Well, it wasn't exactly my first professional headshot. A few weeks ago, I sat in on my son's photo shoot for his first professional "theater" headshot. For years I've coordinated sessions and panel discussions for emerging actors. During this process I've heard a lot of great wisdom and expertise from theater directors, actors, and agents. But, never had I actually sat in on a photo shoot for a headshot.
Luckily, I knew just the right person for the task. One of my colleagues is not only a director of a theater program but also an actress, has her own theater company, and just happens to be a professional photographer. Lucky is probably an understatement!
We were given some tips in advance - some I knew, some I did not. Probably one of those that I would never have thought of was to make sure he used some type of lip balm regularly the week or so going into the shoot because it is very hard to fix chapped lips in pictures. Sometimes it really is the little things!
After we arrived at the location, I let the two of them connect and tried to fade into the background. I actually stayed in a hallway off to the side so I wasn't seeing what they were doing but I could hear her directions.
And "Directing" is exactly what she did. She was coaching him on how to get a good shot. Based on the photos she had on her website, I knew she could take great headshots, but what impressed me more was her explanation of what she was doing and why. It had become more than a photo session but a coaching session.
It was a great experience for both of us. Not only did we walk away with some great headshots that he needed for the Illinois High School Musical Theater Awards, but we both learned so much.
It made me realize how critical the educational piece is to so many aspects of the arts. It isn't just about getting a good headshot or having a piece of art framed just right, but it is important to understand the what and why? What makes a good headshot? What makes a great portfolio? Why does one angle look better than the other? Why does one frame make a piece of art pop? As creative professionals, keep asking the what and why? And if you are in a position like my colleague where you are providing a service, use the opportunity to teach too!