2017 is at it's end... and for a brief moment I can now exhale. It's been a year of setting goals, pursuing the drive to accomplish them and the fear of failing. I've been shooting professionally for over 5 years now, and I feel this is the year that has defined my career and given a clear path on where to move forward into the future.
At the end of 2016 I had two major goals for the new year, to start working out of a studio and to refine my business structure and niches. My first goal of getting a studio, induced a sizable amount of fear as it was equally a sizable risk, a risk I could not afford to fail at. So after searching around town for a perfect environment, I discovered Story Louisville. A community of Louisville's movers and shakers, who share their creativity in a common work space. Shortly after meeting with Natalia Bishop, the Chief of Happiness at Story Louisville, I made the decision to jump on board... I have not looked back since. Working out of a studio brings a higher sense of purpose and responsibility, a move that has been a cornerstone in my brand's growth. I now have a space to create images and tell the stories of all my amazing clients. That being said, working out of a studio laid out the foundation to my second major goal refining my business structure.
Running a business is no easy task, refining it to take it to the next level can be even more daunting. This goal was more complex to achieve as it was layered with several stepping stone goals. How did I come to this goal? It was simply by addressing something right under my nose the whole time. I would frequently get requests to do headshots, however having a friend who specialized in them I knew how much truly goes into them so I would honestly refer them out. I would do them here and there by special requests of friends but that was it. My wife and peers would mention to me that their is no reason why I shouldn't be doing more of them, I already have the lighting and people skills along with a distinguished brand in the community, so why not? I would just need to take what I already know from my portraiture experience with human emotions and dive deeper into the philosophy of headshots. So back in January it was off to headshot land I went. First stop, Peter Hurley's Headshot Crew! Chicago headshot specialist Michael Schacht invited me to check it out and see what they had to offer so I signed up then after browsing around for a few hours I was fully on board. This amazing community has set the standards world wide on headshot portraits so I knew I was in the right spot with where I wanted to take my own brand. This would be the vessel to help me navigate where I wanted to be on this day today (31 Jan 17). Through education, trial and error, I have elevated my brand 10 fold and now fortunate enough to be recognized as a premier headshot photographer in Louisville KY. Through this journey I'm also extremely proud to of earned the position of Associate Photographer for Peter Hurley and his Headshot Crew, a milestone not easily achieved.
Rounding out the year, is my creative body of work, ranging from fashion to lifestyle portraits. Running a business can easily become exhausting and at times, being an artist, this could cause one to become stale or stagnant. Understanding this, I feel it's important to the vitality of one's creative vision to always have some creative projects on the side. Sometimes I am blessed with an opportunity to be commissioned for my creativity as in the case with KMAC Couture. This a the city's most diverse fashion runway show and for the second year in a row, I photographed their campaign. Whether it's exploratory through light or the human emotion, there is always something out there to learn... if you are not searching then you will not discover what you may be missing.
So what do I have in store for 2018? Well let's just say I have several irons in the fire patiently waiting to be struck but in the mean time, here is a concise review of the milestones I achieved this past year -
Thank you to my amazing clients and teams!
All of this wouldn't of been possible with out the help and encouragement from several amazing people in my life. Starting with my family, my wife AnnMarie and parents Dan and Pam Barragan... your love and support means more than you will ever know! Friends and mentors, Antonio Pantoja, Clay Cook, Michael Schacht, Michael Sansone, Joey Goldsmith, Josh Eskridge, Josh Kroll, Pam Butler, Peter Hurley and Ryan Parker, thank you for all the words of wisdom, guidance and support. Your time is valuable and to pay it forward in the caliber you guys do speaks volumes of your character and heart, for this I sincerely thank you my friends. Bring on 2018!
What Next in 2018?
Exploratory Portraiture, but for now here are a couple teasers.
At the beginning of the year I set a goal to advance my headshot portrait work to a world class standard. I knew I would need to further educate myself in not just the art, but the technique as well. For the direction I wanted to go, I felt the best course of action was to study under world renowned headshot photographer Peter Hurley. Over this past year, I have been closely studying with him in person and through his online education group Headshot Crew, learning and growing, fueled by the desire to continue delivering the best headshots in the region. On Wednesday November 29th 2017, I put my portfolio in front of him to personally review and well... I'm proud to announce that I am now an Associate Photographer of his. What that means is my work has excelled above his standards and he can put his trust in me as an associate knowing that I will deliver some of the best rockin' headshots in the world, while elevating our own market here in Kentucky. It's an accomplishment I've worked my ass off for and I'm honored to reach this milestone in my career. To put this in perspective, there are less than 100 fellow associate photographers of his around the globe. So what does this mean to you? Two things. The first is knowing I care that much about my work with you, my amazing clients, that I'm willing to invest time and money to further hone my skill sets as an expert. The second is that if someone is looking to have Peter photograph their headshots but aren't able to make it to NY to work with him but they happen to live in the Kentucky region, I am one of a select few he is able to recommend for their needs. I will still work independently under my own brand but you can think of it like this... remember when Yoda completed Obi Wan's training and he became a Jedi Knight? It's the same thing principal, except I use light strobes instead of light sabers. It's a title I will proudly carry through out my career and I look forward to seeing you in front of my camera! Cheers!
Sarang, pronounced sa-dang, it’s Korean for the word “love”. As humans, it’s been said that a child’s first true love is their mother. That particular bond, beginning at conception is undeniably one of the most amazing connections a person can have. The mother gives life, and throughout time, there’s always going to be motherly tendencies to overlook their children, even as they grow into adults. I’ve witnessed this amazing relationship first hand with my wife and her mother, to be honest, I would never have the right combination of words to truly describe what I see with them. So one day, while we were visiting the family, my mother in law, Oma (Korean for mom), brought me this photograph, it was a small wallet sized portrait, weathered and tattered in nature. This photograph, one of her as a child sitting next to her mother, was the only one Oma had of them together. Every photograph has a story to tell, and with the condition of this particular one, it became apparent the amount of sentimental value associated with it. A true heirloom that tugs at the heart. So back to this photograph that she handed me, she asked if I could fix it, an intimidating task given the condition, but I told her I would give it my best shot.
Over the course of several days, I would sit down for a couple hours and meticulously work on different parts of the photograph… restoring the textures of the dresses on one evening, or bringing depth back to their faces through a technique called dodge and burn. I am no restoration retoucher by any means, but it was a rewarding feeling to step away from my headshot and portrait work and apply my skillsets to something more personable for the family. Eventually the photograph began to visualize new life of a memory greatly cherished. Upon completion, I wanted to run it by a few peers to look over to make sure there was not anything I overlooked or something that could be done better. I’ve always felt it was good move to cross check your work and this was no different. All feedback came back positive, but one friend suggested I try to take it a step further… to colorize it. A technique even more intimidating than the restoration itself, but I did little research on that technique and gave it my best shot. I had my wife AnnMarie call her mom and see if she could remember the colors of the dress, from her recollection she could best remember as her dress had little red flowers. From there I envisioned the best colors to suit their Hanboks (traditional Korean dresses) and bring the story yet another layer of life.
When all the work was completed, my wife and I decided to have a few small prints made along with an 11 x 14 canvas wrap. Knowing how much this photograph meant to Oma we wanted to surprise her and present them to her as a gift. So on Thanksgiving, after the table had been cleared of the dinner and deserts, I handed her the canvas to be unwrapped. Oma’s reaction was simply indescribable, I could feel the strings of hearts being pulled, myself included. Tears of joys were shed as she began to describe her memories of that day and how she remembers what she was holding in her hand… it was small mint wrap candy. It’s times like this that remind me that I have more than just talent but a gift to make a difference in people’s life. We now look forward to seeing this heirloom hung on the wall where it rightfully belongs. My friends, life is good. :-)
Special thanks to Jim at Iris Pro Imaging for beautiful prints and canvas wrap.
Passing on the Portrait Tradition with the family's Hanbok
Since I am writing about my mother in law and her mother, I feel it's a perfect opportunity talk about my beautiful wife and a portrait session we did back in December 2015. Initially my wife wanted me to take a few snaps of her wearing her mother's hanbok, a traditional Korean dress. However I just I didn't want to do "snaps", I wanted to tell a story of this dress, another family heirloom. So we browsed Pinterest for some ideas and I asked my friend Ana Perez if she would be willing to collaborate. At the time, I had just recently purchased my second Oliphant backdrop and there is just something about the work that Sarah Oliphant creates that infuses so much soul in portraits. So this would be the first time I used two backdrops in my work, one hung up and one used as a floor drop. This would create the perfect stage for our story of beauty, love and tradition. To this day, this one of my absolute portraits I've taken of AnnMarie, and yes these are printed and hanging in the house, where they should be. Everyday when I wake up, I pass a wall that has her portraits along with our son and our fur baby... this is story that lives in our house, not a digital file stored in computer. As our life continues on, I'll always look forward to capturing new chapters of our stories thought the art of image making. Cheers amigo!
Why do folks update their headshots? For many reasons, maybe their corporate headshot is outdated or maybe they need to portray a certain character through an actor’s theatrical headshot to land a particular role. Other times it’s because they’ve gone through a physical transformation such as improving physique, or in Molly’s case, having a stunning new look. Represented by Heyman Talent Agency in Louisville KY, Molly Kays is an actor here in town and recently went from having long hair to a rocking a new pixie hair style. She reached out to me to update her current headshots to match her new look by going with cinematic headshot aesthetic, it was a perfect decision.
Once on set we briefly talked about her previous headshots and how she envisioned her new ones and within a few minutes we were knocking out keepers left and right! Within no time, we managed to photograph a nice set consisting of 3 different looks outside, then we took it to the studio to get knock out a few commercial headshots and some moody theatrical headshots.
All in all, we had a really good time while wrapping up 5 distinct looks, a rather nice range of headshots ready to be used at moment’s notice for casting calls. Why so many? Because different jobs call for different tools and the actors headshots is what gets them in front of the right people to do what it is that they do… perform and act. Best of luck to Molly and I look forward to seeing these in action. Cheers amigos!
Gary was great, I’m usually so uncomfortable having headshots done but he was the perfect coach, he made me laugh and we got some nice shots!
Did I mention the fun we had? Yes fun, headshots don't have to be boring, in fact as a Louisville headshot photographer it's my goal to create a memorable and unique experience!
Ready to update your headshots?Let's chat!
In today's time, headshots can make or break the perception of a viewer, so it's now more important than ever to set your brand apart with a professional headshot that leads to further engagement whether it's with a casting agent or potential employer. If you're an actor, model, entrepreneur, mover or shaker, you need a headshot with pristine visual impact! That being said, I also understand how the holiday season can get expensive so I am offering an exclusive pre holiday headshot session rate, limited to the first 5 bookings. Your $100 session fee will include -
- 1 hour studio session with (2) looks. I will coach you on how to best convey your personality and project your confidence.
- Live tethering so that we can review your images on set to see what is working and what is not.
- 2 retouched images with a private proof gallery with additional images available to be purchased for retouching.
- Preferably be available to shoot on either Saturday November 4th or Saturday November 18th.
- Repeat client pricing for future sessions.
- Make-up and light hairstyling can be provided by the award winning Beauty Patrol for the rate $150. Pam Butler or one of her associates will remain on set to tend to your make-up and hair styling needs. (not required but highly recommended.
If you are interested and ready to book please contact me using the form below and be sure to mention Holiday Rate in the "Tell me more" section. I look forward to working with you!
Book Your Professional Headshot Session Now.
Part of being successful in this industry is knowing when you’ve outgrown your market. Do you remember your first paid acting gig in Louisville? Were you performing in front of a full house at the Pamela Brown Auditorium? Maybe you had an ensemble part in a musical at Whitney Hall. Were you in short film with a budget, or maybe even a feature headed to Sundance? Louisville has a great acting community, but the larger the market, the larger the opportunities and sometimes to get to that next level, you’re going to have to pack up and go back to being a small fish in a big pond.
I’m Michael Schacht and I’m a headshot photographer in Chicago, Il. If you’re looking to step up to a larger market, I think Chicago is the obvious choice, but before you quit your day job and break your lease, I think it’s important that you be as prepared as possible for the move. Here are 10 things I think you should know before leaving Louisville to pursue an acting career in Chicago.
I can remember clearly like it was yesterday, being told that I am my own brand. Grow it by nurturing it with love and strength, just as you would any other relationship you care about. Folks invest in me for their personal branding with the absolute best headshots and portraits to represent their brand, so it's only right that I invest in myself as well. This is an extremely important step for brand growth in today's vast world of online presences, everyone needs a solid image that represents who are as a person, not some selfie that you took outside on the street. You see, personal brand management starts with me, your professional Louisville headshot photographer, as it's my job to capture that perfectly told story of who you are and how you plan to convey that story to your own audience. Understanding this responsibility, I know I have an obligation in continued education to further better myself, this will be a staple of my brand until the day I decide to hang up the camera. Last weekend I did exactly that, by traveling up to Chicago to attend the 3 day Headshot Intensive work shop hosted by world renowned headshot photographer Peter Hurley which was hosted at Michael Schacht's 312 Elements studio. In order to be the best, you learn from the best to keep your talents honed and maintain a leading edge for your clients.
Headshot by Peter Hurley
It's one thing to learn the technical aspects of any job, but it's a whole other level to really get into the nuts and bolts of it, and this is exactly what we did. I didn't attend the Intensive to learn how to take a headshot, I went to better understand the art of human expression and emotion which in return led to the most valuable lesson of the weekend... trust. Building trust, specifically in myself with setting goals and plotting out a course of action to make these goals attainable. Although I've been doing headshots here and there for a couple years now, it wasn't until this past January that I decided to make it a cornerstone of brand. Since then I've managed to carve out a slice of the market and establish myself as one of Louisville's best headshot photographers by repeatedly delivering robust sets of professional headshots and personal branding portraits for actors, entertainers, models and business professionals. I take pride in the work I do for my brand therefore I am always striving to better myself, the Headshot Intensive was simply a natural course of action for me.
Throughout the weekend, we covered a wide range of topics, such as the artistry of headshots, the vast ranges of human emotions and the personal growth through setting goals. It was weekend built on fun memories, learning experiences and sprints through the rain! Yes rain! The first day of the Intensive was hit hard with rain and during dinner it seemed to hit the hardest. One of the mentors there, Mike Sansone, was on crutches due to an injury, had he walked back he would of been drenched, so I decided to run to back to the studio, grab my car and swing back around to pick him up. Nothing like a harrowing rescue to get the adrenaline going right? lol
Peter Hurley instructing on how constant light interacts with the human face.
Throughout the weekend, we were assigned different tasks ranging from shadowing Peter while he photographed other people to walking nearby streets in search of strangers to photograph. Each of the tasks assigned had their unique purpose, shadowing Peter allowed us an intimate opportunity to see how he works with his go to lighting (Westcott Flex Kit constant lighting where I use Profoto strobes) and how he interacts with client to extract genuine emotion. We each have our own style and technique and it was rather interesting to see how others applied their own to different situation. Photographing strangers on the street challenged our people skills and seeing how quickly we could get someone comfortable enough to give a true expression reactive to our techniques. Being we were outside on the streets, we were also challenged with searching out the best available light for environmental portraits, or headshots that are commonly referred to a cinematic headshot.
By the middle of the second day we were in the midst of a headshot party with multiple stations set up. I brought my entire headshot setup so I was able to replicate in Chicago what I normally back home in Louisville KY for my clients and their professional headshot experience. It was a moment of excitement as I photographed several people there and seeing their reactions as we reviewed the images on screen, a key part to my workflow. I want the people I photograph to feel on top of the world with what we are capturing and by providing a method for them to see how my coaching really dials in the best expression for visual impact.
Michael Schacht, Chicago Headshot Crew Associate and Mentor
As the weekend came to end, I had a lot of information to process and absorb but walking away that new insight on trusting myself to setting goals beyond the immediate future made my time in Chicago worth every single penny. Furthermore, I’m walking away with the friendships of three individuals who are inspiring leaders and genuine humans I’d gladly break bread with any day. Peter Hurley, Mike Schacht and Mike Sansone, again thank you for all the guidance, laughs and memories you provided during the Intensive. See you guys at the top!
Interested in developing or refreshing your personal branding or headshots?
I love working with and meeting new talent because of the new relationships that are formed and be able to use my own talents to help take their careers to the next level. Addie reached out to me shortly before heading into her sophomore year up at NYU to update her acting headshot portfolio. Being a graduate of the Youth Performing Arts School in Louisville KY, she knew first hand the importance of having the best professional actor headshots ready on the whim for castings. But this time was a little different, entering into her second year at NYU she is now eligible to audition and what better way to start that new journey than to have a set of the best actor headshots of her career. She came to the studio ready to work, kicking out some stunning expressions left and right, by the time it was done we had a pretty robust range of commercial headshots along with theatrical headshots, a key set of tools every actor should have on hand. An essential factor in all this was her coming to set with a high and bubbly energy mixing with my enthusiasm of wanting the absolute best for her, headshots that have visual impact! As the session wrapped I felt a new friendship had been formed and I now look forward to seeing her bright future grow! Best of luck Addie!
Hair and Make-Up by the talented Lyndsey Elliot of The Beauty Patrol
Ready to set your brand apart with the best headshots of your career?
Contact me so we can start discussing a game plan for you!
I first met Clark Spalding at an Actors 101 prep class for the Star Wars, Hand of the Empire, a young and aspiring actor whom I've seen first hand the potential this guy has. Venturing further into his acting career he knew he needed some rockin' headshots, this would actually be his first professional headshot session. Clark mentioned that he use to submit selfies for casting calls, it's a path many actors take when they first start out. But such as machinist who uses a Starrett dial caliper, or a nurse who uses a Littman stethoscope, actors need the best headshots possible, an image that is going to set their brand apart as this is their tool of the trade to get them work. Once he reached out to me, we discussed some ideas and acknowledged that we would be building his portfolio up from scratch, so we expanded from a headshot session to a full personal branding development session. We did this by covering commercial and theatrical headshots in the studio then going outside for some environmental 3/4 and full body portraits. A natural talent to work with, we had plenty of material to work with when selecting the images to retouch. I look forward to seeing him in action and as he put it "I feel much more confident submitting to casting calls now that i have these instead of selfies".
After our session I feel more comfortable in front of a camera than I ever have, but also have incredible headshots that I can feel confident submitting to auditions. - Clark Spalding.
Being able to provide that level of confidence to someone nurtures my natural tendency to help the next person out and allows me to tell their story through my art of image making. With actors, we get to have fun with not just them as themselves, but as different characters or roles they are going for. So, if you are looking to take your story to the next level, please feel free to reach out and let's start discussing your story!
How do we grow as an artist? By putting ourselves under pressure in a situation where failure is potential. Through out my career I have faced several situations like this, some where I have excelled and some where I have failed. Some situations have technical challenges such as how to light a scene or subject. Sometimes the challenge may be earning your client's trust so they open up to making a connection and you are able to tell a genuine story. Other challenges may be throwing your self in a situation that you don't have total control of. On Tuesday September 12th I did exactly that, I hosted a live photoshoot at the Louisville Bespoke Open House. It would be the first time I did anything remotely live, let alone with a packed venue. I planned to stream my live tether to the overhead projector but the images were blurry and distorted from lack of a wide screen aspect ratio, at this point I began to sweat. I always pre-light my sets before the models walk on to work, and in this case it couldn't of been more needed to get the shoot rolling. The strobes started to flash which attracted the guests, I could feel the crowd horseshoe around my set. I'm not going to lie, I was nervous, dozens of eyes were on me and it was nearly impossible to verbally direct the model because the music was overpowering my voice. At this point I took a deep breath then I rolled up my sleeves, drowned out the noise and owned my environment. The designer, Frances Lewis, had made all the final preparations on her design already, now I just needed to place my faith the model's experience. After I would envision a pose I would run up to her and explain what I wanted, give some direction and then run back to my camera to photograph her. I would do this every few minutes switching up my direction and the emotion I wanted the model to convey. Time appeared to slow down when in actuality we photographed for maybe 15 minutes. When it comes to selecting which image to retouch, I know the shot when I see it, and in this case, the team knew it as well. I could not wait to get into the digital darkroom and retouch!
Team work definitely makes the dream work and as the photographer we are looked at as the team captain, one to lead and direct. With that responsibility I’ve always felt the need to deliver more than one image on collaborations, so that the entire team can have a complete body of work. Initially I was only going to release one image from the Open House. Why? Because when culling for a second image I faced yet again another challenge, it was a matter of retouching a part of the image I didn’t think I could navigate my way around. After some thought, I talked with Frances about the issues I was looking and she was ok with just releasing one image, I could have been too… easily. But something inside me didn't feel right, something told me to keep trying, and although we learn from failure this was not a time I would let failure get the best of me. I had a team to represent who also donated their time and talents to the Open House. So I poured a bourbon, sat back down and was determined to deliver one more. This is Louisville Fashion and this is what we do my friends!
Now that it is all said and done with, I have a milestone under my belt that I can be quite proud of. I've never been fond of public speaking or working in front of large crowds, but with overcoming this challenge I have found a new level of confidence. It's been said that the reward is in the risk, my risk was putting myself in front of dozens of folks while I worked but the reward is this amazing sense of accomplishment and knowing that I can (and will) do this again!
Thank you to Yamilca Rodriguez of Louisville Bespoke for hosting me, and to the creative team Frances Lewis, Tiffany Nelson, Lisa Hickerson and Dominique Joy Thompson, your talents are greatly appreciate, for none of this would be possible if it weren't for each of you bringing your talents.
And a huge special thanks for two of my biggest fans and supporters, my parents Dan & Pam Barragan, thank you for coming out, love you guys!
Designer - Frances Lewis
Make-Up Artist - Lisa Hickerson
Talent - Dominique Joy Thompson
Assistant - Tiffany Nelson
"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure." - Colin Powell
Left - Designer Frances Lewis, Right - Assistant Tiffany Nelson, Not Picture - Lisa Hickerson
Gear - Profoto Lighting, Canon 5D Mark IV and Oliphant Backdrops
Key Light - B1x w/Profoto Umbrella Shallow White Medium
Fill - B1x w/Profoto Umbrella Deep White XL
Kicker 1 - B2 w/Profoto OCF 2 x 3 Softbox w/Grid.
Kicker 2 - B2 w/Profoto OCF 1 x 3 Stripbox.
70-200mm f/2.8L @ 70mm
ISO 200 - 1/200 sec - f/5.6
ISO 200 - 1/200 sec - f/5.6
A personal journal about any given day in my photography career where I will write about anything from portraits and headshots to sharing my educational experiences. Thank you for taking the time to stop by, it's my pleasure to share my stories with you!