A Superstar-Headshot Photographer Shares What the Occupation Is Like

Yoshiko Yap

Matt Stasi arrived in Hollywood in 1998 as a 21-year-outdated aspiring actor, acquiring driven with his dad cross-region from Oelwein, Iowa. “We argued the whole way,” Stasi, now 43, instructed Insider. “Common father-son stuff about the radio staying much too loud, where by to take in, and driving as well quick.” But although his dad could not have preferred his driving, he supported his aspiration.

Soon just after arriving, Stasi bunked with other actors, like Octavia Spencer, who was just receiving her commence as well. Spencer experienced previously been dwelling in the apartment when he moved in, Stasi explained, and he read about an opening from a mate. He paid out rent the way a lot of actors do: waiting around tables, a talent he acquired from his father, who was an Italian immigrant and owned a 400-seat cafe.

The youngest of 5 children, Stasi mentioned he caught the acting bug in higher education exactly where he was in school performs. “I often liked the theater, but I required to attempt Hollywood,” he explained. More than the future 15 years, he worked on the Tv set exhibit “CSI: Miami” and in films which includes “The Waterhole.” His initial starring position in a film was in a “really terrible horror movie,” he explained, named “Asylum of the Damned.”

By the late 2000s, he reported, he grew to become restless and began considering about striving pictures. In 2010, he officially opened Stasi Photography in an LA Arts District loft. This is how he moved from in entrance of the camera to at the rear of it and produced a gratifying job for himself.

Switching vocation paths

headshot of Bylle Stasi

Stasi’s headshot of Bylle Stasi, his spouse.

Matt Stasi

Stasi credits his wife, Bylle, for supporting him from the start. “She advised me to cease conversing, go invest in a digicam, and see what takes place.” His mother, one of the a lot of sturdy gals he credits with guiding him by means of tough places, aided him purchase a secondhand Canon. “I went to the University of YouTube. And I bought out and took a million photographs, experimenting with lighting and composition,” he said. 

He realized from mates in the small business that getting headshots for actors, models, and other creatives could be profitable. He went immediately after that company and marketed himself by featuring absolutely free classes, receiving the phrase out with notices in the trade papers, and pitching administrators and brokers. It worked.

Considering the fact that then, he reported, a great deal of his enterprise has appear from consumer suggestions. “My function is very artistic and satisfying,” Stasi explained. “I have the edge of being familiar with actors considering that I’d been a single.”

Earning the shopper come to feel at relieve on a shoot

headshot of Paul Anthony outside

Stasi’s headshot of Paul Anthony.

Matt Stasi

Purchasers can pick out involving various packages when performing with Stasi, dependent on how lots of appears to be like they want. Periods start out at $600 — a price he set, he mentioned, to make his operate competitive — but pricing relies upon on the client’s wants, which may consist of wardrobe, props, and a freelance make-up artist.

headshot of Bronson Pinchot

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

Matt Stasi

Supervisors, brokers, and their shoppers give Stasi rave critiques on social media, together with the actor Bronson Pinchot, who played Balki Bartokomous in the ABC sitcom “Fantastic Strangers.” “Matt belongs to the small portion of all photographers in the world who strike up a rapport,” Pinchot advised Insider by way of email. “And then only document that rapport.”

It’s not just appeal that sells consumers on Stasi’s get the job done. Stasi does a whole lot of prep function to get conversation heading. He reads about every shopper and appears to be at movies and images to get a perception of their profession. “I have an knowledge just before I meet them,” Stasi claimed.

Practically all customers are nervous when they arrive at the studio or locale, he claimed. “Some are utilized to it, but even they are nonetheless a little on edge,” Stasi explained. To assistance them unwind, he starts with a playlist he is curated for every single personal. He isn’t going to shoot a frame until eventually they’ve gotten to know a person a different, talked about what the client’s pondering, and he’s asked what their requires are.

“I want to know the subject matter,” Stasi explained. “I think that’s what can make my operate unique. I am hunting for some thing.”

As the three- to 4-hour session moves along, Stasi mentioned he finds his movement state, searching for that “small spark that comes when they start off enjoying by themselves, when we’re operating alongside one another to get the image, when we are speaking.” His arresting portraits of the deaf actor Troy Kotsur, taken just just before he gained the 2022 Oscar for Very best Supporting Actor for “Coda,” resemble the shots taken in Appalachia all through the Depression. “I like a little edge, a minimal grime, if it is ideal,” Stasi explained, who’s identified for cinematic lighting. “I want an impression that shows the person. Sure, they engage in a part, but their personal humanity is there.”


black and white headshot of Troy Kotsur

Stasi’s headshot of Troy Kotsur.

Matt Stasi

Executing the tough operate

headshot of Troy Katsura

Stasi’s headshot of Troy Katsura.

Matt Stasi

After Stasi shoots 1000’s of pictures of the asked for appears, poses, and outfits, he edits them and sends a assortment from which the consumer picks. The actor Makeda Tene advised Insider she was intrigued by the artistry of Stasi’s get the job done and scheduled a session for her son, 8-12 months-outdated Harmless Ekakitie. She was thrilled when Harmless booked two countrywide commercials from these images, but her son was most excited by the Snickers bar Matt gave him. 

“Any individual who desires to do this first has to function tricky at the artwork of pictures, continually learning and working towards,” Stasi claimed. And they will need to are likely to enterprise. “Get your get the job done out there,” he stated. “Fulfill as several people today as you can and enable them know about your services. You may possibly have to do aspect work at 1st, but hang in there.” And retain a stash of Snickers bars on hand, he included, just in case.

Do you do the job with celebrities and want to share your story? E mail Lauryn Haas at [email protected].

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