Posts Tagged ‘actor’

Did I just talk myself out of a job?

It’s been a busy week. I’ve had four requests for estimates and they all have the potential to turn into real jobs. I get a fair about of requests for quotes but a lot of those calls are just people looking for a dollar amount. Their decision is largely based on budget. Quality, style, the right photographer are all trumped by the all mighty dollar. This week I had conversations with all of of these potential clients and even though all the conversations were promising, I could have talked myself out of a job in every case.

Job one is head shots for an actor. I was referred by a friend and fellow photographer. I’m always willing to help a friend and referral but the reality is that I’m not an “actor’s head shot” photographer.  Our conversation started with me asking some questions about what she was looking for and her goals for the images. During our conversation I was honest with her, I don’t specialize in actor head shots. That’s the truth. There are a ton of great head shot photographers that live and breathe actor’s head shots. If she felt she needed that type of experience then I’d rather her find one of those photographers and be happy rather than leaving our shoot feeling like her money was not well spent.  A rising tide lifts all boats right? If she’s happy with hiring a professional photographer she’s likely to tell her friends and do it again.  During our conversation it came out that she had already had two bad experiences with head shot photographers and now was searching for a photographer based on style.  She liked my style, she could afford my rate and the conversation ended with promise.

Job two was to shoot a static image of a furniture manufacturer’s building. They found me via google. They have been using an architectural rendering on their site in lieu of a photo. The owner thought a photo of the building would be better than the sterile and slightly fake rendering. The sad truth is that the rendering would be better than my photo. It was created with perfection in mind. A photo brings back the ugly reality of shooting an industrial building; there are power lines, imperfect landscaping, changes in color of the concrete, painted lines in the parking lot and other unsightly items that will need to be addressed. During the initial emails I was honest about those realities. This honesty, like the first scenario, is about managing client expectations. My client needs to know ahead of time that those ugly powerlines will be in my photo unless I remove them in photoshop. They need to know that there is only so much I can do to make the photo different from the rendering. Despite (or maybe because of) my honesty they had me in to talk about the shoot. Turns out my concerns were not only noted but voiced by the graphic designer that was in charge of hiring the photographer. She mentioned that another photographer that they asked for a quote didn’t mention any of these pitfalls.

Job three is a look-book shoot for an upcoming fashion line. Six models, on-location lifestyle photography plus catalog and product shots. Like every other email I get when someone asks how much I charge my response is to ask questions.

How long will it take? Where are we shooting? What do you expect or want as a result of the shoot?

During my conversation with the fashion client I brought up a lot of  points other photographer’s hadn’t mentioned. Once again my honesty and willingness to help with the process was noted. Did I just give her advice and ideas to take to the next photographer so that he can under bid me? Maybe, but I don’t care. If she doesn’t want to hire me then she’s not the right client for me.

Job four is for a client that’s asked me for estimates on numerous occasions but our schedules have never lined up. The initial email described the day as eight hours and “mostly portrait shots”.  Once again I asked a lot of questions about the shoot. How many subjects, how many locations, what kind of portraits, how many images will be retouched and delivered? Without those answers I’m doing my client and myself a disservice. Turns out that the job involves three locations, twelve subjects, two magazines, environmental and static portraits and by estimate will take twelve hours before I even sit down at  a computer.

My job as a professional is to use my experience to help my clients. Even if these people haven’t hired me yet I want them to be informed about what I do, what I can’t do and what is to be expected if they hire me. With the information upfront it helps to make sure everyone is on the same page and that we both are happy with the results.

Since I stared this draft I booked and shot job number one. The shoot turned out well. I may have talked myself out of job number two (industrial building) but I’d rather them not hire me than hire me and be displeased. They thanked me and vowed to keep me in mind for future projects. The fashion client is a maybe and so far radio silence from client four. 


Behind the scenes of a beauty shoot



When I’ve got a model in hair and makeup for 60-90 minutes there’s only so much that I can occupy my time with. Lately I have taken advantage of the time and shot behind the scenes video. The only downfall is that when hair and makeup are finished and I pick up a camera to start shooting stills, the video suffers.  The behind the scenes video covers the first of four different looks we shot.

Stacey Ellis was in for hair and makeup. She wanted to start with a finger wave of sorts. Since Adriana’s hair was going to have a very polished look we dressed her up in a little H&M tube dress to give it a bit more of a fashion edge.

The following photos show the progression for the rest of the shoot. We got a bit more dramatic and fashion oriented. Loosened things up a bit and then went up with the hair and back to traditional beauty portraits. To see more of Stacey’s work check out our previous work together or on her website:




Loose fashion

Beauty Portrait



Annelise Jorgensen





The rules of photography portfolios and websites

When I started to get serious about my photography I took a class/seminar about building a portfolio. This was in 2005. I had been shooting long enough that I had amassed a body of work that I thought was worth showing and wanted someone else’s opinion on how best to present my work in hopes of booking jobs. The class was worthwhile and I left with some good information; I also left with some misinformation. I don’t remember hearing much constructive criticism during my portfolio review. One note was that I was shooting too many landscape images and if I wanted to shoot for magazines I should shoot more portrait shaped images to match the layout of magazines. When I think back to my “skill” level in 2005 and look back at the photos I was making around that time,  most of them were shite and it makes me wonder about the validity of  her advise during my review.  Did she not want to tell me my photos sucked because I payed for the review? Or because I was in a “class” with other photographers on the same level were mine were slightly better than the rest?

The photography industry is rife with people ready to give advise and tips.  Some of the advise and education is free and invaluable. Some costs money yet is still a huge value.  Look to CreativeLive and Strobist for great and usable photography know-how and education. One is free the not really free but a huge value.  Along with an industry of photographers trying to sell me advice there are tons of trade magazines with full of industry “standards” and suggestions…How to show your work, what to put in your portfolio, how much to show.

In that portfolio review in 2005 the photography consultant cautioned about showing more than one image of the same person in my portfolio. Up until recently I adhered to that but as of late I call bullshit.  Case in point; Devon. I met and first shot Devon in 2009. In the past four years we’ve shot together six times and every time we’ve worked together we both come away with great images.

There are a handful of other actors and models that I share the same experience with. When I’ve got a relationship with someone and we work well together I tend to work with them over and over since I know the results will be great. Why not show multiple images of the same person in my portfolio or on my website? That rule was dumb.

I bring this up because as I grow and learn about myself and my photography I have begun to make my own rules based on my own experience and information.

As much as I hate updating my websites I’m due for an overhaul. Stay tuned and plan on seeing more than one image of the same person. Especially Devon.

June 2009


October 2011


November 2011


June 2012


July 2012


February 2013


2012 A Look Back

A few years ago I made a slideshow using  photos from every assignment I shot during the year. The idea stuck and has become a great way for me to reflect on what I did right and what I did wrong during the year. 2012 was both challenging and incredibly rewarding. All of those experiences brought one theme to the forefront – Family is Everything. And by family I’m not limiting myself to the family I was born into or married into. It’s the people that I have chosen to surround myself with. This year we have had the warm blanket of family wrapped around us when we needed it and we were able to be that same blanket of warmth and strength for others when they needed it. This year was life-changing for so many of our friends and loved ones.

Over the past couple years I’ve skipped using photos of my family in the slideshow, after all they weren’t paid assignments and so many were just snapshots. This year I’ve included them because my wife and kids are my world and are definitely the most photographed subject in my life. I also opted to include more than one image from the assignments. Limiting myself  to one single image per shoot didn’t represent the scope and the fruits of my labor.

As with every slide show I always struggle with music. Each year I want to use a song that I fell in love with during the year. This year there were a couple of contenders.

Mumford & Sons – I will wait
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop I dare you to not bounce your head while listening to this song. I was bouncing  my head for a couple weeks before I even listened to the words.
Ryan Adams – From The Ashes   In January NPR streamed a pre-lease of this entire album. I listened to it over and over until the day it was released. Go buy it directly from his label/website. 
Walk the Moon – Anna Sun  
This is probably my favorite song on the album but I opted for Tightrope becaue it matched the tempo I wanted for the slideshow.


For those of you that supported me and helped me create this year I owe you a world of thanks. Without you I’d be stuck behind some desk.

Year End Review Slide Show 2012 from Chuck Espinoza on Vimeo.



Beautiful transformation with the help of hair and makeup styling

This week I had Devon in for another shoot. This is the sixth time I’ve worked with Devon over the past three years. I love working with her because she’s amazing at what she does. When someone is that good in front of my camera it makes me look great. For all our previous shoots Devon did her own hair and makeup. Most models have enough exerience that they know what’s needed to get a certain look on camera.

A few months ago I saw some dramatic before and after glamour photos from photographer Sue Bryce. Sue’s business is a bit different than mine in that she is a modern-day version of glamour shots. Remember the store in the mall that your mom or aunt went to? Sue’s take is modern and beautiful. Real women + great hair and makeup + an amazing photographer and her clients leave with amazing and timless glamour portraits. Hearing Sue speak and seeing her photos sparked enough interest in me that I wanted to do something similar. I wanted to see a transformation. My starting place is quite a bit different than Sue’s “average woman” client. I chose Devon because she is amazing in front of the camera. She epitomizes what I want from every model I work with; confidence, beauty, emotion and sex-appeal; and she’s got all that without the fancy hair and makeup.

I enlisted the help of Sura Radcliffe to help with hair and she recruited her friend and colleague Stacey Ellis to help with makeup. My reference point and inspiration was the glamorous portraits of both modern-day and past film starlets like Scarlett Johansson and Bridget Bardot. We wanted a vintage feel to start with; knowing that we could build on the hair and makeup and bring it to a modern day glamour look. The following images reflect the progression of the day.

first look






During the 45 miinutes that Devon was getting her hair and makeup done I shot some behind the scenes video. The following shows the progression from start to finish.


Devon Ogden – Beauty photo shoot from Chuck Espinoza on Vimeo.