Inside the Mind of a Headshot Photographer, Part Deux

I recently had the pleasure of shooting headshots for Actor, Writer, Comedian – David Lee Nelson. David had a wide range of markets that he wanted to address with his headshots, from Legit/Film/Theater/TV work to Commercials, Stand-up Comedy, his work as a Playwright, and One-Man Performance Artist. You can see from his website that David has his fingers in many pies. I photographed David 4 years ago…

David Lee Nelson 2010

David Lee Nelson 2010

…and his career had blossomed into a multi-media extravaganza of acting and comedy.  He has worked as  Charleston’s PURE Theatre’s Playwright in Residence for Season 12. His play Folly Beach had its world premiere for PURE’s 2014 Summer Slam. Solo plays: Silence of Lucky, Status Update, The Elephant in My Closet. NYC acting: Stupid F**cking Bitch by Lucy Alibar (EST/Youngblood), Binge (Slant Theatre Project). Regional acting: Hamlet (Shakespeare Project); The Tempest, Arms and the Man, Merry Wives of Windsor (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), Much Ado About Nothing (Warehouse Theatre). Film/TV: Turn(AMC), Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (Sundance, MoMA). In 2013 David received a Young Alumnus Award from The College of Charleston School of the Arts. His solo play, Status Update, was named Best Touring Show of the 2010–2011 Dallas Theatre Season by the Dallas Theatre Critics Forum.

It’s apparent immediately that David has that perfect blend of leading man looks with an impish comedic persona, ala Paul Rudd, or Ben Stiller, throw in the intellect of David Steinberg!

So, David came with a bunch of clothes reflecting every market we planned to capture. When he signed up for the session, I sent him a confirmation email with a breakdown of types we would shoot and suggested wardrobe. I also suggested that he come with three days scruff of beard to start off the session with, since that is his standard everyday look. We planned to shave part way through the session, to add to the variety of looks.

My original thought was to keep the lighting simple and unrestrictive, so David would have room to play and express himself.  He took the ball and ran with it, delivering shot after shot of charming, playful, but handsome looks…I like the results because the focus is David’s personality – smart, urban, and brimming with wit!  These shots could work for the Commercial Business Market, millennial Art Director, Creative types.  And these shots would also work for Film or TV roles…  The white background evokes that clean, current Apple Computer vibe.

David-Lee-Nelson-20141208_0142ret David-Lee-Nelson-20141208_0119ret





























Next, we wanted to get some shots that would express a younger, sexier, rebel.  David shaved for these shots to bring his age-range down a click.  These shots would represent David for anti-hero romantic leads…














And now that he was clean shaven, we could work on some pop-culture, casual commercial shots, geared to snagging David a nice juicy all-american guy next door role…  I began working with a more even, soft light to give a vibrant upbeat feeling to the shots.

David-Lee-Nelson-20141208_0186ret David-Lee-Nelson-20141208_0207ret













































And finally we needed to capture some Promotional shots to use in print or web articles about David as a writer, playwright or comic.  We wanted these to be quirky, smart, and current, out of the standard headshot mold.  I chose to shoot these with a slightly wide angle lens and more of a portrait feel…


David-Lee-Nelson-20141208_0336retv David-Lee-Nelson-20141208_0315retv

























David left with a full complement of tools for all aspects of his multi-faceted career.  And I left with a feeling of accomplishment.  My job was done today.  We’ll see what tomorrow holds…

Like this post? Why not share it with a friend?