Process of Headshots by Todd Estrin, Todd Estrin Photography

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My name is Todd Estrin. I am a photographer from Brooklyn, New York specializing in headshots for actors. Here is my process.

First off, I hate the word “headshots.” It immediately signals to the actor, “I am looking for a result. Time to be confident/dramatic/commercial/sexy.”& This is the opposite of what I am trying to do. In my sessions we explore, and through this exploration of self we find you. Not the “you” that you wished you were, but rather who you truly are.

Actors are constantly told who they need to be, who they look like, or what their essence is. This is all done in the name of getting work, but the big problem is that nobody can tell you who you are. You are perfect exactly the way you are. Let go of who you think you need to be and the world will fall in love with you.

This all sounds very seductive and romantic. Practically speaking, however, it all starts with a willingness to be seen. I define this willingness as a desire to have your inner life, in the present moment, seen. This means that if you feel sad, you explore that sadness. If you feel angry, you don't judge that anger; you walk directly into it. If you feel confident, you own that confidence. This is the start to exploring you.

Actors have trouble being seen for a multitude of reasons. However, when you stop judging how you feel and just walk into it, two incredible things happen:

  • You become extremely present, curious, and grounded in the moment. Nothing matters except what is happening right then in that moment between you, me, and the camera.
  • Your energy and state of being will transform. Sadness can turn into confidence; anger can become open heartedness. If you honor and respect where you are, if you can stop fighting with or judging yourself, you will find yourself in a new state of being. You can't be present and simultaneously hold onto moments at the same time. That just isn't how it works.
  • What does it mean to explore self? This might seem like a mystical, hippy-dippy question. There is an actual tangible way to do this, however, and it starts with the heart. The heart is the brain of your inner life. It will provide you with everything you need to be fully alive and authentic; you just need to listen. But how do you listen? Start with slowing down and allowing yourself to be curious. If I asked you to explore the word 'mother,' you might imagine your mother, you might even try to picture her in your head, and you may find yourself asking, “How do I feel about my mother?” This is not, however, what listening means. Listening is feeling into your heart and trusting whatever comes up.

    Maybe it's the smell of that specific rose perfume she always wore, or that memory of her making Thanksgiving dinner in your childhood home. Or maybe it is just a feeling of warmth in your body. This is your heart speaking. If you don't judge what comes up, your heart will provide the fuel that will bring you alive. So this work becomes a dance between a willingness to be seen and an exploration of self.

    During our time together, I will shoot roughly 1,500 to 2,000 pictures of you. Yes, that is a lot. I do this because you never know when we are going to find that one image where it all connects, all the stars align, and you are truly captured by the camera. The great news about shooting so much is that if we love only .5% of your photos that means that you will leave with six to eight beauties. Not a bad shoot. The point here is there will be a lot of bad pictures; let go of that need to nail them all. If you notice your mind is drifting, or you're feeling disconnected from your true self, that's okay. This is how exploring works. I don't want to see 2,000 shots of you trying to be perfect. What I want is just YOU: authentic, in whatever form that takes.

    A huge part of being authentic means letting go of who you think you are or how you want to look. I don't care how Robert Dinero expresses power, or Viola Davis' version of sorrow. Stop trying to do it how they do it. Take a chance, let go of how you think it should look and be the only thing that you can be: you. Authentic, spontaneous, and full of surprises. To quote the wonderfully inspiring Brene Brown: “Let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are.”

    I tell people that I am 10% photographer, 40% acting teacher, and 50% therapist. During our session together I will offer all kinds of techniques, exercises, and suggestions. These are all just different ways for you to explore self by using your body, your senses, and your heart. If you explore with those three things, I promise that you are going to be extremely happy with the results.

    I have discovered in my life that it is very easy to hide. I have also discovered that we all want to be seen. This work is very personal and important to me. I absolutely love what I do.

    If you'd like to schedule a session with me, please email me at [email protected]

    Todd Estrin Photo Todd Estrin Photography is a Brooklyn based Best Headshot Photographers specializing in working with actors. To experience simply being yourself in front of the camera contact theme at his website

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