Ok, so lets simplify it. What is a headshot? Or more specifically, for what you need - an Actors Headshot.
Traditionally it’s a head and shoulders shot of you looking at camera cropped to a ratio of 10x8 and prepared for use on the UK’s main casting website and books Spotlight. And a tool that you and your agent can use to send to prospective employers for auditions and work.
After that there is a lot of scope for opportunity. I think the finished product should represent you on a really good day, not something that would be impossible for you to look like in person, but on one of those days where everything has just gone great!
For years different photographers have chosen to shoot them in varying ways. Outside, inside, against a brickwall, pure white background, dark grey. All fine when done well, it’s just down to yours and possibly your agent or tutors opinion as to what will work best for you, and will probably make up a large part of your decision on who to book for your headshot.
Nowadays things have developed to be more creative in the headshot industry.
We have a debate over colour or black and white. In my opinion both are still valid, the current trend is a lot more colour shots are being used now that Spotlight allows it, and has a more commercial and modern feel. But there’s no denying some images just have more power and presence in black and white. It depends on your casting bracket and what work you’re aiming for.
We can also now crop in a landscape (horizontal) orientation, the spotlight book still needs a portrait 10x8 version, but the Spotlight website allows you to use a colour landscape photo as part of your online portfolio. Also more useful as American markets tend to use this orientation a lot and more and more people nowadays have websites or marketing materials that a horizontal photo allows for greater design opportunities.
With all that said, here’s what it comes down to. As an Actor or Performer it is above all the most important tool you have at your disposal. It’s the first impression and piece of information any employer will see about you. It tells them how seriously you take your work and professionally you present yourself. It is the lasting memory people have of you in a very online world where someone can google your name and probably find information about you remarkably quickly. It’s your business’ marketing material (and yes you are a small business!). It’s your front door, branding and logo all in one place, and it has to be right!
I try to offer a headshot photography service that has as much individuality about it as you do.
When setting up as a photographer I wanted to try and set myself apart with a name that was a bit more memorable, hence ‘Mug Photography’. I found in the past when I was an actor I asked so many friends, ‘Your headshot is great - who took it?’ and the amount of times the answer was ‘Oh erm… Claire, no Cathy Tay…. I cant remember’.. hardly the best way to recommend someone. I believe my brand will stick in peoples memories a lot longer.
But apart from a name, I think being successful as a photographer is about a blend of the quality of the product and the service you offer. I hope the images you see on the site speak for themselves, but one thing I think I have to offer is most people leave after their session really having enjoyed themselves. So many times I’ve had people coming in riddled with nerves, and scarred from previous experiences with photographers, and leaving with a big smile on their faces claiming, ‘I actually quite enjoyed that!’.
I try to have a good laugh with each of my clients. It’s really informal when you come to my studio, we’ll get your top choices out, have a chat about who you are, where you’ve been and what you’ve done, and then more importantly… What you WANT to do.. as this will determine the way we photography you!
I try to direct with lots of notes on posture and positioning, and a bit of humour, and maybe giving you some simple scenarios or characters to embody. But I don’t work in a style where I’m looking to really dig deep into your feelings and find the inner essence and get all intense, sure it works wonders for others but just not me.
I see all sorts of people looking for Headshots from Musical Theatre, Actors, Presenters, Stunt Artists and even a few corporate clients. To create the type of image you’re looking for will be a collaboration between what I can produce for you with lighting, backgrounds and posing and what you can bring with expression, tops and styling.
I wouldn’t say I’m trying to produce the most ‘traditional’ form of headshot we’ve seen in the past. I’m looking to get something a little more creative in my photography and looks we create. Something with some drama and dynamic tones to it. Something that really jumps out from a page full of thumbnails that a casting director or agent will be looking at. Something when you see on first glance grabs you, for that split second, and creates a lasting memory.
To achieve this I’m well prepared in that I have my own studio which can create a lot of looks and backgrounds. I have loads of different lighting options including studio lights, constant film lights, window light and also outdoor locations nearby. When I meet you and we’ve consulted on your requirements, I’ll then start to plan in my head the best use of time with the the options and (one thing being a brit we cant always plan for) the weather we have on the day to give you as wide a range as possible.
In return, I think there’s 3 things that you as a client need to bring to a session to get the best possible results.
I set up MUG Photography in 2010, and to begin with I worked in Musical Theatre and as a photographer at the same time.
I started in my flat as most headshot photographers do, moved into a shared studio in 2011 and then in 2012 took on my current space in greenwich.
I think having had a successful career in the industry for 8 years is a huge benefit. Not only do I understand what it takes and why its hard to make a career work, but we’ve probably also got a lot in common already and more to talk about when we meet!
I am a complete geek when it comes to photography and I’m not afraid to admit it! It’s a great way to pretend you have a legitimate reason to buy lots of gadgets and the technology behind both cameras and computers fascinated me.
I’m also really passionate about the Headshot industry as a whole. I’m friends with a lot of the other London Headshot photographers and think it’s great that we all talk and see each other as ‘friendly competition’.
Just recently a group of Headshot Photographers have joined together and are working towards trying to formalise the industry a little to raise the overall quality actors receive and having some minimum requirements for people supplying headshot sessions, which I’m happy to be a part of.
Other interesting facts about me, I became a Dad this year to my daughter Esme, I’m married to my beautiful wife Sarah who was also an Actress, I’’m a dog lover and have a chocolate Cocker Spaniel Buster and I’m an avid Man Utd fan.
My Studio is a very unique space. You’d have no idea it was there from the front door, which leads to a courtyard and barn conversion and I have an upstairs space of approximately 500 Sq Ft.
My Landlord is an art and sculpture collector and the communal space looks like a quirky antique shop.
The studio itself has a 4metre wide infinity cove painted white, 3 massive windows that flood in natural light, exposed brickwork and lots of photography equipment!
I have 7 Studio Flashes, 4 Speedlites, 2 HMI film lights, a Kino Flo Light bank and lots of modifiers (if that makes any sense to you at all?).
There’s a mirror with lights for make-up, somewhere to hang your clothes and a sink for water and shaving if you need to.
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