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!
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!
I have worked with Centria several times on creative collaboration over the past year, a true talent in her own right. Fun, energetic and commands presence when she's in front of the camera. Her manager contacted me about updated her portfolio with professional modeling headshots as she was preparing to head down to Atlanta, Georgia for some casting calls. She wanted her to be prepared with the best professional headshot images possible, so worked through several different looks giving her a range from both commercial and theatrical headshots. We even worked in a little character headshot set inspired by Janet Jackson before it was all said and done with. Lots of good vibes that day that included lots of trips down memory lane. Centria brought her newborn daughter who was named after R&B royalty Aaliyah, yes we got a few candids of them. Talking of those days when Aaliyah was on the radio led into other 90's R&B reminiscing. Centria, her mother Natasha and I had quite the candid conversation of old school jams such as Jodeci, Silk and Shai. What does all this mean? It means good music and conversation were healthy ingredients to this session which we all couldn't be happier with! I'll be looking forward to seeing her in action!
Character Headshot with Editorial Close-Ups
Towards the end of the session with Centria and I, her mother Natasha, asked me if I had another session that after. I did not have anything else on the books for the Saturday. So she tells me that her other daughter Jasmine is a budding model and needs a kick start to her portfolio and books her session right there on spot. Boom, as we wrap with Centria, Jasmine jumps in front of my camera. We decided to concentrate on getting a commercial headshot as this is what casting directors and agents prefer the most. After a little bit of coaching and direction we land this knock out smile below. 1st part done! Next we head outside and walk around the studio's neighborhood getting some lifestyle portraits for her portfolio, within a few a minutes she was warmed up and throwing strong poses and expressions at the camera left and right! We had a good time getting her career started on the right foot, now I look forward to watching her grow and having her step back in front of my camera again in the future!
Gary is the best. With my daughter Jasmine who is a beginner in modeling, he made her feel comfortable in front of camera and gave her some tips, while doing her headshots. Thank you, Gary we will be back for more photoshoots."
Jasmine Massey Commercial Headshot
Ready to set your brand apart and update your headshots?
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!