I come from an acting background; parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents – all actors. I even did a little myself when I was (much) younger. And although, in the end, I decided that I was happiest behind the camera, not in front of it, I am still intimately familiar with ins and outs, ups and downs and general all-over-the-place-ness of the acting life. Since I got my degree in photography from Brighton in 2006, my pictures have been published in magazines such as Dazed&Confused, Wallpaper* and the Guardian, and I have exhibited my work in galleries in the UK, US and Europe. You can see some of my non-headshot work at samirons.com.
What I find most interesting about headshots are the rules. There’s something Lars Von Trier says about creativity that has always stuck with me: “Love the noose”. Like many of the things he comes out with, it might sound a little odd, but how I understand it is, embrace your limitations. And the limitations of a headshot are manifold – the crop has to be just so, the lighting can’t be too crazy, your expression should be relatively neutral, etc, etc. And amidst all of these regulations, all I need to locate and then portray is: your entire potential.
So, not much of a challenge then.
But, as with most challenges, a cup of tea helps. And a chat… because what really excites me about taking a headshot (even more than the rules!) is the communication. To be able to capture that moment when your guard drops and your nervousness is forgotten, your eyes become bright, and you are completely yourself but could be anyone you want. This is what keeps my job inspiring, and why I find actors so fun to be around - because that’s what you get to experiment with.
In the end, I’m looking for the same things as a casting director/director/member of the audience; that is, who you are, and who you can be.