Last year I ventured out of my comfort zone of photographing people on my tripod, an idea that first came to me when I photographed my friend John Wells for his musician portraits. Using a tripod is a rather structured approach that has many benefits but moving off it I've discovered a fair share of liberating results as well. Realizing this I decided to create an ongoing project I called "Exploratory Portraiture". I know how to light my sets like the back of my hand therefore I know exactly how my images will look before I even take the picture, but something inside told me there was more for me to learn, an energy that remained untapped. I needed to explore this curiosity but I also needed to create an experience for my subjects as well, in this case actors. So just as I pushed my tripod and rules to the side and began to move around on set, I instructed the actors along the same lines. I wanted them to explore their environment, their expressions, their characters... I would essentially turn my set into an actor's theater where they were free to explore their art. I was only there to document them through my own exploration. The first person I invited on set was my good friend Joshua Loren, a talented actor now pursuing his career in Los Angeles. I explained to him what my goal was and we went to work. By merely adjusting my lighting positions and traveling around the set photographing from different angles and distances I discovered new ways to tell one's story. The images we began to create were layered with raw emotion and intimacy while finely wrapped in a cinematic aesthetic. To me, this was satisfying my curiosity while maintaining an artistic style I've built my brand around. What we have now aren't just traditional images of an actor you'd see on comp cards or iMDB, these are genuine moments of a person, an honest chapter of their story told through actors portraits. A unique piece of work that's can be hung on the wall as art or used in their personal branding when submitting for auditions. It is imagery like this that will Josh apart as individuals. Josh, thank you for embarking on this exploration with me and for all the wonderful talks we've had. Cheers!
"I think one of the cool things about working on a project like this with Gary is as an actor I get to embody moments and glimpses of the human spirit versus aiming for the right expression and smile for a headshot. I get to explore the internal world and let Gary paint what he sees. It’s a great experience because you get to play in a different way as an actor. Then sometimes you get something unexpected and even personal. My favorite shot of the set is one where I’m looking off to my left with a subtle, poignant look of hope and peace. This was such an encapsulation of my own life at that moment as I walk the line without a net, coming from a darkness and now seeing a future filled with hope. That’s what Gary was able to draw out and capture in his own artistic way." - Joshua Loren
Louisville actor John Wells and I have worked on various projects through out the years now, but never before have we worked on the personal branding for his acting career. Last November he reached out to me in need of something different, something more him. To be specific, he was looking to add a refined layer of theatrical headshots to his acting portfolio. However, during our discussions we decided to add portraits to further expand the content we would create. You see, John is a passionate believer in needing portraits as an actor, a cornerstone of branding which sometimes gets overlooked. With personal branding, sometimes a headshot is needed while other times a portrait is needed, especially in the online or social media world. The session day came and we quickly captured what we needed and within days John had started promoting the images online, they were well received! Another job, another collaboration of ideas and another story of success!
"Gary is not only a consummate professional, but a joy to work with. I frequently collaborate with him for creative and professional endeavors, because he never fails to create images that are striking, characterful, and uniquely and effectively "me." His work reflects the soul of the moment, and connects and resonates to evoke a true emotional response." - John Wells reflecting on the personal branding experience.
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?
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!
Headshot Make-up, what is it? By definition, it's a clean and natural approach giving the most true to life results. Just as I take the time to educate on the fundamentals of headshots or tailor the lighting to each of my clients, an experienced make-up artist will understand this and work to simply bring out the best of your natural features. Now within this approach, there are 3 key points in which we take attention to, your eyes, your cheek bones and your mouth or lips. Two of these three are the key elements to nailing a solid headshot, the eyes and mouth. First, your eyes, because this is the window to who you are, a window to your soul. Within that window, we build emotions, the single most important one is confidence, yet we can also emote innocence for example if you're an actor and going for a character shot. Then we have your mouth which is where we build the approachability factor, nothing makes a person more inviting than a warm smile! This is also where we can build more character, like with the hint of a mischievousness smirk or zero in another level of intensity if you're an actress. Whether your headshots will be used for business, acting, modeling or personal branding, it all comes down to these few factors. By understanding this, one will see the value of having a professional make-up artist on set during your session. AND as a bonus, my team will style your hair as well as remaining on set for session so they can tend to the small details and make adjustments as needed, you could even think of it as on set pampering! :-)
Below are examples of make-up, the left column is clean and natural and what I suggest going for should you choose to do your own make up. The right side are examples of bold make-up, which I do not recommend for your session, starting out at least. If we were going for editorial looks or beauty even, this would be the territory we'd venture into. Now I will say, if there is an eye shadow or lipstick that you know just looks absolutely stunning on you, by all means, bring it and we can work it in for the later looks. Just remember there will always be the right tools for the right job and following these guidelines will help achieve a session that will undoubtedly leave a visual impact on your viewer, which is what we both want to see!
Make-Up provided by Amy Weeks
Make-up Model - April Dabney
Cheeks Bones / Contouring
If you feel your headshots or personal branding needs to be refreshed then let's chat and start planning your session.
The Power of Clean and Natural Make-Up w/The Beauty Patrol and Louisville Photographer Gary Barragan
Ever since I cut my teeth on beauty and fashion, I've had an excellent grasp on what is considered clean and natural make-up by a qualified professional. With that knowledge, comes an in depth understanding of the value associated with an experienced artist. Now before I go deeper, I am not here to debate the types of make-up styles such as "Instaglam" vs editorial, that's always going to be a subjective debate. What I am here to do is to talk about the results of using a beauty professional. Over the years I've developed a great relationship with one particular artist and her team, Pam Butler and the Beauty Patrol. We were recently discussing how to best educate our audience on said value and we felt the best way to do so was simply showing our un-retouched work. She and her team felt confident in the pieces I selected from the portfolio we have created over the years, ranging from lifestyle and fashion, to headshots and bridal portraits. In the style of photography I do, I always try to retain as much organic texture and features of the person as possible, and with Pam and her team I am easily able to do that. Through a combination of their artistry and my lighting, we are ultimately able to deliver a feeling of genuine beauty to the client. At the most, I am retouching natural skin imperfections and preforming dodge and burn techniques to bring a bit of depth to the image. The less time I'm working on the retouching, the more time I can spend on creative decisions such as color grading and treatments. As you can see below in the the image sliders, there is not much retouching done to the actual make-up itself, thus we've retained the organic beauty! Albeit some may look more involved but that is due to whether I was going for a high fashion treatment or simply a refined lifestyle aesthetic. Pam speaks highly of the photographers she works with and explains that she feels it's her and her team's job to make the photographer's job easier... to which I reply if only she could see me doing a happy dance at my desk when I'm done retouching!
Now that we've covered all this, let's travel a bit further down the rabbit hole, or should I say deeper in the skin. Pam has always been a gracious educator when it comes to her industry and there are a few things we'd like to touch on that you can do to further help prepare for your shoot! First up, Vitamins! Not only do they assist in maintaining a healthy body, but there are some in specific that can help with a natural glow to your skin as well such as commonly known vitamins E, D and C. However, the human body also has its own natural substances such as hyaluronic acids which replenishes and secures moisture in your skin. This natural acid assists with having a youthful appearance but can also be boosted with additional supplemental hyaluronic acid vitamins and creams along with having a good skin care routine of cleansing. Sleeping in make-up is never good under any circumstances, as it can block your pores leading to issues such as acne, dry or irritated skin and in some cases inflammation of your eyes and surrounding areas. By sleeping with your make-up on you are essentially introducing counterproductive effects to what your body's hyaluronic acids are designed to do. If you have specific areas on your skin or face that you need to concentrate on then you may look at masks, scrubs and serums. There are several options out there on the market but Pam prefers Limelight by Alcone for her clients as it is an organic and chemical free brand with products for skincare as well as make-up. Pam also advises that make-up is subjective for most of our clients. What works for one person may not work for the next so her applications are customized to show the world the best true to life version of you while correcting any slight imperfections.
Lastly, we'd like to touch on a few additional simple tips that will not only help you prepare your skin for a photoshoot, but will also help with maintaining a healthy appearance on a daily basis! For instance, staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest can go a long way in keeping a refreshed look. This also helps with energy levels, so not only will you look refreshed but you will feel refreshed as well, which in return will naturally create an attractive energy. With summer around the corner, I know we all like to get a bit of sun but try not to overdo it, as skin can get permanently damaged through time. It’s recommended to use a minimum of SPF 15 when tanning BUT when it comes to photoshoots avoid any makeup with SPF (remember SPF blocks sun light, it will also have an effect on my studio light). It's highly recommended to refrain from tanning (spray or sun) at least 3 to 4 days before your session. During the healing process of your tan, your skin may become discolored beyond a realistic correction with either make-up or retouching and could hinder our team from capturing our best work with you. Following even these last few simple steps will help you go miles in keeping your skin refreshed while exuding a radiant glow which in return will have you looking quite stunning on our set and that is what we all want!
All hair and make-up below are by The Beauty Patrol officers
Hair and Make-Up - Pam Butler
Hair and Make-Up - Alexis Mattingly, Talent - Alexis Gibson
Make-Up - Pam Butler
Make-Up - Pam Butler, Hair - Brooke Meadows, Talent - Heather Rous Weeks
Hair and Make-up - Louisa Kleinert
Make-Up - Pam Butler, Hair - Louisa Kleinert, Talent - Tiffany Cline
Make-up - Pam Jean Butler, Hair - Brooke Meadows, Designer - Tiffany Hutaburat, Talent - Kaylynn Paulin
From left to right, The Beauty Patrol is Louisa Kleinert, Brooke Meadows, Isidro Valencia, Pam Butler and Michaela Reeves. Not pictured is Alexis Mattingly.
You can contact Pam Butler here for any of The Beauty Patrol services or to set up your consultation.
If you have further questions for me on the photography side you can contact me at the button below!
Tyler Anderson reached out to me recently as he was in need of a refreshed visual impact for his online presence. With him being the president of Impetus Media Group, a company that specializes in social media management and branding, he recognized the value I would be adding to his own personal branding. When discussing more about what he envisioned, he explained he wanted a main street business aesthetic, and what better place then downtown Louisville KY right on the corner of Main St and 5th! It didn't take us long to get our energy charged up and before we knew it we were knocking out some solid keepers. I delivered his set of retouched images, and within a few days I seen them appear online with plenty of compliments on his threads. I couldn't be any more happy with Tyler making an excellent decision to set his brand apart with updated headshots and personal branding, as this is something I live for!
Do you want to add value to your online presence with a visual impact?
If so then let's chat!
As a photographer, my job does not stop at understanding light or mastering the technical innards of my camera. In fact, that is honestly only the beginning, because truth be told, you can have the most beautifully lit set with the perfect combination of camera settings, but if the person you are photographing is not comfortable or if there is not a human connection, then all that technical work will of been done in vain. The years I’ve spent learning light and set technicalities are only aids in the end goal, to capture the person in front of my camera in their utmost genuine way. Whether it’s finding a common interest, suggesting an off the wall idea or simply allowing them to view the work straight from the camera to break them into a relaxed state of being, this is something that must be done. Through this method, I’ve discovered that each of my sessions have a few gems that contain a raw candid moment, and it’s these that I adore the most as they reflect the true uncut moments, creating an experience, not just a session. So even though, I may be cutting up and clicking away on the camera, I’m actually working diligently to create an experience that you will surely value. These moments below are just a few of what has happened in the past year. I look forward to creating many more, cheers amigos!
If you'd like more information on booking your experience, please feel free to reach out with the button below. I'll be looking forward to creating your own unique set!
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!