A Little Bit of Soap and the Secret to a Good Headshot

A Big Life: Encouragement for People in the Arts –

Laurel Canyon Fryman Hike

A recent candid of me at Fryman Canyon by my friend Todd Breaugh

When I first arrived in New York as a young actress, I met a woman who had a leading part on the popular soap opera All My Children. She told me there was a new casting director on the show and that I should call ABC.  I shook in my shoes at the idea, but because I did so, I was called in to meet a dynamic newcomer who would later turn producer and win an EmmyStacey Raider was her name and she was rightfully appalled at my headshot, which did not reflect (I’m quoting her) the extent of my prettiness.  I didn’t have her eye and had been happy the established New York photographer I’d hired could make me look so grand in black and white.

Late Father Sam with Toy

My late father Sam with a favorite toy

Stacey didn’t need a photo of me once I walked in her door but of course I did.  And through the years with her voice in my ear, I kept trying to get the right shot. At the time black and white was the thing, but I had such unexpected coloring that people often exclaimed about it when we met.  There was no way that could capture my almost strawberry hair, my brown but nearly green eyes and an apricot complexion so odd I’ve only once found a shade of now retired Mary Kay foundation that came close.  So I decided to defy the convention of the time and blasted the industry with a candid color postcard.

Everyone called me in.

Dad shot with Brent Little by Lake

Me in a shot Dad did for an early composite

Of course, color wasn’t the only thing that got that photo a second glance: I looked endearing.  Most importantly, it looked like me.  Why?

Because the photographer adored me.

My family, friends and boyfriends always have taken my best photos.  Don’t get me wrong, these were photographers who were very good with faces.  My father’s favorite hobby was capturing people all over the world at their most authentic. He constantly talked with famed landscape photographer Christopher Burkett, who mentored him in using Cibachrome. If you have a photographer in your life who knows you reasonably well (or is at least in love with you), you have a much better chance to get a photo which makes people give you a call. There will be something about it that people like. And once you get a good shot (I’ve had three in my life) for heaven’s sake use it for as long you reasonably can–and by that I mean a few years. A nice little side perk to all of this is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money.

B & W Cropped

This backyard shot by Richard Skoonberg got me calls

Katie Bennett - Usual Headshot with name

My current shot by Chaz Gentry captures my coloring

The inglorious photo I took to All My Children that day didn’t stop Stacey from hiring me over and over again.   I did lots of little speaking parts on the show and worked several times a month as “background”.  I  was hired more than once as a reader for other actors who came in to audition and eventually got to

Katie 20s on boat

The infamous color postcard which got me in so many doors

audition for a contract role. Ultimately I nailed a nice little part in several episodes starring the celebrated actress, Juliet Mills. Guess who I played?

A role in the script described as “Sally the photographer”.

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3 Responses to A Little Bit of Soap and the Secret to a Good Headshot

  1. David Loftus says:

    So how come you didn’t show us any of the head shots you discussed here?

    I have an autographed copy of Burkett’s gorgeous collection _Intimations of Paradise_. Saw him speak in person at that photographic gallery that used to be down at SW First and Oak or Pine.

    • Katie Bennett says:

      Ha ha, so true. You are right…so I’ve switched out the photos. 1) One is my current one (see the header), 2) Two is by my friend Richard Skoonberg and is also posted in the article called “You Are Memorable 2″ at http://katiebennettstoryteller.com/?p=532 and 3) the infamous color shot which got me in so many doors in my 20s is locked away in my storage unit back in Ontario, Oregon. When I dig it up I’ll post it.

      Burkett also has a gallery in Cannon Beach. My dad and he cronied about a bit. I have tons of Dad’s photos, many just as good as Burkett’s. Dad deserved a show of his own but he did it all for love.

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