An Actor’s Approach to Shooting Actors

 If you’re going to shoot an actor, aim for the heart.

Haha, seriously. As a long-time performer in front of and behind camera, I know myself and I know the people I’m used to working with. Shooting photography one-on-one does not differ from establishing a relationship with a new woman (or man, in qualifying cases). Your conquest will be timid, at first. Or maybe not. There are all kinds of performers and people, after all. But generally speaking, when a new person walks into your studio they are counting on your professionalism in not screwing them (at least not on the first date). You have to make them comfortable.

Proof of acting


And really, that’s the first and most important rule in taking an individual’s picture. Group shots are one thing. Landscape photography might as well be an entirely different profession altogether. You don’t ask the setting sun to relax and try a bigger smile. When you take your pictures back to the lab you may be using the same editing tools, and more objective viewers may approach an image of the California coastline the same as a girl glowing against a green screen, but ultimately the products are measured and manipulated in their own way, and serve a completely different function on the market.

I was gifted with a naturally deep voice that has a calming influence on my clients, and for that I am grateful. You may not have that. All you have to work with is your personality and a few basic rules of thumb.

You are expected to take control, so have it and maintain it. Know what you want your subject to do, where you want them to stand, what position they need to take to get the best lighting. Know what you’re doing in advance.

Don’t make your model stand around all day because you didn’t plan the shoot properly. Time sitting or standing around the studio while you’re still obsessing over lighting configurations is time for your subject to second-guess themselves, get bored, tired, hungry, and uncomfortable. Don’t do that to them or yourself.

One thing that I do that seems to help a lot is to show my models the images of themselves as we go. It’s easy, can lighten up a shoot, and with technology today allowing for instant monitoring from the back of your camera, there’s no reason not to.

I suppose I could go on on the subject, since I think it’s a strong suit of mine, but I’d better leave more for future blog posts…