Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Holidays!

2007 has been a great, landmark year for Archetype Images. But now through the end of the year we're officially on holiday hiatus. That doesn't mean we're slacking, though. Our updated website with the Best of Archetype Faces will launch on December 3.

And we're already booking appointments for January. To get the new year off right, we're offering Free Photo Shoots. 148 shots and you only pay for the proofs you like $100. See for details.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Joette Waters

Years ago I went to a Christmas party hosted at Ann Sather's. They had hired a musical trio, called Stardust, who performed 1940's girl-band songs. They wore floral dresses and '40's hats, and I remember them tearing the place up.

Fast forward to last week when I was contacted by Joette Waters. Joette was one of those original Stardust Girls and has always been an active performer. Lately she's discovered her niche market and she's decided to aggressively target it. This is the kind of professional we love to work with!

In real life Joette is a vibrant, sexy woman with a knock-out figure and not a single gray hair. She also happens to be over forty, and as such the industry doesn't seem to know how to creatively use her as an attractive, vibrant woman of a certain age. But Joette is the real deal when it comes to being an actor; she recognizes that she's working in a business, and is subject to the fundamental law of supply and demand. When agents call her, its for "Grandma," and she is continually asked to come in a gray wig. Joette came to me needing a shot of her in a gray wig to corner the Grandma market.

This is a great shot because it keys into an archetype frequently used in the industry, and yet there isn't a lot of acting going on. This is a real woman, not a character, yet this picture represents a focused fragment of who Joette is. It's the part of her that is in demand in the marketplace right now.

And when you call Joette, she doesn't mind that you want her to play Grandma. She might even bring a plate of cookies to the audition.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Paul D'Addario

Paul D'Addario is a very successful, working actor in Chicago, and like many he finds himself needing to make the leap into the wonderful world of color with his headshot. Over the years there have been a lot of trends in actors' headshots, but the trend to color actually makes sense, and it gives the actor a vital tool with which to communicate to prospective directors and producers, and it's the use of color that should be a major consideration when considering a photographer.

Paul does a lot of work on the Chicago stage and works frequently with The Gift Theatre Company. When I asked him what his dream role was, he told me that he was very lucky to have already played it in Hurlyburly. Modestly, what he didn't tell me was that he also received a Jeff Citation for an Actor in a Lead Role. He's also appeared on The Griffin stage in their production of Dead End, and in numerous productions at the Actor's Theatre of San Francisco.

When we met, I talked to Paul about what types of work he wants to do. He finds himself cast in "blue-collar" roles and feels that those are his strengths. He's exlusive with ARia and they've been sending him on print auditions as repair men, plumbers, etc. He believes that commercially that's his market. On the stage, Paul gravitates more toward dramatic roles, most recently playing in The Three Sisters and will soon start work on White People.

With Paul, we wanted to keep things simple and emphasize color and contrast in the shot. He's a straight-forward guy, so there didn't need to be elaborate poses or a lot of make up. Still, I wanted to give him a headshot that had some punch, so we chose this bright orange shirt and put him against a green background. These two colors echo the colors in his eyes, and as we all know a good headshot starts wtih the eyes.

Monday, November 5, 2007


There comes a point in every rehearsal process when everyone involved knows they're ready for an audience. This weekend I went into the Side Project to do the publicity shots for their world premiere production of Robert Fieldsteel's Smart, and I knew immediately that this show is ready to open.

When a play is ready, there's a friendly tension in the air. Actors pace in the lobby, running lines in their head. They quietly joke with each other as light levels are checked and refined. The director is down to details, telling the stage manager that a prop box needs to be covered. When the publicity photographer comes in, it's just another part of the process and the actors quietly take their spots on the stage and start at random points in the script so the photographer can get the shots he needs. They effortlessly stop and start, freeze, then tilt their heads to catch the light. The play becomes a living organism, a thoroughbred capable of anything.

The above picture is of Steve Ratcliff and J. Kingsford Goode, who each play two characters in Smart. In the first act, they play a loving couple who are murdered by a pair of teen-aged thugs, and in the second they play the investigators of the murders. As an actor, I played my share of lead roles, but it was when I had the opportunity to play more than one supporting role in a production that I really felt like I could test my mettle. In a truly fine production, the quality really shows in the preparation of the supporting players.
It's a different skill set to play a supporting role. Leading characters have the luxury of time that supporting players don't have. The best scripts can give an actor enough to build a character with only four words. Supporting players need agility, to know when the story is theirs and why. The good playwright has them there for a reason, and it's not just to ask questions of the hero. A good supporting character conveys context and generates conflict, creating a fully drawn person who helps to people the world of the play.

Smart is an actor's play and this production is rich with fine performances. The critical notices will single out each performer with his or her stand-out moment and will praise the writing and direction. As I watched, I felt like in the not-too-distant future I would be able to say of each of these actors, "You know, I saw a little production where you just knew X would be a star." But when there is a feast of praise for a production, its the actors who don't directly address the audience, the actors who play more than one role who are often left unmentioned. To me, these actors are the unsung heroes of the theatre and I wanted to give these two their own special moment to shine.

Opening on November 8, the cast of Smart also includes Ricardo Gamboa and Joel Vining as the murders and Evan Linder and Kristen Secrist as students whose lives are affected by researching the murders. Smart runs in rep with another world premiere, Laura Jacqmin's Butt Nekkid.