First professional headshot booking in the records at 18 years old, whoop!
For the last few months I’ve been able to walk over to JDP’s studio after school in hopes of not only discovering the life of a photographer, but also how to find something you’re passionate about and turn that into a career. I’ve been essentially shadowing him when he’s in his creative realm, and it’s been pivotal in my journey of possibly pursuing my dream of becoming a photographer after college. Quite frankly, my apprenticeship with JDP is one of the coolest, most dynamic things going on in my life in regards to me finding myself as a person. I picture myself having a life of free will and the ability to create as I please and being able to work with JDP has added an avenue for me to be able to do just that. I’ve come to truly look forward to getting a text from him right before lunch time, asking me if I can come to the studio and learn a new technique or try out some cool lighting concept he’s been working on. Those end up being the best lunches.
“Quite frankly, my apprenticeship with JDP is one of the coolest, most dynamic things going on in my life in regards to me finding myself as a person.”
Since my apprenticeship began about 5 months ago, I’ve been mentally and physically gaining the experience it takes in order to become a full time photographer. The bigger skills from lighting and how to set up a professional shoot, all the way down to what computer hard drives work the best. Over the course of these last months, I’ve been on site at JDP’s photoshoots, taken the headshots of numerous Noble 201 students, witnessed the behind the scenes of planning a shoot, and studied numerous photographers in which my mentor, JDP, has been inspired by. I’ve learned just about as much from shadowing him as my senior year of high school thus far — interesting dynamic, right? If only I could work in this realm everyday… I couldn’t imagine how much service I could be providing, but alas school isn’t going to do itself.
Early in my apprenticeship, I was offered the opportunity to book my first professional headshot session with creative sensation, Dan Ndombe, also known as Dan Newbie on YouTube, where he makes music videos using household goods, like wine glasses, pots, pans, bottles, and rubber bands.
This journey of gearing up for taking Mr. Dan Ndombe’s headshot has finally come to an end, and I couldn’t be more proud of the experience. Dan, a simple pleasure to work with, was the ideal subject to test my newly developed skills, while also providing him with a service and product — a headshot — he can use in the upcoming future for his website, speaking engagement, social channels, and so forth.
Our headshot session took place in late February at JDP’s studio, during one of those lunch periods I look forward to. JDP and I portrayed Dan in the light of being approachable yet professional, much like he is in day-to-day life. Prior to the shoot, we had a consultation meeting, in which he expressed his trust in us with his personal image and simply wanted us to do as we felt to portray him in the best light possible. To have that amount of trust put into me was huge for my first shoot, and I really appreciated Dan for it.
When it came time for the actual shoot to begin, Dan walked in and I could tell by the look on his face he was excited to have his headshot taken; he kept that same energy the entire shoot. From the first shot, he bought into and thrived in the atmosphere we made sure to set, cracking jokes and making conversation the duration of the shoot. I kept in mind the little things JDP taught me and things I read in the book he recommended me, “The Headshot” by his good friend, Mr. Peter Hurley. Throughout the shoot, I was thinking about everything from posture, positioning, and angles to expression and major desirables — they all played a major role, as did me understanding what needs to be changed from shot to shot. The one-stop-shop on how to effectively capture someone’s essence, “The Headshot” is a must read for any up-and-coming photographer who wants to learn about a world focused on facial perception.
After about 30 shots of JDP and me alternating to provide perspective of what to look for during the process, we felt like we captured the Dan we had been catching glimpses of from shot to shot. He was all there: The gentle smile, confident eyes, razor sharp clothes, and kind demeanor. It was a rush of euphoria to be able to step back and look at the picture on the tethered laptop next to me and say, “Yup, there he is. That’s it.”
Even surpassing that, was the feeling I felt when I swiveled the laptop to let Dan see it and watched his face crack a big grin and say, “Man, you guys are good.” It was music to my ears, and I simply couldn’t stop grinning.
It was beyond rewarding to have the opportunity to do something I thoroughly love doing during a given lunch period, but it’s icing on the cake to be paid for providing a service due to your artistic ability. I could work in a studio everyday at lunch and wouldn’t miss a single burger because of it.