Shoot Information

Session Info and Rates

Special – The Quickie : $125

  • Unlimited digitals, 1 hour
  • 2-3 looks
  • DVD of photos in .raw and .jpeg format
  • Outdoor natural light or indoor studio light
  • Make-up an additional $80-125
  • Includes basic retouching for 1 photo

Headshots: $325

  • Unlimited digitals, 2 hours
  • 3-4 looks
  • DVD of photos in .raw and .jpeg format
  • Outdoor natural light or indoor studio light
  • Make-up an additional $80-150
  • Includes basic retouching for 3 photos

Zed Cards: $450       

  • Unlimited digitals, 3 hours
  • 5 looks, including headshot
  • DVD of photos in .raw and .jpeg format
  • Outdoor natural light or indoor studio light
  • Make-up an additional $100-150 for first 2 hrs.
  • Includes basic retouching for 5 photos

Retouching: Additional retouching at $50 per hour

For rates for the following, please contact me:

  • Corporate and industrial photography
  • Fashion
  • Weddings
  • Travel Photography
  • Product Photography

*Prices subject to change.  Photographer retains rights to all photos.

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How To Pick A Photographer

What should I look for in a headshot photographer?            

Isn’t that the question?  Another way to answer this question is to ask, “what makes a good headshot?” I believe that a good headshot has the following:

  • a strong connection to camera, a compelling expression in the eyes
  • good lighting, with shadows and contrast that bring out your best features
  • good composition, so that the viewer is drawn to your face

Now, how do you figure out whether a photographer can do these things?  The first thing to do is to check out the photographer’s work.  Just by looking at the photographer’s pictures, you can figure out whether a photographer is technically competent.  Look at the expression, shadows and composition.  The photographer’s book will also tell you how creative he or she is, which may be important to you.  But that’s only part of the answer.  Read on. 

Okay, the photographer’s portfolio looks great, but how do I know that he or she will take good pictures of me?

I know someone who’s a model and has done dozens of professional shoots.  Although she had great modelling pictures, she didn’t have strong headshots.  She researched, visited photographers, looked at their books and asked the advice of friends, agents and managers.  Finally, she picked one and spent $550 on the shoot.  Out of four rolls, or 144 pictures, she got one or two usable shots.

I have another friend who was pushed by her agent to get new pictures.  She asked around, looked at books and finally picked a photographer that cost $600.  Her agent didn’t like any of his photos, and the photographer refused to do a reshoot.

How does this happen?  Well, the honest answer is that a photographer can be like an actor on screen – you don’t know if the actor gave a good performance, or whether the actor just had a good editor and director.

The only way to know whether an actor is really good is to know how that actor works on set. The same is true for photographers.  You need to know how a photographer shoots, and to see the unused pictures as well as the ones that were published.

In the days of film (yes, those days are fading fast), it was easy – just look at a photographer’s proof sheets.  The raw shots tell you a lot how a photographer works and how he shoots.  For example, I’ve gotten headshots done with a very expensive photographer.  In one of his proof sheets, 32 out of 36 shots are in exactly the same pose, with only minor differences in expression.  This photographer was technically excellent, but didn’t try to work with me to get the best expression or connection with the lens.  He was clicking away, and by taking 32 shots of the same pose, he was playing the odds and betting that one or two would turn out well.

Now, with digital, there are no proof sheets, so you can’t do that anymore.  In fact, with digital, it’s very hard to tell who’s a good photographer – anyone with a camera can hang up a shingle, take lots and lots of shots, and spend a lot of time in photoshop. What to do?  Here’s a couple of do’s and don’ts:

  • Make Sure that the Photographer Takes A Personal Interest in You.  This is huge, I think.  You want a photographer that can see your individuality and that cares about getting you a good photo; you want someone who will choose to make your session personal.
  • Don’t Be Fooled by Glitz, Star Studded Portfolios and High Prices.  I can’t tell you the number of people who have shot with expensive, “name” photographers with fancy studios, and will never do it again.

Somewhere along the way, it’s easy to say, “Oh, if he’s shot all these famous people, he must be good.”  Or, “If he’s that expensive, he must be good.”  Or, “what a nice studio, he must be worth it.”  If you think about it, none of these things guarantee you a good shooting experience.

  • Look for Creativity, Uniqueness and a Specific Style in the Portfolio.  When you look at a photographer’s porfolio, do you see creativity and variations?  Or do you see similar poses, expressions and setups repeated in shoot after shoot?  Look at the photographers non-headshot work – is there a unique perspective or voice?  Does the photographer have a style, an individual voice?  If you look carefully, it can be very easy to spot.

Truth is, when I look at my own work, it has an unintentional, but specific style.  I wasn’t even aware of it when I was building my portfolio; I just liked certain things and shot them.  Now, if you look over it, I think you’ll see that there is a common style and point of view.  If you hire me, that’s essentially what you’re paying for.

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Prepping for the Shoot

I don’t know about other photographers, but for me a shoot is about capturing a moment in life. It’s about giving people a chance to see a private side of you that most people usually don’t see.  And it’s about sharing a feeling, a sentiment.  To do that, it takes a bit of time, preparation and planning to get the best results.  Here are some things to think about, and do, prior to the shoot.

Getting to Know You and What Works for You

  • Send me your current or past photos via email.   Not every photographer does this, but I like to, because even if I know you, it gives me a sense of what you look like on camera, how you and your agents have seen you in the past, and where we’re starting from.  It also tells me whether there might be any untapped possibilities.
  • Tell me if there’s something you’re looking for, what you have in mind, what your agents say you need.    Some people know what they want; perhaps a friend has suggested something, perhaps the agent has been asking for something, perhaps you have seen something in a magazine and would like to try it.  Others are open to something new, and want to experiment.  In either case, it’s good to have a dialogue about what we’re going for in the shoot, and to make sure that we are on the same page.

Your Own Prep

  • Haircuts, Grooming, and Such.  Of course, get your hair cut the way you’d like, give it some time to grow, and so forth.  Some people also want to work out a bit before, or lose some weight.  I always recommend making sure you shoot when you feel ready, there’s rarely a good reason to rush.
  • Expressions.  I don’t recommend this for everyone, but sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to stand in front of mirror and see what some of your expressions look like.  It depends on how you work, but by all means, if it can help you, why not?
  • Poses.  Likewise, it doesn’t hurt to practice some poses in front of a mirror.  The “natural” and “spontaneous” look is what we’re going after.  Nevertheless, being a little conscious of your body position can’t hurt.  It’s like acting – think about it, even practice if you want, beforehand and then forget about it and focus on connecting with the camera when you’re shooting.  The truth is, what looks good on camera isn’t always the most natural or most realistic pose.  So play around a bit in front of mirror, try looking at some other pictures and see if certain poses work for you.  Basically, get comfortable, and find what works for you.

Some important guidelines (remember, not absolute rules by any means) are helpful.  If you flip through a magazine, you’ll find that asymmetry is very important and contributes to the “natural” feel.  So generally, keep in mind the following:

  • Often, tilting the head to one side or the other helps
  • Asymmetrical shoulders are usually more interesting than symmetrical
  • Being square to camera can often work, but eyes to camera and chin pointing just to the right or left of camera is usually more interesting
  • Pick positions where you’ll be very comfortable, even slouchy.  Lazy will give the photo a more natural feel.

Make-Up

Generally, for women I recommend a make-up artist, unless you feel quite confident doing your own.  I have some great make-up artists, and I would work with them all the time if I could.  For men, you can get away with not using one.  In either case, I suggest thinking about the following.

  • Powder.  If you’re not using a make-up artist, bring some powder.  Everybody has a unique skin tone, so best that you bring what works for you.  Even if you hire a make-up artist, if you have powder that you know works for your skin tone, it doesn’t hurt to bring it.
  • Concealer.  The same is true for concealer.  For those of you not familiar with concealer, it’s for the area under the eye, and it helps hide or soften the dark areas that can appear under the eye.  And dark areas under the eye aren’t necessarily a skin issue; the angle of light hitting the lower eyelid can create shadows that darken the area under the eye.  Concealer helps reduce the shadow area.
  • Hair Spray and / or Gel.  If you have long hair, hair spray is definitely necessary.  Outdoor especially, and even indoor, hair can get in the way and ruin a shot very easily.  And hair in the wrong place – for example, across the face – is very difficult to fix in photoshop.

Clothing

  • Avoid Busy Patterns.  Busy patterns, such as plaids, are often distracting.  In particular, avoid intricate patterns.  On digital, very intricate patterns can create a moire effect, a kind of “streaking” in the clothes.
  • Some White or Black, Not All.  White and black are very popular and look great in daily life, but these colors can easily overpower a photo.  For example, a white t-shirt will be brighter than skin tone.  So, if we’re shooting a 3/4 shot, a white t-shirt will be brighter than you’re face, and the eye will be drawn to the white.  The same is true with black.  With a black t-shirt in a 3/4 shot, the black overpowers the photo.

One way to work with black or white is to combine it with other colors to soften it’s impact.  For example, a white t-shirt with a jacket – either a more formal  dinner jacket or more casual (like a denim or leather jacket) – works quite well.  In the wider 3/4 shot, the white doesn’t overpower the picture, and in a closer headshot, the white of the t-shirt if broken up by the color of the jacket.

  • Avoid “Light” Colors, Such as Light Pastels.  Light pastels will become “whiter” in the camera.  For example, light pink, a popular color for women, will often just become white in the photo.
  • Simple, Medium Bright Solids Are Best.   Why?  Solids aren’t distracting, and allow the viewer to focus on the face, which is the objective.  The reason I say medium bright is because light solids become white, and bright solids are just too bright.
  • Avoid Colors Close to Skin Tone.  Colors very close to your skin tone don’t work very well.  You want some contrast and separation.
  • For Women, Avoid Tops with Low Necklines.  While these tops attract a lot of attention, in a headshot and in a head-and-shoulders shot the low neckline makes it look like, well, like you’re naked.  Or nearly.  And don’t forget, we want them to focus on your face and your eyes!

During the Shoot

  • Tension.  Very few of us take headshots naturally.  Even models, who are always in front of a camera, have a hard time with headshots, because the requirements are very different.  Many of us carry tension somewhere in our faces when we’re in front of a camera:  we furrow the brows, crinkle the forehead, tweak the lip to one side or the other.  If you know you carry tension in front of a camera, please let me know.  Also, practice making yourself aware of this tension.  Often, the tension develops because we become disconnected, so any action – physical or mental that forces us to reconnect will solve the problem.

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Directions To The Studio

Studio Address:

822 Wall St., #200 (2nd floor)
Los Angeles, CA 90014

– between 8th and 9th
– between Main and San Pedro

Google Maps Link:

Link: http://goo.gl/maps/dxMf3

From the Westside:

– Take the 10 East past the 110 and past downtown.  A few exits after the 110, you will see the San Pedro on the right side
– Exit San Pedro and go down the ramp.  At the bottom of the ramp turn left and the road will wind in a U.  You’ll end up on 16th, a one way going the opposite direction (West).
– Get into the right lane, the first intersection will be San Pedro.
– Make a right onto San Pedro.
– At 9th, turn left and proceed on 9th until you get to Wall.
– Make a right on to Wall and immediately on the left you will see signs for Prestige Parking.  It’s upstairs, rooftop.  Parking is $3-7 depending on the day and the time of the day.  There’s usually a man waving a flag.
– Alternative Parking.  One block before Wall, you will see San Julian.  You can make a right and you will see a sign for rooftop parking on the right.  Usually this lot is $1-2 less than the one on Wall.

From the Valley or from the East:

– take the 101 to downtown, exit Alameda South
– take Alameda to 9th, make a right
– once on 9th go until Wall
– make a right onto Wall, and follow the directions for parking above.

My cell is 310 429-6464 and my email is mtlo@post.harvard.edu.  Call if there are any questions, and when you get there call me and I will be happy to help with bags or stuff if you have lots of stuff.

Other Notes:

  • The studio can be cold if it’s cold outside, so bring jacket or something to keep you warm.   Likewise, if it’s hot out, it can be warm in the studio.
  • Also feel free to bring snacks, munchies and such if you’d like.
  • If you have music that you like on a cd, feel free to bring it.
  • For testing, please bring a license or passport, i will take a photo and will ask you to sign a release.

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