I have so many talented photographer friends and I love how each one brings something completely different out in me, but when it was time for my latest shots I branched out to work with someone new.
Unlike my previous awesome media head shots or friendly pro website bio pics, this was my very first series of head shots for acting. I recently scored an incredible agent, Kate Kellner at The George Agency, and I knew I wanted head shots that went along with the victory.
I’ve been on the casting end for indie productions, and have seen my share of actor’s photos—some great, some not so great— and I knew I wanted a final pic that felt like I was making eye contact with whoever happened to glance at it; something with depth and maybe a touch of sparkle, but definitely something where you could clearly still see ‘me’ in the end result.
Enter actor and photographer Lauren Vandenbrook.
“…I want you to relax. Know that it’s my job to find the picture, and I will find it…”
From the moment I step into her studio, I am struck by how relaxed the environment is. I feel more like I am having a visit with my best friend, and this immediately sets me at ease. We drink tea and review some of the clothing that I have brought, and we talk about our inspirations, and which styles and themes we are gravitating towards for the shoot.
“I need to meet you before I can pick my backgrounds… what we go with depends on so much— your eyes, make up, clothes…even just what we’re feeling…”
Somehow seeing the beautiful bolts of fabric and pony clips makes me giddy, and in fact we end up working with 3 different backdrops (4 including the wall) during the course of the shoot.
When I finally sit down for my first series of photos, Lauren and I are still chatting.
“I think most people are really in their heads…aware of the way they are coming across physically…and being self-conscious can make them clam up or seem really posed even if they’re not intending it…” The striking blonde is adjusting her camera and I nod in full agreement with her.
“What we’re going to do is different.” Her eyes are twinkling and her confidence is contagious. “We’re going to act together. I’m going to be your scene partner… that way we’re going to get you out of your head and keep you right here…” She motions to the space just in front of my heart.
“When you engage, you’re giving me everything I need. You don’t have to do anything else. I will find the shot. Just remember to breathe….Also, you should know that I’m going to shoot a lot. I mean, A LOT.” She’s right.
For the next 3 hours, Lauren has me exploring and pushing my comfort zone boundaries. I definitely feel like I’m in the spotlight, but at the same time I feel natural and the most in my own skin I’ve been in a long time. I breathe deeply (sometimes I need to be reminded to do that) and with Lauren’s guidance I’m finally able to welcome those parts of me I usually turn away. Instead of hiding the quirk, the shyness, the goof, the rebel, the ingenue- we integrate them totally and nothing is left out.
There is not one posed picture. There is not one deceitfully staged smile. It was so liberating and collaborative.
Something that added so much to the experience was watching the team of Lauren along with her hair/makeup stylist, Angela McQueen. This duo has been working together for 5 years and I can see why. It really is a team experience. They communicate with half nods and eye twitches. One will say something vague like “…Yeah you know lets do THAT but less…” And the other is already nodding. They speak the exact same visual language – they just work with different media. Lucky for me they work together.
I have really high standards for hair/makeup because I usually work with Emerald City Beauty Bar dynamo Dyane Campbell and hair specialist/celebstylist Jodi Grossman. I will admit I was initially nervous to work with anyone else because styling requires trust and if you’re lucky a trial run (which doesn’t happen on set). I could feel my producer brain running numbers and a strange aesthetic anxiety program: ‘What if I don’t like the looks? What if she doesn’t get me?’ But I trusted Lauren’s description of her team dynamic with Angela and the approach they were taking, likely because it sounded very much like when Jodi and I have worked together on set. My gut said yes, and boy was it right. Lauren has an uncanny way to tap right into you and Angela never misses a cue.
It was such a treat to be able to surrender the producer role completely and just enjoy the experience. I don’t generally let myself shut that part of me off, but I loved every second.
I loved my experience so much, I haven’t been able to stop talking about it. Now Cap is getting his shots redone with Lauren next month. There’s just something about the final result. Something commanding and yet soft and assured. Something organic, but perfectly framed at the same time. Amazing portraiture.
Since my shoot, the wait time has already ebbed to an astounding 11 weeks plus for LV Imagery, so if you are interested in booking I highly recommend getting in touch with Lauren now. You will be thrilled with every step— from first emails through to final photos.
Make sure you click on the image in this post to access my gallery of all 10 final images.
Thank you so much, Lauren!
Oh yeah, and just so you know? Not even sponsored.