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Choosing a Photographer

Nick Gregan is one of the most sought after actors headshot photographers in London, photographing actors headshots, children and performers for over 18 years.

Choosing a Photographer. Choosing the right photographer is more appropriate. Make sure you choose a specialist headshot photographer and not a general all-rounder who may not be completely up to date with the specific needs or current styles.

Choosing the right photographer is probably the most crucial decision you’ll make. Let’s start at the beginning with one of a couple of possibilities; you need a headshot and are not sure where to go to find a photographer, or maybe your friend’s have recommended someone to you but still you’re not able to make up your mind.

What do you do? There are several ways of finding a photographer, you’ll probably use the web via search for ‘actors headshot photographer’ and then go onto their website. However unless you put in a specific location i.e. London or UK you’ll get guys turning up from all parts of the globe. So be specific in what you’re looking for otherwise you may spend ages looking at website of people in Hollywood or New York when what you really need is someone that’s accessible and a specialist.

There are other great ways to find a photographer – Arts Oracle list many of the best and becuase it can be updated daily the site is up-to-date. The other advantage is you can soee all the top photographers listed together, follow links to their sites compare price and samples easily. It’s also a great way to find agents, personal managers, casting directors – in fact everything you need for your acting career.

Once you have a shortlist the next step is to call them and ask a few simple questions, have a conversation with them and decide if you like them. I think this is crucial to getting the best out of your photo session, if you don’t have an affinity with the photographer over the phone the chances are that you won’t like them in person. This is particularly important when you think that you are placing a huge amount of responsibility and trust in them to give you a shot that’s hopefully going to get you work. They are going to ask you to smile, to look serious, be pleasant, show personality or be happy etc. if there is any kind of discomfort or tension this can be all the more difficult to do. These things can emerge from the pressure to perform, the wrong kind of comment from the photographer or pressure on the time constraints – you may only have an hour’s session and that may not be enough for you. Perhaps they are not conveying clearly enough what they want from you or maybe they or their reputation is intimidating to you. There are many reasons why a session may not be going well and if this is the case you need to be able to stop take the time and refocus.

Above all you are paying your money to the photographer and they are working for you, you should not be afraid to make suggestions or tell them what you want. Neither should you be afraid to complain either, there shouldn’t be need these days with just about everyone shooting digitally and letting you see the shots as you go along.

Knowing What You Want:

There are several different styles of headshot you can have, do you want something with clean lighting or something more moody, would you prefer studio or outdoor shots, maybe you’d like something really commercial, cropped in tight or something more glamorous. Think of the type of work you aim to do, musical theatre, theatre, film & television or more commercial work and aim your headshot there.

Doing a bit of research in advance regards the style of shot you want will make things easier on the day for you and your photographer. Giving him clear instructions can avoid all kinds of misunderstandings, especially disappointments. Don’t be afraid to take an example of a shot with you, the same goes if you’ve had headshots done before and didn’t like them you can use one tell the photographer what you don’t want.

Generally the shot that works best of all is one that is open, friendly and natural. It’s imperative that you look like your shot and that you choose a shot that allows casting directors to see you as versatile. This encourages them to ‘paint a character on you’ as opposed to seeing you in only one type of role. There are exceptions to this rule, if you have a very definite look such as Hugh Grant or Steven Segal for instance, they are generally only going to be cast in a certain type of role, when have we seen Hugh Grant as a tough, dark and dangerous gangster or Steven Segal as a romantic lead?

Be honest with yourself when you look in the mirror who do you see, ask yourself what kind of roles are you good at playing – it may not always be the kind you want to play!

You may dream of playing ‘Roxie’ in Chicago or ‘Joseph’ in the Technicolor Dreamcoat but seriously, if you’re not the strongest singer be realistic and aim for a more reachable goal. So in essence you must look like your headshot and must be realistic about the type of work or role you’ll be able to get.

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