IN FOCUS: Spotlight on Headshot Photographer Brad Buckman

We asked Brad Buckman 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?

Take time to reflect on who you are, and who you want to be, as an actor. Focus on the uniqueness you can bring to each role, and think about any exercise that will help you express yourself during your session: develop thoughts to internalize, or lines to deliver if that helps. Talk to your representation and coaches. When you’re prepared, you’ll be looser and more free to have fun during your shoot. Make playlists of your own music to really make the session your own. Yes, dancing is allowed. Additionally, be healthy (hydrate, exercise, rest). Get your hair cut and styled to match your character types, and choose wardrobe that flatters and puts the focus on YOU.

2. How would you describe your approach to shooting headshots?

Each shoot is a unique collaboration, and my approach is very easy and conversational. Rather than fit you into a generic mold, I work to capture what’s authentic about you. Many actors arrive a bit anxious about being photographed, and we love it at the end of the session when they tell us they had a great time here. The key to the session is putting an actor at ease, to help them feel safe expressing themselves. Often we’ll be joking around, and a client will ask if we’ve ‘started’ yet, and we’ve already captured some great pictures. Clients appreciate that I direct them through the shoot, while encouraging them to try whatever strikes them in the moment.

3. If you could photograph one actor, who would it be and why?

I was fortunate to shoot the WME Oscar Party this year, so it was wild getting to talk to and photograph so many of today’s top actors in one evening. Stepping back, I would have enjoyed photographing James Dean, not just for his enigmatic qualities, but also because he was passionate about photography. Despite his brooding persona, he was surprisingly playful in front of the camera. He fancied himself quite the photographer, and would often turn the camera on his friends like Martin Landau and photographer Roy Schatt. I’ve spent time in Roy’s apartment in New York and have gotten a rare glimpse at his negatives, vintage prints, and the twin lens Rolleiflex cameras that both he and James used to create some classic portraits. Just being in that space was surreal, and then it turns out that James and I have the same birthday.

4. Describe your Best experience with a client.  No names please.

The best experience is always when the person you are photographing is genuine and expressive. You can feel that energy and connection, and you both enjoy the collaboration. It is also great when they get you free tickets to Disneyland.

5. Describe your Worst experience with a client.  No names please.

My worst experience relates to the story I hear from a new client almost every week these days. These actors tell me, “A friend offered to do my pictures free, and I figured if we shot 400 pictures, there’d have to be a good one.” But no. “So then a guy in my acting class said he’d do my pictures for $100, so I tried that. I posted a couple of the shots online but they didn’t get a response.” I’m constantly seeing actors waste months, if not years of their lives as actors, simply because they’re trying to save a few dollars on their photographs, tools that are vital to their career.

6. Describe your Strangest experience with a client.  No names please.

Anyone who has photographed thousands of people will certainly have some adventures along the way. Strangest experience for me gets a three-way tie between the guy with the stitches, the crying woman, and the serial killer.

7. What is your favorite movie?

“Shawshank Redemption” is the first that comes to mind, but the idea of a ‘favorite’ for me is a little crazy. I’ve always loved movies, from classics to action to anything Paul Rudd wants to do.

8. What sets you apart from other photographers?

The best feedback we get from casting directors is that when they see my pictures, they really have a sense of the person who is going to walk through the door. The ability to consistently capture that essence is the most important thing I have to offer as a portrait photographer. Working with actors for 14 years, I value their trust, and love that I get to help them succeed in their careers. Also, I’ve been shooting digitally since 1999 and have a strong understanding of cameras and computers. I was Argentum’s first digital photographer, and spent many late nights with Ajay developing an entirely new process for the industry.

9. Are there any other projects you are involved in that you’d like to share with us?

My fine art photography has been featured in five exhibits so far this year, including a show at Arclight Hollywood, and a current display at Boulevard in Palm Springs. Closer to home, we’ve got an awesome 2-year-old boy and a beautiful 6-month-old girl who keep my wife and I entertained and inspired.

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As actors you have one opportunity to make a first impression. It is a lot like online dating. If you send out a picture that is great but doesn't look like you, your date (casting) is gonna be disappointed. You won't get a second chance. But if you are able to capture your personality and the strongest aspects of your talents in that one frame, you'll find that there are a lot of people out there looking for someone just like you. SO, this blog is dedicated to getting you more dates, or rather auditions. We leave your actual dating life up to you. With over 30 years of experience in the photography and headshot business, I will keep you posted on the business of acting with an emphasis on photos.

5 thoughts on “IN FOCUS: Spotlight on Headshot Photographer Brad Buckman

  1. Loved this article. Very informative. I’ve shot with Brad twice & will be shooting with him again soon. He’s great at capturing who you really are & it comes across in the photos.

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