Casting takes Centre Stage: MW in The Photographer magazine

Feature on my work and route into photography, in the new edition of The Photographer, magazine of the British Institute of Professional Photograph (BIPP).

905721_10153127983043522_7795762315069063951_oA few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be the subject of a full-length feature in the British Institute of Professional Photograph (BIPP)‘s quarterly magazine ‘ The Photographer.

Editor Jonathan Briggs came to visit me at the studio in January, the day after I got back from a month in New Zealand, and somehow managed to piece together a coherent 13 page article from the stream of mumbling I gave him in response to his insightful questioning.

As well as 10 beautifully-printed images, covering the span of my practice – from headshots to theatre and film posters, to personal projects – the article also covered my route into photography and the way my business has developed in the last five years.

bipp-cover-michael-wharleyIt was a honour to be featured in the mag, which I’ve read throughout my career as a photographer, often enviously viewing the beautiful work of other photographers.

And if, as a portraitist who spends a lot of time quietly assessing clients to put them at their ease and get the best shots, it was an unusual experience to have the tables turned, it was still fascinating to see how the business looks to an outside eye, and definitely made me take a step back to plan my next five years.

10/04/2015 MW

Spotlight on… a prize-winning headshot session in video

Taking a close-up look inside a prize-winning headshots session with me and Casting Call Pro, in a new headshot video.

michael-wharley-headshots-video

Taking a close-up look at the organic process of shooting a headshot portfolio: video below

If you’ve ever wondered what one of my – or indeed, any headshot photographer’s – sessions are like then wonder no more, because in this video, shot by the ace Sam Swainsbury of Cut To: Productions, we take you behind the scenes on a headshot shoot.

Actress Katherine Rodden was the winner of a £600+ headshot portfolio makeover, including full hair & makeup artist, and more, in a competition run by myself and Casting Call Pro late in 2013. Incidentally, the most popular comp CCP has ever run, with over 600 entrants.

In the video, there’s a look inside my detailed, organic process of creating a headshot portfolio, as we work with makeup & hair artist Terri Pace, shooting inside and out, and achieving as much range as possible.

Elements of the way I work are unique to me of course, but it’s also probably a good insight into the way any portraitist will work with you to achieve the shots you need, whether you’re an actor, business person, model, or comedian.

It really does take two – or in this case, three – to tango, and the energy, personality and relaxation you bring to a shoot, helps create great photos, as you can hopefully see with Katherine.

But I’m sure the video says a lot more than the written word in this case, so check it out…

28/04 2014 MW

Katherine Rodden: http://www.katherinerodden.co.uk/

Hair & MU by Terri Pace: http://www.terripace.com

Prize offered in combination with Casting Call Pro and 10x8prints http://www.castingcallpro.com/ & http://10x8prints.com/

Filmed & edited by Sam Swainsbury, at the awesome Cut To: Productions: http://www.cuttoshowreels.co.uk/cut-to-productions/ & http://unitedagents.co.uk/sam-swainsbury

Music by Fire at Will (with thanks to Will Owen): http://www.fireatwillmusic.com/

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Win a £600+ headshot makeover with CCP and me

Getting in the festive giveaway spirit & teaming up with Casting Call Pro to offer a fantastic headshot package prize for members in December.

'The American' for screen actor Sam Smith - a new portfolio session from Michael Wharley Photography

‘The American’ for screen actor Sam Smith – a new portfolio session

 

I often offer headshot prizes at events like Surviving Actors, so it’s not out of the ordinary to be involved in a competition, but this package is pretty exciting, if I do say so myself.

Evidently all the Christmas decorations going up around town have got me in the festive mood of goodwill to all men.

Michael Wharley Headshot Photography  So Casting Call Pro and I – together with kind support from 10x8prints.com – are offering one member the chance to totally overhaul their professional portfolio with a fantastic headshot & photo session worth over £600.

Yep, £600! And that means the lucky winner will get:

      • ‘Headshot healthcheck’ to assess current portfolio and casting, worth £25.
      • ‘The American’ headshot portfolio, worth £350: a brand new package from Michael Wharley Photography, covering all your promotional needs: standard actors’ headshots in a range of studio & naturally-lit setups for the UK castings market, US-style headshots for Transatlantic castings, and model-style promo shots.
      • Full makeup and hair by a professional team, worth £150.
      • 100 hardcopy, full-colour, prints supplied by top print-lab 10x8prints.com,worth £80+If you’re a CCP member, all you need to do is answer the following:

 

 

 How would new headshots
change your 2014?

Easy, right?

The comp closes at 4pm on Thursday 19th December, and entries should go to info@castingcallpro.com or via the CCP FacebookLinkedIn or Google+ pages.

GOOD LUCK!

21/11/2013 MW

Spotlight on head & bodyshots for actor Sam Smith

Spotlight on…creating a new head & body shot portfolio for actor Sam Smith of Waterloo Road and Vikings

 

Headshot portfolio subtly capturing playing-age range for actor Sam Smith

Headshot portfolio subtly capturing playing-age range for actor Sam Smith ©Michael-Wharley-2013

Last month, I spent an enjoyable morning shooting with actor Sam Smith.

Sam’s had a great run of work recently, including leads in Waterloo Road and Casualty, not to mention appearing in blood-and-guts, Emmy-nominated, US hit Vikings (though the games geek in me was more excited that he’s recording a lead character for the new Assassin’s Creed…)

That’s exposed him to a lot more US castings than before, and meant he came to the session with a fairly specific brief for both headshots and body shots.

I thought it’d be interesting reflect on the results a little, because it illustrates how an actor can have substantial input into the success of session with any photographer.

Capturing playing range

Full length body-shot for Sam Smith © Michael Wharley Photography 2013

Full length body-shot for Sam Smith © Michael Wharley Photography 2013

Rather fresh-faced, Sam can play young, and certainly has done in his career to date. So, he was keen to give his agent, Conway van Gelder Grant, headshots capturing both youthfulness and a degree more ‘edge’ and maturity.

Not to mis-represent him of course, but to help them sell Sam to employers across the range of the 16-25 age bracket he has listed on Spotlight.

As you can hopefully see from the set of three above we achieved this by keeping a little bit of stubble throughout for definition and to age Sam up a fraction, as well as by carefully varying outfits, lighting conditions, hair and Sam’s address to camera.

The blue shirt-shot – with hair almost entirely off the forehead and shouders slanted away from camera to suggest a slighter build – is younger and more ‘wholesome’, while the other two, shot straight on and with warmer, more mischievous/stronger thoughts help Sam show a slightly older, edgier casting.

I’d say the right-hand shot is a nice half-way house between the two ‘extremes’.

  • Without such a brief from Sam, we’d have got him some lovely general shots, but his specificity meant we were able to zero on on exactly what he and his agent needed.
  • That’s the sort of detail you should be able to throw confidently at any good headshot photographer – they will use their skills and technical ability to help you tell those casting stories.

Build & Bodyshots

Body-shot for Sam Smith © Michael Wharley

Body-shot for Sam Smith © Michael Wharley

It seems increasingly common for UK actors getting a lot of US castings to need 3/4 length, full-length and even body shots – I guess Stateside producers want to see the full package, and with series like Game of Thrones making on-screen male nudity de riguer, full-package means almost everything on show…

At 5’8″, Sam’s no half-pint, but having bulked up for a recent role, he wanted some dramatic bodyshots showing off this toned physique.

So we worked on something with the photographic vernacular of men’s health or fitness shots (see the 3/4 length above), as well as something with a moodier, more ‘fashiony’ set up (see the full-length above).

These aren’t going to be first up in Sam’s Spotlight portfolio, but they are useful tools to have in the armoury when specific castings arise.

  • In the UK there’s a little bit of historical snobbery about 3/4 or full-length shots in casting – as straightforward descriptive shots they tend to be associated with extras and walk-on artists.
  • But as our headshot approach gradually takes on more US stylings, I do think there can be a place in an actor’s promotional portfolio for good quality longer shots, with a fashion or lifestyle photography vibe. Not least because they can offer an accurate preview of build.
  • Check out headshot photographers like Nicholas Dawkes, Mug Photography and Faye Thomas, who all offer their takes on 3/4 length or full-length promotional shots for actors.

Sam says…

“Having the space to relax and get comfortable before and during the shoot made a big difference – the knowledge that you allow for time to get the best possible shots immediately put me at ease. I was delighted with the finished shots, as was my agent.”

15/08/2013 MW

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Spotlight on… Katherine Press Headshots

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Katherine Press headshot portfolio

Creating a new headshot portfolio for Katherine Press.

A Cambridge graduate, a former student of the Central School of Ballet, and currently to be seen alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor in Poliakoff’s ‘Dancing on the Edge‘ on BBC 2, Katherine had been an eloquent participant in myTake Control of Your Headshots seminar for the Actors Guild in Autumn 2012.

And she was kind enough to choose me to shoot her new actors headshots later in the year.

Katherine particularly wanted to give her agent, United Agents, a breadth of new photos to help capitalise  on a run of excellent work – including Ophelia in Trevor Nunn’s “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead” at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket.

Capturing true range

Keen that her photos show directors and casting professionals a true sense of her range, Katherine was able articulate some specific castings to focus on together in the session:

      • Something to capture a classical elegance and youthfulness
      • Something softer and more commercial.
      • A tougher, grittier shot for more contemporary and ‘edgier’ castings.

 

As a headshot photographer, I find that’s a great place to start, because for all that I can make quick assessments about an actor’s skin tone, eye colour, hair colour, facial structure and potential casting, often it is the actor who knows him or her self and their career best.

Showing range subtly

So, working together, we selected the tops that Katherine had brought to to best suit these broad themes.

And by shooting both indoor and out, as well as reviewing batches of photos  regularly, we were able to capture that range together.

Not just with lighting, hair and clothing choices, but also by directing Katherine to subtle variations of thought and mood.

Hopefully, the portfolio above gives a sense of our success; the photos are now helping Katherine show her full casting range to casting directors, both on Spotlight, and on her website.

Katherine says…

Michael’s “philosophy” on the value of having a varied headshot portfolio really struck a chord with me. In an enjoyable and relaxed session, we worked together to produce a new selection of shots to cover the full breadth of my casting range.”

 

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