I was so incredibly excited and scared for this blog. I'm getting ready for another headshot session. So this gives me a chance to show you all these proofs from my last headshot session with Brian McConkey. Looking at them this morning, I kept hearing the voice in my head say, "Who do you think you are? Why are you showing everyone these terrible pictures? Are you really going to show "The Maker" pose?" But if there is one thing I love about this blog - it's an outlet to do scary things. It's lets me really put myself out there. So, YES, voice in my head - I have every right to show these pictures. (They made me laugh this morning as I was looking at them.)
And with every headshot session, there are certain things that every actor has to align. From clothes to haircuts to a photographer. How do I choose the right photographer (I went with Chris Popio)? Do they use natural light? When do I need to shave so that I have just the right amount of stubble?
All these things are ways for me to avoid the actual joy of the upcoming photo shoot. I love to obsess over details. Trying to perfectly lay it out. But where is the room to breathe? Or grow? Or have Fun?
So these are 5 things that have been in the forefront of my thinking. That I am hoping, if I turn over, I can also release them to the universe - and go have Fun in the photo shoot!
I watch a lot of professional cycling. And when the cyclist has reached the outer limits of their bodies, their faces go from relaxed concentration to mutated agony. They call it Pulling Faces.
Pulling Faces for me, looks like this. I am standing on a corner and I jump into this imaginary photo shoot in my head. I tell myself that if I tilt my head, relax my eyes and half smirk - it will be the best headshot ever! Or I'll be in the car and catch myself in the rearview - intense eyes, hair slightly messy, sunlight in the stubble - Golden! I create all these looks that I think be will what "they" want.
But Pulling Faces, doesn't include Chris and his camera. It doesn't include our relationship. So what can I do to just show up as me? Maybe first I could leave my ego outside. Trust that Chris is the person perfect for me, to see Me. Believe that I am enough. That seems the most powerful and scary - That I am enough. Not any certain head tilt or eye gaze is going to perfectly embody me - just me being me is going to embody Me.
Allowing myself to purchase clothes this round, instead of just going to the thrift store was a huge step for me. Mind you, I still have the tags on the clothes. But to give myself permission to buy new clothes for the photo shoot was a huge step in progress.
I also had a plan. I got outside help from Marie P Anderson of Agency Galatea, who had given me a list of colors and styles to work with. And talking with Chris during our consultation also helped. Plus I bookended the purchases of the clothes with my friend Jimmy, calling him before and after. So I could leave the shame outside in the parking lot. The voices that told me that I can't afford this - even though the money was there. I took in a lot of help. In the past, I have even had someone with me as We shopped (Thanks Dawn!!).
Get support! Take the support! Leave the voices in the car.
Mirrors. Mirrors. Mirrors. My mind is a little crooked around my body image. One moment I can look at myself in the mirror and see a healthy stomach. The next I have let my stomach grow into a huge mound. My arms go from flabby to toned to skinny in a blink of an eye. My face is retaining water - to my face is red and veiny - to my face is a wrinkled scarf.
What is the truth? Who do I believe? If I was to go to someone and ask them to tell me the truth of what they see: I seriously doubt I could hear their description of what they said, unless it was that I was fat and out of shape.
If I have learned anything over the last few years and hours and hours of therapy - is to not listen to those voices. It's not true. So what can I do in my lead up to the photo shoot? Not look in the mirror? OR - what about exploring the gentle voice of love and compassion? That maybe my body is exactly what casting directors are looking for! That this is a HEADshot not a BODYshot. That however I show up is exactly right for this time and place.
What haircut do I want to have for the next two years? If I cut my hair this way, will it be versatile enough? Is this haircut me?
What is fascinating to me, is that as an actor I want to be seen. I want people to notice me. I want to be the center of attention. But what counters that is the desire to hide. To blend into the background. To be invisible. To be small. It's a war inside my head. I also recognize from experience, that as soon as the headshots are done, I will feel "trapped" into this haircut for awhile. I just tell those voices - thank you for sharing.
Instead of listening to my thoughts, I put my haircut into other people's hands. Marie and I discussed an All-American look. We found pictures. I sent those pictures to Ludwig - my hair stylist. Then I try to let go. I cut my hair seven days before the shoot. All I need to do is show up to the shoot with clean hair and let the rest just happen.
The day of the shoot - this Friday - I plan on going for a long run that morning. My game plan is to come in a little tired physically. My theory is that it will relax me. That I will get out of the way. Using that cool running buzz to just chill my way into the session. I know that I will have enough nervousness and excitement and coffee running in my veins. I also plan on writing out some affirmations for myself. Part of my inside work. Just reaffirming the progress I am making with my acting career in getting new headshots. And then - Just Show Up! Be Me! Have fun! Dance! Laugh! and interact with where my life is taking me.
Ryan David Heywood is an actor and writer and the creator of the The Self-Loved Actor Workshop.