07 August, 2010

Tales of Two Photographers

When I was accepted to be represented by Mary Tonry of Tonry Talent Agency in San Francisco, I was stoked. I auditioned for Stars 2 years ago and was not accepted. I didn't bother pursuing any other representation afterwards. I focused on my personal growth which didn't necessarily had to do with acting, but I needed to work and I didn't want to work doing a 9 2 5'r. I had an agent in Singapore through Fly Entertainment.

May of 2010, I finally took the plunge and sent Tonry a cover letter with my (very old) headshot and resume. Went in for the audition, and had a very encouraging conversation with Mary Tonry. To my surprise, I was already being sent out for auditions the very next day. She gave me a list of photographers so I could update my headshots.

Note: when your acting coach and your agent recommends a photographer or two, narrow it down to them. I went ahead with a different photographer on my agent's list. I called and made an appointment with her. We met in Union Square on a rainy day, and took care of business under an awning of an upscale jewelry store. I'm sure the sales folks were amused as I switched from one outfit to the next. For the price I paid, it was to be an hour and a half shoot where she'd photoshop and retouch 5 shots. A week passed after the photo shoot. Then another week passed. Then I called her about when I'd see the proofs en route to an audition. At the audition, I was tapped on the shoulder by someone. It was the photographer. Turns out not only was she a photographer, she's also an actor represented by the same agent. No biggie, she simply said, she'll have the proofs mailed to me later that week. Once I received the proofs, I narrowed them down to the top 20, 5 shots, 4 outfits. I took them to Mary to have a look at them and she wasn't too thrilled with them. I took the shot Mary liked and listed it along with 4 other shots and told my photographer the final 5 to be touched up. Three weeks afterwards, I received an email with 5 high pixel digital proofs of shots that I ended up retouching on my iPhoto. Yup, she did a very half-assed job retouching them. I eventually took the proof of the one shot Mary picked to a printer and had copies made with my name. The copies were completed in July even though the initial photo shoot was in May.

Couple of weeks later, I dropped off the copies of my headshots and asked Mary about getting a haircut slightly different from the photos. She warned that it was a possibility that I'd have to redo my headshots. The next day, I had my haircut and sure enough, it was different from the headshots I took. This time I was smart to contact a photographer who both my agent and long time acting coach recommended.

At the photo shoot, this photographer came about 20 minutes late. Turned out he remembered the conversation we had over the phone about a jazz pianist Keith Jarrett (Keith is my middle name) and he ran late because he was busy burning a cd for me of Keith's music. Then our photo shoot was interrupted as the photographer looked at my outfits. We went to the nearest CVS Pharmacy with a clothing department to find a "suitable" commercial wear. Finally after a thorough makeup and hair run through, we were down to business. This photo shoot was more physically challenging as this photographer was more demanding from me.

Less than 24 hours later the photographer emailed me what he felt were my top 18 shots. I disagreed with him passionately such that he had to call me directly to settle matters. Within 3 days, I received the entire proofs. My biggest challenge was finding the best out of what was a high number of excellent shots.

The top photo is from my second photographer last week. The second one is from the one I took a couple of months back. Can you see the difference? I sure as hell can. I can't say you get what you paid for because there was only a $60 difference.

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