We asked Paul Smith a few questions that will help us get an idea of who he is and what makes him click (pun intended).
You can learn a lot more about him from his website.
1.What is the most important thing an actor can do to prepare for a headshot session?
Do your internal work just like you would do on a set. I give my actors a little homework that helps them take them out of their head and into their gut. People put so much emphasis on attaining the perfect shot. It’s funny that a lot of people will bring in a snapshot or a facebook photo of them saying ” why can’t I capture that kind of energy in my head shot” . Well, it’s important for ME to capture that energy and for YOU to bring it in. It can be overwhelming for an actor because they are getting so much advice from their reps to their teachers to their peers. The important thing is to be yourself because it’s that that is going to set you apart from everyone else.
2. How would you describe your approach to shooting headshots?
It’s not rocket science. It’s capturing moments and creating a relaxed enough environment for my clients to come in and be themselves.
3. If you could photograph one actor, who would it be and why?
James Franco. Because that actor is not afraid to put himself out there. He does everything from Independent films to huge blockbusters to A day time soap. Seriously. He makes the best of what he is given and he wants to make money and more importantly, he wants to work. I am sure working with him would be a blast because he’s so malleable.
4. Describe your Best experience with a client. No names please.
I have best experiences every day. Everybody is different. Everybody has their own story. And I am lucky enough to get a glimpse inside their life for that day.
5. Describe your Worst experience with a client. No names please.
6. Describe your Strangest experience with a client. No names please.
5 and 6 together.: I had a client that didn’t want to be asked any questions and didn’t want me to talk to her at all. You could tell that she had spent hours practicing “faces” in the mirror and that is what she wanted to focus on. It made things feel so posed and unnatural and that’s not how I work. I couldn’t build a relationship with her in the short time I had her and felt I couldn’t capture genuine energy.
7. What is your favorite movie?
The Party. Peter Sellers is a genius.
8.What sets you apart from other photographers?
I think that when it comes to photographers, we are pretty much all in the same kind of family. We strive to get the right shots for people and we want our clients to walk away feeling great about themselves. I have been told that I have a great sense of humor that helps with the relaxation of the process. I also feel I find peoples faces fast so we can focus on the energy of the shoot.
9. Are there any other projects you are involved in that you’d like to share with us?
I am constantly trying to grow as an artist. I would love to start directing soon.