Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Photographer's need people skills

Leanne, actor and dancer, UK (click image to see large version).

In every walk of life the way you deal with people is incredibly important and can determine how successful you become. Photography is a people business. Even if you primarily take pictures of inanimate subjects – cars, food and architecture – you will still be dealing with a lot of people to make your shoots work.

When it comes to photographing actors and models your people skills are even more important.

I’d like to share a story with you that made me quite sad and inspired writing this blog. We’ve recently been doing headshots for actors, like Leanne above, and I kept hearing the same thing.

Most actors wanting headshots need them for a casting, for their book and their headshots have to be regularly updated. This means they experience different photographers. Sometimes they work with a photographer provided by an agency and other times they search for a specialist headshot or portrait photographer who knows what agents and casting directors are looking for and how to present the actor in an honest, useful way that will catch the eye of casting agents.

The actors we photograph all said the same thing; how comfortable they felt, how patient and easy going we are and how enjoyable the photo-shoot had been. You may think actors are comfortable in front of the lens but when it comes to stills and they don’t have a script and they are not acting, they can feel as vulnerable as next person.

The stories I heard were about how some photographers treated their models and actors as objects. They were often abrupt, rude and sarcastic, and in some cases reduced the models to tears. In particular this happened with photographers working for a modelling/acting agency. The photographer saw their client as the agency feeding them a conveyor belt of actors and models to photograph.

These photographers probably took very good care of their agency clients but forgot that their subjects, the actors and models are real people. I think this is appalling. Now I know that sometimes models and actors can be ‘difficult’ but there is absolutely no excuse for not treating people right.

Photography is a service industry, and like a hairdresser, restaurant or high street retailer we have to ensure our customers, the people we photograph, have a good and rewarding experience – before, during and after the shoot. And that goes for the whole team on the shoot too – make-up, hair, styling and assistants.

Treat people right and you’ll go a long way in this business.

Yours,

Paul


www.indigo2photography.co.uk

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