Headshots and The Chicago Acting Community

Much of my recent adult headshot work, was made in a studio environment. This is a sharp contrast to my children and family portrait look, which has a lifestyle flavor. Each style serves a different purpose. Studio headshots offer a very clean and consistent image, a handy feature if you need several headshots of your company staff. And the lighting is very flattering–all those photons find their way into every corner of your face. Wrinkles and imperfections fade away…

But as I continue to expand my headshot work, I happened to meet a couple Chicago actors. Actors need headshots. And interestingly, Chicago headshots tend to carry a natural lifestyle look. So that got me thinking… why not bring a few lifestyle headshots into my work?

So Pam, Christian and I met up in the city for a round of headshots. It was fascinating to hear them discuss the differences between New York, LA and Chicago. The look of a Chicago headshot is distinctly natural. You’ll see very little sense of a studio in the finished shot, but luckily, light still behaves the same. Chicago’s acting community is very supportive and collaborative. In fact, just before our session, Chicago had suffered a couple tragic losses in the acting community. It was clear, these women had lost not just a colleague, but a dear friend.

So who or what set this style? I had the same question. But there’s not a definitive answer. Chicago’s midwestern brand is probably most as work here. And there’s an expectation to see ‘normal’ people filling the roles. They’re not supermodels (and proud of it) and they don’t have handlers. But they work just as hard, if not harder than their colleagues on the coasts.

Working with Pam and Christian was a real privilege. It was a true collaboration, and we made some great art! As a photographer, working with actors is a blast. A good actor can change expressions on a dime–from a powerful district attorney to down and out single mother. It’s my job to capture this range because they never know what the next role will demand.