Hearing those words, I suddenly saw how imagination could transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. From then on, I felt certain that acting was my true calling. At 19 I moved to New York, where I studied with Mike Nichols, George Morrison, Gene Hackman and Ellen Burstyn.
To support myself, I pursued the other interest that my Dad's present inspired. Over several years, I built a thriving international wholesale vintage clothing business. My career path had changed and I was seriously considering opening a New York store.
Still, there was a piece missing from the picture. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Despite months of soul-searching, something kept me from taking the plunge. I called Ellen Burstyn and told her of my plans and my doubts. Over lunch, Ellen made a simple comment that blew away the fog of indecision: “Doug, at heart you are a creative person, and creative people need creative ways to make a living.” I didn't know exactly what I would do, but I felt real clarity for the first time in months.
The very next morning I had a revelation: “I bet I'd be a great photographer.” I didn't even own a camera, but I bought one and began studying at the International Center Of Photography. When I began doing headshots it felt like I had come full circle. Here I could use my creativity and knowledge of the acting experience to take headshots that the industry has called “powerful, beautiful and unique”. And most importantly, I could fulfill my heartfelt passion to help actors succeed.
I am thrilled to have photographed headshots for talented actors who have gone on to appear on television, Broadway, national commercials and feature films.
My photographs have appeared in The New York Times, The New York Post and Daily News, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, TV Guide, LA Times, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Back Stage, Seventeen, European Vogue and The Dramatist.
For the past two years I have been voted favorite headshot photographer in New York by the readers of Back Stage.
I am the On Set photographer for Celebrity Apprentice. I’ve served as the official photographer for the Dramatist Guild Awards and Camp Broadway, photographed extensive live performances for the Actors Studio, and worked with many New York theater companies. The film Garden State cast one of my headshots in a scene between Zach Braff and George C. Wolfe. (It’s pretty cool when a headshot you took gets a part in a movie. How many headshot photographers can say that!)
My book Holy Headshot!, co-authored with Patrick Borelli was published by Simon and Shuster. It’s an amazing and hilarious collection of the funniest, strangest, most jaw droppingest headshots you have ever seen (All taken by OTHER headshot photographers, NOT me, and used with the express permission of both the photographers and the subjects). Holy Headshot was endorsed by Jimmy Fallon, John Hodgman and Triumph The Insult Comic Dog.
When I'm not shooting photography, I enjoy playing ice hockey at Chelsea Piers. My team the Sled Dogs recently won the league championship. Go Dogs!
Most of all, in my free time I love hanging out with my wife and sons. And you can still find me now and then searching for vintage treasures at antique flea markets.
© Douglas Gorenstein 2012