Headshot Session: Eric

Seattle Acting Modeling Headshot Portrait of a young man against a white background

I recently had the chance to shoot with Eric, an aspiring actor here in Seattle (his theatre debut is coming at the end of February).  Eric is a former computer science graduate from the University of Washington who is now pursuing his dream of becoming an actor. Fun times are happening for this kid, ;e has put in an application to The Toronto Film School .

Eric’s Personal Legend

To reference the Alchemist (one of my all-time favorite books) for the umpteenth time, Eric is doing everything in his power to find his Personal Legend. Your Personal Legend is the thing that makes you truly and profoundly happy. We all have the power to go in search of our Personal Legend, but many of us are too afraid to give ourselves permission to seek it out. Eric is putting a career on hold, one that he invested heavily in time and resources into (he came all the way from China to attend UW), in order to pursue the thing that truly makes him happy. How brave is that?


Seattle Acting Modeling Headshot Portrait of a young man against a white background

Eric had the option of sending an audition tape to his film school, but he is instead flying over to perform in person. Now that’s dedication! He is going the extra mile to invest in his future. I really hope this guy makes it. One of the best aspects of this job is that I get to not only help some people on their Personal Legend journeys, but I also get to live a little vicariously through them. Seriously, how cool would film school in Toronto be??? Once upon a time, I considered computer animation school at the Vancouver Film School. Talking to Eric awakened that little memory.

Total Natural

Eric was a natural. This was around the 3rd or 4th shot we took:

Seattle Acting Modeling Headshot Portrait of a young man against a white background

It conveys good expression. It is both confident and approachable. The great thing about getting a good, usable headshot right off the bat is that it takes the pressure off my clients for the rest of the shoot. They know they’ve got at least one. Eric, like all my clients, got warmed up, and delivered a good crop of good shots. Like this one:

Seattle Acting Modeling Headshot Portrait of a young man against a white background

Eric had a lot of approachable shots, but we needed one a little more serious, for darker roles. I think he nailed it.

If you want to see Eric make his stage acting debut (he plays 5 different roles), come to the Freehold Theatre. The address is 517 Maynard Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104.

If I’m in town, I’ll be there to give Eric some support!

My shoot with Winter

Winter came into my studio for a headshot session this past week. He is a computer guy, finishing up his final year of study at the University of Washington. After undergrad, he will leave our rainy Seattle and head to a sunnier home near San Diego to attend grad school. I’m really rooting for this kid. He is one of my favorite clients to date.

Winter came to the U.S. from Beijing, where his parents work as travel agents. They’ve invested a lot into his education; International students pay a jaw-dropping $47,000 + per year (compared to $14,000+ for residents) in tuition at U.W. That is an insane amount to pay for school. It pretty much broke my heart to hear what his parents had to sacrifice so that he could attend school here. It reminded me of the sacrifices my own parents made so that my siblings and I could have a better life here in Washington state.

Since Winter only needed one headshot, I offered him a special discount, but when his parents saw their great kid’s pictures in his online gallery, they couldn’t bear to see some of them go, and so they wanted to pay full price for 5. I offered to throw the photos in for free, but kind and generous soul that Winter is, he insisted on paying full price. We came to an agreement on a discount, and I think that is the first time I’ve actually had to haggle someone down!

I really hope Winter lands his dream job at Amazon. He deserves all the success in the world. Wherever he lands, I know his parents will be proud, and rightfully so.

A shoot with Sara (part Two)


Fashion Portrait of a man and woman on a black background

Sara A., one of my awesome friends, came into the studio for a (very belated) birthday shoot last week. We had actually planned to shoot two years ago, but life got complicated for the both of us, and so we weren’t able to make it happen then. Last week, I FINALLY got this girl into my studio, and she was absolutely amazing.

Who is she?

Sara is a tough as nails New Yorker with a no nonsense attitude. But don’t let that sassy exterior fool you. She’s a softie. Once you are in her good graces, I imagine you’ll be there for life. Just don’t dare say no to her, or she’ll give you this look, and you’ll wither in a New York Minute.

fashion-inspired portrait of a woman against a grey backgroundA little boho chic.

Classy, Sassy, Cool.

Class, style, elegance, and grace are just some of the words I’d use to describe Sara (also impatient, stubborn, and difficult—in the best way possible).


fashion-inspired portrait of a woman against a dark background

Sometimes I get a lil’ nervous.

Sara loved her previous photos from our first shoot, and so I really felt the pressure to give her some shots that were as good (if not better) this time around. I always feel this pressure with returning clients, and I channel all that nervous energy into the shoot. Nerves are a good thing. To lazily paraphrase a random musician, or athlete whose name I can’t remember, “if you don’t have nerves, it means you don’t care.” I care a lot, especially with good friends.

Some shots

fashion-inspired portrait of a woman against a dark backgroundIf this profile pic could talk, it would say, “I’m way too hot for LinkedIn.”
fashion-inspired portrait of a woman against a grey backgroundfashion-inspired portrait of a woman against a grey backgroundfashion-inspired portrait of a woman against a dark backgroundfashion-inspired portrait of a woman against a dark backgroundArt imitating life imitating art.
Fashion Portrait of a man and woman on a black backgroundA pair of bad hombres.

Headshots and Actor’s Portraits with Matt


An experienced singer and stage actor, Matthew Pirtle made the trek from St. Louis to the Pacific Northwest to follow his dreams.  He is funny, kind, and multi-talented (I dare you to find an instrument he doesn’t play). Matt is also a great sport. I threw some goofy stuff at him and he took it all in stride.

Matt has a busy week coming up with multiple auditions. Hopefully that headshot up there helps him out on his journey, which I’ll be following here.

I’m really rooting for this guy!




Headshot session with Kate

Headshot Portrait of female on white background

I had the privilege to shoot with Kate Joncas, Seattle’s long-standing president and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA). In 2014, she was named as Seattle’s deputy mayor of operations.

I have two basic types of clients: creative types and business types, and both require a specific need. For creative headshots, a wide range of expression is important. For business headshots, the aim is always to deliver a headshot that conveys: authenticity, confidence, and approachability. Kate, as a media-savvy veteran, was already good at presenting herself with confidence and approachability. What we needed was to nail authenticity. Specifically, we needed a smile, a bright, genuine, approachable smile.

Smiles are tricky.  If you ask someone to smile on command, more often than not they’ll come with something that looks canned, or painful. I call it the JC Penny smile The best smiles come from making your clients crack up, or getting them to talk about their kids, beloved pet, or Johnny Depp.  With Kate, I tried a different approach: we took a series of shots where she looked away from the camera, thought of a happy memory, and delivered a smile. Within a few minutes, she produced a usable, approachable shot that satisfied her.

“I think we got it,” she said.

“It’s a good shot,” I said. “But while you’re here, let’s see if we can get a better one.”

We fired off another round of headshots, then another, and another, and with every new set, her smiles became warmer, brighter, more approachable. Every time we thought we had a great one, we shot a few more and found an even better one. 30 minutes in, we landed a shot that couldn’t be topped no matter how hard we tried. In a long series of A’s, we needed the A+, and I think we got it!

Hopefully this headshot serves Kate well for many more dedicated years of public service!

My New Direction: Fashion-inspired portraiture

Fashion Portrait with Seattle Dancer Desiree


When I started out in photography, headshots were my specialty. I loved the glamorous aspect of shooting actors and models. Soon I began doing model tests, with more glamorous visions of being published in Vogue Italia. Portraiture wasn’t yet on the radar. It was almost a dirty word for me, as I never understood the value of a portrait, and thought they had to be done without a hint of glamour and style. Now as 2016 begins, I find myself ready to delve into fashion-inspired portraiture as a new brand focus.


Portraiture is the preservation of a moment in time. You can never go back in time to this moment, and so portraits (and video) are a great way to document your legacy, and the legacy of your family, your people. I read an excellent book by Toni Morrison (Song of Solomon) that delves into the importance of your legacy. I have only a single, faded photograph of my grand parents on my father’s side, and so their faces live mostly in misty memories. They are strangers to me, actors in stories told by my parents. Had they been able to take more photographs, I might know them better.


Anyone can take a snap shot and preserve a moment, and candid shots are beautiful treasures in their own right. Portraiture, however, comes with unique style. Any good photographer can introduce their aesthetic styling to a photograph, with posing direction, light, composition, props, and choice of backdrop. My own visual style will come out in every portrait I take. My goal for the coming year is to create a visual world, one of classic beauty and moody elegance, and populate it with people of any age and shape. We all deserve to own beautiful memories.

Studio Session: Diego

I had a great time working with this little guy. Actually, he’s not that little. At 5’7″, he is almost as tall as me, and the kid is just 10!

Diego and his mom came in for a model test to build up his portfolio to take to talent agencies. She had mentioned beforehand that Diego absolutely loved being in front of the camera, and sure enough, he seemed over the moon happy. From my experience, kids have about a ten minute window of shooting before they start to get bored, which means they get very silly. This is a good thing; silly kids are happy kids, and you can get really funny shots, but you’ve got to get a few straight ones first. With Diego I didn’t have to worry about getting him to sit still, because the kid just has it. He knows when to goof off and also when to get serious, takes direction like a pro, and throughout the shoot I kept saying to myself, “wow, is he really this young??” I’ve had experienced models who were tougher to direct than this guy!

Back to the subject of silliness, here is Diego’s first shot out of the gate. I knew after this one that he was going to give me some winners. He’s got loads of personality, and in this shot it’s bursting.


studio modeling test portrait of a young boy against a grey background


But when I asked him to get serious, he delivered a mighty fine set of headshots…

Studio Modeling Headshot of a young boy against a grey backdrop

A serious look, with great expression!


Studio modeling headshot portrait of a young boy against a grey background


Some people are just meant to be in front of the camera. Diego is certainly one of them, and it shows in every single picture. I’m not kidding; after going through his reel, I was amazed to see that he genuinely looks to be having a good time in every single shot. He never complained or got tired. Whenever I gave him direction he was on point, and loving every minute of it. It makes me feel like a million helping someone this happy.

I’m eager to see where this kid goes with his modeling career. He has a meeting coming up with a talent agent. Fingers crossed!!!


Studio modeling portrait of a young boy wearing a gray coat against a gray backdrop