Boom Headshots!

Day 80. When I was at Guildhall in the final year, there was a lot of fuss about headshots. I got skinned for £400 cash. I’ve never paid so much before or since. The photo she took captured something though. I had been sat in a graveyard for 40 minutes waiting. It was a popular hook up spot, and there were guys quite visibly and consciously wanking in my eyeline – (not in my eye thank God). I had £350 cash in my pocket. I was wondering what I could get for it by the time she arrived. I was a bit weirded out and I’m pretty transparent so it showed in the shoot. Which fortunately was a useful thing for the first few years of my career – the pre-apocalypse time. It was a marketable, characterful, but expensive photo, and got me a particular sort of work. After the shoot I gave her the arranged £350 and she said “I’ve put it through the books so it’s £400”, and marched me to the cashpoint. I vowed never to spend that much again.

Post-apocalypse I’ve had a load of shots taken – looking for the holy grail. Without much profile it’s hard to get in the room, and if your agent doesn’t fight your corner it comes down to your headshot alone. Someone looks at your photo for a couple of seconds and puts it in yes, no or maybe. You need to be in the yes or you won’t even get in the room. I don’t really like the process. The context is all screwy. You are having to be yourself in a situation that is not familiar to yourself. I’ve got pretty good at it now though. I’ve had loads of shots taken over the millennia. I’ve been to studios in King’s Cross and Soho, a corridor in Brixton, a park in Southwell, a studio and alley in Croydon, a very expensive house somewhere I can’t even remember, a flat in Manchester, a garden in Hampstead, a little flat in Putney.

One time I was given a list of three photographers to go to by my agent. Two of them were people I trusted. I didn’t know the third. I told my agent the other two were friends, and he told me to go to the one that wasn’t. I went with his judgement. The guy doubles as a casting director. “It’ll be good for him to see you.” He had my CV up before I came in and had noticed the same company name comes up 6 times with very varied parts. His instant assumption came out in his first question: “So is Sprite your own company then.” It isn’t, of course. They re-employed me repeatedly. Way to deflate someone at the get-go. His assumption unseated me immediately. His tone continued to be odd right up until towards the end of the shoot when I mentioned a volunteer program that I work for. He actually said “Oh, but they use good actors!?” as if I had surprised him. Then he took a couple of reasonable shots at the close of the session. The rest was a write off. I was unseated and he only started looking at me at the end. But then what do you do? I couldn’t afford more. I had to roll with them until I could. But it’s harder to earn if your photos don’t sell you.

I’ve never gone back to the same place twice. Until now.

My last load of shots were taken by David Drew, and not only was he well priced in the market, having recently moved in from fashion, but he also has a fantastic eye. If you’re on my Facebook, my profile pic with the beard and hat is his, taken while chilling out at the end of the session. Coming from fashion he keeps the chatter throughout the shoot. It’s nice as you can react to the wildly varying pathways he talks you down. And he’s neither jaded like some of the people who have been doing this for years, nor is he making assumptions about relative value in the marketplace. He’s looking at the face you’ve got plastered over the front of your skull and he’s trying to take a good photograph of it.

I had a session with the beard, but I’ve now shaved it off, so I look about 12 and need some more. I immediately rang him. For full disclosure, I ought to mention that David is almost family. I’m his honorary Father in Law. I walked his bride down the aisle and then had to do the Father of the Bride speech, which was a huge panic solved by saying a few happy true things about my friend and then busting out Sonnet 116.

Since he’s family I got it on credit until someone pays me (Come on universe). I’m not recommending him to you out of nepotism, though. His work speaks for itself. This one is his wife and one of my oldest friends. It’s a beautifully captured moment and looks just like her. There’s something enigmatic about the smile…


Joking aside,  If you mention my name you’ll get a whopping discount. He’s building up a portfolio. Which as far as I’m concerned means it’s a good time to go. And he’s great.

He does pet portraits too. Here’s a lovely one of his dog, Cicero. And below are some examples from his website. I don’t know the subjects.


Smiley guy

Big eye lady

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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