A Celebrity-Headshot Photographer Shares What the Position Is Like

Barbara Merkley
  • Matt Stasi is a movie star-headshot photographer who started his occupation as an actor in Los Angeles.
  • He selected his market due to the fact he realized it was rewarding and found customers by presenting cost-free sessions.
  • His clientele say he strikes up a rapport and actually listens to them, which makes for a terrific photo.

Matt Stasi arrived in Hollywood in 1998 as a 21-calendar year-previous aspiring actor, obtaining driven with his dad cross-region from Oelwein, Iowa. “We argued the entire way,” Stasi, now 43, explained to Insider. “Standard father-son things about the radio remaining way too loud, the place to eat, and driving far too speedy.” But when his dad may perhaps not have favored his driving, he supported his desire.

Soon just after arriving, Stasi bunked with other actors, which include Octavia Spencer, who was just finding her commence as effectively. Spencer experienced currently been living in the condominium when he moved in, Stasi reported, and he listened to about an opening from a buddy. He compensated rent the way lots of actors do: waiting around tables, a ability he uncovered from his father, who was an Italian immigrant and owned a 400-seat cafe.

The youngest of five youngsters, Stasi claimed he caught the performing bug in faculty exactly where he was in faculty performs. “I normally cherished the theater, but I needed to attempt Hollywood,” he reported. About the future 15 decades, he labored on the Television demonstrate “CSI: Miami” and in movies like “The Waterhole.” His initial starring role in a movie was in a “truly horrible horror film,” he reported, called “Asylum of the Damned.”

By the late 2000s, he explained, he turned restless and started pondering about trying pictures. In 2010, he officially opened Stasi Pictures in an LA Arts District loft. Here’s how he moved from in entrance of the digital camera to powering it and created a enjoyable vocation for himself.

Switching career paths

headshot of Bylle Stasi

Stasi’s headshot of Bylle Stasi, his wife.

Matt Stasi

Stasi credits his wife, Bylle, for supporting him from the start. “She instructed me to prevent conversing, go buy a digicam, and see what comes about.” His mom, 1 of the numerous potent women he credits with guiding him through tough spots, served him purchase a secondhand Canon. “I went to the College of YouTube. And I acquired out and took a million photographs, experimenting with lights and composition,” he reported. 

He realized from friends in the organization that having headshots for actors, styles, and other creatives could be lucrative. He went following that enterprise and promoted himself by presenting free sessions, getting the phrase out with notices in the trade papers, and pitching supervisors and brokers. It worked.

Due to the fact then, he reported, much of his company has arrive from customer suggestions. “My perform is amazingly imaginative and satisfying,” Stasi claimed. “I have the gain of comprehension actors considering that I might been 1.”

Producing the client sense at simplicity on a shoot

headshot of Paul Anthony outside

Stasi’s headshot of Paul Anthony.

Matt Stasi

Purchasers can pick out in between various offers when working with Stasi, depending on how several seems to be they want. Classes start out at $600 — a cost he set, he said, to make his work competitive — but pricing relies upon on the client’s needs, which may possibly include things like wardrobe, props, and a freelance make-up artist.

headshot of Bronson Pinchot

Stasi’s headshot of Bronson Pinchot from “Best Strangers.”

Matt Stasi

Administrators, agents, and their clientele give Stasi rave assessments on social media, which include the actor Bronson Pinchot, who performed Balki Bartokomous in the ABC sitcom “Excellent Strangers.” “Matt belongs to the small fraction of all photographers in the earth who strike up a rapport,” Pinchot informed Insider through email. “And then just record that rapport.”

It really is not just charm that sells clients on Stasi’s get the job done. Stasi does a lot of prep work to get interaction likely. He reads about each consumer and looks at films and pictures to get a perception of their profession. “I have an knowing right before I meet them,” Stasi reported.

Virtually all clients are nervous when they get there at the studio or spot, he said. “Some are made use of to it, but even they’re nonetheless a tiny on edge,” Stasi said. To support them relax, he starts with a playlist he’s curated for every single specific. He won’t shoot a frame right up until they have gotten to know 1 a different, talked about what the client’s imagining, and he’s asked what their requires are.

“I want to know the subject matter,” Stasi stated. “I imagine that is what would make my do the job various. I’m looking for a thing.”

As the 3- to 4-hour session moves alongside, Stasi reported he finds his movement point out, seeking for that “minor spark that will come when they get started savoring them selves, when we’re working jointly to get the photo, when we’re speaking.” His arresting portraits of the deaf actor Troy Kotsur, taken just before he won the 2022 Oscar for Ideal Supporting Actor for “Coda,” resemble the pics taken in Appalachia during the Melancholy. “I like a very little edge, a minor dirt, if it is really appropriate,” Stasi reported, who’s acknowledged for cinematic lights. “I want an impression that reveals the particular person. Of course, they participate in a position, but their individual humanity is there.”


black and white headshot of Troy Kotsur

Stasi’s headshot of Troy Kotsur.

Matt Stasi

Performing the hard work

headshot of Troy Katsura

Stasi’s headshot of Troy Katsura.

Matt Stasi

Following Stasi shoots countless numbers of photographs of the asked for seems to be, poses, and outfits, he edits them and sends a variety from which the client picks. The actor Makeda Tene explained to Insider she was intrigued by the artistry of Stasi’s perform and scheduled a session for her son, 8-yr-aged Innocent Ekakitie. She was thrilled when Harmless booked two nationwide commercials from all those shots, but her son was most energized by the Snickers bar Matt gave him. 

“Anyone who would like to do this 1st has to get the job done challenging at the art of pictures, continuously understanding and working towards,” Stasi said. And they need to have a tendency to company. “Get your work out there,” he explained. “Satisfy as numerous persons as you can and enable them know about your expert services. You may have to do aspect jobs at 1st, but hang in there.” And continue to keep a stash of Snickers bars on hand, he included, just in case.

Do you get the job done with famous people and want to share your story? Email Lauryn Haas at [email protected].

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