Headshots for performers who've never had professional headshots before

Headshots for performers who've never had professional headshots before

I was delighted to be able to take the headshots for a couple of performers who had never had professional headshots done before. Although there are aspects of headshots that you aim for in each session, I treat each person's shoot as an individual experience. This means taking the time to test from different angles, different settings, and, if possible, different sources of light to get the best shot of that person. In doing all of this work I'm also trying to get the best shots of these beautiful and interesting faces without going overboard and making the photos no longer look like the person. There was a great tweet recently from a casting director in which she said...

And that is a real challenge. Many people have a hard time with photographs of themselves. They see only (or mostly) the flaws they think they have. Whereas others, myself as the photographer included, don't see these things but look at the beauty of the photograph and a human face as a whole. It's a challenge therefore trying to capture images that I think make great headshots, that please the person being photographed (though they should always let someone else, their agent most likely, choose images), try to capture something enigmatic, and on top of that capture a range of moods from neutral, to brooding, to flirty so that they have options. It's tougher than it looks but it's also thrilling when the images come out and I'm excited by them.

Headshot updates for Sarah

After taking the initial photographs detailed in an earlier blog, the model, Sarah, found that while she enjoyed the photos she felt that the makeup was too strong. This was a very good lesson in portrait photography and use of makeup. In general it seems that a little makeup is good, in the sense that for film or television actors are made up to look good, even if that is going for a very natural look. The same goes for headshots in that we are trying to show a real portrait likeness of someone and at the same time trying to present the best version. Cameras with their piercing gaze that freezes a moment in time reveal a lot that we don't see even when looking at someone in person. It's that frozen moment that allows much more detailed scrutiny. With that in mind Sarah and I went for a second set of photographs, this time opting for natural light and light makeup. The results were excellent with Sarah looking luminous and capturing something enigmatic in her look. 

Action Jackson: SportsCapture

I had originally typed Capturing Sports, but that, to me, sounded like the sports idiot that I am, so I changed it to SportsCapture which at least sounds like a generic ESPN App. Last week I was on a job to photograph a football tournament for Samsung. While I've photographed live events, things in motion, and un-staged events before, this was technically my first time doing sports photography. I now have massive respect for how challenging it is. You can understand why the lenses are so big (and sturdy), why the photographers are placed where they are on the field, and how amazing it is to capture the drama of a singular, physical moment. It all happens so fast that you have a hard time keeping up. As the photographer you begin to anticipate motion so that you can hopefully be pointed in the right place. You only realise afterwards, hundreds of shutter clicks later, that you captured a moment that stopped time and gave a sense of the fast pace of a match. I'm only including shots that have been posted publicly on their twitter feed https://twitter.com/samsungbakstage 

Headshots: subtle changes = immense variations

Headshots: subtle changes = immense variations

I recently did a headshot photography session with Scottish Actress Sarah Macgillivray. Sarah's personality is bright, open, quirky, and spontaneous. I'd looked at her current headshots and thought "these don't capture that at all". I wanted to capture some of that mirth and light in Sarah as well as show her range. She hired a makeup artist who she'd worked with on a commercial to complete her look. This was going to be a whole new range and type of headshots for her. I think we came up with some really lovely results and they show a large range with subtle changes. It was interesting, and a good learning experience, to hear from Sarah that while she loved the photos she was unsure about the makeup. Sarah is someone who, I believe, either doesn't wear makeup often or goes with a light touch. In this case it may have been more heavy handed than she'd hoped. I still think we came up with some great photos of her, but we'll do another session with more natural makeup to complement the more dramatic and glamorous look of this session.   

Family Photography

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of photographing a family at play. Two parents, a set of twin boys aged 4 and a toddler around 2. I've photographed adults before in portraits, headshots, at live events. I've photographed individual children before. I've never tried photographing three young boys! It is indeed a challenge but such a fun one at that! The hard part is getting all three to be still (nearly accomplished this with the help of the parents) and the impossible part is getting them all to look in the same direction (so very close but alas). In the end it means following them around as they do what they do: play. Then capturing that joy, excitement, bonkers energy on camera. Working with kids and families is delightful. You have to stop yourself from playing with the kids who are really, also, none too shy of the camera. I'll include some images to see what an adorable family they are and to show the fun it is to photograph them. Click the images below to scroll through them.

The Rivers 'Silver Rose' music video has been released!

The music video for the song 'Silver Rose' by Scottish band The Rivers, shot by myself and my friend and fellow actor John Scougall @johnscougall . We had five hours in our filming location and therefore set up three cameras for every take. The idea the band wanted was to not focus on them but rather on the music. In fact they wanted to not show their faces if possible. We took on this challenge by framing and cutting in such a way as to only show part of their faces, hopefully piquing the viewers interest as to who these guys are while also putting more focus on the song itself. In the end John and I both did edits of the video and the final product was a mix of our two edits. On that note it was fascinating to edit the same footage alongside someone else and have confirmed how editing itself reflects the style and choices of the editor. I appreciate how different a project can turn out in the hands of different editors. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbOBskQJX4s

I make videos too! Tap Dance Made Easy and The Rivers music video

Alongside photography I am also a video producer. By producer I mean: direct, shoot (and record sound, set up lights), edit, and produce digital or DVD versions of the resulting video.  Though they were finished in the past couple of months the newest Tap Dance Made Easy DVDs and digital downloads have just been released! Tap Dance Made Easy, videos teaching tap dancing, is a project that's been going on for 10 years now with my tap dancing friend Eli Newsom. We shot the last two videos in London. Here's links to those:

Tap Dance Made Easy 7: Speed Steps


Tap Dance Made Easy Volume 1: 10th Anniversary Edition


Just over a week ago along with my mate John Scougall, we shot and edited the video for his brother's band The Rivers. It's exciting and stressful to shoot a video when you only have a few hours to do it. When you finish the edit, though, and see how it all came together in such a short amount of time it's exhilarating. The video, and their single Silver Rose will be released on December 13, 2015. Look for it!

The Highlands and Skye

The Highlands and Skye

Took a visit from my brother as an opportunity to finally get to the Isle of Skye and to show him the highlands along the way. Photos are less about the tool itself and more about how you use them. With that in mind I am often surprised by the amazing results from the iPhone's pano feature. Two examples from this trip include the stunning, fall browns and sweeping hills of Glencoe and the elegant curve and symmetry of the Glenfinnan Viaduct (of Harry Potter fame). On top of that I brought the DSLR up with me as we hiked the Old Man of Storr. Thankfully it's weather sealed as it was windy and rainy up there, a perfectly Scottish experience!

Civil Service Live Edinburgh

September 29th, 2015 I was the event photographer for the Civil Service Live event in Edinburgh. It was an interesting day of seeing the wheels of government, the people who make the services work. It posed some photographic challenges too. Rooms with very different lighting conditions and sizes. In the end, though, I enjoy catching the human connections, people at work enjoying telling others what they do and what their work does for the people of the UK.  Some sample photos have been uploaded to the Civil Service Flickr page here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ukcivilservice/albums/72157656973763183