A Day In The Studio.

At lunch last week with some old work friends we talked about whether social media marketing actually generates sales or is more a brand awareness activity?

Their businesses are B2B so therefore online channels such as LinkedIn; their own websites; industry portals and other SEO strategies are more relevant than say consumer online channels such as Facebook.

Like most businesses they are trying to refine their niche offering and determine the most effective way to connect and engage with potential new customers.

At the top of their marketing funnel they are just about to do some PR activity and one thing we agreed on was the need for professional portrait photos to be included, you see, a key point to understand is that there’s also competition for PR, that is, Editor attention – your article has to connect with their readers and a good photo can get help get attention and make life easier for the Editor.  

Creative Concept

We’ve a couple of different shots to do – some standard portraits and then some creative advertising shots. The big difference between these types is lighting setup and the subsequent effect of lighting on post production processing needs.

From a creative perspective the composite type images are inspired by Dave Hill‘s outstanding work.  I love these images – they tell a story and push the whole digital photography thing to a new level (beyond the Instagram filter mindset).  Mastering these techniques, or a least having some of the skill set, should help evolve my own client service offering.  There’s a whole discussion on long tail learning investment which I’ll have to write about later.  

Note: I’ve found great YouTube photo manipulation technique tutorials by Andrei Oprinca from PSDbox 

Two days later the studio is booked, well actually just one of the rooms at the local Sailing Club where I will setup all my gear for the day.  (I like my setup to be portable so that I can shoot anywhere around the country quickly)

Shoot day 

8AM – setup takes about an hour before our talent arrives – green screen; I’m testing some constant LED lights; my strobes and assortment of diffusers; cameras and computers. 

I’m going to shoot some of the portraits against green screen which will then be used to create composite images – this is where you combine photos that otherwise would be very difficult, if not impossible to shoot.  The main reason for shooting this way is that we want to create something unique for the advertising shots and also, it’s been impossible to get all the Directors in the same place in such a short time.  

Corporate PortraitPhoto by Scott Maxworthymaxymedia
Note: We shoot on green (or blue) background as the green is not found in skin tones and therefore the most easiest to key out or extract the image from.

For the standard portraits then you want to do most of the lighting variations in the studio (reducing post processing) whereas the composite shots you want to shoot very flat lighting and add the lighting (shading etc) effects in post production (maximised post production processing).

For standard corporate portrait shots then here are a few tips

  • Who is your audience?  In general your look and wardrobe should mirror your target audience – if your clients are wearing suits and ties – wear a suit and tie – it’s about creating trust.
  • Smile – a 1/2 smile usually works best but again it depends on your audience – I don’t want to see someone in banking laughing with my money – it’s about establishing a connection. 
  • Sadly no to black and whites – this is not a Adore Noir 1950’s Hollywood film set (I love shooting these type of shots but they’re not for corporate profiles)
  • Shoot shoulders up and closer – the eyes are the most important.
  • Uncomplicated backgrounds – it’s about reducing distractions.
  • Keep photo effects to a minimum.  This means keeping it as real as possible.  By all means remove that pimple but let’s leave the heavy skin softening and glow effects for the glamour shots.

Next well look at the composite shots.


Five quick tips on how your actor head shots can convert more visitors #StarNowBlogger

The objective of all marketing is to build your brand so that your customer doesn’t want to look anywhere else, but, as we all know that takes time and you need to start somewhere.

Today, before you receive that first email or phone call, most of your new acting or modelling jobs will have begun on the Internet via Google or an actor or modelling industry directory or portal such as StarNow, AT2 or model mayhem.

In StarNow, the Casting Director or Creative Director fills in details of the project, posts it and then you as an actor or model can repsond – the Director then receives your reply.

For example, in a call out we did for an urgent Fashion shoot we had over 75 replies in less than 24 hours.  

Short Listing

Today very few Casting Directors have lots of free time to go through hundreds of portfolios in detail, so, for the first run through, the quickest way to shortlist is by main headshot first impression. 

Tip 1. The Importance of a great Headshot

It’s a cliché but “first impressions count” – your head shot has to immediately connect with your viewer.  If it doesn’t, you’ve lost the opportuity before you even know it.

The following tips aim to help you determine what shot to use as your main headshot and what to include in your portfolio to get the job.

Tip 1b. Choose the right photographer for your headshot

From a model or actors portfolio – decide what type of jobs you’re interested in and then find a photographer whose shots you like.  If your look changes then update your headshot.

Remember it always helps to put yourself in your potential customers shoes  – by having an idea of your customers needs and wants you can better tailor your product, service or price. 

So for example, say you’re a photographer and offering a new, inexpensive (but high quality) professional headshot photography service for actors, models or business people in Sydney City, St George, Sutherland Shire and Eastern Suburbs?  

What would be the Actors or Models wants and needs?

  1. Getting great quality, professional portrait headshots and shots that get results.
  2. Not paying a fortune for expensive studio space and overheads.
  3. Not having to wait weeks for the shots.
  4. Local area and easy to get to.  
  5. Having flexible times
  6. Professional and always on time .
  7. Good industry and client connections.

Always ask yourself what is the customer looking for?

Tip 2.  “If your not selling to the end customer you’re selling to someone who is” 

Once you have your shots – it’s important to understand who is your actual viewer? Are they just viewers? influencers? or the potential buyer and decision maker?

For Actors and Models the person you’ll need to impress with your shots will be an Agency Casting Director or Marketing Director (who then will short list you) for the eventual decision marker.

But today you can build your brand online. Today Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social image bookmarking sites being used amongst Agencies and interest groups.  Tens of millions of Internet users are creating pin-boards around every conceivable subject matter – which all link back to your profile.

Find and post your relevent best photos to these boards.

Tip 3.  What Types of Shots do Casting Directors want to see? 

Types of Shots – Actor or model head shots for Casting Directors are a little bit different than your standard portrait photography as they are deliberately kept very natural so the Director can easily see what you look like without photo manipulation. That’s not to say you don’t have retouched and creative shots in your book – just that your main profile headshot should be kept simple (but professional).  Remember if you’ve changed your look then update your headshot.  You need to walk into the interview looking like the person in the photo. 

Again – the amateur, “I-phone selfies ” of you knocking down a few shots on Ibiza to show that you like to party – doesn’t work – get rid of them.

Tip 3. Sadly, black and whites are now considered a bit old old hat for the modern digital headshot. (Note to self – update my portrait shot!)

Tip 4. Smile (at least once).  Actor or Models, your look-book should have a mixture of no smile, semi smile, big smile. Also simple close ups, 1/3 body, full body.  You can add character shots,

Tip 5. Finally – Reputation is Everything.  

Every customer wants painless transactions – that means quality, reliability and professionalism.

Your reputation is everything – positive customer word of mouth has and will always be the best form of advertising.  It is human nature that your customers will return to people they trust and enjoy working with.

So, once you’ve received the call and have the audition booked – TURN UP on TIME.  Being on time is the single biggest differentiator over most of your competition. 

All the best



My StarNow Photo Profle