Michael Sanville

Scheduled to teach:

Michael Sanville (www.michaelsanville.com) (michaelsanvilleheadshots.com) began as an actor at the age of 5.  Six years later, at age 11, he took a much needed sabbatical from acting to persue more fulfilling adventures on the playgrounds of New Jersey.  A fresh start six years later in New York City included work on twenty-one student films and seven features, before he relocated to Los Angeles to study with the legendary Peggy Feury and Bill Traylor. Three years later, he was chosen to study with Sanford Meisner on the island of Bequia and later continued to work with Mr. Meisner at the Playhouse West. Michael would later trade his stage and on-camera experience to work behind the camera, eventually becoming one of the top headshot photographers in the industry.  He was the first photographer to introduce the landscape headshot that has become so popular. He has often credited his on-camera experience for his success behind the lens. Literally tens of thousands of actors have sat in front of Michael’s lens.  Agencies from CAA to William Morris, to smaller boutique agencies, managers, directors, and casting directors continue to send clients his way. Michael’s work has been published in Newsweek, Allure, Glamour, Instyle, Cosmopolitan, Elle and countless others in the US and around the world.  On television:  CNN, NBC Today Show, Entertainment Tonight, ABC Primetime, The Oprah Winfrey Show and many more.

Michael Sanville Portfolio

Julia Dean Interviews Michael Sanville

LACP Founder and Executive Director Julia Dean asks Michael Sanville ten questions about his background, career in and beliefs about photography …

Julia Dean:  What kind of photographer are you?

Michael Sanville:  I make my living currently as a fashion photographer but have been a headshot photographer for almost 20 years and counting. I continue to work with actors and actresses of all levels on an ongoing basis simply because I love the connection and the ability to help others. I am a people photographer and by that I do not necessarily mean I only photograph people, I mean that I embrace the connections made while shooting and love the task of bringing out each individual’s personality!

JD:  How long have you been shooting?

MS:  Almost 2 decades now.

JD:  Where did you get your training?

MS:  I went to Santa Monica College for my initial training, learning the basics of photography ie: shutter speeds, f- stops etc., from there I began to assist working established photographers. Working with those photographers gave me the hands-on education I desired and needed! It’s one thing to be taught in a class, but there is simply nothing like hands-on experience!

While I was assisting others, and because I had been an actor for so many years as a teen and young adult, I began shooting my friends, most of whom were actors – both working and struggling. From there it literally exploded, to the point where I was on every agency’s top 3 list.

JD:  When did you know you wanted to devote your life to photography?

MS:  When I realized that I could be as creative behind the lens as I was in front of it!

JD:  Did you ever come close to giving up?

MS:  I’ve been very fortunate in my career both as a headshot photographer and now in addition as a fashion photographer. I have been frustrated and disappointed in how nowadays everyone claims to be a photographer, but I never thought to literally give up. For me, being creative has gotten me through the lean times and I am thankful they are few and far between!

When the thought of giving up pops into my head, I simply just go create, I try and stretch myself, to get out of my way, to get out of a box, to grow, and experiment! Creativity for me has always soothed the negativity and struggle often associated with freelance artists.

JD:  Have you sacrificed anything by being a photographer?

MS:  There is absolutely nothing I have sacrificed by being a photographer. Photography has done nothing but enhance my life in countless ways!

JD:  What have you gained by being a photographer?

MS:  I have gained an enormous amount of experience by working with people from all walks of life, from famous to young people just starting out, from children to the elderly. Each one brings a new experience with them, a new insight into human emotions and conditions.

I have gained the knowledge and insight on how to connect with people. Every single individual has a story, and I feel honored to be a part of that story however large or small!

JD:  What classes do you teach at LACP?

MS:  A one-day intensive actor headshot class.

JD:  What do you love most about teaching?

MS:  Teaching is something fairly new to me, but I took to it like a fish to water. I love being able to share the extensive knowledge that I have gained through the decades with those who take my class. Helping others is a huge part of my life and I wouldn’t change that – ever! When I first started it was really hard to get people to help me and I made a commitment to myself when I began: I vowed to help others if I ever got to the point of being able to do so. I’m fortunate and thankful that this reality has occurred!

JD:  What advice would you give someone who is thinking about making a career in photography?

MS:  With the digital age of photography came a massive population of people simply wanting to shoot pretty girls or handsome guys. To those of us with a passion for the art and craft of photography, it can be frustrating at best. My advice is to keep shooting, keep trying new things, keep focused, and keep growing! Shoot what means something to you, whatever it is. After all, it is your expression, your art. Don’t follow trends! Make your own way. Be a leader, not a follower. The world has enough sheep! And above all else, STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS! Comparison breeds frustration and resentment. Just keep shooting and shoot what you love! As cliché as it sounds, ultimately it truly is the journey and not the destination!