5 Reasons why You Don't need to be stressed out about your session.
Getting a headshot done is stressful. Your agent, manager, your boss, and YOU, want you to update it because it doesn't show who you are. The casting director at the workshop just told you that it's outdated. You just had a haircut. And even though we know that it is an investment that we need to make, it's usually expensive and paying our bills and rent come first. And even when you decide to take that action, who knows it's gonna come out good or not. Yet, we want it to be THE headshot. Right? I've been actor longer than I've been a headshot photographer. So, I get it too. But being on the other side, made me realize few things that I want to share with you. That I truly believe in. And I work with this philosophy. Here it comes.
1, YOU hire the photographer FOR YOU. The Session is FOR YOU. Not the other way around.
Especially for actors. There are tons of "celebrity" photographers. They've worked with celebrities. They're known for their work in the industry. They are at the TOP with what they do, and I love their works as well. It doesn't mean that you have to get overwhelmed. "Oh, I'm getting my headshot done by such and such. It's going to be amazing! and I am nervous." NO. Don't get overwhelmed by their name or reputation. Yes, they are well known, they have worked with celebrities, their price might be quite high. And they've all worked very hard to get there. Still, the session is FOR YOU. How many times have you heard people say, "Oh, my friend and I had the random photo-session and that's the best headshot I've ever had!"? Your headshot has to bring out who you are, and what story you're telling. I believe that a good headshot photographer has to know how to bring that elements out of you. I had experiences that they don't share any images during the session. Because he said "I know what I'm doing". It didn't make me feel it was sincere or he was willing to help me. It's a collaborative work. You and a photographer have to come together to create your headshot. It's FOR YOU.
2, What you see in the mirror and what you see in the picture will never be the same.
This is a fact, I'm not just saying this. And do you know which one is more accurate? NEITHER. What we see in the mirror is and what other people see are left and right reversed. First of all, nobody's face is symmetrical. Your right eye might be slightly bigger than your left eye. Your right eyebrow might be shorter than your left one. So on and so on. But none of our features are symmetrical. And depending on the mirror or the lenses that photographer is using, the image you see is different. Have you ever been in the rehearsal studio with the mirror where you look thin at one spot and fat at the other spot? 50mm lenses and 200mm lenses can create completely different image. And as you all may heard, camera adds 10 lbs. So, none of those images are accurate. And I'd say this. Other people know how you look more than you know. So, when people tell you that picture looks great. LISTEN.
3, You CAN get used to getting your pictures taken.
I think that the biggest reason that lots of actors get uncomfortable with getting headshot photoshoot is that they are not used to it. And I am one of them. I used to despise getting my headshot taken. I hated it with a passion. I didn't like how I looked. I didn't agree what other people said about the pictures. I just wasn't comfortable in front of the camera. Not only headshot, I used to hate on-camera class too. It made myself sick to my stomach to look at myself. Seriously, I got really sick the day of the on-camera class and stopped going. This process is "It's easier said than done" part. How can you even start or try to get used to it, when looking at myself makes you sick!? Right? But I promise you. This is a process you have to take.
"Mere Exposure Effect": People tend to develop a preference for things that they are familiar with. We are used to the way we see in the mirror, right? We see ourself in the mirror everyday for however much long we've been alive, assuming that you brush your teeth everyday. And we are familiar with the way we see ourselves in the mirror. So, when we see ourselves through pictures or through camera/screen, we are just not used to the way we look in that medium. THAT'S IT! Again, this might contradict what I said in the previous section, but you CAN get used to the way you see yourself in this medium. The ONLY way to do that is by doing it over and over again.
4, You are NOT ALONE.
We see ourselves in an unique way. We all do. A girl grew up watching Disney classics may hope that she'll grow up just like those princesses. A boy grew up watching X-men may hope that he'd be like that one day. But you are who you are. I am Asian, short and not "Hollywood glam" type or typical ingenue type. I'm not saying that you should type out yourself or limit your potential. ABSOLUTELY NOT!
When we decide to take that journey to become an actor, we all want to be that leading man, or the leading lady, because of the movie or the TV we watched when we were little. Because they fascinated us. Because we wanted to be that "IT" character. We wanted to be Batman, Superman, or Meryl Streep, or whoever that maybe to us. So, when other people tell you things like, "oh, you're not a leading man/lady type. You're the best friend type" or "the sidekick type"... it doesn't match your perception of who you are, or who you want to be. Right? And that might make you start doubting or seeing things differently about yourself. Oh, I'm too short. oh, I'm too this and that. I have too much dark circles around my eyes... Our perception about ourselves change. We start seeing things that other people don't even recognize. We all see ourselves differently. Audrey Hepburn thought she'll never be loved. Miss America didn't like how she looked in the picture. So you are not alone. Don't let the industry's ideas about "type" or "image" belittle yourself. We are all on a journey together. To accept and embrace who we are.
5, You CAN have FUN, even when you are nervous or terrified. Try to have fun. Give yourself a chance.
This is not only about the photoshoot session. I believe that to do anything, you have to have fun. If you're nervous, if you are stressed out, if you are irritated, if you are not feeling it, no outcome will be great. You have to have fun. You have to enjoy and savor the moment. Seriously, the camera can capture what human eyes cannot capture. And every single articles about headshot say this. "YOUR EYES ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN YOUR HEADSHOT". Shakespeare said "The eyes are the mirrors of the soul". People can feel your energy. And what attracts people is not the most beautiful person. The element that attracts others is your energy. Wouldn't you like to be around people who smile more? laugh more? enjoy their life more? make you happy? And guess what? You ARE that person. Being who you are, embrace and share that with the world. And whatever that you're doing, the outcome will be more than you can ever imagine. Just have fun. If you're nervous, just try to have fun. Fake it till you make it. Giggle and make fake laugh or two, maybe that'll turn into the real laugh. Remember when you're little, your parents tricked you to eat something you hated and you ended up liking it? Sometimes, a magic happen when you are least expected. Give yourself a chance to have fun. You're not gonna lose anything.
I applaud all of you for taking this great journey to live as an actor. Being an actor means to be transparent. To be willing to show the world who you are and let yourself be vulnerable. And that takes a great amount of courage. Not only that you're facing constant rejection and criticizm. It's not easy. And yet you're still here. You are creating your art. And for that you should be proud of yourself. Embrace who you are. Share your amazing talent and vision with the world. You are amazing.