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The Perfect Headshot
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by James Quattrochi
I am asked the same question all the time! "What is the perfect headshot?" "What do you look for when you are casting one of your movies?"

I tell them "A photo that jumps off the page."

Now please let me explain... As a director I can sit in a room and the actor will walk in and in 5 minuets I can tell them who and what characters they could play. Of course when you are a famous working actor they will let you play any character you want! But for the smaller co-star and guest-start roles they want you to look a certain type. They write the small roles for a certain look, that is why when you walk into my casting sessions you are right for the job because I chose your headshot that way! Now as an actor you must know who you are and what you play! This is so very important and you must apply that to your headshots. Example most photographers have never sat in on a casting session or even been on a movie set or television show. My biggest complaint about photographers is that although they take nice photos and the lighting is good they do not know how to shoot the actor for who the actor is and what they play. When the actor walks into my studio I can look at them and decide how they should be shot! I shoot them for who they are and what they will play now!, and in the stage of where their career is at this time! I try to make photos look like they are a still from a movie and not so posed. I try to design the wardrobe as to what the character is that we are going for in the headshot and pick the colors that bring out skin tones and eye colors.

So many times I have to re-shoot photos on actors who have paid hundreds of dollars for photos that just do not say who they are! I re-shoot photos all the time from photographers who just do not know the business we are in and how to design a photo shoot that will give the actor the tools to work! This is a shame for most actors do not have tons of money and are working off a rather small budget. The right photos will also help agents and managers to get the casting session for their clients.

Digital photos are a great way to go! When I finish shooting each look I stop and show the client the photos on the spot. Years ago we could not do this with film cameras! The client looks at their photos and in most cases they are blown a way by how great they look! This gives them confidence and helps build a better trust between them and me. We then decide if we have the look completed and then and only then do we move on to the next look.

As a director I bring my passion for filmmaking into ever session. I love what light does to a subject and how lens sizes matter. I enjoy working and directing my photo shoots and the actors really appreciate being directed. I keep it fun, offer refreshments and a no stress happy atmosphere. My studio is set up with studio lighting as well as natural light indoors and out. I love shooting out doors using reflectors and strobes. I have many backgrounds from seamless whites, grays, canvas and cloth backgrounds. We even have green screen! Our studio is equipped with a full line of MAC makeup, skylights, French doors, stereo, refrigerator, bathroom, ponds and gardens. We are easy to get to located in the Studio City area near the 405/101/170 and 134 freeways!

We offer advise on headshots as well as where to get them printed up. I have counseled clients on agents, managers and how to work in this town! I get so many questions! How do I get my sag card?" "How do I get an agent?" "What do I do with the photos when we are done?"

Because I have over 18 years experience in the BIZ I can help!

I think one of the most exciting thing about being a photographer is that when I am directing a feature film I can call in some clients from the studio and help them. I have been able to return some good will by giving them work and getting some actors their SAG card. I truly believe in giving back!

Please feel free to contact me for advise or to set up a time to do your headshots or fashion portfolio.

And remember...

"The only difference between them and me? I stayed one more day!"

Be persistent!... Never quit!... Believe in yourself!... Know who you are and what you want!

Break a Leg!

James Quattrochi is a Los Angeles, CA based film director and headshot photographer. For more information about getting your headshots photographed by James Quattrochi, visit www.laheadshotphotography.com or call 818-317-5230.

Copyright © James Quattrochi. All rights reserved. Used with permission of the author. Not to be reproduced or distributed.

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Reader Comments
For a long time i've been wanting to become an actor for a long time i just did not know how to get started.Its kind of hard to find a casting call for show or any thing i know would u be able to help
Posted by Adam Alvarado (2008-06-18) 109
I've wanted to become an actress for as long as i can remember.
But I live in a smaller city in Canada, I have no idea how i could ever get a start.
(I'm thirteen) but could you give me any advice please?
Posted by Kassie Davies (2008-12-12) 656
Good info, but please learn how to punctuate a sentence. It sure takes alot from the read without puctuation for the flow. A few well-placed commas would have made your info easier to absorb.
Posted by PhillipM (2009-03-12) 1123
Excellent resource, and great points. Thanks for sharing.
Posted by James (2011-03-04) 2908

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