Tools of the Trade

images-5It’s a lot of fun getting back in the game. So far I’ve worked with two legends (see post 2/11/14), plus I’m enjoying getting my instrument back in shape, I’m seeing friends I haven’t seen in a long time and I’m making new friends—always a bonus.

Being back in the game also requires work and responsibility. Your craft has to be in good shape, you have be punctual about getting to your auditions and your bookings, and you have to be patient while you’re there. Plus you need good and current headshots.

Getting my craft in shape wasn’t a problem. Because I teach acting I’m in the fortunate position of advising actors on how to do that very thing. It would be extremely hypocritical to tell my students to do one thing if I wasn’t doing it myself. As far as being on time – I’m a nut about being punctual. But the third thing, the having good and current headshots, that was a different story. I had good headshots; the problem was they were nine years old. And a lot had changed in nine years – mainly me.

Nine years ago!

Nine years ago!

This issue became clear about six weeks ago when I went on an audition. The agent who sent me was new to the agency and we hadn’t met yet. All he had to go on was my old headshot.

At the audition I noticed most of the actors in the lobby were younger. I didn’t think too much about it, figuring the other guys were auditioning for a different role. You already know where this is going, right? Yeah, we were all there for the same part.

When I went into the studio the Casting Director did a double take. I thought (and this is how egotistical I can be), “Oh, she recognizes me from when I did a lot of TV back in the 90’s.” Later, after doing the math, I realized she was probably ten in the 90’s. The double take was because my agent sent her my old headshot and the                                                           casting director was looking for my younger brother.

But the problem was fixable and I did what I tell my students to do—I starting researching photographers. I looked around for people who shot my type well and I set up some interviews. Why an interview? You’re going to be spending some serious cash and you need to make sure you and your photographer hit it off. So, set up a meeting—it doesn’t have to be long—and see if it’s a good fit. If the photographer hasn’t got the time to meet with you then you probably don’t want to shoot with that person.

I found three photographers whose work I liked. One couldn’t meet with me—too busy. Scratched her. The second one—we didn’t hit it off. Scratched him. But the third person, Rick Stockwell, was terrific. We met at his live/work space and talked for an hour…about everything: my old acting career, my new acting career, what kinds of shots I wanted, his acting career (it was a bonus he used to be an actor), my classes, what I should wear, what

The new me. Love the lighting.

The new me. Love the lighting.

kind of music I liked. For my lawyer/CEO shot I wanted something different, something that would stand out. I wanted that old 1940’s movie star lighting and I asked if Rick could do it. He assured me he could.

We made an appointment for the following Friday. It was the most relaxed photo session I’ve ever had. When I walked in the door the first thing Rick asked me was, “Where’s your music?” We had talked about what music I wanted to play to get me in the “mood” and I had forgotten to bring it. Fortunately he has an extensive CD collection and we quickly discovered he had several of the albums I intended to bring.

Soon Eric Clapton was blasting on the stereo and we were shooting. We shot for three hours and I got some of the best photos I’ve ever had taken.

Needless to say, my agents are thrilled with the new shots, shots that really represent me, shots that won’t have casting directors doing double takes (for the wrong reasons).

Yes, it’s nice to be back in the game and it’s so much easier when you’re working with the right tools.

Rick’s contact info: www.stockwellphotography.com                                                                   Is he the photographer for you? Only you can answer that. But whomever you choose, check them out, interview them, make sure you he/she gets you.

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2 Responses to Tools of the Trade

  1. Dawn Vicknair says:

    Great post, John. Love the new headshot! Great “power” look! 😉

  2. Yvette Durant says:

    So much useful information, as are all of your posts. I like your new headshot.

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