Was this shot with a $16,000 Phase One camera or a second generation iPhone?
What camera was that taken with? Lens? Digital or Film? Does it even matter anymore with the billions of images taken, edited, and shared each year? Does anyone even care about quality or the medium on which an image was captured? Who are the “real” photographers? Is an iPhone image a photo that was made or just snapped on a whim and then filtered until it is “super cool” so people “like” or “LOVE”? These are the questions that I ask myself everyday. As you can imagine these are big questions that directly affect my profession and my livelihood. I hope to find some answers for myself as I dig deeper into my creative self and theories.
Peter Konerko is an American portrait photographer working in New York and Los Angeles.
35mm Kodak Tri-x was introduced in 1954. SanDisk card about 35 years later.
I am at a crossroads in my work. I have been really thinking about my process and how I want to spend my time working. Let’s face it, i shoot about three hundred actor headshots a year and that can be overwhelming…especially how I like to work with clients. Everything is immediate and result based. It’s advertising. Actor Advertising. I get that and that is the job. The job-job. I am fortunate that I get to work with my camera, but it is a job-job. I know the process. I like it and my clients get great stuff.
Now, in MY work. Work that is not made to get more work…but work that is made to BE. This is where I am searching. Finding my center again. Finding why I picked up a camera in the first place. It all starts with my ultimate conundrum…”Digital or Film”?
Peter is one of the leading actor headshot photographers in Los Angeles recommended by numerous major agents and casting directors.
This is a fair question. Most people say that they don’t care about being famous (a Celebrity) but I think that is bullshit. By definition, Celebrity, means being celebrated for your accomplishments….or one that is famous. I want to be famous within my profession because I want to feel like I earned the respect of my peers and celebrated for it. What is fame anyway? Simply, a ton of people who you don’t know, know who you are and what you have accomplished. That makes sense right? Were you “famous” in high school? They called it popular, but it is the same thing. The problem lies within the machine that creates CELEBRITY today. It has nothing to do with accomplishments being celebrated. It has to do with TMZ, People Magazine, leaked Sex Tapes and photos, and all the other things that have absolutely nothing to do with real accomplishments. This is why people don’t want to be famous…because there is a fear that your accomplishments will be lost as your latest Bro-mance is exposed as you have lunch on Abott Kinney.
Peter is a headshot photographer who shoots out of his studios in both New York and Los Angeles. Contact Peter today to learn more details about shooting with him.
Seamus Dever, an excellent example of Less is More
Less is more. We have heard that a million times in all areas of life, especially in the acting business. Well, it has never been more true when shooting your headshots. Really. Less is way more. Think about this: the casting director already has the story in their head and they are looking to fit someone into that story. You are either it or you are not. No need to push. No need to be big. Just be. Let the clothing, the light, the mood, and your thoughts point the viewer in the direction you want them to go. They will go there with you if it all matches up and the shot is specific enough to fit into the story without you, the actor, distracting them from trying to place you in their story. Don’t distract by pushing. Just be and let everything around you help fit you into that story.
Peter is one of the top headshot photographers in Los Angeles. He’s been around for over a decade and is recommended by numerous casting directors, agents, and managers. Check out his portfolio at http://www.peterkonerko.com.
After all the work and the painting is complete, the photograph is printed, the script is written. The goal is complete. What was the process like? Is this not why we are artists? We only have control of our process and how we get from A to Z. If we focus on the process we will arrive at our destination. Ultimately, the final product (the result) is how we will be judged…the the journey is ours. Nobody can take that away.
Lake Padden. Bellingham, WA
I am hearing this more and more from clients. They are tired of a photographers signature look. They see it everywhere. The gripe is that the casting agents recognize the style first and the actor second. I understand this but you cannot blame the photographer. Every photographer that shoots headshots is trying to find their place and what they do best. They are finding what makes them unique and what gives them them best chance to get headshot work. Actors do the same thing. “They are just doing their thing.” Most actors are attracted to my work because it does have a distinct style…but it does not distract from them. The style enhances it. I do have a very specific style that defines me but it has less to do with a repetitive background or single lighting setup. It is subject driven so I rely on the unique qualities of my subjects to give my work variety that balances out my style. I am also not really concerned with any headshot “rules” that might be floating around out there.
Francesca Fisher Eastwood
I think this is a really good headshot photoshoot tip: when thinking about the roles you want to play as an actor it is really important to focus on the character and not the actor (celeb) playing them. I am finding that my actors are starting to use actors names more than the breakdown or character name. For example, tell me you see yourself as Ophelia…not Dakota Fanning. We know the dramatic life of Ophelia…I can direct you in that shoot. How can I direct you as Dakota Fanning? What’s the throughline? Makes sense right? People are becoming more fascinated with celebrity that I fear we are starting to blur the lines way too much. Focus on the fiction of the characters and your shoot will be so much more rich. Just be yourself doing something and get other actors out of your head. The above shot is just Francesca being Francesca and she is awesome.
What?? I hear this almost everyday. Yep. Actors tell me they hate headshots…having them taken that is. The follow up is usually: “In front of a moving camera I am fine, but in front of a still camera I am a mess.” Sound familiar? Well, let me say that I completely understand 100%. Yep. However, this is not an excuse. You have to put all that aside, turn it on, and love it. During the session you need to feel like you are the s**t and bang it out. At the end of the day nobody cares how you feel about having your headshots done. The picture will fall on the desktop (online, ha!) and it will speak for itself. Pick your favorite actor…got it in mind? OK, now imagine them not being able to turn it on in front of a still camera. If you want to be in that place you need to do the same. I’m not preaching…I just want my clients to realized they have all have incredible qualities that need to be captured and seen.
Continuing the conversion on Taste. How many workshops have you been to where the agent or casting director “loved” your shots and then the following week someone else “hated” them? This is personal taste. I recently had a returning client ask me to shoot them on a bright pink background for all of their commercial shots. They were shocked when I refused. I know their are photographers who shoot on solid bright colored backgrounds and agents who love it. I don’t. It’s a matter of taste and how I see the world. The feedback I always get is that my clients look like real people. I find that funny because THEY ARE REAL PEOPLE. I find that when you put a person on front of a color that we do not normally interact with, we pull out of reality and that person is now out of a real context and therefore becomes fake… And less real. It is now an actor having their picture taken on front of some color named Flaming Flamingo Pink.
Leading up to the holidays…I can feel the stress building. I’m shooting about 10 headshots for actors a week and we are finishing up the retouching for the actors we shot in October and the beginning of November. All this not to mention shooting my personal portrait work. This rush, as I’m sure we have all felt, creates such a pressure cooker that it feels like things are about to blow. Then it all stops at once and the mind tells the body “relax”. My body says ” yeah, no “. Four days into my seven day vacation my body finally allows my brain to stop and turn off. Ah. Now, three days of relaxation. I am now at the end of my three days and I must say I am almost fully relaxed. Score. Now my body is telling my brain, “back to work.” Karma is a Bitch.