Merrill Grant

I knew Robert Kim was the one to take my new headshots during the initial consultation. We spoke about my own career aspirations, and as I am a clasically trained singer crossing over to musical theater, he told me how he had taken headshots of several women who went on to play ‘Christine Daae’, the female lead in “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway including Sandra Joseph, my personal favourite (Sarah Brightman, not!). Not only did he have their photos in his book but he had actual correspondence from them that described their entire experiences with him. He recounted with me so many of their often funny, sometimes harrowing expreiences onstage and backstage during their performances that I thought I was actually there. He already had photographed so many of my actor friends and colleagues past and present, that I felt as though I knew him, and vice-versa. I found that Robert just doesn’t make photos, he makes friends.Small wonder his photographs are so true to everyone’s character. I’ve simply never experienced a photographer who spent time to get to know his subject so well and share so many aspects of himself and his art with which to build a rapport.
Our consultation turned into a wonderul afternoon. Truth be told, I didn’t want to leave! When I noticed the trophy he won for “The Gong Show” and asked what he did to win first prize, he simply turned on his karaoke machine and began his rendition of “Yoshi Suzuki”, a Japanese Elvis impersonator that was so hysterical that I couldn’t stop laughing –  that is ,  until he started to sing…his Elvis singing voice was actually FLAWLESS, and as a bel canto trained soloist and I know voices. We wound up doing a duet together from “Grease”, as I actually had an audition for the part of  ‘Sandy’ the very next day– too cool.
When it came to discussing what wardrobe I should bring for my session, he was just as committed and knowledgeable, suggesting colors that would suit me perfectly from every perspective, not just a general breakdown like every other headshot photographer gives, and it made me feel very special. Then, just as he was winding up his suggestions, he suddenly said,”Green would be the PERFECT color for you!” then turned to his computer and said,”I’m going to order a new green dress for you”, then after finding the perfect garment online,  got on the phone and placed the order, stopping only to ask,”What size are you?” Then he had it Fed Ex’d to his studio to make my headshot deadline– I actually wore it in the first setup of my shoot– this is how determined the man is to get the “perfect” shot for his customers. How many headshot photographers of your acquaintance would actually buy a new dress for you, without you even asking or any expectation of getting anything in return for his efforts except a great headshot? I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it.
You can guess from the success of my initial consultation that the actual shoot was a dream.His makeup artist pulled out all the stops to get my fair coloring just right. Colleen is a fantastically skilled artist and the two of them together are an unstoppable pair.
She worked for over an hour on my makeup,  testing colors and pulling out so many different tones of bases and eye products that she said she had rarely used on anyone because of my unique coloring. She like Robert, was an absolute perfectionist and I liked that very much.
Robert shoots instinctively and simply “goes with the flow” so much that by the end of the session we had an astounding twelve proof sheets worth of work, a total of 240 perfect, usable shots!
I’m sure that this was well over the norm even for him, but it’s good to know that when you’re “on a roll” with digital you don’t have to stop or be limited by how much film you bought.
After a quick perusal of the final product, Robert narrowed them down to “only” 52 perfect shots– all representative of me, but all totally different. When my agent first got an eyeful of the results, she was ecstatic. He got every aspect of me–  for film, television, musical theater, commercial soaps– he got it all, and more again. Thoughtfulness, sensuality, vulnerability, strength, beauty and FUN. The looks he captured on film were expressed that are as familiar to me as the lines on my hand, but somehow no one had successfully captured them on film. Until now.

Always,

Merrill Grant

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