Justine, a shot that invites you in but leaves you wanting more

It was Justine’s birthday last Thursday and I decided to get her a little surprise. I’ve known for a while now that acting is her first love and while she is on this journey of expanding her acting career, I wanted to contribute something to her dream.

I knew she needed new head shots. The bad thing is I forgot she said this to me until the day before her birthday. So with less than 24 hours of prep time and after calling in a couple of favours, we were shooting in the studio the next day (thank you David’s x2!).

Up until now I’ve never taken an interest in head shots. I thought I’d just accompany Justine to the shoot, let the photographer work his magic and I’d sit around and make tea or something. Shooting the ‘same’ shot over and over again surely can’t be that much fun.

A lingering surprise …
Boy was I wrong! Two days after the shoot I was traveling through Mallorca and I was still thinking about the shoot. Or should I say ‘the shot’. Why was I still thinking about it? How can one head shot linger with me for so long? The shoot itself wasn’t life changing, nothing mysterious happened and yet I could not let the ‘experience’ go.

In the end it came down to two things:

  1. Getting the one shot that IS the one’. As someone who holds the vision and space for the shoot there is something gloriously gratifying about getting the shot that makes the difference. The shot that makes the client happy and the shot that makes the photographer proud. Sounds so cliche but I’m not happy until both are happy. And once we get both right, I’m on cloud9 for days!
  2. I couldn’t let the shot go because I was still intrigued by it. I just want to keep staring into her eyes. I know it sounds completely strange but when I look at this photo I honestly want to get to know her more. Yes she is beautiful and yes she has that sweet pleasant Mona Lisa smile but I find the photo intriguingly ‘moreish’. It’s beautiful on it’s own and at the same time it’s not enough because I want more.

I’ve come to the conclusion that’s what head shots are meant to do. They’re meant to draw you in and make you feel incomplete so you feel compelled to meet the person. If you’re head shot is less than that, you are depriving the world of what could be.


For those that want to know more about Justine, she’s just turned 22 and has her own social media and film company in London called Really Bright Media. She presents, acts and produces films. She’s one of the most grounded, dedicated and creative souls I know.

Photographer: David Lau

Special thanks to still life photographer David Marquez for letting us use his studio at such short notice.

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3 Responses to “Justine, a shot that invites you in but leaves you wanting more”
  1. Hannah Ubl says:

    Great blog THAO!
    I completely agree with your conclusion – head shots are meant to captivate you, lure you in and make you want to see / know more.
    I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this picture of Jus. Captures her ‘essence’ perfectly. She’s such a beautiful girl.
    What an amazing present! You’re such a great friend.

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