Q: What constitutes a successful photograph?
A: A headshot for an actor, shots for a commercial composite, or editorial shots for a fashion spread require different approaches. It is a matter of judgment as to the best approach for a particular situation. A composite shot for a model done on location at the wrong time of day will be a failure. A fashion shot with the wrong clothing won’t work. A headshot for an actor when he or she is nervous or uncertain about the approach the photographer is taking will miss the mark.
It is my belief that all actors, models, individuals have positive things about them. Their physical appearance, personality, creativity, experience, etc., may a positive for them. It is my job to bring to light those things which are their strongest suits. I don’t start off going for the perfect picture. First I establish a relationship with my subjects and work to build their confidence. Then, as the session progresses, I make corrections and adjustments. Otherwise we may get a perfect picture of someone who is uncomfortable, tense, or uncertain.
For an actor or a model, the objective is that they be the star of the show. My photograph is just the medium they appear in. If I do something so artsy or unusual with the camera, that that is what people think or talk about when they look at the picture. That defeats the purpose of the photograph. When the purpose of a photograph of an actor or a model is to promote their career, the style of the photographer should not dominate the picture. When I do my job well, the photo helps the actors or models reach their goals, and the subjects should be willing to hire me again and recommend me to friends.
A famous photographer, Richard Avedon, said, “a good picture makes you pause.” My job as a photographer is to make the actor or model the star of the show and to do not only a flattering photo, but also to get across personality. The photography should disappear into the background. The photo is not about me, the photographer, making an artistic statement. If the photo is more about the art or interesting angles, then what I’ve done with the camera becomes the focus. I should fade to the background. The actors look and personality should be the things that stand out in the picture.