I wanted to update my headshot photography postcard to reflect some of the work I’ve been doing lately. A couple of the headshots were taken in November, three were taken in February, and one was taken last Friday. So really fresh! What I like about this card, first of all, are the expressions on these young actors. I like the full smiles, the half smiles, the no smiles. I also like the color tones. Everything is beige, blue, brown and black. I think it makes it look really clean. The thing is? Happy accident. I guess if I had seen someone in, say, a green jacket, I might have noticed it stood out. But all the colors meld together and it looks very soothing. Anyway, just a short little post to show off my new postcard.
Oh, the actors? Danielle Stritmatter, Joshua Chang, Arthur Bizgu, Gabriella Nejman, Marcus Ajose and Isabel Macmaster. Good luck, you all!
One of my rituals, if you can call it that, is to show my acting clients a 9-second video of Tyra Banks and how she “smizes.”
Tyra, of course, is an internationally famous model (“America’s Next Top Model”) and teaches others how to model as well. There is one clip floating on YouTube in which she shows how to “smile with your eyes.” The difference of her before smizing and after smizing is so pronounced that my actors get it immediately. I always say you can’t just sit there for a headshot, you have to let energy come through your face and energy sure pours through when Tyra smizes.
And that point about not sitting there is important. You have to connect with the lens as if it is the person you are communicating with who will get you an audition. The famous headshot photographer Peter Hurley shows his clients a book with a headshot of Brad Pitt at the beginning of his career. His face is pleasant if not bland. Bland? Let’s just call it blank. There’s nothing there of interest. No there there, to quote what Gertrude Stein famously said about Oakland.
Peter says that early on in Brad’s career, a photographer taught him “the squint.” It immediately put interest into his face. Like he was a man with a past you wanted to pry out of him. Now, in almost every photo in which Brad is aware he’s being photographed, whether for publicty, editorial or a red-carpet event, you’ll see that squint. George Clooney does it. Just take a look at photos that you can connect with and you’ll see that energy.
In my latest headshot shoot, lovely Gabriella came in. I showed her the smize video and she loved it. She could really see “it.” So we took a lot of different looks. We were going after these types: student, young mother and young professional. The picture I’m including here just has something about it. There’s interest. I feel that girl has a secret. And I’m going to get it out of her.
My “studio,” if you will, is my back yard. I set up backdrops, lights, a light tent… all to get natural light mixed with a pop of light to make the color more intense. The posing stool is an apple crate. Not just an apple box that was once filled with apples but a crate made specifically for studios because they’ll take a lot of weight and you can use them for a million different things. Yesterday was a magnificent day in Los Angeles… sky so blue it hurts the eyes… warm, in the 70s… no real wind to speak of.
So I was joined by seven acting students for what was for most of them their first headshots. It was so much fun. We shot for about five hours and got in at least a couple of looks for everyone. It was a convivial atmosphere because they all know each other. And I got them out in time for the Super Bowl, if they were so inclined to see it.
Here’s a selection of the shoot:
Mirela needed new headshots. The ones she had, she said, made her look like a villain. And she doesn’t feel like a villain. So even though we aren’t taking portraits, she wanted to show her softer side, the way she feels inside. And she hopes that will show agents and casting directors her true nature.
In all fairness, it wasn’t quite that she looked like a villain. The headshots just didn’t look like her.
The fabulous Edward Jimenez was the makeup and hair stylist on this shoot and he nailed it.
Mirela was very happy with her headshots. One message I got from her: “Thank you very much.. I am going to print my great great great headshotssss nowwww!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am very very happy!!!”
She is so sweet. Not a villain at all.
My friend Aaron Lustig, who has been a hard working actor in Hollywood for years, also teaches at the venerable Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute where he coaches young actors at the beginning of their careers. I listened to one of his lectures to a new group of students… I actually shot that first lecture… and then we took the highlights of that class and filmed those as an interview at his house in a more casual setting. (What? You didn’t know I did video? Check out Curious Cat Productions)
Aaron’s video is one of our longer ones at just under four minutes but Aaron details everything aspiring actors need to set off at the beginning of their journeys. His first piece of advice — which is key — is you must have desire, will and passion. “If you don’t want to do this 125 percent, then you shouldn’t be doing it at all,” he says. “That’s true with everything in life. Don’t do it half-assed.”
Actors also need training, headshots, a demo reel, and they need to market themselves. He names Actors Access and L.A. Casting as two of the industry standard sites to which actors can upload their headshots.
Aaron’s advice is invaluable because he’s been in the trenches. He knows the ins and outs of the auditioning process, how to get an agent, and he knows what kind of attitude you need to make it in the business. Hint: A good one. A very good one. He has funny stories about how his own lack of preparation ended up having his role recast by a more prepared actor.
Just in case you need to be reminded of Aaron’s credits, check out his profile on IMDb. And if you need a private coach, he’s available.
And oh yeah, his headshot… I took that. Come get yours! Call me, 818.481.5214, or email me at diana @ dianalundin.com and check out my headshots at Diana Lundin Headshots.
I had such a great session yesterday with Sean Patrick, an actor and musician, at his home in Hollywood. He literally lives one block away from Hollywood Boulevard, a street that is so familiar to anyone who has ever turned on a television in the last 40 years. We took the first series of headshots at the front of the building he lives in. On the porch, actually. We moved around a bit and he changed clothing, shaved, wore his glasses, didn’t wear his glasses, just a variety.
Then we moved across the street for a more urban look. Sean put on a suit, no tie, and the series of shots we took there made him look like a detective on Hollywood’s mean streets. We had such a range by the time the session was over… dad, “hooligan” (who could definitely get a role on “Game of Thrones” if only he had an English accent), computer geek, middle-aged professional, and then police officer-lawyer-doctor.
Know your character types and have your headshots reflect it.
My most recent photo shoot was an interesting one. It actually wasn’t a headshot session, it was a contemporary portrait session in which we took four “ordinary” women (I say “ordinary” because the truth is, we are all ordinary and extraordinary at once), gave them the same hair and makeup treatment as your average actress gets during a photo shoot and we had our own editorial style shoot.
The idea behind this shoot was to have images that you might see in a magazine, such as Vanity Fair or something like that. We wanted a transformation, one that came about from hair, makeup and lighting. These are all natural light images, every single one of them, which is how I prefer to shoot my headshots.
I worked with my usual headshot team to create these. And it was a blast! Especially since the ladies partook in a little bubbly to make it that much better. Needless to say, they were all very pleased — and surprised — at the results of their session. I’m going to show you a little gallery of images from the shoot and the before and afters.
And yes, absolutely, some of them can be used as headshots. They already are!
This isn’t a headshot of an actor but it is a portrait of an actor… with her dog. This is Melanie Paxson, the quirky girl-next-door with a kinda funny voice. Talk about a dead ringer for Snow White. And this is her dog Owen. Melanie is beautiful with flawless, porcelain skin. Owen is furry with the most expressive eyes ever. Ever! He really looks like a little boy. I just love all the images I took of this pair… but these are two of my favorites.
It’s important to get yourself out there, my actor friends, to be in front of the right people so you can get auditions and, subsequently, the parts (and recognition) you deserve. Well, you definitely need to get good headshots, that goes without saying. But you can put your headshots on business cards and postcards and make them available to the people who need to see you.
So one thing I do is use Moo cards, which are really, really cute and really, really inexpensive. I just bought some mailing labels and stickers for my photography and video business and I love them. I’ve been using them for years because one of the things that’s really fun is the MiniCard (which is about the size of a stick of gum) where you can put your headshot and all kinds of other information. They have regular size business cards as well and I also have those. Very good quality and a fast turnaround. What’s cool, too, is that you can put one headshot on it or many. Or you can have a different headshot on every card. They’re not picky.
Moo has put together a guide for actors to marketing yourself with their products, of course. Now you don’t have to buy Moo but it might be worth your while just to read the ideas and see if any of them can work for you.
If you want to order anything, please use this link. I may actually get $7.50 for it! But that’s not important to me as I really believe in Moo products.
One of the actors I like and admire most, Aaron Lustig, has posted “The Evolution of the Headshot… Mine, That is” on his blog and it’s very amusing. As a working actor for many years, he has a collection of headshots dating back to 1974. Sometimes he has hair on his face, sometimes he has hair on his head but you can see the progression of changes over the years. It’s worth your time to read it. As soon as you see him, you’ll recognize him from the films and television shows he’s been cast in.
But that brings up another point… headshot styles change. As you’ll see from Aaron’s blog, most of his are in black and white. If you’re old enough to remember, headshots were once done strictly in B&W and were shot in film. So the photographer would shoot, I don’t know, maybe three 36-exposure rolls of film (if you were lucky) which meant you had 108 choices — and who knows how many were actually usable since you couldn’t see anything until they were developed.
Now, with digital, everything is in color and you know immediately during your session what’s working and what isn’t. You can fine tune your expressions and, for that matter, your clothing choices or your hair and makeup. You can become the best you can be in your headshot. It’s brilliant, really, that digital. What I do is bring along my little 13-inch MacBook Pro so that we can look at the images together. It’s hard to fully see yourself on the back of the camera but once it comes up on screen on the laptop, you get a really good idea of how your session is going. So that way we know when we’ve nailed a look. You’ll have a lot to choose from but you know there is at least one look that just sings out loud.
And speaking of trends in headshots, Aaron’s blog gives you quite a taste of how things have changed. You’ll see that the current style is much more relaxed and casual. I also love horizontal headshots and his blog includes examples of those.
Although I urge you to go take a look at Aaron’s evolution, I’ll give you a little taste of his headshots.
By the way, Aaron teaches at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in Los Angeles. I’ve taken headshots of many of his students and they love him!
Other than the shoot itself, nothing can instill more anxiety in someone than choosing what to wear for their headshots. Relax… it’s okay, and it’s easy.
Your headshot is about your face. It’s your eyes, your expression, and really, it’s kind of about your essence. And because it’s about your face, and especially your eyes, you don’t want anything competing with your lovely visage. You want a casting director or a potential agent to see you, not your clothes.
So what works best? Forget stripes, dots, houndstooth or paisley. For my money, subdued, solid colors rule. I like to go by this… if you have green or blue eyes, go with green or blue. It will accentuate your eyes and that’s a good thing. If you have brown or hazel eyes, you can’t go wrong with earth tones. And don’t worry… green- and blue-eyed people also look great in natural colors. If you have blond hair, go with darker hues. If you have dark hair, go with lighter shades. That provides a nice contrast to your face.
What solid colors don’t work? Mostly white, black, red or pastels. Those colors make you see the clothes and not you. We want you.
Your clothes should maybe give a hint of the type of character you can play without defining that as you. You still want to be you, for sure, but you want to show your range. Are you a tough guy? Let’s see a bit of leather. Are you a soccer mom? Show a sweater set or a bit of a cable knit cardigan. Harried businessman? Button-down shirt, rolled-up sleeves, a loosened tie. CSI investigator? A blazer. Of course, in one session, you can combine looks to get your commercial and theatrical headshots. Remember, commercial is a little lighter, more smiling in tone and theatrical is a more dramatic, serious expression. But that’s not set in stone, you really can go either way on that and be totally successful.
And iron your clothes. Pulling a wrinkled shirt out of a bag doesn’t make you look professional. It just doesn’t and Photoshop will not be a magician to make rumpled clothes look crisp. Bring your ironed clothes on hangers.
No logos! I think I need to say this again. No logos, no logos, no logos! You want people to read your face, not your shirt.
Keep ornamentation to a minimum. Can you go without jewelry? Try to, unless that is a really important part of your type.
Make sure you like what you’ve brought to the shoot. Now’s not the time to bring something you’ve never worn that’s been hanging out in your closet that you bought on sale but don’t love. Bring clothes that make you feel happy… powerful… as actors who are on their way to scoring an audition. Believe!
Most importantly, wear the clothes… don’t let them wear you.
See? It really is easy. Just bring a lot of different outfits with those tips in mind and we’ll pick from there. Don’t worry about your clothes.
Got questions? Email me at diana @ dianalundinheadshots.com, even if you only need a little piece of advice.
Last night, I was just completely filled with gratitude that I get to do what I want to do… headshots and, now, video production through my latest venture… or more like adventure… Curious Cat Productions. I haven’t blogged for a while, had so many interesting things happen recently. But I wanted to show a new collection of headshots we’ve taken in the last few weeks. I think I will just put up a little slideshow of my recent headshot clients…
OK, this next series of images is not from a headshot session, it’s from a recording session. And I loved taking these pictures! I’ve never witnessed a song being recorded and my great friend Chris Potter, who is the mastermind behind The Morse Codes (and that is no offense to the lovely and talented Rebecca Young who provides the awesome vocals!), invited me to the Stagg Studios for the laying down of the tracks of “All the Right Reasons.”
“All the Right Reasons” has an illustrious history. A version of it, with only Rebecca singing (this latter recording would be a duet), can be heard in the French film “L’ArnaCoeur” or “Heartbreaker.” It’s a song that’s always gotten a lot of attention and that’s before it’s been properly recorded.
In any event, I ran down to the Van Nuys studio just as Jorge, the drummer, was going through his part. It was really interesting watching Chris and Ethan Carlson, the producer, comment on what they were hearing. As someone who knows nothing about the nuances of music, I heard drumbeats while they heard every little detail and knew how to change things to exactly what they wanted. In succession, we hear Dylan on bass and Brett on guitar. Completely fascinating watching and listening to these talented men.
And then Rebecca came for her vocals. It was just so interesting! And Chris with his vocals, making it a duet.
As always, I tell you a little something about the images I take and what I’m doing. Stagg Studios is interesting because it is a really old school recording studio… a lot of analog equipment… just something that’s been around for a long time and has been the scene of a lot of recordings from very famous musicians. But it’s also the darkest den you’ve even been in. For a photographer, that is completely no bueno. So I cranked up the ISO on the camera — that makes it more light sensitive — then battled the fluorescent lighting. In the end, I decided to convert it to grainy black and white, which I think is absolutely fitting for the session.
I’ll let you know when the song is available on iTunes. In the meantime, get a taste of it by renting “Heartbreaker.” It’s a charming film.
UPDATE: “All the Right Reasons” is now out on iTunes!
So I keep telling you I’m a natural light shooter. And I am. But yesterday we had a shoot scheduled for 3 in the afternoon. We usually shoot in the morning and know exactly where the sun is going to navigate throughout the time we are photographing, and then adapt accordingly. But 3… we never shoot at 3! And now that we are at the brink of fall, the light is changing so much faster. Hmmm… our back yard was in the shade. What to do? Okay, I am a natural light shooter but no problem… I have tons of studio lights as well. So we ended up using one light with a softbox as they key light, a couple of reflectors for fill, and a light with a grid to put just a kiss of light on the hair. I usually don’t use any kind of hair lights on headshots because I want to direct focus on the eyes and in many cases, hair light can be just so pretty it distracts from the eyes. I save hair lighting for portraits. But Joanne’s headshot is for a business web site and so we could bend our rules a little bit. If we shot in natural light, she would have been dull and washed out with weak catchlights in her eyes but with our pop of lights, her skin tone looks vibrant.
We did use our grunged out warehouse backdrop, which was a lot of fun. Joanne picked it out herself and it worked perfectly with what she’s wearing. That’s what’s nice about these backdrops… they provide a hint of interest but you can’t really tell what they are. She and I both agreed we loathe the Old Masters type of backdrops. This is a little different and as far from Old Masters as you can get.
Joanne looks positively gorgeous!
Fun shoot with Nadine. Until our session, Nadine was a complete camera virgin. Heh-heh… One thing I had to tell Nadine is that the camera is a still camera, not a motion picture camera (well, technically, it’s both but we were shooting stills) and that she couldn’t move until she heard the click of the shutter. Once she heard the click, she could move into her next pose. That’s important that you don’t move around constantly because what I am doing is focusing in on the eye that is closest to me. That is critical focus and I can’t do it unless you’re not moving. I’ll shoot right when I lock focus but first I need to focus.
And we had to coach her into connecting with the camera lens. In acting, you’re not supposed to look into the lens. Although you need to be aware of where the camera is, you need to be in the moment of the scene. For your headshot, you need to reveal yourself to the lens. That image must speak directly to the tiny casting agent that lives inside of the camera. It needs to pull in that agent who will call you in for an audition.
And you know what? We got it. Nadine nailed it!
Rahel is an extremely gorgeous actress that I had the pleasure of shooting not too long ago. She has a very bright, cheery, playful personality. We did a lot of dramatic looks but I just see her as a total comedic force. Her laughter is infectious and she’s beautiful to boot. Still, we’re going to go with one of her more serious expressions. Beautiful, right?
Wishing Rahel much success as she goes out on her auditions!
I am so very proud of my client Patrick Hyde who just found out this week that he was cast as the lead in a short film! Yay, Patrick! I really enjoyed working with Patrick. He had some great sides to him… the goofy guy, who could very well be in any Judd Apatow movie… or the more sinister, menacing type. But he really is the sweetest man and I was so happy that he booked this job… his second acting role!
Patrick had a few hard knocks along the way but he had a vision and goal in mind and now he’s meeting them head on. That is living the dream, my friends. He sent me an email: “Thank you Diana! I have only taken a few baby steps so far, but I wouldn’t have been able to even do that if you and Vic hadn’t been as helpful as you were with taking my headshots so THANK YOU!!”
And you will make it farther. Best of luck!
I actually shot Destini a couple of months ago and as busy as she has been, she has just now gotten around to making her selects. Destini is a cool blond from Canada. She’s the perfect girl next door, young mom, girlfriend… a lot of different parts for Destini.
In order to get that young mom look, we had to raid my closet! I looked at her coloring and her eyes and I thought, I have the perfect sweater that shows that side of her. A turquoise cable-knit cardigan. Yeah, that’s it!
Now the thing is, you don’t want to wear costumes to your headshot session. If you want to play a doctor, don’t show up with a lab coat and scrubs… you just want your wardrobe to reflect the somberness or lightness of the parts you’re going for. Your face — and eyes — need to do the heavy lifting. But a little touch of the right wardrobe works wonders.
Again, thanks to Amanda Martinez of Amanda Rose Makeup for making her look picture perfect!
This time it’s personal. My vibrant friend Joyce has cancer. She chronicles her experiences with it in her beautifully written blog Sprinting Towards 60. It’s hard to read her struggles with the not so pretty toll that cancer is taking but she is an incredibly optimistic women determined to wring out all the enjoyment she can out of life. And she’s funny as hell.
In fact, in just a couple of weeks, she’ll be putting on her wetsuit for the start of the summer edition of the Mature Ladies Boogieboarding and Luncheon Society with other members of her informal group, women all over 50 who take to the water, then go out for a leisurely lunch.
In the meantime, Joyce, herself a gifted photographer, needed a current headshot for her blog, which will be featured in the Los Angeles Times’s Health section. It was an assignment I was happy to fulfill for her.
We both live in blisteringly hot areas of Los Angeles so we decided to shoot at the beach at sunset. Vicki, Joyce and Joyce’s wife Joan and I all climbed into the car and headed to the Santa Monica pier. Ah, but the lot was full. As we searched for parking, we remembered a little secret of cheap, beachfront parking. And as honest as I’ve been all this time, I cannot tell you where it is because otherwise I would, indeed, have to kill you. Joyce and Joan are already under a deathwatch, should they divulge, and they know it.
It was around 6:30 or so, the sun still high in the summer sky, but the light was warming up. The chemo has taken a toll on Joyce’s head full of red curly locks so she had on a bandana and a snappy straw fedora. We shot 12 gbs of images. Here’s one we both liked. I love the way the sun is just touching her cheek like a little kiss. We used the magic portrait lens, Canon’s 135mm L lens, at f2.8. Such shallow depth of field. The ocean is in turmoil in the background but all you see is a little blue and white. The picture is already on her blog, which makes me very happy.
Afterwards, we headed to the Border Grill in Santa Monica for a nice dinner. Well, actually, more of an overindulgence in chips and salsa and a little entree. We left the restaurant and felt the cool breeze of the ocean air. For just a couple of hours, it really felt like a vacation.
It was another blistering July day when Macleish Day stopped by for some new headshots. What a great guy. In the entertainment business since he was 2, Macleish was up for trying anything. This Colorado native definitely can have that brooding air but he also has a winning smile that just lights up a room. He has an incredibly handsome widow’s peak that makes me see vampire roles in his future. But not the Bela Lugosi bloodsucker… more the modern kind, a sensitive Edward Cullen of “Twilight” type. Yeah. That’s it. He’s been told he has that Christian Bale look. I see that, too.
So here’s just one from our shoot. We shot about 600 images out there in that heat. But Macleish, a great sport, said he didn’t mind suffering for his art a bit. I think he looks great!
Oh, one fun thing. Macleish brought his iPad so he could listen to his own tunes. I totally support that! If you bring your iPhone or iPod, I’ve got some speakers I can hook you up with. While I have what I think is a great collection of music, I’d love to hear yours, too. And if it makes you feel more comfortable, well of course you can bring it. Rock on!
Ah, where to start? Been a busy week, mostly processing other headshot shoots. But today we had one, our first child headshot. It was brutal. Why? Heat. Our subject was an angel. She wants her own show on the Food Network. I want her to have one. But the heat on the first day of the long Fourth of July weekend was simply cruel to our blue-eyed subject. She couldn’t keep her beautiful blue eyes open, bless her little soul. It was not only hot, it was bright. Of course. The valley in summer.
This image is one of a few that I think work. Her eyes are so much more brilliant than this one shows. We do have images of her with her eyes more open. And eyes are everything when it comes to headshots.
Here’s the thing. Blue-eyed people have such a tougher time in the sun than brown-eyed people. I’m brown-eyed but I totally sympathize with my subjects. But eyes are everything in a headshot. We’ll get it right.
Aspiring actress Julia is a blond, blue-eyed beauty from Moscow. We had a great, though challenging session at my house this weekend. Challenging, I say, because the summer afternoon light was so intense, Vicki and I had to spend a lot of time wrestling it into submission to get our trademark smooth, natural light while Julia was getting her makeup done by Amanda.
The color image is toward the end of the session when Julia’s eye makeup was a little more intense… smokier… than her earlier more natural look. I love it. Julia does, too. It’s already her new profile picture on Facebook. But the black and white image? As I mentioned, Julia is from Moscow. She really wanted me to take this picture. She said headshots are an unknown quantity in Russia but this… with her hair adorned just so and a sculptural black gown… this is what they want. And in black and white, please. Happy to oblige, but I told her… for your eyes only. “For mine and half of Moscow,” she says. And let me reiterate… this is not a Hollywood headshot. But I find Julia utterly charming and if she wants this image, here it is.
By the way, we have been having so much success with the June gloom cloud cover in the morning, we just thought it would never end. It ended. We created a light tent outside that mimics the cloud cover so that we could get that beautiful diffused light and then shape it with our reflectors. Natural light with a backdrop. That’s what we do.
I like Jerome a lot. This guy has some moves. He’s a young actor who knows exactly what he’s looking for in a headshot. He pointed me to his imdb page so I could see what kind of photography had been done before. Clearly a Tom Cruise lookalike, Jerome isn’t going to let any kind of typecasting stand in his way.
He wants to play everything available in his range and so when he came to me, he was specific. He had some gaps in his headshots and he wanted to fill them. One minute his hair was up and he was serious. The next it was down and he was grinning. He had a lot of tools to pull out. Although these two images show almost the same sly smile, he had a lot more colors in his crayon box to choose from. We had a lot of fun shooting because he was himself but he always had a character goal in mind.
After our shoot, I sent Jerome the picture on the right and he liked it. “Thank you for this picture. I really like it. I loved your professionalism. It’s really appreciated. I’m looking forward working with you again. ” Me too, Jerome!
Shainu is a fun-loving, slightly nerdy yet hip guy who is interested in scoring some comedic roles so he needed the right headshot. He definitely wanted to have some pictures taken with his thick, almost Groucho Marx-style glasses. He then painted on a really broad smile. His eyes just lit up with the mischief within.
We had a bit of a challenge avoiding terrible reflections on his glasses. But the sherpa and I (the sherpa being my assistant, Vicki) figured it out and we minimized the reflections as much as possible. Look, it’s Shainu’s eyes, not glare! Victory!
And Shainu was pleased wtih his images, too. “Thank you so much, you’re pictures are so awesome, I’ve told everyone i know about your work and they are truly impressed. Thank you so much once again.”
You are welcome, Shainu!