David Morgan and I have been competing for clients in the highly specialized world of headshot photography in New York City for almost 30 years. I first met David in the early 80’s when the headshot market was split between approximately 10 or so professionals, all shooting film, developing signature styles, all carving their niche in this extremely unique expertise. I don’t mind dating myself because I am proud that I have continued to evolve and work at perfecting a craft which has undergone seismic upheavals in technique and more style changes than Madonna. Whereas current photographers offer “unlimited clothing changes and unlimited captures” for a set price, David and I started in a world where the expense of film and development dictated that a session might consist of 72 exposures. The result of working within that restricted supply of shots was to develop a highly sensitive awareness of how and when to shoot. We relied on skill and technique, not sheer numbers of exposures and luck.
It was a surprise to get a call from David. We had seen each other at seminars where we both spoke about our approaches to creating strong, effective headshots, but there was always that begrudging respect and wariness of encountering direct competition. We were polite, but distant. Now, David was calling me as a client. David was feeling the pull of performing after years of concentrating solely on his photography career. David was initially an actor, not simply a struggling actor, he starred in the national tour of Pippin and even sang a solo at Leonard Bernstein’s 60’s birthday PBS tribute. Here is the last headshot David worked with..
and now, once again, David was hearing the siren song of the acting world. I took it as quite a compliment that David chose to call me to help him create his new image as an actor. And so we combined our energies to define his current look into the most cast-able and compelling images possible. It was an incredible experience for both of us. David brought not only his powerful presence but the result of years of working behind the camera to hone his awareness of how to interact with the camera. We collaborated on the lighting and technical aspects and I feel that our combined skills brought the shots to another level. Here are two of our favorite images…photographs that we are both proud of…
So, what did I learn from the experience of photographing a photographer? First, shooting a photographer made the session fun because we were able to trade war stories from the years of working in this crazy genre of the photography world. Second, uniting our vision and skills made for some powerful mojo to invest in David’s photos. I love seeing the difference in style evident by comparing the old shots and the new. A shout out goes out to my friend, David Morgan, and hopes that his new-old career takes off like a rocket!
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