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.
First off, I hate rules. Someone somewhere decided to make headshot rules. If you are reading this, can you tell me what the rules are? Let’s use the word “taste” instead of “rules” because this is what it has become. DO NOT MISTAKE SOMEONE’S TASTE AS A RULE. This shot is a really good example of my overall taste in an actor headshot.
I really wonder if agents and casting directors still care if they can get a sense of an actors “essence” from their headshot. It has gotten so specific that I believe that the industry is far more interested in the essence of the actor playing the character. What the actor reveals while she is in action as a character. Ultimately, the question is not, “What is this actors essence, but can they reveal the essence of the character breakdown?”
I read a somewhat interesting article in the New York Times posing the question whether or not the art scene was dead in NYC. Basically, can art survive in a city with the “$50 entree and the $3000 studio apartment.” The final conclusion was that, yes, it is currently thriving… But if you get a chance to read it, it feels more like it is surviving…and not in the city…but in Bushwick. I wish they would admit that the artists are now in Brooklyn and have been for quite some time now. The SoHo up and coming studio artist is long gone. The Factory closed long ago.
I really, really love this headshot of Steven Allen. He is a really nice guy with a wonderful quality about him. Generally, he comes sweet and approachable. That really works for both commercial and theatrical headshots and castings, but with this shot we were going for something abit more gritty and cynical to bounce off of his commercial looks. I like to do this with actors as long as it is right for castings. I don’t know, this headshot feels dead on to me without feeling “put on” or too heavy handed.
– Peter Konerko Photography, the authentic los angeles headshot photographer.
I left my phone in the car when I went into the coffeehouse. Yep, I chose not to look at my messages from my acting clients about headshots…or from my accountant…or from my non-actor clients looking to shoot something for their professional life. I just stood in line and allowed myself to be present and look at what was going on around me. The visuals as well as the sounds. Just taking it all in. It seems so obvious and simple, but I think not being tied to my phone during these “transition” moments means everything. These are the moments when you see that “thing” that inspires a poem or a portrait. A painting or a song. I have been buried in my devices. Not looking up. not living in the present and allowing mother nature to feed.
Peter Konerko is a photographer based in Los Angeles specializing in actor headshots, portraits, and more.
Making some test prints today in the Dahlia Studio. Looking at some older work. Brooklyn 2005.
My Angel read this to me last night:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910