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Meet Jonathan Stoddard of JJ Photography LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jonathan Stoddard.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jonathan. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started JJ Photography LA for a very simple reason because I am an actor and I wanted to take control of the most powerful calling card we have as actors: Headshots. However, the more I learned about photography, creative lighting, triggering and capturing beautiful moments, and seeing what these pictures can do for other actors, I quickly became obsessed with turning JJ Photography LA into a headshot business that ACTUALLY stands behind its headshots; meaning our policy is simple: if you don’t get more auditions with our headshots, your next shoot is FREE.

“FREE?” You ask?!
Yes. Here’s how it all began….

We all know the struggles of acting, so I won’t bore you with the details. Basically, I booked a couple nationals and Indi films in San Francisco and then moved down here to LA thinking that I would be welcomed with open arms because of my previous achievements….In reality, it kind of felt like going from high school to college. ugh

Fast forward, when I signed with my commercial rep, I was immediately told that I needed new headshots. Then after I paid for the new headshots, I later signed with a theatrical rep, who said I needed new headshots other than the ones I just had taken!! If you’re an actor or performer, I’m sure this is a familiar story.

Anyway, at $600 per headshot session, plus retouching costs, plus uploading to submission site costs, I was easily paying close to $1,000 just to get new looks up online for my agents.

This is when and why I started JJ Photography LA. I started taking my residuals from my commercials and investing them into gear and immersing myself into photography, portraiture, and creative lighting classes. Lighting would lead to color management, which would lead to photoshop, which would lead back to ‘getting it in camera’…I had no idea how far the rabbit hole went…

I started grabbing actor friends and people from the nearby cafe to shoot and practice on. I even built a shoot through duel ring light out of a ceiling light. I even convinced my girlfriend, Jana, to start styling the shoots! I was learning as much as I could, when all of a sudden, I started getting phone calls from people we photographed. They would call us beaming with happiness because they just booked a show because of our headshot, or got 5 agency meetings in one week because of our shoot!

It felt amazing to be a part of their success and more importantly, it wasn’t making them go bankrupt! They were getting amazing shots and were actually able to use them! But, why were our shots having such an impact?

We soon discovered that because we were actors too, we were constantly learning what casting directors wanted! Every time we would go to workshops or visit with our agents, managers or take acting classes, we were exposed to “the good. the bad. and the ugly.” of headshots; what was working and what wasn’t working. Also, because we are actors, we have fun on set, sincerely care about their future and know how important THAT ONE SHOT can be, so we really put our hearts into making each customer/new friend feel comfortable about shooting with us.

Needless to say, we’ve been bitten by the headshot bug. Nothing replaces that moment where a girl breaks down crying with joy when she sees the photos because her last headshot session was so uncomfortable and unpleasant. Also, nothing replaces the network of actors/friends we are building, that we tap into for recommendations for current projects and for future productions.

“Each of us needs all of us and all of us need each of us.”

We believe in the community and understand how valuable we are all. We have to stick together and we have to support each other as players in this industry. At least, this is our mindset.

It is an honor to offer such a powerful service to the actors and performers of Los Angeles.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been both a smooth and rough road to date. Some of the rough parts include wearing too many hats! Between the evolving creative art-form of headshots, and the admin of business development and marketing, there doesn’t seem to be enough time in each day! (Can’t wait for The Matrix Learning Style to enter our society.)

Other than that, it has been a learning and growth process and I am so grateful for the opportunity to help other actors in this way.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Playing hide and seek with my siblings. I am the youngest of four children and when they would find me, they would turn into the tickle monster!!

Pricing:

  • $199 for 2 looks and 2 retouched images with a stylist and makeup consultant included
  • $299 for 3 looks and 3 retouched images with a stylist and makeup consultant included
  • $399 for 4 looks and 4 retouched images with a stylist and makeup consultant included

Contact Info:

session-0548 session-0859 session-1643 session-3163 session-4704 session-5420 session-7449 session-9584

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