Updated: Mar 1, 2021
Atlanta Film and TV was fortunate to have a second conversation with one of the top headshot photographers in the Southeast for talent, Tracy Page.
Tracy specializes in working with actors both children and teen’s in Atlanta. She is one of the preferred vendors for headshots for the best Southeastern agencies including names like J. Pervis Talent, Houghton Talent, The People Store, Atlanta Models and Talent, and East Coast Talent.
Some of her clients include Chandler Riggs of The Walking Dead. Willie Buie from Disney’s Bunk’d, Kai Ture who plays a younger Star from the Hate U Give, Navia Robinson from Raven’s Home, and Kyleigh Curran from Doctor Sleep - and the list goes on!
Atlanta Film and TV: We last spoke to you back in April 2019. Can you share with us what has changed in your career since then?
Tracy Page: "COVID has changed a lot of stuff in my career. I was traveling a lot across the country speaking and going to conferences with other photographers, speaking on headshots and trends. That is now, a lot of Zoom presentations."
Tracy talks to us about some of the new protocols and practices she’s had to make in-studio:
“The other thing that’s changed is how we work at the studio. I can’t work with as many customers during the day, because we have to not have as many people in the space, because it has to be safe for everybody. And my clients, - except when they’re in front of my camera, everyone is masked. We are either outside or in an open space when we’re shooting because they are unmasked and we have to be safe. And, I’m in a super-duper-heavy mask, because I’m working with somebody, and in most cases, is usually unmasked. I also don’t let whole families come into the studio, if it’s a child, it’s only a child and one parent, and if it’s an adult, it’s just the adult. Another thing is, I’ve had to switch to a longer lens, and it gives me a little more distance from my client. We’ve had a little more training on the client and agent side because we had to prep them because you’ll see more in the image and it won’t be the tight head and shoulders that they’re used to. We have to crop that in-post because we do have to give ourselves more space and we can’t be as on top of our clients as I was before.”
- Tracy Page
Tracy takes us on her journey of how she began her career in professional photography, to now being one of the most sought-after headshot photographers in the southeast. She also talks about when her kids were in the business,
“When my kids were in the business, there were not a lot of headshot photographers in Georgia because we didn’t have a market. The busier my kids got the more pressure I was getting to get headshots and the headshot photographers that were here at the time didn’t have studios because they would go to your home, or they would meet you somewhere. At the time, I lived in Rome, GA, and there was a headshot photographer who did not want to meet me there. At that time, my child had come close to booking a major role, and she had managers and casting directors calling and asking for headshots, and we had nothing. A friend of mine (who is now a major agent,) said ‘you just take the pictures.’ And, I said, ‘no. I am really going to get into trouble because I’m a mommy photographer.’ Finally, out of desperation, I took 1200 photographs of my daughter, and I made 4x6 prints that cost me a fortune. And, my friend went through them and narrowed them down to 40. And, we sent a package of forty prints to her agency, who emailed me and asked me ‘who had done the shots?’ I didn’t answer, because I figured I was about to be lectured! The agency actually called me, and said ‘please tell us who did these shots?’ I didn’t say anything directly, and they said ‘did you take these pictures?’ And, I said, ‘I’m busted.’ The agency said, ‘Our top photographers in the market, have moved to LA, and, we don’t have anybody shooting, if we train you, we would teach you exactly what we want, would you be interested in doing this for a living?’ As our market grew in Atlanta, and we became a major market, I was growing along with them, and helping the actors get in the door, and our goal was to give the actors that competitiveness."
Tracy shares with us a conversation she had with legendary acting coach Sam Christensen, asking if she could,
‘pick his brain on what the trends were in LA, to be sure I’m staying within the industry trends.’
To which he replies,
‘you don’t have to pick my brain on what the trends are because you are the trend!
That cemented for me all of that hard work and trying to make sure our clients were competitive with their headshots had actually worked and paid off. Now, I have this confidence that when I do headshots for somebody there is not going to be any difference between the competitiveness of an LA headshot vs. the competitiveness of my Atlanta headshots. My goal was to level the playing field and help our whole market of actors rise and be competitive. This speaks to elevation in that people from LA follow me. They send me questions, and they hear me speak. Before COVID I spoke in Oklahoma, Oregon, and New York. I spoke to New York photographers on how to shoot a headshot! I love it when I get an email from an LA photographer, saying ‘hey! How did you do this’ or, ‘what is the trend?’ Right now, we have leveled the playing field, and it's a spectacular thing to be a part of!”
Atlanta Film and TV: In an interview with Voyage ATL, you stated that you were mocked by other photographers as one of the new-breed females breaking into the business for extra income. Can you share a little about that with us, including how you overcame it? And, what advice would you have for someone who wants to switch careers to pursue photography?
Tracy Page: This was a hard period of my life when I decided to become a photographer. I’ve always felt incumbent on myself to become the knowledgeable expert on whatever it is I’m doing. And, because of that, I think that’s the secret sauce to success. And, whatever I’ve done career-wise, I’ve been able to do successfully. I almost obsessively try to learn everything there is about that career. What I ran into was the resistance and resentment from those who came before me. Rather than lifting and pulling me up, and helping to teach and educate me. Not because of who I am, I was able to find people who mentored me. I feel incredibly fortunate for the men and women who mentored me, so I have this strive to mentor other people. But, I realized I was rare. There were a lot of people who ran into the resistance and resentment and just stopped, or shutdown. I don’t think at that point there were a lot of females breaking the glass ceilings. Even now, at the upper echelons of the industry, there are more females but, they're still not as many. I think we all know each other because we’re more visible, because a lot of the camera companies and big sponsors have wanted to put us front and center, and not be so male-centric. But there still aren’t a lot of us. Even less so, on the African-American, Asian, the minority groups - when you get beyond women. It’s been hard to break the glass ceilings as a female, and I think even harder for minorities. I get questions a lot from companies looking to put new photographers out there - women or African-American and Asian women who aren’t sponsored yet.
"In order for the men to start respecting me (instead of disrespecting me) I had to be able to express that I could talk the talk and not just walk the walk. I think that there’s an assumption that women can be creative, but not technical, and we have to be both. We have to be able to do so much more than a man in the same career field because we have to prove to them that we’re worthy. I don’t have to prove that to my customers, and thankfully the actors, agents, casting directors, and producers have always trusted me. But, where I did have to prove that was among my photographic peers. And, now of course I am a sponsored speaker and ambassador for a large company, and for a while, I felt like I had to prove that to those audiences. Fortunately, my clients don’t care that I’m a Master Photographer, - that’s a photography industry thing. I guess it just depends on the barriers you’re trying to break."
- Tracy Page
Atlanta Film and TV: COVID has brought about a paradigm shift over the past year, and technology is being used in the entertainment industry in ways we hadn’t imagined before. Due to how content is now being created, produced, and distributed, in your opinion, how is this advantageous for those in the film and television industry?
Tracy Page: "We have an advantage in Atlanta that they didn’t have in New York or in LA, we were already auditioning by tape, and they were auditioning in person. Now, all of our auditions are by tape or Zoom. We have an advantage because we already knew how to do this. But, now we need to get better at it because it’s not going away. It’s a COVID protocol, but, industry-wide what I’m hearing is auditioning in-person, we’re not going back to that. They are going to be on-tape, and on Zoom from here on out. I still think we’ll start doing chemistry tests again in-person, but, for the initial stages, we’re using technology."
Tracy’s advice to actors is,
"The paradigm shift that I’m seeing is that this is not going away. This is the way it’s going to be, not just the way it is now, and we should step up our game, and be more prepared to do this in a more professional manner. Get a more professional camera, audio, light; let’s not buy the three-light kit from eBay or Amazon. You should buy the real light that you need to do it correctly the first time and every time, and take the guessing game out of it. We want to elevate our Atlanta market even more, and let's learn how to really self-tape, and how to do a Zoom table read, or a second callback, correctly lit, with correct audio, so that everybody sounds good. Personally, I want our A-list actors to be here in Georgia, and us to be the A-list market."
Atlanta Film and TV: If I could travel back in time and interview 18-year-old Tracy, and tell her all the things she’d become, what would you least likely to believe to be true?
Tracy Page: "That I would be a photographer because I didn’t think photography was a real artist medium. If I couldn’t do it with my hands and create the light on somebody’s face, or create their nose or eyes, I just thought photography was cheating. I didn’t realize how complicating and fulfilling photography would be for me. If you had told me that not only would I be a photographer, but an internationally known photographer, I probably would’ve laughed. Because I thought I was going to be an illustrator and work for Coca-Cola."
Atlanta Film and TV: How important is networking and building relationships in the Atlanta Film and Television Industry? And, can you share with us what resources you’ve recently used?
Tracy Page: Networking in any industry is important. Networking and developing relationships are such a huge tool, and if you’re not doing that, then you need to.
When networking, Tracy says to be "thoughtful, insightful, and intuitive. Don’t put in your personal stories. Use your virtual opportunities to start interacting and don’t let the pandemic shut you down."
Atlanta Film and TV: What’s ahead for you?
Tracy Page: "I’m focused on getting people back to work, continuing to set the trends, and, I’m pushing myself to not being comfortable with what I’m doing, but pushing boundaries. At the same time, I am trying to remember to stop and listen to my clients, so that I don’t get so ahead of myself, that I’m not delivering what they need."
For our Part I, of our conversation, click here.
And, for Part II, click here.