Monday, May 2, 2011

A post about headshots...

Yeah, I know, I haven't posted in ages. Many reasons for that, which I won't get into right now.

Instead, I offer a history of my headshots. Perhaps someone can learn from it.

I have had eight different headshot sessions over the years. Yes, eight. Five were paid for; three were free. Of the three free sessions, one was a trade with a photographer, one was a gift from a photographer, and one was a "thank you" from a photographer for being a test model at a shoot. I have used four different photographers, one of which has shot me five times. Why do I keep going back to her? Because, not only do I like her work, but she has also done an amazing job of working WITH me, instead of just working FOR me.

So, now begins the pictoral history:

This shot is from my very first headshot session, in Chicago.

It's the only shot from that session of which I have a digital copy. I have a hard copy proof sheet and three hard copy headshot proofs from the session. No disc. I got these taken just before I left Chicago. I used them during my first year in LA, before I realized that color was king. The photos are, overall, not the best photos of me, but they aren't necessarily bad. I just look very different in each of the photos. I obviously cannot use these in LA, despite the fact that they are old, because of the black & white issue. However, I have always liked this one shot, so I kept a digital copy of it, for the hell of it. My mom has copies of the other headshots in frames at her house, which is amusing to me.

The following shots are from my first session in LA, with Kelsey Edwards. This session was free--I got it as a trade, for working a party that she had at her studio. Kelsey came highly recommended from my friend, Alex, who has shot with her numerous times:

Now, these photos don't have anything wrong with them, per say. But...I never loved them. Part of it is that I can tell I'm uncomfortable in a lot of them...but, I also feel like they are very "stock" photos--the looks are all generic. Girl next door, sexy, etc. There's no sense of who I am in them, at least, not to me. This is particularly true of the "sexy" look--it could not be less sexy to me. If you had seen the amount of make up I had on...insane. I think the photos are pretty--they're well shot, that's for sure. But...they lack something. I will also add that I was not particulary comfortable during this shoot, and that must have added to the lack of personality coming through on most of the shots.

My first shoot with Felicity Murphy garnered these shots:

These three photos were ones selected for use by my reps. The one with the yellow background is one that they still use--and I know for a fact that it gets me into the room for commercial auditions. One of the things I was looking for in this session was a "Sexy Tina Fey" look, which I think I achieved with the shot where I am wearing my glasses. During this session, I was able to let some more of my real personality come through, but I wasn't 100% comfortable, mostly because, at the time, I was not comfortable taking still shots. The older that I get and the more I am comfortable with my work as an actor, the better I am in in front of all cameras. In these shots, my hair is darker than it currently is--I had a hair horror story just prior to the shoot, in which my (now ex) hair dresser did a real number on my hair while trying to give me red highlights. I had to dye over everything, resulting in a darker hair color than my natural color. I love the color, but nevertheless, it's not true to how my hair looks now (although the length is close).

These are from a free session with Christopher Moscatiello:

My main issue with this session was my make up. I hated it. At the time, I was working on reshaping my eyebrows based on recommendations from the lovely ladies at Anastasia...this required me to grow them out, in order to fill out a certain shape...which left me with a bald spot, oddly enough. So, in the photos, my eyebrows look strange--the photog tried to do all of the retouching, but it looked weird, so a friend of mine worked on the photos as the end, none of the photos really worked out for me. My reps were not fans of them, either.

These are from my second session with Felicity Murphy:

These are among the shots that my commercial reps use--specifically, the one in the red shirt is used as my main commercial shot. I worked with Felicity to nail down the looks that my agents had requested (I approached them ahead of time, for input on what they felt I needed). We took soooooo many photos during this session--and much more of my personality came through. All of the shots from this session lean heavily toward commercial, versus theatrical.

The next round of Felicity Murphy shots:

Now, I had a specific goal with these shots: sexy. I wanted sexy pictures. It had been something on my Bucket List, for lack of a better description. I took advantage of a special discount package that Felicity had been offering. We worked with my favorite make up artist, Michelle Diaz, who has worked with us on all of our shoots together. I picked two looks and researched them, bringing photos to the session for us to work off of (for the record: I also did this for my first session with Felicity, too). I was very happy with the results. I got what I wanted. I was comfortable enough to play and be myself, and the photos reflect that.

My Broncolor session pics:

These photos were free. Felicity asked me to be a model for her friend, who was holding photo tests for his lighting company. As payment, Felicity shot some "headshot" like pics for me. The other photographers involved were Melissa Brooks (purple/blue shirt) and Allyson Aliano (pink shirt with blown out lighting). I didn't end up using these photos for anything more than business cards and social network profiles, but I do like a number of them, just for fun. I also cut my hair off not long after taking them, so I can't use them unless I grow it out again. :)

Latest session with Felicity:

This session came after I decided to chop off my hair. Why did I do that? Last summer, I won a general meeting with Mark Measures of Abrams Artists, through Twitter. He held a contest in which the person who submitted the best haiku on why they should get a meeting would win a meeting. I won (as did my costar from my Big Lots commercial, Cory Jacob). At that meeting, Mark suggested that I find a different way to do my hair. Why? Because, at the time, I had very long, beautiful hair...which did not fit my most marketable commercial look. I had been thinking of cutting off my hair anyway, because I had noticed that most gals who were my "type" in commercials did not have hair as long as mine. So, after consulting with my rep, I opted to chop off 10 inches of hair. The photos that my reps chose are: yellow tank top, both shots with the orange plaid shirt, and the cupcake shot. The teal sweater shot is the one my acting coach chose for a theatrical option, although I don't love it as much as another shot I am toying with getting reproduced. At any rate, during this session, I felt most like myself. I was able to get MANY usable shots, with different looks, all of which exhibited some aspect of ME on top of being a typed shot. Here are some others:

I have a tradition with Felicity of saving one look to be a "fun" look--on the first round, it was the yellow background with the 60s dress...during the "commercial" round, it was an 80s look...during this last session, it was my Mad Men look with the pink dress.

(The 80s look--improvised at the end of our shoot, just for the hell of it...we ran around and found this van in Los Feliz to shoot in front of...)

This is one of the reasons that I love working with her--she took the time to "get" me. She encourages me to be ME in my shots and instinctively knows when I'm holding back or uncomfortable. She doesn't have an ego about things--if a shot or a look isn't working, she wants to make sure that we find a way to get what we want, even if that means abandoning the shot or idea. Over the years, she's really developed how she works with actors, so her shots have gotten better and better. The cupcake shot was a totally improvised thing--I had brought cupcakes because it was Michelle's birthday that week. We were playing around with them and thought, "Why not try some shots with these?" They ended up being the highlight of the shoot--those photos have SO much personality and energy.

Clearly, I am a fan of her work. :)

My overall recommendation for headshots--no matter who you shoot with--is to go in knowing what types you want to nail for the shoot. Do your research, not only into what types you fit best, but also, how those looks can be translated into shots. Look up actors who are your type or who you look like--see what shots are out there of them. Might give you some ideas of how to translate that look for yourself. Do your best to be comfortable with whomever you're working with, and most of all, try to let your personality come through.

Felicity Murphy Photography if you want to check her out on the web. :)

Okay, so I think that's quite enough photos of me for tonight...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holy Hell, it's December!

Wow, how is it the end of the year? Insanity!!

The last couple of months have been nutty! I had a bit of a dry spell with auditions, which freaked me out (naturally), but things began to pick up last month! I scored three callbacks in a row, which felt great! I actually just had another audition today, for another cd I hadn't seen before--love going into new offices!! My holiday cards have been sent out (to cds who've called me in...I think I still have another round to write, for cds whose workshops I've attended), I have been doing GREAT in class, and I am working on some writing projects! I have a feature in the works with a friend from class--starting it slowly--and have been tweaking some shorts I'd like to shoot. I also am back at working on the pitchbook for our pilot! It's been so much fun to get back to it--more ideas are flowing about the character arcs, which is really great!! Have also been participating in some in-person networking with other actors/creative types that I have met through Twitter/Facebook--LOVE that!!

A quick note: I've noticed (and heard about) an increase in some actor-scams recently. By this, I mean unsolicited emails or texts (possibly calls), offering actors a chance to "register" with the casting director's database for some kind of fee. This is crap. Don't touch it. If you are approached, contact the City Attorney's office (NOT SAG--they can't help you...however, if you are experiencing a situation where a prospective Agent/Manager is asking for money up front, SAG needs to know. At the very least, they can put these people on a scam-watch list). At any rate, no casting director should be charging to put you in their database. Yes, people who do extras casting do charge fees (i.e. Central Casting), but someone who is casting for PRINCIPAL ROLES should never charge a fee. Do NOT pay it. What they are doing is illegal under the Krekorian Act!

MMkay, I have to run, as I have class tonight and need to study my lines, but just wanted to check in. Oh, ALSO, two of my foster kittens are still looking for homes!! Please check out their Facebook Fan Page, filled with photos, videos and information about them!


ADOPT The Weasley Kittens!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Well, that was nice!

Tuesday was kinda busy for me--an audition at a new office AND a callback for a cd that has booked me before. The audition was a lot of fun! Very playful commercial copy. The callback was a strange situation. The original audition was for a commercial that was almost exactly the same as the Cox spot that I did last year--same company, same cd, same director, virtually the same copy. I thought it was interesting that I got called in for it, but went with it. I ended up auditioning for that spot and another spot while I was there. I got called back for the second one, but when I arrived, I ran into the cd and she told me that I could go home if I wanted to, as I was out of the running. Since I had booked a spot with them last year, the company did not want to re-use me. However, she did say that they loved me, and they called her after I was put into callbacks, after they realized who exactly I, it was nice to know that my work was good, and this was a technical issue, if that makes sense. The cd chatted with me for a bit, then had me run into the session room to say hi to the director, since he also did my spot. He was so kind--gave me a hug, told me I looked great, complimented my work and said I was doing things right, since I "went straight to the top again". I left the situation very pleased.

I had a callback yesterday for the fun audition from Tuesday. I didn't feel brilliant about it, but I think that's just the mood I've been in lately. At any rate, I did my job--went in, committed, did what was asked. I did send a thank you card to the cd after the initial audition, too. So, that's good. Hoping that I made some kind of a decent impression.

Class was interesting this week. Did a great, GREAT improv with one of my classmates, who is so talented. I might write it down from memory and see if we can film it. It really sold both of our particular comedic strengths well. I struggled a bit with my scripted scene, even though I did well. I'm pushing myself to do scenes where my characters are angry, since I tend to shy away from that and tend to give myself trouble with it. I think it was successful on a few counts, and I heard nice feedback about it, but I'm still processing it. However, I do know a few things I thought were good moments for me, and I think every time I take on a challenge like this, it is great for me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Nearly November

Well...been a few weeks since I last posted!

Had a couple of auditions for commercials recently, which made me so happy (had a bit of a dry spell for a bit!). I have a callback tomorrow for one of them, for a cd that has booked me before AND for a company that has booked me before. So...fingers crossed! I'm just thrilled to have the callback. Feels like things are right in the world, if that makes sense. :)

Just got a mention in Bonnie Gillespie's newest 'The Actor's Voice' column on Showfax:

The article breaks down actor bios: what works, what could be changed, etc. Bonnie used mine as an example, which was totally cool--and a surprise! I had told her offhand, via Twitter, that she could use the one I had in my POV article as one to dissect, if she was still looking for samples--had no idea she would! Very cool. Article is helpful, too--bios are often a pain for most actors. :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More workshops

I had a couple more workshops this week, one with an associate with a major tv casting office, and one with a film cd that has worked on some AWESOME projects (including a recent Oscar winning film). I'd never seen either cd before. I did the same scene for both, and received high marks from both. :) I was pretty tired during the second workshop, which impacted my performance somewhat, but my work was still there, so that's good.

I also had a good night in class last week. I did a scene from Sons of Anarchy, playing a character that was different for me--required a lot more anger and aggression than I normally play. It was a challenge for me, but that's exactly why I chose it. :) At any rate, I had a hard time with it the first few times--although, I was told that you really couldn't tell I was having a hard time, which I guess is nice--but it clicked on the last time through, mostly because I stopped holding back the physical element in the scene (it called for me to grab the other character by the throat, which I did not do the first few times out of concern that I would hurt her--which was amplified because she was sick and had lost her voice). Anyway, I'm happy with how it turned out...and doing the same character again this week!

I signed up for a workshop designed to boost callbacks for commercials...I still need to pay my deposit, etc, but I am interested to see how it goes. I've heard great things about it, and I am hoping it helps breathe some life into my auditioning. I haven't had a commercial audition in over two months, which is a REALLY LONG stretch of time. I don't really know what the issue might be, although I have heard it's been slow in general for a lot of people. I'm trying to keep positive about things and just do what is mine to do--got new headshots, printed some of those, worked with my agents to get the ones they liked online, updated my various casting profiles, etc. So...fingers crossed!

On a total side note, unrelated to acting:

I am fostering three adorable kittens right now, named Ron, Fred & George (after the Weasley brothers from Harry Potter). Please become a fan of their page on Facebook! We created the page to help network them, so we can get them adopted into great homes as soon as possible.

The Weasley Kittens: Ron, Fred and George Need Forever Homes

The page is updated with new photos, videos and information almost every day. :)

Monday, September 27, 2010


I had a great workshop this weekend at the Stella Adler theatre, for an awesome commercial casting director. We were assigned comedy scenes a few days ahead of time, along with partners, but my partner canceled on me, so I didn't meet his replacement until the day of the workshop. Our scene was from Friends, which is always fun. My partner was doing his end of it a little more slowly than I expected--more like it was drama, almost--but it was a good test for me, in terms of picking up the beat and carrying my end of it strongly, not forcing it, etc. In the end, I got great feedback from the cd, who is someone I am friendly with on Twitter. I had a great time at the workshop and was so happy that I did it. :) So, we'll see! I have to drop off my headshot at her office tomorrow (was going to mail it, but she specifically said to drop it off), then mail my thank you card.

I have another workshop, for a tv cd associate, on Thursday. I'm still settling on a scene for it. I also have a difficult scene in class this week, which is kinda freaking me out. Well, not freaking me out so much as giving me some trouble. It's just a new type of character for me, one that I haven't challenged myself much with over the years, which is why I chose it. So, it'll be a good experience no matter what happens, because I'll be learning. :)

I picked up my new postcards at Argentum, and I think I am all set with new headshots and postcards for now. I may do another set of business cards, but they aren't absolutely necessary at this point. I love the new postcards, and the new headshots. I chose a theatrical one that my coach liked a lot. I'm less crazy about it, but the one I liked more turned out much darker than expected in the test printing. And, I thought he had a point about why he preferred the one over the other--the one I liked more sells "sexy" harder, but there's not necessarily a depth to it, whereas the one he liked more has more subtlty to it, but still something in the eyes.

On a totally unrelated note, I am now fostering three tiny kittens, all about 4 months old. So, if anyone is looking for an adorable kitten, please let me know. We're requiring indoor only, claws intact homes, as well as applications & adoption fees. I'll post photos of them soon. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gearing up

The last week or so has been a period of gearing up, if you will.

Last week in class, I worked on a scene than I wrote, which my partner and I intend to shoot as a short. It went well. I was most definitely not in the comedy mood while at class, but I managed to push through it and do the scene well. And my partner, Ryan, is very funny, so he's able to give me a lot to work off of, especially since the scene casts me in a bit of the straight man role. I need to fix some of the writing, but I think we'll be able to shoot it and do a lot with it that will be fun. I emailed him yesterday to see when he thinks we could do it. I'll keep on him about it. :)

I also spoke, via email, with my friend Brian, who I went to high school with, and who lives in LA (he's a writer), to see if he'd be up for helping me film a short dramatic scene with another friend from class. He expressed interest, so I hope we can get it done. Again, I have to rework some of the writing (again, a scene I wrote), but I think we'll be able to get what we need from it.

I have a workshop this weekend with Danielle Eskinazi, who is a great commercial CD in LA. I just got my scene, which is from Friends, and which was assigned to me (along with my partner). The scene is a good fit for me--I'm impressed. Sometimes, when scenes are assigned at workshops, I end up with something that is a little off. It helped that they asked us what celebrities we are like and what types we play, instead of going just off of headshots. Anyway, I'm looking forward to it.

I've also signed up for two more cd workshops, one for a tv associate and one for a head cd for film. I still have yet to settle on my scenes for those. I also inquired about a commercial callback workshop that came highly recommended--it took me a while to get someone to call me back, but they finally called today. I'm on the fence about it, mostly because of the financial cost of it. But, since it's been very slow the past two months as far as auditions go, I'd like to start strong this fall, and maybe this will help.

I have to run off to approve some headshots at the printers, and probably order more stuff, before I'm off to class tonight, where I'll be doing a 30 Rock scene. I was scheduled to do a Sons of Anarchy scene, but it got pushed to next week, because my original partner will be absent tonight for a chemistry read. So, since an old friend and classmate is dropping by class to say hi (having just moved back to LA from Kansas), I asked her to do a quick comedy scene with me. Should be fun. I wasn't ready for the SOA scene anyway--it's an intense scene, and a new type of character for me, so another week to prep will be good.