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Work what you got

I now have in my hot little pixel-stained hands the two headshots I picked from my shoot with Beth Cummings at the end of January. (I would have had them a lot sooner, but her original email fell into the ether and I just now got around to asking after them.) Beth is one of the kickass women of Babes With Blades, with whom I had the long-aspired-to privilege of performing in last fall's Horror Academy. She just recently launched her business, and I totally recommend her to anyone looking to update. She does some really innovative things with angles, while still fitting into the stylistic expectations of the Chicago market.

In a fairly typical scenario when I'm the subject, out of about 200 shots, I managed to find one I actually like and one I picked because I'm entitled to two, and it has something that drew me, but also things that bug me.

The biggest thing that bugs me I can do something about, and need to just get around to it: I swear my teeth get crookeder by the day. I have the oral surgeon and orthodontist referrals. I will call on Monday. *determined face* (Short version: Never bothered getting wisdom teeth out. Not enough actual room in mouth. Traffic jam.)

The smaller thing is that "deer in headlights" thing that I've always had. Just ask my mother -- I don't remember when she didn't point out that the distinctive feature of even my baby pictures is that "you can see the whites all the way around your eyes!" Which is cute and funny when talking about baby pictures, but not terribly useful as a first impression for a serious adult actress, y'know? But I always have to really concentrate to keep it from happening pretty much any time I'm trying to hold still.

I'm working on tipping that love/hate relationship with photos a little more to the "love" side. It's a challenge. This is my calling card, my knock at the door, my little 8x10 package of "This is me, and you want to see more." The challenge for me in judging and picking them has always been to try to approximate a first-impression eye, instead of being drawn immediately to the familiar flaws. (Yes, flaws give you character. However, there's only so much character they want, especially from a woman who reads as under 30.) I've always considered myself reasonably attractive (barring the occasional hormone-driven bout of "OMG give me a paper sack STAT!" that everyone has), but that's in the real world. There's only so much water it holds in an undustry with truly surreal quantities of pretty wandering around.

My criteria are simple: I want it to (a) look like me, and (b) look good. That's a lot harder than people who know me in real life tend to expect. Poor Beth got me on a cranky evening after a cranky day at Office of Doom, when the luck of the draw just meant I was having a helluva time letting go of the tension of the day. So the fact that she managed to take any pictures I like is a minor miracle.

I'm not a model; I have no expectation that posing for still photos is ever going to be a large part of my work. But it is always going to be a part, and it is usually going to be what people see first. For better or for worse, things are structured such that I'm being assessed out of the gate on something that is a weak point for me. So sometime in the next year or so, however long it takes to get my teeth closer to where I want them, I need to learn how to be better at it.



( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 9th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC)
I actually really like the first one. For what it's worth.

Mar. 9th, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC)
It's worth quite a bit, truly. Thanks!
Mar. 9th, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC)
I like the first one! :)
Mar. 9th, 2008 05:35 pm (UTC)
TYK! So far the peanut gallery is validating my instincts. *g*

The other nearly 200 were mostly too gorpy for even close friend consumption...
(no subject) - thanatos_kalos - Mar. 9th, 2008 05:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 9th, 2008 05:44 pm (UTC)
Like the first one as well, and good luck on the teeth thing. I lucked out with only *having* one wisdom tooth. Barbituates, only way to go. I floated off and checked back into my body three or four times during the proceedings, and then it was over in what felt like fifteen minutes but was really over an hour.
Mar. 9th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC)
I have all four, but two are impacted, partially or completely. That's gonna be fun.

And yeah, I'll totally go for the good drugs. I have pretty good pain tolerance and all, but why use it if you don't have to?
(no subject) - butterflykiki - Mar. 9th, 2008 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - splash_the_cat - Mar. 9th, 2008 09:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Mar. 9th, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 9th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC)
For professional use, first photo, no question.

I rather like that icon of you with the sword, and it's the wild enthusiasm in your face, not the prop, that makes it likeable.

P.S. I still have my wisdom teeth, too. I have some gaps between my teeth, and was hoping that the wisdom teeth would nudge the others closer together. No such luck.
Mar. 9th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
*chuckle* This one has limited applications, but yes, it's one of the few I unreservedly like. My only regret is that my musketeer gloves disappeared before that shoot, and I never have located them again.
Mar. 9th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
Here's another thumbs-up for the first photo.

I sympathize with you on the deer-in-the-headlights. When I was a tot, my older sisters called me "Bubble Eyes" because I was always so wide-eyed. Nowadays I hate having my picture taken because the result always looks like a driver's license photo. Yes, that bad.
Mar. 9th, 2008 07:20 pm (UTC)
Nowadays I hate having my picture taken because the result always looks like a driver's license photo. Yes, that bad.

Mine have a tendency to look like I'm exhibiting some unfortunate mental illness or other...
Mar. 9th, 2008 07:30 pm (UTC)
Here's a couple of things that help me when I'm getting a picture taken:

Mental images. You have to imagine the camera is someone meaningful to you, family, lover, best friend, whatever. REALLY superimpose that person on the lens, see that person and respond to them.

My last headshot session (which was EXCELLENT, I recommend Larry Lapidus unreservedly) the photographer said things like, "Okay, you're the hostess at a party and you're welcoming your best friend in." "You have a dirty secret, but you're not telling." "Show me ambitious, determined, you WILL GET THE JOB."

I practiced a lot in front of a mirror and tried to mine my consciousness for things to picture that made me feel happy, confident, and myself. I also noticed things about myself (I tend to tilt my head down or to the side, I like the right side of my face more than the left, I squinch my eyes when I smile.

I brought along a mix CD of favorite songs that made me feel sassy and confident.

When you are posing, BREATHE through the poses. You have to breathe or you will get frozen and deer-in-the-headlights. It helps to take breaks, shake it out, or focus for a bit on your awesome mix CD.

FWIW. Any questions, I'm happy to try to help.
Mar. 9th, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I pretty much know this stuff, but need to learn to implement it better.

And practice the things I figured out in the mirror when I'm not in front of it, and before the camera is in my face!

Beth uses a lot of the same cue things, and it would have been more helpful if I had just been able to focus that night. *shrug* There was a LOT of breathing and shaking out, and it lasted for about five seconds at a time.

Mostly I just need to train myself out of the freezing up. Unfortunately, people don't want to take pictures of me for free too often, so the opportunity to just practice doesn't arise. *wry g*

Next time I'll definitely put together my own playlist like I didn't get around to this time. Beth put on her 80s mix, which was a pretty good stopgap, but self-tailored is always better!

I've heard Larry Lapidus' name around; will definitely keep it in mind when it comes time to plunk down the cash again. Thanks!
(no subject) - off_coloratura - Mar. 9th, 2008 07:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Mar. 9th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 9th, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC)
Nice photos. The first one's definitely right for a headshot. The second one though -- wow. You look so young!!

As for your eyes, they're a great colour and that's the most important thing!
Mar. 9th, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
The second one though -- wow. You look so young!!

*chuckle* That's why it looks like me. The first one is definitely the only one that stood out as real headshot material, but I also look at it and go "Whoa, I look like a grownup!"

Thank you!
(no subject) - alyssa22 - Mar. 9th, 2008 08:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Mar. 9th, 2008 10:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alyssa22 - Mar. 10th, 2008 09:56 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 9th, 2008 10:05 pm (UTC)
Another voice in to say that the first one looks fantastic. :)
Mar. 9th, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks, hon!
Mar. 9th, 2008 10:57 pm (UTC)
Portraits are really hard to do. My Dad has always told stories about how the really great portrait photographers do it, and often it's something like hours and hours of work to take one photo that's worth it.

Are there rules for what portfolio headshots can and cannot have? I mean, do you have to have a) inside, b) plain clothes, c) actually be staring into the camera?

I'm just trying to imagine pictures of actors that I've seen, and I wonder if more creative elements might do something for how you feel when the photos are being taken, a la the sword photo.

Getting the teeth done will be unpleasant, but ultimately worth it, I think. Invisalign?
Mar. 9th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC)
a) not necessarily
b) it's best to keep it simple, because you don't want to distract from your face
c) definitely, though you're usually actually looking at the photographer's forehead. :-)

You can use specialty shots like my sword one as publicity/press photos, and/or include them on a composite card (most often sent to agents or casting people to remind them that you exist), but headshots need to be a general representation of your look and personality. In Chicago specifically, there's a certain look they're expected to have -- e.g. high contrast and a relatively casual feel. You want to stand out, but not stick out like a sore thumb. It's a weird balance.

Getting the teeth done will be unpleasant, but ultimately worth it, I think. Invisalign?

I'm hoping. One of my friends just found out it's not an option for her, and is understandably upset.

In any event, definitely worth it. Just one of those involved things I've been meaning to get to for aaaaaages and never quite getting there.
Mar. 10th, 2008 12:13 pm (UTC)
Another vote for the first photo :-)

And the teeth.. let me just say I sympathise. Mine were fine when I was 12, then they got worse, but my dental 'service' didn't do orthodontics for cosmetic reasons at that time *rolls eyes*
Got the wisdom teeth out at 19, but the crowded situation never got better.
I may move to get things fixed sometime next year, after I've made up for the slackness in regular dental care of the last, oh, six years *facepalms*
And assuming I 'qualify' for Invisalign. If not, then I'll just have to continue living with the crooked smile.
Mar. 11th, 2008 03:25 am (UTC)
I like your new head shot. It's very nice. ;)
Mar. 11th, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)
Yay for this headshot! I LOVE the angle and what it shows in your eyes.
Mar. 12th, 2008 01:15 am (UTC)
I'll add my vote for the first picture. Also wanted to add that getting teeth out doesn't have to be horrible. I had all four of my wisdom teeth taken out a few years ago (should have been done ages before then). I was under anesthesia and don't remember the actual removal of the teeth (probably a good thing). My mouth ached a bit afterward, but it was worth it in the end. Between that and braces my top and bottom molars actually meet when I bite down. (Thats a lot cooler than you might think)
Mar. 12th, 2008 01:28 am (UTC)
I don't actually expect it to be horrible; I'm just a terrible procrastinator about anything that means taking any kind of time out. The ongoing game of Schedule Tetris. *wry g* Any time things slow down for a little while, I have this bad habit of just going *schlump* and not doing the stuff I keep saying I'll do when things slow down. I've finally figured out I just need to do them, because the slowing down is less than reliable anyway.

my top and bottom molars actually meet when I bite down. (Thats a lot cooler than you might think)

Oh, I dunno, I think it's pretty darn cool. Mine do, but only when the right side of my jaw is in the more limited of two positions. Fun with TMJ. *eyeroll* Freaks the heck out of my voice teacher. And it's way better than it was in college (before I trained myself out of clenching in my sleep) and would wake up with it jammed so badly I had to pull it open by hand. My roommate probably still has nightmares about that.

And yes, that means I really should have done the braces thing about 20 years ago. But, y'know, procrastination...
(no subject) - allmightybecca - Mar. 13th, 2008 01:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - irish_horse - Mar. 13th, 2008 05:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Mar. 13th, 2008 05:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - irish_horse - Mar. 14th, 2008 04:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 36 comments — Leave a comment )


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