We had the good fortune of connecting with Jonathan Moore and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jonathan, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
My first few thoughts about the process of starting my own business came when my agency kept telling me to get new headshots to add to my casting sites. Anyone who is pursuing a career in acting especially in L.A. knows that you need headshots, and a few of them. They need to be dynamic, striking and most importantly tell a story. Well, headshots in LA can run up to $1600 and sometimes more if you add in a hair and make up team and pay for extra edits. You need a headshot that feels like your personality, a headshot that looks like it belongs in a drama, then a headshots that looks like you can sell insurance and the list goes on. It all really depends on your type and look. So when I heard that I needed all these headshots with different hairstyles, looks and essences. That would not only be submitted and pitched to different casting offices on the regular but be my calling card on a multitude of actor casting sites. I knew it was going to cost a lot of money. I had about 3 casting sites paying about $20 a month for an unlimited submission plan on each sites. Then in order to upload a headshot it cost about $10.00 per photo to upload. As well as uploading these headshots to not just one sites but all of them. Plus if you gain or loose weight, get a haircut or have facial hair, all of those characteristics need to be added in a new photo, so casting knows what you currently look like. So in order to be a contender for all of the possible roles to audition for, I knew I needed headshots. But in L.A. these photoshoots are not cheap.
So I decided that I would take my own headshots, and study the headshots of the actors that booked series regulars. I would watch a youtube tutorial a day for a few months and study how men and women model their body type for certain brands from hot and sexy to family-friendly. Even studying portrait photographers who give tips on lighting an actor for dramatic and commercial looks. So bought a camera, learned how to retouch photos and I would have fun shooting my own headshots, sometimes in natural light or in my apartment on my self tape backdrop. I would frame my head and body one photo at a time with a tripod and no remote to control the shutter. The process was slow and would take me days to perfect the professional looking headshot. But after a few shoots with myself, controlling the best lighting for my face, relaxing in front of the camera and telling a specific story with my eyes and expression. I sent my headshots to my agency and they couldn’t tell the difference between a headshot that I took in my apartment from a photographer who would charge 10x what I charge now for the same set up.
After I shared my headshots on social media, actors wanted me to take their headshots. Since I am an actor and a photographer I like to choose a day before the photo shoot to talk to the actor to see what story they want to tell on the day of their session with their looks. This way they come into the photoshoot feeling confident and both the actor and myself are on the same page with what lighting and environment is going to make them feel the best and help them book the job. In summary my thought process behind starting my own business came out of a creative necessity to save money and find an easier and more affordable way to create headshots with multiple looks that will help my agent and manager pitch me online.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
As a photographer that shoots theatrical and commercial headshots in Los Angeles. One huge fact that sets me apart from other headshot photographers is that my prices are reasonably priced for the actors that are starting from scratch. The actor that finds me on Instagram (@headshotsbyjmo) or from set is the actor that needs their first visual set up to begin uploading to LA Casting, Actors Access and Casting Frontier. The 3 prominent casting sites casting directors write character breakdowns for in Los Angeles. I specialize in setting that actor up with the type of looks that best suits their personality, a natural commercial looks that will appeal to buyers and a theatrical look that can get them in the door with finding an agent or manager that will work with them to get them auditions.
I am most excited about branching out into editorial photography. Since I have had many working actors come back to my studio and want editorial shots taken of them, because we all know that once you book a few Co-stars, guest stars or even a series regular under your belt. The sponsors and publicity team want to elevate your look from a character to an actor that can represent brands and magazine covers. So adding editorial shots to my portfolio is exciting for not just me but the actors. I love a creating a high fashion atmosphere just as much as actors love embodying a glamorous new look that helps promote their career.
I do not know everything there is to know about photography but in order to get to where I am today. I would suggest becoming a master at one skill at a time. Multi-tasking is great for tiny projects but when it comes to running a business in L.A. in a crowded market. I would watch one tutorial a day about your craft, take notes then put them into action. Day by day that is how you become a smarter business mogul and a competitive photographer in a targeted market.
I had to overcome a few challenges when starting my business as well as during and post pandemic. As a photographer that loves to spend time workshopping looks and types before and during the photoshoot that gives the actor a natural confidence in front of the camera. I have had to pivot and spend less time workshopping with the actor and moving that casting conversation over to zoom. As well as scheduling less actors to shoot per day, due to cleaning precautions of the studio equipment and change rooms.
Some lessons I learned along the way of becoming a professional photographer in Los Angeles, is to always credit people you work with. In a town that loves to take credit for other people’s hard work or doesn’t shine a light on the team that got a script, movie, series or photo the success it received. I love to highlight everyone who had anything to do with the end result of a photograph or image. Everyone down to the studio, make up artists, assistants, editors, freelancers and stylists are all artists that I don’t forget to thank or shamelessly promote. In a business that runs on connections, those are the people that you will see again and again on set, running productions and working in the studios.
What I would like the world to know about me is that I am not just a photographer, I am an actor and dancer as well. There are some days where I say I am just a photographer or an actor or even a dancer. But I think it is safe to say that I am an artist [Period}. Living in LA and pursuing anything in the entertainment field can feel scary and doubtful. Even to call yourself an artist means so many different things to so many different people. But all that matters is that you get up and create something everyday. An artist can act, dance, sing, do make up, take photos, cook, paint, write, direct, design and so much more. So if I could encourage anyone reading this, it would be to get comfortable with calling yourself an artist, because you are more than just what you do for a living. Even if what you do for a living is not your passion.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Okay best friend this is what is about to go down!
9:00am – Black owned Coffee shop in Inglewood called Hilltop Coffee and Kitchen.
(Bomb Food and excellent Coffee filled with excellent business owners and creatives on the grind.)
12:00pm – Sweet and Savory homestyle cooking in Larchmont Village at Lemonade. Then we can walk the short 3 blocks of shops, ice cream parlors and restaurants.
3:00pm – Nap 🌙
6:00pm – Dinner Reservations at The Butcher’s Daughter. Indoor or outdoor we come for the beach modern vibe but we stay for the vegan food.
8:30PM – Walk the streets of Abbot Kinney looking dressed to the 9’s.
8:00am – Griffith Park Observatory Hike – the sights are breath taking and the parking is better.
9:00am – Walk into the Griffith Observatory explore the magic of Science and the Stars.
10:00am – Breakfast at Bloom and Plume Coffee another excellent Black-Owned Coffee Shop.
12:00pm – Matinée Movies – back to back at the Pacific Theatre at the Grove.
5:00pm – Sunset BlVD Veggie Grill
7:00PM – Buying the most expensive face masks from Target and we are gonna have a spa stay-cation night in.
8:10am – Rumble Boxing Gym on Sunset
10:00am – Breakfast on Sunset
11:30am – Change Outfits because we are gonna drive to Malibu Beach and have a photoshoot at golden hour.
1:00PM – Golden Hour Photoshoot (bring snacks)
6:30PM Sunset Picnic
8:00PM – PostMates Sushi from Sushi Stop in Silver Lake
( Lazy Day)
10:00am – Sleep in til your body wakes you up.
11:00am – Lay in bed on IG or making a TIK TOK Dance
12:00pm – Find a Cat Cafe – Never been to one yet.
2:00pm – Causal Lunch at Tartine Bianco at The Row in DTLA
4:00pm – Happy Hour Somewhere
6:00pm – Uber Home and play games
9:00am – Yoga in the Park – hosted by one of many Yoga Facebook Groups in LA
10:ooam – Green Juice from Pressed Juicery in Larchmont.
11:00am – Get Facials in Beverly Hills
*You only live once
1:00pm – Lunch at Every Table – Healthy Whole foods, everything you could ever want.
3:00pm – Mid-Day Nap
6:00pm – Bar Hop from DTLA to Santa Monica
11:59pm – Back in Bed 🛌
Universal City Walk will take all day and yes we are going to Hogwarts to top off the week at The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would not be the creator, actor and leader that I am today without Amaris Davidson. She is an actress, a spiritual leader and entertainment coach that helps actors manifest the career they want to have. She has been a working actress in TV and Films for over 10 years and mentors me on how to run my acting career like a business. She teaches a curriculum that fits into any actor’s business as well as giving select niche guidance to an actors who want to make a living from the craft of acting. Amaris’ coaching helped me structure my acting type, improve my self tapes abilities and plan a branding strategy that helps me strive forward in this industry.
Alisha Dodd Chicelly Crio Jordanny Albino Wyatt Hinz