I would like to continue my Q&A series with another fantastic and well known West End photographer Brandon Bishop. Brandon has been in the business for almost 30 years taking photos of top notch actors in a fun and relaxed environment. I’ve known personally of Brandon’s photography since University and are aware of many London and Northern based agencies that recommend his shots to clients. Through personal recommendation I would suggest ‘ABSOLUTELY’ get your shots done by him.
See below some striking examples of his work:
*Note – Brandon offers student rates for those who are training or are graduating which is a major plus for those still in Drama School*
Information on prices is available on his website HERE.
Top Left: Nina Touson White / Top Right: Chris Braizer / Bottom Left: Rowan Polonski / Bottom Right: Carl Welch
Brandon has taken the time to answer some general and random questions I have collected together below. Please read as it is extremely useful and insighful to Actors, Agents and Casting Directors. Brandon has been fantastic to speak to as well as his team member Carine. See below!
Instructions on Clothing: Do you provide the clients with any ‘heads up’ on what to wear?
Something that frames your face nicely, different faces suit different neck lines. Some suit a V neck and some suit round necks, some clients have long necks or round shoulders or bad posture, simple is usually better, and tops that don’t make you look bigger than you are. I.E. thin straps or lots of skin showing adds unnecessary weight to your self. If you have nice collar bones its nice to show them. I like a nice pair of collar bones… it makes my job easier.
In your opinion what do you think is best for a client to wear in a headshot? Colours, prints, solids, etc… – and is this based on their casting type?
I like the colours and slight patterns that suit their personality, something maybe to pull the colour out or compliment there eyes – clean and untidy neck lines. And old jumper or dress that has been given by grandad or an aunty really tends to work well for me. Urban, professional, hippy and simple bring everything your like yourself in.
From a casting point of view, a lot of actors have headshots that make them look glamorous but doesn’t look like them in everyday life or when they walk in the audition room. What kind of advice do you provide when the session is over in terms of picking the one?
This one pops all the time, even last week somebody put it into perspective. She said: “You can walk in and have the disappointment factor!”. Straight away you’ve had a wasted journey and you have lost the casting. If they think “Oh yeah really” then its over. It’s an honest photo that works, sometimes even an uglier or harder one.
Do you suggest for men to come unshaved & then do various shots after shaving?
Yes, unshaven is a best start for fellas no make-up for girls is a good place to start, for fellas it shows shape in there cheeks and jaw line, especially for the ones with rounded faces. It saves me trying to add shadow. Girls sometimes suit less make-up, some more. I get asked to reduce the amount of make-up on the the face in post-production, a couple of times a week.
For women do you suggest them to go with their natural hair or multiple hair looks?
Yes as many hair styles that suits you. Get as much out of a session as possible. Even if your agent doesn’t choose one from each of your looks, at least you have tried them. To much hair can over take the face. So it’s good to show variation and the shape of your face.
What is the average amount of shots you take in a session? Does this range on the client depending on how photogenic they may be?
Sometimes you get pictures in the first two or three frames. That’s when I’m testing the light and the actor isn’t trying (they look great). Soon as I say: “Yep I’m ready”. It can all go a bit wrong, people then over try and try to pose or then look worried and it doesn’t look as good. So I don’t usually say this anymore. But then a lot of people don’t get warmed up till the third change or so, so sometimes you get them to put the first top they wore on again at the end to see how they may have improved. So between 300 to 700 frames. Sometimes the light may improve towards the end of the session, so you must take more to take the best picture. As you no longer waste film, as it is all digital. Shutters on my camera have to be replaced once a year as they take a hammering.
Do clients still want B&W headshots or is this completely out of date? Do any artists desire landscape photographs (similar to US headshots) or is it all portrait in the UK?
Yep, some still want b/w, especially for programs at the theatre, they look more uniform with the other shots they have. And of course, for the spotlight that still print in bw. I have never asked to do a landscape for portrait. I know the US like that and also very flawless skin in the picture, but that work out there.
Do you do your shots inside or outside? What difference can this make for the client?
I prefer natural daylight for actors. I have lots of lights and flash heads and a big studio here, but I use my fire escape for my portraits. I love the light there (or big windows if you have them).
9.When you edit the final shots, what kind of edits to you do to the image?
The eyes must look right. It is the first thing we all look at. If these is not right we may as well give up. I try hard not to over do them all the time, as its easy to go to far and make them look to powerful, when there not.
What has been your favorite shoot to date?
I havent got one. Its a brilliant feeling when you here the pictures got them in the casting and they managed to get the job…so these become my favorite shoots.
Who would be your dream client to photograph?
Ray Winston or Kathy Burk, Scum was the first film I watched on VHS video so I would love to take their picture, although they don’t need my help at all. That would be brilliant.
And that is a wrap!Brandon you are fantastic and thank you for getting back in touch with me. I recommend him to any actor looking for some new shots and please find his details below. Prices etc listed on her website. Thanks again B&C!
Twitter: @ / Website: http://www.brandonbishopphotography.com/ (Make sure to stay tuned for 2 more exciting interviews this week) Hearts & Flowers, HCx #HEADSHOTS #ACTORS #CASTING #PHOTOGRAPHY #IWILLWORKFORELLEN #BrandonBishop