Go out for dinner and a drink in Los Angeles and most likely your server or bartender is a wannabe actor.
The reality behind this statement accounts for much of the success of The Headshot Truck, a mobile photography studio that began as a convenient way for Los Angeles-based actors to get the glossy 8x10 photos they need to land roles. In the year since Will Harper ’06 and cofounder Adam Hendershott launched the business, they’ve expanded into other photographic arenas—corporate, couples, events, even pets—and will soon expand to other cities such as New York and Atlanta.
Both Harper and Hendershott were aspiring actors who knew the necessity of headshots, but also experienced the headache of LA traffic. After mutual friend Kaitlin Walsh Saltzman ’07 introduced the two, the idea for the truck came quickly. Hendershott had by then moved on to a new career as a photographer; and Harper, who graduated from Conn with a double major in classics and architectural studies and earned an MFA in film at Columbia, was rethinking his desire to act.
“Mobile businesses are exploding, especially here in LA,” said Harper, who’s lived in the city for two years. “You see mobile boutiques and mobile nail salons. I don’t want to say the people in my new city are lazy, but there is something about Southern Californians wanting things to come to their door!”
The business started with a rented truck. Success came quickly and the partners embarked on a Kickstarter campaign to replace the rental. They found a used breadtruck and outfitted it with a makeup table, clothing racks, lights, wireless monitors (so clients can immediately review their photos) and green screen technology, which allows the photographer to project any backdrop behind the client.
Clients can choose from a variety of packages, from straight photography to add-ons like makeup application, wardrobe consultation and retouching. They get their finished photos via email in a few days.
“With the truck we can shoot anywhere, anytime, and produce the same high-quality photos as nonmobile studios,” said Harper.
“Once we had the bones, we wondered what else could we do? It opened a whole new world for us—first corporate work, shooting staff for company websites and LinkedIn portraits, then, with a little tweaking of the set-up, we started doing events and weddings.”
They also added engagement photos and then began photographing pets on the truck at no charge as a way to celebrate their success.
“We went to shelters and took portraits of animals hoping they’d get adopted. And it worked. One agency had 800 pets adopted in that first year.”
February 29, 2016