Jake is the worst. Well, not really.

Congratulations to Jake Lange for winning my second “Worst Headshot” competition.
Jake and I will be shooting shortly, and with his permission, I’ll post the results.

I’d like to thank everyone for submitting, and repeat my appreciation for everyone who took the time out to share their photos and their stories.  It just goes to show that there are a lot of reasons why people don’t get professional headshots.  And trust me… we understand.

The SECOND Worst Headshot Contest

[The first entries are already in]

A while back, a friend of mine gave me a great idea; hold a “worst” headshot contest.  Enlist performers to share the worst images that they’ve ever used at an audition along with their stories.  Then have people vote, and see what happens.  So I did.

And the result was amazing.

A performer named Richard Esteras came through with 181 votes.  We met, shot some great pictures of him, and he posted a few of his favorites to Facebook…. where he got noticed.  Since then, Richard has gone on to perform in almost a dozen independent movies.

Richard Esteras, understated

Richard Esteras, from our shoot

Now I need to point the obvious out: Just because I shoot you, it doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically end up getting cast in a dozen films.  However, I think that my track record of the past year is pretty darned good. A lot of people that I’ve shot have gotten noticed.

You still have to do the work. But it all starts with a great headshot.  So lets start a new contest. Send in any photo that you’ve used on an audition, or your worst headshot, and I’ll post it in the gallery.  Is there a story behind it that you’re willing to share?  Send me the story too.
I’ll post your picture within 24 hours.  Voting is ongoing.  At the end of February 2015, at midnight CST, the person with the most votes wins a free headshot session.

Its that simple.
Oh… and if you don’t win? I’ll send you a coupon for $75 off of the normal price of a headshot with me.

Not convinced yet? If you have your headshot taken by me before the end of February, pay me, and then get the most votes on your old headshot?  You not only get your money back, but you’ll get a small gift from me.  Cause that’s how I roll.

So show me how bad headshots can be.
(As if I haven’t seen already.)

Lou is about to be nationally known

Lou_7290This is Lou Leonardo.
I knew him for a little while when I had a chance to photograph him several years ago.  Since then, he’s been pretty much everywhere in the improv community.  I even had a couple of chances to perform with him.
He’s beyond a good guy. He’s the guy who brings the extra huge container of homemade guac to the party. He’s the one who greets everyone with a big hug. He is a proud nerd, an unabashed musical theater fan, and the first one to congratulate you when you get something big.

I’m telling you this because of this YouTube video that you’ll find online:

Lou will be featured in a number of commercials during this coming Super Bowl Sunday. I can’t tell you the details because, well, Lou can’t tell me the details. But just the fact that he’ll be featured in a national commercial during the Super Bowl is about the biggest news that I could share from a friend…. next to “congratulations on that Astronaut gig.”

Congratulations doesn’t seem like the right word.
This is beyond anything I could hope for you.

Signed: Kimberley Michelle Vaughn


Kimberley Michelle Vaughn

Last year, at Chicago’s Film & Media Expo, there was an interview with a number of casting agents and agencies.  When asked about the favorite aspect of their job, one woman immediately said that they get work for actors who are hungry for work.
I’m reminded of this recently because of an e-mail that was in my inbox.
Yes, it is cool to get to photograph a lot of different people. And yes, I’ve always known that its a great thing to get paid to do what you love… as I do.

But one thing makes it cooler: when you get that e-mail from someone that you recently photographed telling you that they’ve been signed to the Paonessa Talent Agency.

Am I personally responsible for Kimberley getting signed?

Of course not.  If you get the chance to meet her, you’ll understand as I do that she’s a driven professional who does her homework and works hard at the business end of show business.

But as her photographer, I had a small part in it.  As someone who is rooting for her, I’m extremely proud.

Continue to kill it, Kimberley.

Sometimes, the worst isn’t… well… the worst thing

Congratulations go out to Richard Esteras! Richard entered the “Worst Headshot” contest, and won!

He will no longer have to use this picture:

Richard Esteras

Richard, out with the old headshot…

I’ll be meeting with him soon to update this look. And as long as its cool with Richard, I’ll share the difference with you.


I photographed Brendan a while back.  If you don’t know, I normally retouch 1 image for every client, for free.  I didn’t realize that Brendan was using his image, unretouched, until I saw him on LinkedIn.  Quite naturally, I asked him which frame it was.

This is it with very minor retouching.

Brendan Stallings

Brendan Stallings

This picture made me happy for a lot of different reasons. But mostly because I thought that Brendan was a great guy, and I think I did him justice with this picture.
I also think he looks like he could be a future Dr. Who. But that’s just me.

Akilah’s Entry

(If you’re interested in entering the “Worst” photo-that-you-turned-in-as-a-headshot contest, click on the link in the banner, above.)


Akilah Perry

Akilah Perry

Took these as a college freshman and used it for any email submissions.

Thanks, Akilah, for sharing!
We’re now at the halfway point. Voting ends at the end of June.

Lynn and John’s entries…

If you want to enter the “worst” picture-you-ever-turned-in-as-a-headshot, contest, click on the link on the banner (above) for details.


Lynn Sciaraffa

Lynn Sciaraffa

Here is the worst headshot I ever sent in. It was for a Nutrisystem spokesperson spot. Needless to say I never even received a call to audition!


John Mobley

John Mobley

This was taken for the programs for a community college show. It was at an actual studio. I can’t recall the photographer’s name, nor would I want to, because as you know John, my hair is not red.

(Disclaimer: I know John, but will not be voting for him, in order to remain fair.)

Please vote for your favorite. And as always, I appreciate everyone who’s entered just to admit that it wasn’t their best day.

Scott’s entry…

Another entry into the “worst” headshot contest.  This one, by Scott.

If you’re interested in entering, go here to read the backstory and how to enter.
If you want to vote, click  “VOTE” on your favorite.


Scott Merchant

Scott Merchant

…I thought I’d throw in my awful headshot prior to 2007. This was what I used auditioning for community theatre in Colorado.

There is still time to enter.  The contest ends at the end of June.

More entries in the “Worst Headshot” contest

If you want to enter this contest, go to the original post and read through the rules.
All of the entries are in the gallery below. You can only vote once.

Jon Becker

Jon Becker

Jon Becker:

I took this “headshot” with a Palm Pilot’s built-in camera in a Kinko’s parking lot (immediately before printing it inside said Kinko’s) in Pleasant Hill, CA on the way to an audition for a short film in Santa Cruz. I somehow managed to land a part, but the production never happened. The quality is just mesmerizing.




This headshot was taken with a cell phone in the summer of 2008.

This contest ends at the end of June. So if you have an headshot that you kinda regret, there is still time to share it, and win a headshot in the process.