Did I say…
February 9, 2010

…that I am playing the title role in the Hickory Community Theatre production of Gypsy? I don’t think I did.

Well, there you have it! We have been rehearsing for a few weeks and it is a blast. As usual, this is a great cast with a great director. I have also been having fun exploring Lousie (my character). She is made to look and act like a 10 year old well into her late teens and probably early 20’s, and being able to portray a young girl is actually fun! She has her own dreams and desires and pines for the unreachable boy.

And then she grows up. Quickly. There are a few scenes where I feel like the gap is bridged just a bit – like a foot bridge maybe. Or a log that someone laid across the gap. But it is clear where the full brunt of the transition takes place.

At any rate, I am enjoying being in the process again and excited to get on stage. Come see the show. You will enjoy it! And if you don’t, you can always come back here and leave me a nasty comment. 🙂

Photo Tip:

So in honor of the theatre, today’s photo tip is about headshots. A headshot (in the world of the theatrical artist) is an image designed to demonstrate the actor’s connection with the camera and, hence, the connection with the viewer. There are many schools of thought out there about headshots, so let me start with: this is mine. It may not be yours once you dig in and start shooting, but it’s what I like and what works for me and the actors that hire me.

It’s all about the eyes! The eyes staring down the barrel of your lens longingly, happily, seriously, whatever. That is where the focus should be. I like to shoot with a low f-stop to blur some of the hair, nose, shoulders, etc so those eyes are where you want to look. Now this, in itself, is tricky because you don’t want a whole blurry face with sharp eyes only. That will never do. Keep it real. 2.8 should do nicely.

I also like to over-expose just a hair. Do me a favor. Put your camera in Manual (don’t cringe, just do it), look into your viewfinder and press down the shutter halfway (like you would if you were focusing). Now look across the bottom. Not at what you are focusing on, but the bottom of the viewfinder itself. You will see something that looks like this:

This, my friends, is you light meter. The camera looks at your proposed shot while it focuses and tells you, based on all of your settings, what to set your exposure time to. Now this has a lot to do with HOW you are metering, but I am not going to get into that here.

You see that little block along the bottom? It moves to tell you how to adjust your exposure. Ideally, you should try to get it on the 0 in the middle. If you are to the left of the 0, you will likely have a picture that is too dark. To the right of the 0 and your image will be too bright.

So for headshots, I like to sit at about the second little mark to the right of the 0. Sometimes even at the 1 if my subject has darker skin. How do you get there? Adjust your exposure time to be a bit longer. This is something you will have to play with to be happy with.

There are many other things to consider when shooting headshots. This was just to get you started. In addition to camera settings, there are two main kinds of headshots: commercial and theatrical. Those are for another day, also, though.

Explore, make mistakes and find yourself. That is the great thing about taking pictures. There are many, many correct ways to do it. It’s art. It’s YOUR art. Create something you love.

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