Be genuine—a real human an audience can relate to.
Vince Trupsin is a dancer and photographer in Los Angeles most known for his work shooting celebrities and creating awesome headshots. He describes how to nail any photoshoot in the article below!
Tell us a little bit about yourself...
I was born and raised in Orange County, California. I began shooting in 2003 while dancing in a scholarship program at Jimmie DeFore's Dance Center in Costa Mesa, CA. I worked as a professional company dancer for years, but realized I wanted a more secure income. While still training and dancing, I was hired as a Marketing Director for a Financial Advising Firm. In 2008, I then decided an office job wasn't for me and applied to the Hallmark Institute of Photography. I was accepted and completed the east coast program in the top 10% of my class! I debated whether the NYC fashion thing was for me, or if I should go back home to Southern California and continue my growing headshot business. Five years later, I'm still in LA! I'm still training and auditioning as a dancer—but shooting is definitely something I love and consider myself pretty successful at!
Why are photos important to artists' marketing?
We are in a visual industry. We need to represent ourselves in the market we would like to pursue. When I first meet with my clients, I ask them two things:
- What do you want to do in your career?
- What are your goals while you're using our photos in the next six to twelve months?
There are so many markets that it's best to be specific. Whether that's a Hip Hop Dancer, Comedic Actor, Aerialist to Singer—you need to figure out what 'looks' are best for you.
How can artists help a photographer capture the very best photos?
Discuss looks with your agents and managers. Bring in wardrobe options or send photos of you in your outfits—see what their opinion is. They are getting the breakdowns and know what looks will be needed.
Together, know what you're going to wear. The worst thing is to feel great about your photos, only to have your agent tell you they can't use any of the images.
Before setting up for your shoot, consider meeting with your photographer. Get their vibe. At the very least, talk to people they've shot and see what they have to say. Most to all photographers will have a reputation and not everyone will work well with different people.
Do you recommend creating a shot list for your photographer?
I do recommend doing your research and knowing what you want. If a shot list will benefit you—then create one. It doesn't hurt. PLEASE don't bring in a photo from a competing photographer and say 'I want this.' If you like that photo—go to that particular photographer.
In the same realm, don't find a photo and try to recreate it. With social media being so huge right now, every one wants that 'cool, edgy' shot—but for what? 500 likes on Instagram? What are you trying to sell—you or the graffiti/chain-link behind you?!
Headshots are a formula—it's not super creative. The purpose is to show what you look like (or CAN look like) and book jobs. Your photos need to be clean so casting directors can clearly meet you by seeing what you look like. It all goes back to being confident and having fun.
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What are the ingredients of a great photo (or great photographer)?
Entertainer's can get so wrapped up in looking 'perfect' or 'beautiful'. I try to get the point across that casting directors aren't looking for perfection. For example, if a casting director was hiring for a fast food chain in the midwest, are they looking for perfect symmetrical models? Probably not. They want someone that will give the audience the feeling of 'Hey, I can eat fries with that girl and be so happy doing so!' Now if you're trying to book a Clinique or Maybelline ad—then maybe you'd want to have a perfectly symmetric face! A photographer can only help enhance what's already there. It's a camera, not a magic wand. Be genuine and sincere—a real human being that an audience can relate to.
Know your face and what you're doing with it. I tell my dancers, when you dance you use muscle memory. For example, you know your knees are coming in when you're doing a plié—because you're trained and can feel the right position as opposed to the wrong one. Your face has muscles and acts the same way. Be responsible for it. If you're smiling, you know when it feels real and genuine or you're giving 'the creepy photographer is trying to take my picture' half smile. ;)
A recording artist doesn't want a back up dancer who looks afraid. A director doesn't want to work with an actor who looks timid. There are so many people competing for limited roles/parts. If you are insecure and second guess yourself, the person next to you doesn't mind pushing you to the side. They may get the attention—even if they're less talented. Be confident and have fun!!!
Most importantly, it is your shoot. You're paying for it. Don't be afraid to ask questions, speak up and voice your concerns. Photographers and makeup artists aren't mind readers. I have a saying on set: I don't work with Helen Keller. You can see what you look like in the mirror. You can hear when I say, 'What do you think? Is there anything you'd like changed or adjusted?' You can speak up if you don't like something.
Take advantage of opportunities to see what you look like. There's no point telling a photographer three days after the shoot 'I didn't like my hair' or 'I didn't like my makeup.' At that point—it's too late! I've been very lucky to have only had a handful of these types of clients in the 13+ years I've been shooting.
Do you have tips for wardrobe/styling/makeup?
Your wardrobe choices are crucial. It says a lot about a person and what you're putting out into the world. Think about colors: bright for commercial, darker tones for theatrical. In terms of styling, keep things simple and clean. Don't let the clothes distract from the main focus which is your face.
Keep the jewelry to a minimum. If you choose to wear jewelry, keep things universal, timeless or classic. Otherwise, it can date you really fast. Say you're wearing a gaudy necklace that was only cool and hip for three weeks—now people know when you shot your photos. If you're one of those lucky individuals who won't age or change looks, you can use the same photos for years!
I always recommend getting a makeup artist. It's your face—who am I to tell you what to do with it? I have makeup artists available—but you're more than welcome to bring your own or do it yourself. I do recommend having one there—and a good one! Someone that knows how to make you look natural without a ton of make up.
How should artists prepare for a photo shoot?
Get a lot of rest and don't stress about it. It's only a photoshoot—you're not going into surgery.
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