your type. Do they use natural light or studio lighting? Are they shooting digitally or are they old-school and still using film? Do you like the FEEL of the shots on their website? What do they charge for how many different looks and what is the policy for getting proofs and final prints for reproduction? Is hair and makeup included in the price? What is their cancellation or rescheduling policy?

When you’ve measured a few photographers, point by point, and you know they’re all recommended by industry pros you trust, it’s time to set meetings with your top choices, to see if you CLICK. Some photographers do this meeting via Skype, others have you come to their studio to tour the space, check out their equipment and their book of work, and get scheduled if you feel it’s a good fit.

Now, this is going to seem like horrible advice, but I want you to let it sink in and you’ll see what I’m trying to say, overall, here. Your first headshot is not as important as you may think. If you’re not repped, you’ll need a headshot that helps get you meetings with agents and managers, and of course you’ll use your first headshot to submit on all those auditions you can get on your own. But when you sign with an agent, in all likelihood you’ll be asked to reshoot so they have the best possible tools with which to submit you.

I’m saying all this just so you won’t invest thousands of dollars in your first real headshots, if you’re just starting out. 🙂 Also to alleviate some of the stress you may feel about “getting it right,” this early on in your journey. You’ll have a LOT of headshots over the course of your career. Take some of the pressure off yourself and enjoy this process. That’ll help you get great shots, too!

As for me teaching Self-Management for Actors in New York, I tend to travel to NY every May and October, so hopefully that means we’ll see each other in just a few months! Make sure you’re on my mailing list (and that you’ve checked the box for info on non-LA SMFA offerings), so you’ll hear about my next trip your way.

Congrats on leaving college with a great, professional focus on your next tier, Claire! Keep reading everything you can get your eyes on and enjoy the journey at every step! 🙂 Keep me posted on how it goes for you.


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!


Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001684.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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