Ep. 6 - EASY DOES IT: Headshot Photographer Joanna Degeneres makes it easy to get great pics
Headshots can be such a conundrum. There are so many different photographers, so many different truisms about what makes a great headshot. What does it even mean to get a ‘great’ photo that ‘looks like you’?It’s so subjective. And yet, there are headshots that can capture the life in an actor and invite you to see more. Working in casting I see so many headshots every day, but I’ve been wanting to sit down with a prolific headshot photographer for years to pick their brain about what goes into getting great headshots, how actors can prepare for them and the best way to find the photographer that is a good match for you.
Joanna Degeneres is among the busiest headshot photographers in Los Angeles and was the name that was repeated to me most often when I ask actors “this is a great headshot, who took it?”. Her work is consistently inviting: really natural, crisp, filled with life and breath that is authentic to the actors vibe when then come in the room. Lucky for me Joanna Degeneres responded with a delighted “absolutely’ when I cold-called her about doing this interview. As a former actor she understands how important headshots are, what it’s like to deal with differing opinions on what is ‘good’ and how to shoot headshots for an ever evolving industry. We spent the better part of an hour 1/2 at her studio on a rainy day in LA talking all about acting and headshots.
There’s a ton of great info in here including:
How to make your insecurities into your strengths
How actors can prepare for a shoot to ‘look like yourself on your best day, but that is still you and still has life’
The evolution of the work ‘quirky’
How to create easy and real shots when there’s nothing ‘natural’ about looking into the lens of a camera
How the word ‘sexy’ can be a real challenge for some people
What photographing kids can teach us about taking good headshots
Why you should never work at your favorite restaurant
When to use your friend with an iPhone to shoot pics and when to invest in real headshots
Ways you can connect with Joanna:
More about Joanna:
Joanna has years of experience working on both sides of the camera that give her a real understanding of how important an actor’s headshot is.
She moved to LA in 2002 with an MFA from the University of Washington’s Professional Actor Training Program to pursue acting and started shooting headshots when the industry switched from black and white film to color digital. While pursuing her career as an actress, she had worked as an assistant and associate in a casting office where she had the opportunity regularly review thousands of headshots and then sit in on incredible auditions of the actors they called in.
Now, as a full time photographer she uses her actor training to get the best out of her subjects. Her only goal is for you to accomplish yours. She approaches each session as your scene partner and team mate and is a true advocate for actors
I am also happy to answer any questions that you can’t find answered here so please email me and I will respond as soon as I can. The biggest reward is turning on the TV and watching the actors that came to me for headshots WORK.
Joanna’s photos have been featured on 4 episodes of the Ellen DeGeneres Show, People Magazine, The New York Times and many other online publications.
Joanna: Oh my gosh, I'm so honored, like this is so--
Toby: I cold called you.
Joanna: You did.
Toby: I love your photography and I was like she seems cool. And it really came down to a few years ago, I read one of your blog posts. About like five things actors should do before headshots or something. And that is sort of like inspiration and sort of what I'm doing in terms of sharing that information. Like, it's great and I'm trying to talk to people that are, you know, I like their work and I like their vibe and you know I did a little research on you - you’re about helping actors.
Joanna: Yes, because I was an actor. I kind of I think I get it, you know?
Toby: So you're from it say Michigan but you're really from Scotland.
Joanna: I'm born in Scotland
Toby: For how till you're 12.
Joanna: I moved to Michigan when I was 12.
Toby: Okay, from Scotland.
Joanna: From Scotland.
Toby: How's your accent?
Joanna: It's quite good, actually. I can do a good Scottish accent still.
Toby: Is your mom Scottish?
Joanna: She is and my dad lives in Scotland still. I have two brothers one lives in Utah, but here in The US and one still lives in England. And I moved here to LA after grad school. So basically, I ended up in Seattle for grad school for acting. So I was in the MFA program for acting there.
Toby: You got a BFA in Fine Arts stuff too, right?
Joanna: A BFA in painting and drawing and--
Toby: Do you still do that?
Joanna: You know, a little bit like I have an easel in one of our spare rooms at home.
Toby: Is there stuff out there that you're working on?
Joanna: No, at home, there's one and then there's stuff just, I don't ever like it. And I've done photography as art as well. My problem is I don't have like one cohesive point of view as a photographer in that way. And I tried to do a series and it didn't happen. So I have one I liked.
Toby: Still working on it?
Joanna: Yes, I mean, I'm still working. I have one picture of a series that I liked after doing like five.
Toby: You only need one.
Joanna: That's true. Unless you need a series.
Toby: Yes, I'm still looking for [inaudible 05:38] serious. So you went to the UDUB and got your MFA.
Joanna: I did. I got my MFA after living in Seattle for a couple of years doing a lot of theater for free.
Toby: Where did you do theatre see I'm from Seattle so--
Joanna: No, in San Francisco, so I did theater in San Francisco for two years. And then in Seattle, I did Seattle Children's Theatre, when I was in grad school, that was my intern. I did Charlotte's Web [inaudible 05:57] in the--
Toby: I probably wasn't there. I don't think I was there.
Joanna: Okay. It would have been yes, 2002. And then I came here at like the worst time to move to LA which--
Toby: What time.
Joanna: It was right after 9:11, it was 2002, so it was after 9:11 there was a writer strike going on. And everybody said everyone liked me. I got some good feedback from Showcase.
Toby: As an actor, you can.
Joanna: As an actor, I came here and I did showcase here. And I got really good feedback. And then oh, well, there is nothing happening right now blah, blah, blah. Everything fell apart, I felt like I was holding all this sand, and then I looked at my hands are empty. Like that was the exact way I felt.
Toby: That's so sad.
Joanna: I know, it was so sad. And it was like oh, we love you go to school, get some work and then come back when you got some stuff to show us.
Toby: Yes. Everybody loved you.
Joanna: You just saw my showcase. Like you see my work.
Toby: What more do you need?
Joanna: Just give me a job. I hate having to sing it [inaudible 07:00]. So then I was auditioning.
Toby: What kind of work were you doing at the time?
Joanna: I just working, working? So I did what you should never do never work at your favorite restaurant, I did that I worked at a restaurant. One that I love to eat at before I worked there. And one of the girls I worked with had a friend that was a casting director that loved her that she got kind of knew really well and we're friends.
Joanna: Theatrical yes, her name was Renee Haynes. And she cast a lot of Native American like real pocket stuff. Like she has very like if a show needs. Like she cast half of a mini-series, A Spielberg mini-series called Into the West like she cast the native roles.
Toby: She had to find the natives and they had to be natives.
Joanna: Yes, but that's her skill, like, she knows everybody,
Toby: And there's a skill?
Joanna: So that she gets hired to find, like really specific. So she said, Renee, is looking for just someone to intern to help out. I was like, okay, because I wanted to learn like what's it like in casting and maybe you can be a reader and all this stuff. So I ended up going to helping her out like three days a week, which turned into a job.
Toby: Yes. Did you like it?
Toby: Why didn't you like it?
Joanna: I didn't like it because; the part I liked was just a small part of the whole job.
Toby: Which was?
Joanna: Giving people jobs. I love the reading, I love being a reader in the room. That's everyone should if you can as an actor, what you learn from that is insane. That was amazing for me.
Toby: Seeing people audition is really enlightening.
Joanna: Oh my gosh, yes. You're like, oh, they're all kind of like there's a lot of not good people.
Toby: It is different. Yes, you're like, wait, how is that person doing that?
Joanna: You see someone in the waiting room as an actor and you're like, oh my god, that person looks perfect for this. I should just leave right now. They're amazed. Their legs [inaudible 08:44] is so beautiful. And then you see that person in the room full of everything. You're feeling full of the same insecurities, full of all the crap that goes on it, they doing and not prepared and like the stuff that blew me away that actors, you know that I learned.
Toby: Not prepared.
Joanna: Not prepared and yes, doesn't mean not prepared and self-sabotaging.
Toby: I know. It's brutal. I mean, it's tough. So you're doing that, that was stuff you like to do and a lot of people were calling around.
Joanna: You know what I didn't like, I have a really bad memory. Which I learned about myself. I have a really bad memory. And I didn't, I wasn't good. I'm just not good at that stuff. Like, oh, this episode of a [inaudible 09:27] and she's amazing at it. Her memories like, I've never known anyone that can just sort of recall some actor she'd seen in something and we'd have to make lists of like, current actors, blah, blah, blah, and she--
Toby: And this is pre-internet, everything.
Joanna: Yes, I mean, we could look stuff up on and whatnot. But this is pre-everything. I was just law. And I'm also like, I'm a morning person, not an evening person, and at 5:30 to have like a task of something that just felt like, I just want to go home. Do I have to do this?. So it just wasn't for me as a career, which is what I learned. So I was like, maybe I'll go into that, like, I don't know, just sort of looking for something else to do. But while I was working there, and going through headshots, headshots, headshots, headshots, as an actor, I became obsessed with my headshot a little bit and want it to be a certain way.
Like I wanted to look at someone's photo, and be able to kind of reach in with my hands, grab them by the shoulder and pull them out. And that'd be the person. So I wanted the photo to have a crispness, and a realness and a life and a breath in it. So that when that person showed up, it's exactly right. Yes, we loved your photo, as you came in because you look perfect for this part in this picture. You show up a different person. That's kind of terrible. You know, we'd love and sometimes the other thing I would notice would be, we'd fall in love with someone's like submission online. And then we go, let's look at their other photos. And then it was like, ugh, I thought that guy was super hot and then there's this goofy ass picture of him holding a beach ball with a Hawaiian shirt and making and sort of--
Toby: A bucket hat.
Joanna: Yes. And I went, oh, we would go oh, no, he's not right. We're looking for a very specific like--
Toby: The guy we're looking for would never take that photo.
Joanna: Exactly, yes. But it's so hard. But you want to be everybody and you can't be everybody. And you're not everybody and why you want to compete with people that are that other thing when you're not that, you know, that was, blows me away, too.
Toby: Yes, those it's funny because, you know, I was a child actor. And like, I very clearly remember when that was the thing where you get the headshot and you'd be like a segmented quadrant, something like a construction worker, Doctor, office guy, and like, they're all very cheesy and sort of artificial and all the--
Joanna: I remember them from the 80s,
Toby: 80s early 90s. And like that, I think, to a degree still exists, at least commercially because if you are a nurse, yes, take a photo in your scrubs just so we know.
Joanna: I tell people that too like I had a guy, he's an older gentleman. And he said, well, I'm a yogi, like, I made yogi and I said, well, do you have photos of you like in some crazy thing at your studio or outside like he was that it's fine. If they're looking for that specific thing, and you have that exact quality, then you'll get seen.
Toby: Exactly. Fire like special skill, firefighter, Yogi, long-distance runner, you know, rock climber, but this isn't a headshot. And I also tell them like, oh, you're in the Navy put on your uniform and have someone take a photo because it's not about a great photo, it's about showing no, this is what I really am.
Joanna: I actually have this.
Toby: But having that photo for an actor, because you might be not really an actor, but you're partly you're like a hells angel. So that's who you are. That's what you're going to get hell's angel. If you're an actor, you're hoping to play like a larger range and so you want to have a photo and I mean, this is what I'm curious what your take is on because, it's like we talked about, oh these photos need to look like you. We want to be able to get your essence and that's for me and like I see a s$!@ ton of headshots, you know, and I know what it feels like. And you know, it's all subjective anyway, in terms of what, as humans, we react to and respond to, and we have our preferences that are subconscious and whatnot. But we know a good photo, and we know where we're like yes, I see who that is. And like, how do you go about discovering that, capturing that? Knowing that you've got it etc?
Joanna: That's a lot of pressure that I would have--
Toby: Sort of it's your job though?
Joanna: Well, I think, for me, the way I look at the whole headshot process for me is as a collaboration, nothing's a secret. I don't, not show you the photos and then you go home and you wait for your thing. And then you're like, Oh, I thought we did. You know, we look at everything here, like, it shouldn't be a surprise, it's like we're working together to achieve this thing for you. However, I am going to see you a certain way that maybe someone else looks at you and doesn't see you and you might have shot with another photographer that it looks different because they just see you differently. And like, for me, like I don't want the lighting to get in the way of you what you really look like. So I like clean, just pretty like, clear. I don't like all shadowy trying to do some. I like to add layer--
Toby: Natural, you have the big garage door that for the most part.
Joanna: Yes, it's mostly natural, like it's pouring rain this week so I've been lighting it up and it looks great. But I'm lighting it up, the way that it looks when it's natural light in here. Like I figured that out. It's taken me forever. And you know, for me, that's my light process and struggle and everything. But I work really hard at that for people. But I've always said about me is I find something appealing and attractive in everybody I meet every day. I actually think everyone's beautiful and interesting in their own way, as long as they don't, it's the people that may get in the way of their own way, like the excuses. And you've been in acting classes with people like that where--
Toby: I see all the time. It's like layers. Layers, layers, layers, layers, layers on top. And when I'm teaching like I'm like, no, stop, pull back, let me see where are you? And I mean like just you, a guy I can talk a lot about like, you are enough. You know, like, don't try to be something you're not like you're sort of talking about right? Like you're not that quirky girl, that's not who you are really. And like, it's hard as an actor because you feel like--
Joanna: That quirky thing pisses me off too, I will say. So when I got out of here in 2002, it was ugly. It was a nice way of saying not attractive. So anyone who was maybe on the fence of like a little like odd-featured, was suddenly quirky so that people could ask to see quirky people as opposed to seeing not appealing people. Like you can't just put polka dots on our Peter Pan color on someone and call it quirky. Then who changed that was Zooey Deschanel, that became quirky, which meant like, sort of sweet and exaggerated with features like so bang this or like big eyes, and then it became a bit more attractive, quirky and cute. And then--
Toby: Yes, hip a little bit.
Joanna: Quirky, took a whole other thing. But when I got here, I was quirky because quirky meant not traditionally pretty.
Toby: Yes, so they do now like interesting faces. Interesting faces to real faces. Not modeling, or--
Joanna: Not model.
Toby: --inspirational that's been out there for other but models, but mostly not models, real people to interesting faces. Real people and not actors? That sound so funny when you say that.
Joanna: Yes. Just living out what they are I know everyone is in.
Toby: It's cool because it is so important that we, you know, it's a common refrain, right? Like your headshot has to look like you. And there are photographers out there who make their living sort of doing these editorial headshots which really is a disservice and it's tough because you, it sort of plays into as an, you want a great photo of yourself great. Where you feel like, I look like that. I mean, that's me. God I look f@#$ing hot, or whatever. You know, and it's tempting until you get to that point, like, how do we get to finding photos like this looks like you. Because like, we could take a photo of me right now, and it would look like me. But I'm like, I probably would like to make sure like, my hair is comb then I flyways and--
Joanna: Because you don't want your photo to be distracting in any way. But so what I've kind of noticed since I started doing this. So I quit casting. While I was in casting I started shooting on weekends. That's what happened like, for fun. My husband had a band, and he wanted photos for a CD he was doing. He was my boyfriend at the time. But he had a band wanted photos for a CD he was doing and I did those and I'm sort of holding the camera and I went, oh my god, I could just oh my god I could do headshots, right. Like, I could try that. And he was like, yes, whatever.
Toby: He was like come on take my photo.
Joanna: Sure, I don't know, no, he didn't care. But he was like, okay if you want to try whatever, you just know like, you know, whatever comes to my mouth, who knew that it would have grown to this kind of thing. But when I started, like it was more printing, it was still stuffing and delivering--
Toby: 2004, 2005?
Joanna: Yes. Envelop it was digital. It was online, but you still had to take your agent a stack of your headshots stapled. You started to do all that even though casting was online. It was mostly commercials a lot more online and like theatrical was all stuffing and all like you know, stuffing I need to stuffing envelopes and mailing and using careers and all that stuff. So theatrical always wanted, and the theatrical director or casting director I work with, I think still likes people to bring one. So I still think you have to have some. But what I noticed was when so when it's printed and big, it can be a little more filmy it. There can be more of you in it, it can have a little--
Toby: Energetic air, like three quarters.
Joanna: Yes, I mean, like the size of like you in the image. And then because remember, like it used to be all face like people's hair touched the edge of the frame. Like there's some pictures of someone like Lorraine Bracco, or something, that still get submitted for stuff and it's her headshot with this like hair. And it's just--
Toby: Oh, you don't get a feel for her, you see her face.
Joanna: Nothing else just face in the image. And so I've noticed over time when I started and as I'm doing this, and as digital photography took like digital cameras were so terrible when they first started shooting, they were very red, everyone looked very red. And it looked the color was not great. Now, it's like they've surpassed they stopped making film cameras, they just make you know, Digital's become like you can't tell the difference. It's amazing but at the time, it was still film and loops and all that. And this end with casting now being online, what the image has to say in a small tiny box is changed.
Toby: That's a really interesting point. And I sort of emphasize that when I have actors around I'm like, look when casting directors are reviewing submissions, they've got thousands first of all, but you know, do you generally on the desktop, and they've got they can see usually like 50 thumbnails at a go. And they're like, look, scroll. 50. So it is right. And it is like that. So what's your take on like how that changes the photography?
Joanna: I want you to get it's tighter again, but can be too tight because that's weird. You look creepy if you're just a big face in the little box, right? So you have to show something, you have to come to light like there has to be a breath; or life in it. And it's funny because we get suspicious if it's like too pretty.
Toby: Right, doesn't feel real. It's a [inaudible 20:54].
Joanna: Yes, like you on your best day but still you like still with life. And so that's what I try to do every day with people. And so the way I would capture someone and get that in their headshot is kind of by doing what you were saying like peeling away a little. So we've done all the work the wardrobe looks good, hair and makeup because we look great. Like everything says what we want it to say so then we just need that little moment of it's a breath. It's a hey and I basically go by it's where my acting comes in for me and what's really fun for me to engage with people during the shoot and just kind of I kind of give them something to say that matches what I want their face to do.
Toby: So for example, like I'm here, we've done my wardrobe. What's your take on makeup briefly?
Joanna: I like it.
Joanna: It depends on the guy, but yes, I tend to like it because--
Toby: And you have people are you find your own person.
Joanna: I have two girls. I have a girl that's with me most of the time when she's, she works with another photographer when she's not with me. That's Kate Hollingshead and I've Tara Shakespeare comes in and works with me sometimes. And she works with another photographer too, which is great. Because they, you know, abdicates with me a lot.
Toby: So it's helpful.
Joanna: I like it because it takes another thing off of you to worry about. But again, we look at the photos. So we shoot a few and we take a look. Because it's like if it looks funny, or you don't feel right, or something's not good or whatever, then you know, that's we collaborate.
Toby: So we've done my makeup.
Joanna: Yes, we've done your makeup, your wardrobe looks good.
Toby: So now here we go. And for me like I'm actually, I'm not camera shy. But I become very self-conscious when I know I'm being taken my photo as if I'm performing as an actor, I can forget. And I can be here, but when I'm--
Joanna: You never look because it's not a natural thing. That's the other thing. It's like it's not real, you're staring into a camera. First of all, there's nothing about it that's natural or feels good. So it's okay that you're a little uncomfortable,
Toby: Never felt photogenic and like I always felt like, my smile is weird. And I feel it when I'm taking and I'm like, you know, but I sort of learned recently, where I'm like, I just have to smile bigger. And I feel better about my photos. I'm like, ah, that's not so bad, you look fun. But if I'm like, I don't know. Anyway, so I have issues. So this is me I'm here--
Joanna: Let me ask you so you are married?
Toby: I am married.
Joanna: And did you like your wedding photos?
Toby: Oh my god, don't get me started on this
Joanna: Were they not good? Oh because--
Toby: Okay, so this we'll take a slight tangent because whenever I got married sort of early in the cycle of what my friend group of friends getting married and whatnot, we're kind of our first and we got married in Palm Springs, a beautiful city and a really beautiful place called the Cree State. Looking, everyone's looking, it's amazing--
Joanna: I just want to say really quickly, did you like how you looked in them?
Toby: No, I didn't like anything about my wedding photographers? A huge thing I tell everyone is to spend the money on the wedding photos. Because we didn't we basically hired a friend of a friend who was like, REM backstage photographer he says give me 500 bucks and fly him out and he'll do it. And it was just like, he had no idea about weddings and like, didn't we have like don't you need to get like the dress and like, what like wedding photographers like they know where to be and what they need to get. Do you know what I mean? And so anyway, the answer is no, I didn't like how I looked. I didn't like my photographer. He's not listening. That's fine.
Joanna: I had someone that I thought if she takes great headshots so she'll do a good job, but it was not great either. I will say though, I looked the best I've ever looked just as like, I wasn't paying attention.
Toby: Did you shoot before the wedding or after the wedding?
Joanna: Both. Oh, what do you mean?
Toby: Like were the photos before the wedding ceremony or were they after the wedding ceremony?
Joanna: Yes. So both. She was an hour late. Whatever. Yes, there was a lot of things. But I just brought that up because it's like most women kind of do and they think they look and it's because, at that moment, you're just happy. There's just this kind of, like your face like I was like I never looked that, like, I look perfect. Why can't I always have haters and my makeup was great. It was just like what you know, what's so crazy. But I felt so pretty, so I think I felt so good and I was in such a good mood I really didn't care that I think I kind of looked--
Toby: Well that's fine because I was in a good mood on my wedding day.
Joanna: Did your wife like how it--
Toby: The photos are just not great. And like what, so my sister got married not long after and she had a photographer and I was sort of helping arrange things. I'm like, so when are we taking the photos like before after he looked at me like after? My wife is like, people are way too nervous before for photos. I'm like, Oh my God, that's what happened to us. I'm like--
Joanna: Oh, I see what you are saying you mean your couple stuff? Oh, after the ceremony.
Toby: Ours was before it was like before the ceremony and it's like both our parents are divorced. And here we are all together it was just like so weird and just like, that's what it looks like. And that's how I felt, you know because it did is it like how were you in the moment? Well, I was a little tense. And like, it's weird. Like her dad and her mom and my dad and my mom and like, can remember it like, I have a photo of like my mom and my dad and me and my sister. I'm like, can't remember the last time we were all together? Are you good?
Joanna: Yes, I'm good. I think what happens, like with people when they're getting a paycheck and it's not natural, right? And you're like nervous, although you were nervous, not about necessarily the photos, just the circumstances. you looked--
Toby: Well, I mean I just was so conscious too about it I'm like, oh, here are the wedding photos, you know, this is [inaudible 26:37] and like--
Joanna: Look at [inaudible 26:38] for example.
Toby: So well, no, I've been it's a good example, though. Because you're saying when you're feeling not focused on the fact that I'm taking photos, but I'm just like, present and play it. And like I noticed you use a word that I use a lot, which is like, being playful like that energy is contagious. And it's great, because you're saying you're looking to capture energy that we're looking for in casting like playfulness and the ability to and it's harder with adults, you know, because it's all of a sudden, it's a career, and it matters and all this to sort of be able to get to that place where you're just having fun. That matters. And that impacts your performance.
Joanna: I think with that with the casting stuff or the people that go in all the time, get to audition a lot. They get to let it go. And they just get to and they're more successful because they're just constantly auditioning so they take the pressure off because like I have five of these this week or whatever, this is my sixth one, I don't care. Like they tend to then do better. If you like to get out like once every few weeks or once a month. It becomes like oh my god, I have an audition.
Toby: You try too hard.
Joanna: Yes, it's like I'm over thinking it like I need to get this or whatever.
Toby: So, if you knowing me is like someone I've told you like, okay, so yes, I'm a little bit self-conscious. And I get nervous, like, do you have tips for actors were like, look in terms of relaxing, or, like, what's your approach to an actor where you feel like, oh, this person might be they get a little self-conscious so they're a knot. You tell them now just relax, or--
Joanna: I think that's everybody. I never tell someone to relax, just like I wouldn't tell them to chill or whatever. Do you know what I mean? That's a bad word I think, relax, because I don't really want that either. I think I just want to focus your energy. So for me, it would just be you and I like, I just have you talk to me. And it depends what I want from this look if I want like this douchey guy I might have you say, something douchey.
Toby: Is that the vibe you are getting from me right now?
Joanna: I wasn't going to say anything…No, I might have you say something like whatever kind of vibe I’m going for. Some people can do this and some people can't. But sometimes I just go say, “Just repeat after me” it's like, “Hey, Joanna.”
Toby: Hey, Joanna.
Joanna: Oh my God. Hi.
Toby: And then all of a sudden my focus is on that, as opposed to the camera.
Joanna: And when you say it and not just think it your face does it too, because sometimes we think we're doing things with our face, but nothing is happening. And there are people that I tell them to do that, and their whole face gets bigger than big. And it's like, whoa, okay, that won't work for you. So I maybe will change what I'm doing because I want it to be grounded. I want everything to still come from a real place. Even if it's no matter what it is, I want it to feel like a legitimate, honest moment of whatever that
Toby: That's so good. That's your performer self too.
Joanna: Maybe yes, and you're with me, and it's just going into the lens, just make sure it's in the lens but we are still, you know here.
Toby: It's interesting, what you're saying about relax. Because I sort of, I talked to my actors a lot about relaxing physically and how important that is. But I sort of had the caveat that I like, because a lot of times like the tension starts to tighten you up. And when you get tight, you don't want to, and we see it with like, for instance, what you are saying about like, actors who don't have a lot of opportunities, those opportunities become much more important. And they want very much so to do it perfectly, right? I call that like too good actors syndrome. It's like you're trying too hard, you're being too precious, and you become stiff because you don't want to do anything wrong. You don't want to mess it up and all of a sudden, there's no sense of play and like, physically relaxing, there's a lot of value in just physically, however,
Joanna: Maybe not that word. Maybe he may do it easier.
Toby: Yes, easier. Because what happens is the energy level starts to drop.
Joanna: Yes, I do not have people seated for headshots. Because I like, just goes straight into the floor a lot of times, I don't want that kind of sloppy ever. I want it I want to kind of, but I want an easy focus. So I use like, I would use words like easy or like, that's just the word I like.
Toby: Easy focus is good. I mean, and I use that we run like in the end, you want to make this look easy. As any sort of performance [inaudible 30:59]
Joanna: Easy coming out of your mouth, easy in your body. I think for me that word is good. And maybe for some people, I would, so at the University of Washington my three years of actor MFA training, we did Alexander Technique, I don't think you've ever taken any before
Toby: I have never taken any I'm aware sort of, peripheral.
Joanna: There's a lot of talking about words and physical stuff like that. And I think so my ease, ease in your neck so your head can move so your body can follow that easy.
Toby: Say that again?
Joanna: Ease in your neck so your head can move so your body can follow, that was our mantra. I think she's changed it since then to not use ease. But I like the word easy. And I think of like, you know, everything being--
Toby: What's the sort of, just for my own curiosity, like ground level, sort of in a sentence Alexander Technique, is it words to physicality or--
Joanna: No, it's pretty much-doing something without doing anything extra. So you're adding extra so if you have to pick up that knife on stage, that your back shouldn't go out. So it's like it started from this guy, I don't know if you know, FM Alexander's, he was an actor, back in the whatever hundreds, I'm not even sure, this is my understanding how it was told to me. And he was playing, was it Richard III, is he got the baby, right and he would lose his voice every night. He was losing his voice because he was contorting his body. So he wanted to figure out how to make that shape, physically and not have it--
Joanna: --strain his voice. So he wanted to make that shape with his body with the least amount of effort. And still, so he figured out and in this class, which is incredible, and I had an amazing teacher, but we would do something simple, like draw our skeleton out. And I recommend everyone do that. Draw what you think your skeleton is, like a skeleton. And you'll realize like people put their pelvis in the wrong place. They don't give themselves a neck, the shoulders are not connected, like and you start to realize how you're unaware of how your body is put together. So when you're going to use it, you don't even know what it is you need to do, to do that action, like very simple and that class starts really simply with standing up and walking. And then everyone walks with heel, kind of I tend to walk on the back on my heels so my shoes get all worn in the back of the heel because I wear that it's like because how you know you stand and sit-
Toby: The way you lead with.
Joanna: Yes. And then you realize, like, this kind of slumping is actually uncomfortable as opposed to being, it just changes your awareness of your physical space when you realize how much less effort, the things, it's like you're just picking that up. Why are you, you know, why are you using your, no wonder your back hurts?
Toby: Yes, don't try so hard.
Joanna: Yes, use your just your legs, like think about like, it just need this all you're doing, let's think about what this activity is and what you need physically to do it. And then we watch amazing athletes who do it perfectly right we watch them--
Toby: It looks so easy.
Joanna: Easy. Yes. And that's the easy word.
Toby: Yes, one hundred percent. And I tell them I'm like, that looks easy, because it is easy for them because they've done it like 10 million times.
Joanna: But also because that's why they're so good. Like, they just, they kind of got it. Like, if you watch a little kid like walk and their head goes, you know, and it looks like they are going to fall over. I mean, we really are made to lead with our head that way and like walk that way. And then as we get older and all of our things and our back and like everything starts to change. Yes, so we--
Toby: I keep on like just like setting up my posture.
Joanna: So I think of it like that. So I think of like sort of a photo like that, too. Sometimes it's just a breath that someone takes, like, for women a lot of times the idea of sexy is really hard or they're told we need like a sexier photo from you something that looks, soon as they hear sexy women just kind of go [inaudible 34:56] that makes me. Unless you're just naturally, there are just some women that just, that's their natural like, place where they start. And then they're trying to be more like, just a little tone down and that's hard, you know, and even harder. So it's like well, you play to your strengths right, sexy for me was like a horrible. But we can all do powerful, and powerful and sexy in a photo, your face it reads the same thing. Angry also is really good depending on what you're wearing can be kind of sexy because when you look powerful and strong and--
Toby: Don't care.
Joanna: Yes, that's sexy. So it's like, but then there's the other kind of sexy, there's the Jennifer Aniston cozy, flirty thing, you know, so, there's all these different like little things in between. And that is usually just wardrobe, that's just like--
Toby: But also maybe a thought or a word.
Joanna: And I help people with that. But there are people that I could help all day we could try all day, and it's just, you know, they're just not really ready or they just struggle or, you know, and it's other things and it's the excuses. And it's not wanting to be vulnerable, not wanting to, you know, be open. It's a lot of blinking because it's like I'm protecting myself from you know--
Toby: Yes it's interesting.
Joanna: Yes, it's the little things that we just kind of--
Toby: Yes and certain approach. I think about that a lot, you know, and like how, when we think of an actor, you know, sort of, I'm like so squarely in the commercial world which is so different than the theatrical world. I mean, there's of course like many similarities, but our moments are so short and we're looking for clarity. Like we need to know like, looking at you like in a moment, I don't have time for an arc to find out your subtext and whatnot.
Toby: But the--
Joanna: And the photo is the same.
Toby: 100 Oh, yes.
Joanna: It's like, put it on, stand there and now go, it's your close up in the movie. It's your close up moment. And it's like what is going on in your eyes in that moment? We have to know in that instance, so I, you know. It's hard if you think about it. But like when you're doing like kids too, I think kids are amazing at it. Kids come in, they don't even want to see the photos.
Toby: They don't care.
Joanna: They just came in and had a really good time. That was fun. Mom, I like can we do it again?
Toby: That was fun and so--
Joanna: And I'm like, they didn't even care like they could kill us what if I didn't take one photo? They had a great time. And it was the experience of the thing and just being open and they played with me and then done. But again, not all kids, kids are shy. They don't really want to be here. Mom pressure, you know what I mean like, I've been practicing my smile face and now it's stuck on my face, you know that stuff?
Toby: Yes. Talk to me a little bit about that play, I use that analogy a lot with when I'm talking about, like being process oriented versus being results oriented. And how kids are hardly ever results-oriented until they sort of reach adolescence, you know because they're just interested in playing in the moment. You know, just playing.
Joanna: Yes. So how do we do that as adults?
Toby: Yes what is that worth, come in. And let's take a little break as the guy walks through the hallway with some not sure what he was carrying, I think it was some tools or something and deliver. So how are you guys, driving around or just chilling, doing dishes? That's what I do when I listen to podcasts. Is he done yet? I guess I get to decide. Not done yet. Okay, he's done. And we're back. God, what were we just talking about? Well,
Joanna: You're supposed to remember I told you I had a bad memory.
Toby: Damn. Well, we sort of chat--
Joanna: Kids, I think we were talking about kids.
Toby: Oh kids, yes. Play. So what does that word mean to you and how you shoot it in.
Joanna: You know, sometimes some words are bad words for some people.
Toby: You're word person, I like this.
Joanna: A little bit. Because you say something to someone and they take it, you know, it's just not the right word for them. Like it didn't mean what you think it did. And sometimes just, it doesn't mean hammy or like, goofy or big and silly. And that stuff never translates in a photo. The only time it kind of does is, with a little kid. If they can hold, you know, because it's authentic. They're not going to pretend to be, you know, like [inaudible 39:24]. They'll just laugh or like do something silly and if for some reason it's grounded for them it's more authentic. I think authenticity is like the hardest thing for people and also like you know what, we're all kind of going for?
Toby: Is there an easy way in?
Joanna: Just breathe a breath. I think you know, just breath and connecting, I think that's the way in.
Toby: Knowing what you know now about the way that you work with headshots and whatnot. What would be your approach if you are looking for headshots? Like what would you do?
Joanna: For myself?
Toby: Like me flashback, you know what you know now, but you just moved to LA.
Joanna: Right. I would look for a, there was always photographers that I just liked their style, right? Because I felt like for me, it felt like people were like me, like in the way of like, they were the same. Like I wouldn't go to a photographer that was really moody and dark because that would be so antithetical to me as a person. And I'm not, that just wouldn't be right for me. Although I could probably play that stuff, I've done dramas. I don't think it's who I am so I would probably pick a lot like someone who had just some kind of lightness and brightness to their style.
Toby: So someone you, someone whose photography resonates.
Joanna: Yes, it resonates not because they've shot an actor that I like, because that is annoying.
Toby: I have done that before.
Joanna: Yes, we get seduced by someone's gallery, right. And I will say about me like, I'm the worst updating. Like my website, I desperately need to add more people and like add stuff and I do it on Instagram. And I'm good about that and Facebook, sort of, but I'm just so busy I get a little lazy with that. So I repost what people already post like, it's just terrible, you know, it should be better about that but I'm busy so it's like, it's kind of good but it's kind of. But so I would say I would want to find the right person. People like to meet me sometimes, some people don't. I don't think I would care if I meet the photographer, although I did shoot with a photographer when I was going on a big headshot binge, that I just didn't like that person's energy at all. And I thought I liked their photos but this person's just kind of making me feel weird. So maybe I should have met or but then I let that go and was like, but I'm going to get the result that I want. Because the style and the look is what I'm going for.
Toby: Trust their processing.
Toby: It's funny I actually had a experience like that in New York as an actor. I figured this guy was referred, he was sort of like a big headshot guy and I did go and meet him. And he was just such a dick, and he had like eight other people. And he was like ignoring me, and I couldn't believe it. And I was like, he had this book of postcards of all the actors that he'd shot and say oh thank you so much. Thanks so much. And I ended up like, write--
Joanna: You wrote him one?
Toby: I wrote him a postcard being like, no, I won't be using your services. You ignore me blah, blah. Feel free to put this in your book anyway.
Joanna: Well, the amount of people I meet that will be like, oh, yes, I had a really bad experience. Like almost everyone has had like a really bad headshot experience and I'll say well, did you write a review? Or did you, no I didn't say anything. It's like, well, you have to tell your fellow actors what happened? Like you need to, you know, you really should. And I'm not the right photographer for every actor. I'm not the right person. I'm not a magic bullet. I'm not. It's, you know, I get recommended and that's amazing. I'm so grateful for that. But it doesn't mean that I'm the perfect person.
Toby: In the same way we're saying we're actors you're not going to book every job. You're not right for every role.
Joanna: Yes. But I love a challenge. So I love when someone kind of comes to me, and it's like, no one wanted me to shoot with you what's not.
Toby: Here we go.
Joanna: Yes. Who's your agent? All right. I'm going to nail it. So I actually enjoy a good challenge of somebody or if somebody saying, I'm not photogenic and I'm looking at them like, who told you that? What lighting were you shot in? It's like the Seinfeld with the girl who looks terrible in some lighting and really pretty in. Like, what lighting were you in when you? Why do you think that? Like, what happened? Who told you that? Or what is the, how much terrible experience have you had where you weren't, you think you're not photogenic? So I think that's the one thing I never look at someone and think, yikes, how am I going to do this, right?
It's like, as long as they know, and people know, it's like, I know, I'm not all American, right? I know like, I have big eyes and you know, I don't have tiny features, I don't have a little nose. I know my things, so I'm not delusional and most people are, you know, I'm not trying to be someone I'm not and as long as you're open and the better actors sometimes are the most nervous. And these good actors who just have a lot of like confidence that seems to come from I don't know where and are the least nervous and sometimes they get amazing photos and great opportunities but they're maybe not the best I just like think pictures are amazing. But they'll go in a room and they'll maybe get opportunities and it will take a little while but they probably won't really but [inaudible 44:53].
Toby: Confidence man, confidence. So you're saying if it was you knowing what you know, you'd be like, I don't necessarily need to meet with the photographer.
Joanna: I don't think so.
Toby: And then would you look up different photographers and sort of look at different ones like and then just choose like you know what I like them the most.
Joanna: You know, what I would do is I'd look at people that I know like my friends. My friends, I know what they look like in real life. I know their personalities. I have best girlfriends, I know who they are. And I would look at their headshots and be like is that who they are? And I kind of know Mel she's pretty but I mean oh my god that photographer made her look amazing.
Toby: And great photo but not who she is.
Joanna: That's a great photo but she really doesn't look like that, like is that her, like then that's not you know, people you know like actual people that you know and look at who shot them and see who kind of did it right you know? Oh, they really can and I have people tell me that like my friend, how you really captured her it was like I was so happy to see her like spirit and energy and personality in the photo and that's a huge compliment you know, and then they all come to me too, you know.
Toby: So once you say okay, I like photographer x, what questions you like iron out ahead of time in terms of you telling him photos, wardrobe, how many looks etc.
Joanna: Yes, like we need to know how many looks you want and whether you want our hair and makeup person.
Toby: What's the minimum amount looks, one?
Joanna: I do one, yes, I do 1, 2, 3 I think I'll do however many you look, I think we have like six on our packages. Because for me if it's a headshot, I think after that it's super excessive, especially the way I shoot which I'm really generous with layering and adding and taking off jackets and ties and throwing us thing and like if people bring the right wardrobe to me they get so much out of three looks by the time we've changed we have a blouse, we have a cardigan for it and we have a denim jacket that looks great. Like you've just done yourself like a bunch of different--
Toby: Business suit, no jacket, no tie, roll it up, roll it down.
Joanna: Give me a loose tie, roll up sleeve just make sure that shirt is good without a tie and a jacket. Like it will shoot it's a good rich you know it's the right thing like take pictures of yourself. Like we all, the thing is we're in this selfie age now so where actually people are better at photos because they're constantly it's so accessible on our phones and we're constantly taking of ourselves so that's--
Toby: That's interesting.
Joanna: People are better at it now, I think
Toby: And then in terms of the wardrobe just--
Joanna: For me, that's watch TV. Who's playing, watch commercials. Watch a day of commercials and write down oh, I would be the mom in that. Oh, they had her in a stripy, a comedy stripy T-shirts with a denim jacket. Do you see on a commercial or like a khaki thing? Like that's just starting and it's like a thing for a while it might phase out now. There are just trendy things for a while everyone in a plaid shirt with a T-shirt under it. It was just like every commercial person shopping at Lowe's and Home Depot was wearing that. Like just watch and see which part you would have gotten, what your casting is and what they were, how they were dressed and what their wardrobe was?
Toby: And to the booking actors. Think about the jobs that you've booked, what were you wearing?
Joanna: Right, what did they dress you in?
Toby: Yes, and remember that because you can maybe you can buy it from them but maybe you just recreate it
Joanna: And there are just stuff that just doesn't look good in a photo like beige shirts on men like creamy yellowy things on guys, for the most part, skin tone just looks icky. It doesn't pop, it looks pasty, it makes skin look pasty, you know. But like if you're going to do Dwight Truitt then sure do the mustard--
Toby: Dwight Truitt, oh Dwight yes
Joanna: The more the mustard button with the tie and the short sleeve mustard shirt, I don't know like you know, but these are like types that have, these are archetypes now. It used to be which cast member of cast a friend would you be? Are you like the player? Are you the slacker? Are you the Phoebe the real artsy eclectic key like did see one? Are you the put together intense Monica whatever type A? Are you the lover? Are you know what I mean? And then like they wardrobe them very specifically based on who they were and as the season series goes, it gets like better, you know, with being very specific. And remember, it's all in your neck. Like, it doesn't matter. It's just a white t-shirt, a pair of jeans and some awesome boots that won't read, I love a white t-shirt, I do. I like to shoot that. But generally, that's not going to do the thing that it does when we see our whole body with the awesome boots, like your boots aren't a part of it. So it's just figuring out how to do it. Just from your shoulders to your waist up kind of.
Toby: Yes. Cool. So then the day before the shoot, I know where I'm going, I know what I'm bringing. Sleeping, eating.
Joanna: I don't know that's personal.
Toby: It's just to be sort of at your best.
Joanna: Yes, like don't do anything you never do. Like, that's what always blows my mind. Like I did a face mask this week. It's like, have you ever done that face mask before? No. Why did you do it? Well, I thought it would make my skin but now I have this weird blotching. Like, why would you suddenly do a face, like why would you put something and why would you color your hair a new color the week before? Like, don't make all those decisions like before, you know? Like way, you know, with me like when you book so it's, it might be like, we're booking the end of March right now. So this might be like, a couple of months that you have to wait, so you have time to do all that. Wardrobe, I mean, some people are just bad at it just naturally terrible at it. But the thing that blows my mind is the stuff that you bring me when it's just really dirty. Like I--
Toby: Wash your clothes.
Joanna: Yes, it's like guys with their white shirt for like, it's like, this is my business high powered guy and it's the dirtiest white shirt like it's been in your car under your stuff. It curls in a ball and that's, you know, it's like, that kind of preparation is just kind of like really like do you think that's seemed to me, that's a no brainer, we created a list, and we send it to people. And it's pretty much just been derive of the stuff people do that you would never think you'd have to tell someone but it gets added to the list. Such as--
Toby: Such as wash your clothes.
Joanna: Yes, like come with your hair, not greasy in a ponytail from the night before. Because when you take it out, it's going to have a big bump in it and come with it clean and kind of as you wear it and we style it like I don't want also anyone creating you into something that's not you. So the more you come just kind of as you would, you know, maybe clean face for ladies, because we want it. We don't want to do [inaudible 51:46].
Toby: [inaudible 51:46]
Joanna: Yes, for makeup, you know, but mainly you might have a picture of like, this is how I can enroll for an audition. Like take a photo. We all have phones, you can take a million photos.
Toby: That's a good idea. You when you're auditioning, just to say this is where I'll go in.
Joanna: This is what I usually go in like and then we'll do like, maybe just like a polished version of that or just kind of we can kind of see, you know, and sometimes the actor will argue but I always wear this much makeup. It's not us to then match an insane amount of makeup. You need to know that that's bad for your headshots because it's distracting and nobody--
Toby: In your auditions as well.
Joanna: Yes. And it shows. Yes, I remember auditioned for McDonald's commercial and these girls, it was like, and I never saw it run. But there were two girls in there before me and they came out and they're in the bathrooms wiping scrubbing red lipstick off their face because they've been asked to take it off. I mean how embarrassing.
Toby: Yes, it's not uncommon, especially with sadly with kids a lot now, their moms like [inaudible 52:47] well like this girl is supposed to look 12 she looks 18, like, take it off. And like I talked to women a lot too I'm like if you're the mom, zero makeup, basically, you know, I know that zero makeup, I'm married I know, there's always like some makeup. But it's really just kind of true across the board so they want to see you, you know,
Joanna: Just look clean, pretty. And my recommendation to actors is if you don't know how to do that look, then it's your job to learn. It's not everyone else's have to adapt to you, you need to learn to do your makeup. Like, that's the thing with being an actor. It's not that expensive to [inaudible 53:27] the career. If this is your, you're the CEO of your business and your business is being an actor, the actual amount of like, the money you have to put into it and people grumble about is hilarious to me. It's like you're the CEO, it's your business. Like, what do you invest? You need to invest a certain amount in this? So why not invest in some makeup? But maybe that's not what you wear every day because that's a more expensive class, right? Where you have what you need for auditions. Invest in--
Toby: Marketing materials,
Joanna: Your headshot. That's the only thing and you get to control those. So as an actor, you have control over what, like 5% of everything that happens in your career as an actor. That's one of the things you do. So why not really do it like it's your business? Because you want [inaudible 54:14] and then like, all my friend has a camera and she just shot these for me outside. I don't need, you know, or, like, okay, but someone else's thought is going to come in and swipe it out.
Toby: you can tell, 100% you know, I'm sure you see or have heard like with portrait model. Like, I'll have actors email and I am like what do you think about these headshots, Mike? It's a great portrait or not. You know, like you can tell and yes, it is easy. Sometimes it is worth it to just to snap off an easy one like I shaved and I never shave, and you know, do it. If you have the time and the money, go get good ones. If not, at least get the one you have all my firefighter. But when you're looking at those thumbnails, like you can tell and it reflects, professionally.
Joanna: Right, you can really see when oh, that's a real actor, like they're taking this seriously. This person's like, whoop what did you take that your mom take; like your friend took it in your window, like what's [inaudible 55:03].
Toby: What's in the background there? And like, you're--
Joanna: What's happening?
Toby: In the end, like, I feel what you're saying and I agree with you is like, what we're really paying for with headshots is like really being able to capture someone's essence. And that's not necessarily an easy thing. You know, it's not easy for you to just grab your phone and shoot a selfie and get that back. And you also want that to be you know, of good quality, where it's not distracting because like if I'm shooting a photo of myself that I think is my essence, I will my cowlick I know, it's going to be like, because I'm like, oh god, my cowlick is I forgot, you know, or like, the, whatever happened that day, or I'm more I didn't see that stain. And like, to your point about like, makeup is nice, because you don't have to worry about it.
Joanna: I mean, I'm part of a Facebook group that's like a headshot group. And the stuff that people post.
Toby: What does that mean?
Joanna: It's just like, it's like--
Toby: People ask questions.
Joanna: --headshots for actors, basically. And then people just post their headshots and they're like, I just got the shot, or which one would you pick? Or what do you think, whatever. And sometimes, I'm like, are you kidding? Like, who, did you spend money on that? Like, who took that? would and then maybe, you know, and then someone will comment. Well, it looks very dark, and little out of --
Toby: We can't see you
Joanna: --focus. And then the person would well, they'll get very defensive. Well, the photographer hasn't edited it yet. It's like, what do you mean? They're going to change the photo after they shoot it. So it's like you want to get the photo should be right, almost right away. The only editing is maybe a little tiny brightening or little sharpening. And that's the thing. I never think I try to get it in the camera. So it drives me crazy was like, well, it hasn't been edited yet. Like, edited to what to be in focus picture like you can't put a photo in focus after you've shot it.
Toby: I learned that with my wedding. So truly, I'm like these; What happened to those photos of me and my groomsmen. Oh, man I don't know, I'm not sure let me check.
Joanna: There wasn't one of me and my mom.
Toby: No, that's sad. I have one of my parents was just like--
Joanna: I got none. Like, is there not one photo of me and my mom?
Toby: Yes. So is there anything, do you feel like when you work with actors where like you'd see them working a lot after or even before where you just know oh, this is a working actor are there habits that they have, like, I can easily identify on the casting side, things that people were booking regularly that they do that are not super complicated thing, but just--
Joanna: Like what?
Toby: They prepared, they're able to have fun in the room. They're willing to ask questions--
Joanna: To think on their feet, right?
Toby: They can think on their feet. They're not trying so hard, but they do their homework, you know, they come in prepared so that they can play so they're not doing their homework in the room. You know, the list goes on and on.
Joanna: It's like simple things. So I would say you're auditioning for a commercial that's like a brand that does a lot of commercials or whatever.
Joanna: Geico. Yes, there's a style to that and a realness to that, that I would watch a lot of Geico commercials isms kind of look at how they dress the women. Is it conservative? Like what am I going to? Like? What is their kind of vibe, and what does it look like? And I would think about that. So it'd be the same preparation [inaudible 58:17].
Toby: And when you have actors that come in when you're shooting them, are there times were like, wow, this guy like, or this girl, she knows what she's doing here. And she's in this is like dialed? Do you know what I mean?
Joanna: Yes, for sure. And sometimes it doesn't mean they're a great actor. They're just great at headshots. And there are people like that, that are really like, wow, like, so good at that. And then, you know they are not going to--
Toby: Maybe they need to work on their prep a little more. But are there people were you're like this person, maybe there's no pattern, I don't know where's someone is [inaudible 58:47].
Joanna: No, because there's a lot that really, like working but still quite insecure headshot actors. Because headshots are like that people put so much on it. Like it's this, for they come in with a lot of baggage. And I don't have like, I look at you, and for me, this isn't easy. Like I have fun every day, I have a great time. It's super easy. My part of it, for the most part, except this week with the rain we had to figure some stuff out. But the most part, it's pretty easy for me, which is how it should be. So then I just focus on the person. And if someone comes in with something like, I'm kind of disarming I think I'm very warm and friendly and nice. And--
Toby: You got Taters.
Joanna: And we have Taters the puppy. And I think that that helps like, Oh my God. And usually the last thing almost everyone says walking out the door is Oh my god, that was so easy. Like you made that so easy. And that's I go easy is the word I want.
Toby: Easy I think that easy is the word. I'm looking through my notes, because I know we're wrapping up here. You've been very generous. Thank you for your time, I appreciate it. Let's see. Great [inaudible 59:55].
Joanna: I also will say like, I don't think that things that work for some people don't work for other people. And people get fixated, actors get fixated on someone else's headshots or something that someone's accomplished in their headshots. And they want, they want that and it's like, okay, you can do that but you got to rethink it a little or it doesn't mean it's going to be the same result for you, you know.
Toby: Yes. it's different. I mean, I think that that's something I'm taking away from this that I is resonating is the idea of, like, how different because I do have sort of in the way that I talked to actors and teach, like, have my words that resonate with me. But it is true, like, we all are coming from different places and like words mean different things to us and sort of in I'm aware in terms of the way that like, I work with actors and talk to them and like finding and knowing when okay, this is making sense to them, or the way that I'm explaining it isn't making sense to them and whatever but that we all have words mean different things basically. And that we all have are like having an individual experience that you're not this person whose headshot you brought in and nor should you be and you have your own thing going and--
Joanna: Right. And like I shot a girl who she asks me before had done hair and makeup this time did her own. Because she felt like she does something specific and it would feel more like her and we shot like, three years ago or so. But I was looking at her hair and makeup today. And it was like her eyelashes were super spidery like she wears a lot of mascara which probably like the thing that made her like that makes it look like her to her I guess. And so those are things where it's like, but you have to remember like on set like you're not going to get that. Like that doesn't look good.
Toby: It's like peeling the peeling away.
Joanna: The peeling away that it's true. We hide behind a lot of things like that. I never knew when I was acting and auditioning for commercials, dressing for commercials, like what to wear is always really hard for me. Because I felt like my own personal style wasn't commercial. And I think sometimes people come in and maybe their look and their face and their hair or kind of what they look like says one thing, but their energy and when they open their mouth is a whole different person. And I'm looking like this girl that talks like a tomboy. That's really like, kind of gruff, but then looks like Kristin Chenoweth, you know, like it's like this blonde, like very ethereal, it's so it's disconcerting. And it's hard for me then to go, I can sort of see that.
Who you kind of play it's maybe not, your casting is different from what you feel and your type, it's really hard. So that would be a time when with headshots it's challenging. Because I can get you that where you're that ethereal, but then you walk in and you open your mouth. Like guys too, like a guy that's really handsome leading man, super sexy looking, very masculine looking.
Toby: Like me. Yes.
Joanna: And then opens their mouth and is very feminine, very, not that guy. And it's really like ah because you're going to go in for you know, its harsh.
Toby: That is tough. And I think it goes to the value of look, you know, and there's something where it's suddenly wow, I look how I look. It's like yes, but there is great value in sort of discovering and knowing what your type is going for it. And when you are auditioning it wasn't as easy to sort of go online and look up all these different commercials because now like I was sort of the same way for a long time. I'm like, I was going to wear this normally for me, but I'm going for an audition so what should I wear?
And it is really I've sort of learned that Hobbs Geico, let me go watch like five Geico spots. Let me see what the guys that kind of I would the role that I would be going, what are they wearing and there is a pattern like us button up under a sweater? I can do that. And then that helps at your audition, because you're feeling confident? Like, ah, I feel good. I feel like I'm doing something here that I control. You know, and that has to do with--
Joanna: The preparation and all of that is what you have control over your tools that you market, all of that you have control over. You can't control how someone else perceives everything and what you know, but you can control how hard you work. And I know a lot of people who are less talented but are working actors because they hustle, they work really hard. And I know, people that are the most talented people I've known. They're so crazy talented, it drives me crazy, not working because they're not doing anything to get to that level.
Toby: One other thing I was wondering about is, from your perspective, the approach to theatrical versus commercial.
Joanna: Yes, that's interesting now because I think because I worked in a theatrical office and I found from my experience working in a theatrical office that we were very forgiving because we were looking for it was also native. So when you're looking for a very specific thing, it sort of doesn't even matter. It's I know what we want, and we look more carefully, that's when it becomes a problem because you go, that guy looks great. Let's see his other photos and then you're like, Oh, nevermind, what's this tour of wait, what's he look like you know because I think he looks right and then we go in this. So that's one of the all the other photos I think theatrically I don't know if commercially they even get that far to [inaudible 1:05:41] sometimes like they can see.
Toby: They do. No, I would say it's often the case because of that reason, which is like, she looks great here. But let me just double check that this isn't like the one crazy photo that she had taken by some photographer, the made her look amazing. Because once you put them all together, you get up feeling of like, okay, I get a vibe for how this person looks and I see like six of these photos together.
Joanna: You know, I used to compare it too which I only did for three months, but when you do online dating,
Toby: Never done it I was married too early.
Joanna: So there's this experience of where you see a photo online and you go, Oh, he's so cute. And then you keep going and you go never mind because it's like, you find some angle that you don't like, face or he's doing something. You know, you go through it's like you talk someone out of meeting you because you over too much. It's like a lot of sometimes too much is too much.
Toby: I agree. And works the flip too though, because you could be like, I don't love this photo, but there's something about it. Let me see like, okay, okay, yes, I could see it. I could see it you know. But why is that guy just like pounding a beer in that profile, you know, in order--
Joanna: Where did he cut out of that. [inaudible 1:06:51]. But I think it's a little like so for the casting side is like for theatrical is a little more like forgiving because we're looking for something specific. But if it's like one of those shows, that's just a weekly, best for movies. you know but getting how unlikely is it to even get seen for a movie unless you know someone or?
Toby: I have no idea.
Joanna: It's so hard because they cast the top roles are all cast with all the stars. Casting basically says this is who I see for this movie. And then they go out to all of that. And then they just bring in the people they know that they love that--
Toby: The waiter.
Joanna: Well, then the waiter's like the director has a friend really promise you'd put in this movie gets the part it's like he's good. You know, I've been the producers. girlfriend for a movie and I got to go in--
Toby: And you were good.
Joanna: And I was so good that I went in for a little part and she's like, oh, well, will you go read these other five roles? And like go outside.
Joanna: Yes, I was like, yes. And then just like who you have to screw in this town.
Toby: The producers, no, I'll do it.
Joanna: No but it was it's yes, it's like, that's how movies are. I think [inaudible 1:08:10] thing and getting that's big package does all kinds of things but TV and commercials are, you know--
Toby: It does I mean, it's, of course, it's true with commercial as well. But the; you know, we're seeing 100 plus people a day. And it behooves often directors are asking for like new people, it's new people and we've got plenty. And so the casting directors, I will say they're looking for you, you know, they're looking for someone new that's good. They don't want to just show the same people over and over. Of course, they do want to show good people and they know certain people are good. And so they bring them in often. But your first impression is your headshot for if you otherwise don't know them. And you want to show them you're good well have your headshots should look as good as the good people they're bringing in.
Joanna: And I think the [inaudible 1:08:54] theatrical commercial is very is a bit razor thin.
Toby: Yes. It's not like smiling, frowning.
Joanna: No, because I think a lot of commercial shots are better when they're smirky or they just a little twinkle. There's something that shows oh, that person's they know, they know that this is an act, a bit cheesy. But if you have that laughing photo, and it's really engaging, it's amazing.
Toby: It's authentic, I mean, that's the thing it feels real.
Joanna: Yes, it just has to be really grounded somewhere. So I feel like when people come to me if they ever come, that's what I take on as a little bit of my job. And not every actor that comes in is sort of open enough to receive or be able to do that. And honestly, there's actor sessions where I don't have to do anything. They do it all they're like, they just do it. It's like and I say, I haven't said one we've just been chatting. And you've given me while I'm chatting, you're giving me so much good stuff. And we look of course and we're checking and we see and--
Toby: They're making it easy. They are just chatting with you, you're just letting them you take their photo--
Joanna: And they're trusting like that it looks the light, the crispness, the cleanness, the sharpness, the energy is all present, because I brought it in with me. You know, so I think it's your job for the day, your job is to do your headshot.
Toby: Yes. And that's going to pay dividends, ideally,
Joanna: Yes. And like why you the amount of actors that waste time going with their friend or getting paying 100 bucks, like you really do kind of get what you pay for because once the photographer realizes their product is actually working and really good. Then they become like, I became busy. I have a studio like I have an overhead, I have an assistant, I have things I have to pay for. So it's like more expensive for me. Yes, digital's not expensive. But I have the best camera. Like if I went to a photographer, and they're shooting me on their rebel, whatever. I'd be like, oh, that's your like, that's what you're using. Like--
Toby: You do, you really do get what you pay for. And I think across in this industry, I mean it goes with I say that all the time about casting. I'm more like, your rates are super low for this role. You get what you pay for because some people are like not worth it, for me.
Joanna: I'm not going to miss another audition where I make something else to go do this for. Yes,
Toby: Hundred bucks.
Joanna: Yes. And it's not fair. It's like this is your product and you're making a lot of money.
Toby: That's it. Yes. And I think that's a good point that people don't often think about, which is like, yes, oh, but is this like digital floating is like going to take photos? Like, yes, but in order, for you to do what you do at the level that you do it at? And then for you what you're like, yes, this is my product but these are the things that I need to do my job. And that's what you tell that to and they're like what do you need to do your job.
Joanna: It was like I say to an actor do you want to go rent my camera and my lens and my lights? It's going to cost you for the day to take your headshots, it's going to cost you a lot more than what you would pay me because and it's going to waste a lot of time because you're not going to know how to do it professionally properly. You know, I'm actually working on my craft all the time too like, I'm at home at night looking watching video stuff. I'm at home like figuring out how do I like how I make this look like this? What is the thing I'm, there's a thing I miss, like what do I want, you know, I'm doing that like for that? Oh, Taters you're groaning.
Toby: So true.
Joanna: So yes, if you want it or you can have your friend shoot them and I do say to people if you have friends that are going to shoot you for free, do it all the time, because it's just really good practice to stand in front of a camera and you never know you get that jam, you get that great shot. There are photographers I see all the time and they're kind of, they're not amazing, their equipment is not amazing. They're just out under the freeway or wherever where I was when I started or in a shopping center or whatever. And their product is okay but every once in a while there's like oh, they don't even know how they got that photo, they just got lucky. And then sure if you take lots and lots of things you get lucky, you know and I--
Toby: Yes, consistency though.
Joanna: Yes, but that's the thing. So I'm going to shoot consistent product, but I take a lot of photos because I think it's a little bit of a numbers game. Just like dating you meet a lot of--
Toby: It's like casting.
Joanna: Yes, I will take a lot because there's a moment when you let that smile go. And you took a breath that I got because I was shooting really quickly, that's a gem or when you just started to laugh or you did a --
Joanna: Yes, or I mumbled and you went? And I love that shot because it was so organic of you just going whoa like in your head. Oh, did you say something, did I miss[inaudible 1:13:41] and that's all for me when I direct people. It's like, hey, hey, really? Oh my god. No, stop it. You're so cute. That's great. Oh my god hold it. And I give you all those words that make your face do the thing that I want. And then I have my thing.
Toby: Love that, that's awesome. It is.