We asked Rena Durham a few questions that will help us get an idea of who she is and what makes her click (pun intended).
You can learn a lot more about her from her website.
What is the most important thing an actor can do to prepare for a headshot session?
It’s vitally important to know what your casting type is (what roles you are right for – truly right for), who they are as a person and how you want to market yourself and prepare for your session accordingly. I give my clients a headshot preparation assignment that helps them prepare for their session (identifying their casting types and what roles they are right for if they don’t already know). I recommend approaching your headshot session as if it were an acting job – get into the part, run lines in your head (come up with character phrases that you can say in your head as you shoot), what is your attitude on life and do the shoot AS the character. A headshot is so much more than a pretty picture…
How would you describe your approach to shooting headshots?
I like to get to know who I am shooting and provide a relaxed and comfortable environment where they can feel free to be themselves and almost in a way, forget that they are being photographed. I shoot utilizing natural lighting (at my home studio, as well as at times going to specific nearby outdoor locations depending on the look we are going for). I do have studio lighting capabilities but have found over the years that the beauty of natural lighting is so much more flattering than any artificial light. It also really draws attention to the eyes and really makes them pop. During our session, I make sure that we are on the same page as far as the look you are going for (who is this character, what is your view on life, character phrases, what is going on with this character right now) and then we play.
If you could photograph one actor, who would it be and why?
That is a tough one. I would have to say Johnny Depp. He is an amazingly talented actor and seems so completely down to earth.
Describe your Best experience with a client. No names please.
Each experience with a client is unique (as each person is unique) and I truly enjoy working with everyone (all ages). I love when I capture images that really represent who that person is and when I hear clients say (as I shoot lots and lots of kids and teens) “Wow! that’s the look they give me when they are being mischievous” or “That is totally them! It is SO hard to get a real smile”. I love the reactions I get from my clients and their agents, managers, etc. One of the most memorable experiences was when one of my clients’ managers told me that the headshot I took of their client was the deciding factor in them booking the lead on a series (They were unsure if this particular actor could pull off what was needed for the role and when the producers saw the headshot it sealed the deal). That was really exciting to hear.
Describe your Worst experience with a client. No names please.
The worst experience I have had with a client was actually a repeat client of mine. We did a 3 look session and he paid me by check (which at the time I accepted especially coming from someone I had worked with before). He even gave me an extra ‘tip’ added onto my session fees for running late. I processed the shoot and delivered all the images from his session only to have the check bounce. I tried to call him and e-mail him and he never would return my calls. I even went to his bank and they said he had no funds in his account. It was obvious that he purposely did it and it was quite upsetting.
Describe your Strangest experience with a client. No names please.
The most interesting and uncomfortable experience I have had with a client was when I photographed an older actress who talked about her sexual exploits with famous actors and musicians in detail the entire shoot. It was the first time I had ever met this woman and it was highly inappropriate. I also photographed a woman who came to the session completely shaken up and in tears (I’m still not sure why she was in the state she was). I offered to reschedule at a better time for her but she insisted on shooting and you can imagine the results.
What is your favorite movie?
Harry Potter (all of them – I don’t think I could pick just one!) I am an avid Harry Potter fan.
What sets you apart from other photographers?
I think what sets me apart from other photographers is that my images really pop! I get a lot of comments about the eyes really standing out in my images. I am really down to earth, relaxed and easy to work with. I am also an actor myself and know what to look for in a great headshot.
Are there any other projects you are involved in that you’d like to share with us?
I’ve been photographing teen celebrities for over a decade for publications worldwide and my goal is to shoots for Teen Vogue. I am now also in the process of pursuing commercial and editorial photography and have been developing my portfolio. I most recently photographed the SS12 Campaign for Fore! Axel and Hudson (a fabulous golf inspired boys clothing line) as well as editorials for La Petite and Babiekins kids fashion magazines. I would also like to share my episode of the FRAMED Show – http://www.framedshow.com/archives/1925 (I was featured for my celebrity work but this is a great avenue to get a feel for my personality and how I work).