In the world of commercial photography, the headshot is a modest affair. The subject’s head is centered in the frame. The subject is lit. Typically, the subject is smiling. Most every headshot has these simple attributes. But if this were all there was to it, every headshot would succeed. Many don’t.


Lots of people shoot headshots, but meaningful skill and/or experience aren’t requirements. Some photographers who work in this field have both. Some have one or the other. Some have neither. Meaningful skill comes from experience.


If you’re an actor getting early-career headshots, you may have limited experience being photographed professionally. You may be apprehensive. It’s common, even among seasoned professionals. Unless the photographer puts you at ease, organically and quickly, you may not be well-served.   

what’s a publicity session?

It’s a shoot typically booked by agents, managers or publicists for established talent, to produce images for distribution to media outlets. Sometimes actors book these sessions themselves, and studio PR departments book them as well, to help promote of the release of a project in which the actor appears. Generally such shoots are full-day affairs […]

not yet a well-known performer?

Probably you don’t need a publicity session. You need headshots. If I’m the photographer, you’ll get headshots and a little more.  

in my heyday…

… I shot primarily for publication: national magazines like Life, Time, Newsweek, Fortune, People, Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, Smithsonian, Interview and at least 30 others. I’ve photographed just about everything, from celebrities to cathedrals. These days some magazines have folded, while others are shrunken versions of their former selves. Headshots and publicity sessions, once sidelines, are […]

I Shoot Headshots…

… but don’t identify as a headshot photographer. I never aspired to be a headshot photographer. Never went through a headshot photographer phase. But actor friends would ask for headshot sessions, and I’d shoot them. Then, early in my career — unexpectedly — I was hired by a PR firm to shoot headshots for James […]

I went to james stewart’s home…

… in Beverly Hills, lugging my own equipment (no assistant). The iconic movie star clearly knew I was just starting out as a photographer but was as gracious with me as if I were an experienced pro, like Slim Aarons. (Slim WHO?)

slim aarons (1916-2006)…

… was an American photographer noted for his images of socialites and celebrities. Worked for Life and Town & Country. As I would, later on.

why bring up slim aarons?

On New Year’s Eve 1957, Aarons took a picture at Romanoff’s in Beverly Hills. James Stewart, graciously showing me his home before our session began, was about to identify the subjects of this famous image for me. But I knew who they were and said so: Clark Gable, Van Heflin, Gary Cooper, and Mr. Stewart. […]