If there is one thing that being a part of the world class Headshot Crew has taught is that to be prepared for every situation. Whether that pertains to tricky lighting situations or having the tools to take your client's headshots experience to the next level, it's good to have a few essential tools under your belt, I call mine the Headshot Survival Kit. Every professional headshot photographer should have something similar, why? Because life happens. Client has a suit that attracts lint? No problem, I've got that covered. Dirty glasses? Nope, those things are getting cleaned before you even step in front of my camera. Collars that want to be free as bird and fly away? Wrong, this is headshot land not a Skynard concert. For myself even, did I drink too much coffee? Most likely, I've got myself covered with 5 Peppermint Cobalt gum. This is my first video insight into just one element of what sets my brand apart from others and in return, gets the clients some rockin' headshots! Check out the video and then leave a comment of what you think it's missing or what you have in yours! Cheers Amigos!
It's a question asked many times and it's a question that can be answered many ways. But when it comes down to it, there is only one true reason why headshots are so important. They are important because they represent who you are as a person, they represent your brand. Abbie Purdue, a talented model who's work I've been following for sometime. While on set we were chatting about life and careers where she enlightened me to the fact that she is also a business communications major. Dual careered if you will, and if you have two careers then it's probably a good idea to have a headshot for each. I personally use two different headshots. I have one for all my branding, social media and press submissions then I have a second one I strictly use for my LinkedIn. Now Abbie is as equally prepared as well, during our session we photographed her headshots creating a robust suite of range, from my hand painted Oliphant Backdrop to a high end corporate aesthetic. Perfect to cover her modeling career and her future career once she graduates. So now whether she's attending a casting where she needs to bring a modeling 8 x 10, or applying for an internship, we've got her brand management sitting in a pretty nice position. Best of luck to you my friend!
"There is no denying the fact that a good headshot is a must for most career and growth opportunities that arise. When I needed new branding headshots, Gary was my only choice! As an experienced, skilled, and talented photographer, he not only helped me portray myself in the best presentable way but he also made the session relaxed and a lot of fun! As a trained photographer, he understands the subtleties of body language and expression and served as my guide and coach to help me collaboratively create some of my favorite portraits! I could not be happier with the beautiful shots. Thanks Coach G! You are the best." - Abbie Purde
PS... we have fun on set. Lots!
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!
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!
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?
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
Sometimes you come across opportunities that are made of dreams... It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Star Wars, and I'm also not hesitant to work with the right charities, and in this instance, the Force has led me to this film. Rumors began to whirl about this project and I decided to submit my previous production photography work, I could feel the anxiety building, it's like the Emperor's grip was reaching in, no wait, maybe it was Vader's. None the less weeks went by as I was stand by and then I got the message... the Empire accepted my bidding (Yes, there will be lots of fan boy Star Wars references here because well you know, it's a fanboy thing). I was tasked to photograph behind the scenes and promotional content for "Star Wars Hand of the Empire", a fan film benefiting Norton's Children's Hospital. But let's take a step back for a minute on why this came to be. In 2016, Executive Producer Ken Daniels met a child by the name of Phil Parks, and he had a wish. This wish was to have a Storm Trooper kit for himself, unfortunately he passed away from brain cancer. Ken went on to explain this on day one of filming, and with a somber yet genuine inspiration, we all went in head first. Not only was this one of the largest film sets I'd been on, it was also brought to life through a pure culmination of donations ranging from skills and time to location hospitality and food as well as logistical and financial support. The hours were long, the heat was unreal, and the ticks, well they were definitely from the Dark Side!
I knew my time with the crew would be limited, so I had to capture what I could while on set. During the first weekend, I was stationed on Clipar, an agriworld reminiscent of Endor, the only difference was there were no Ewoks, there were those darn ticks. Following our lead troops, Cpt Quarrie, Sgt Saxon, Pvts Pizzo & Ramos through the bush, I was studying the light and figuring how to best capture these soldiers. I knew the Emperor had the utmost standards for them and I also knew if they didn't like how I portrayed them, well, let's say we all know Storm Troopers never miss with their blasters, right? I could not fail! Anyhow, I found a small nook off the beaten path were I pulled each of them to side to capture their portraits. I think they liked them, I mean I made it out.
My next assignment would be be to document our heroes Kanan Jarrus and Mara Jade and along with our lead protagonist Loto Tane, a mandalorian. So back on planet Earth, I was brought back to reality. I knew these characters needed to be portrayed in a noble and epic manner, there was only but one way to do this... modern portraiture in the studio. My style is heavily influenced by Annie Leibovitz and her work with Vanity Fair, so given I would be photographing characters from the Star Wars universe, I felt in my heart this was the only way that it should be done. We set a date, the Jedi and Mandalorian showed up, energies merged and the Force was with us once again. We discussed their personas and relationships with one another, I then formed a vision for the portraiture story and we got to work.
And here we are now, at the dawn of our work's release... the trailer has debuted at 2,300 views (within 24 hours), the engagement has been overwhelming and I do believe we all have done right by Phil. Now, without further ado, I'm humbled to present the production photography and my portrait documentary for Star Wars "Hand of the Empire", a charity fan film.
** Disclaimer - No Jawas were harmed during the making of this film.
Portraits of Jedi and a Mandalorian
John Wells as Kanan Jarrus
Jonathan Garlinghouse as Loto Tane
On Location at the Moon Clipar to document these TK's
Darrin Dickerson as Capt. Quarrie
Don West as Sgt. Saxon
Chad Zigmund as Pvt. Pizzo
Clark Spalding as Pvt. Ramos
Star Wars Hand of the Empire Official Trailer
Behind the Empire Lines
A few outakes under the Emporer's Nose
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!