Written by Karen Strauss
Blaise Hayward began this series rather auspiciously as a favor to an actor’s agent down the hall. They asked him to do a few head shots and he agreed on the condition that he would also “get something for himself.” Thus began a collaboration resulting in The Actors. As with his previous Small Business series, he shares a kinship with all these subjects, in that we are all “hustling for our next gig” as one of the actors put it.
“I have always enjoyed the actors’ Issue that the New York Times Magazine publishes prior to the Oscars and with that in mind I began shooting these actors. The most challenging part of shooting this project was the fact that I also produced it. I would get the word that a studio was available literally a day or two in advance and then I had to schedule four to five actors, speak to them about wardrobe and and creative direction all while never having met them. The day before the shoot, I would ask them to send ‘selfies’ from their phones so I could get an idea of what they looked like. I would literally walk in blind and have to come up with an idea on how to shoot them on the spot. It was exhilarating and exhausting at the same time.”
Blaise used various sources for inspiration, but most of the time he would think about
movies and parts these actors could have played. He also spent a lot of time going over magazines and of course on line. “I had an inspiration folder on my desk top that I would go back to for reference prior to the shoots.” As the series grew in scope Blaise and his agents John Kenney and Ed Varites from JKAND decided that the work would make a great promo. A series of 16 images with accompanying quotes from famous actors letterpressed onto the back was created. Blaise worked with designer Thomas Wilder to come up with what he calls “a special promo.” With all the care and detail that went into the piece along with the great idea, he is hoping that it will catch the attention of photo editors and art directors that he would like to work with.
“I deliberately pushed myself out of my comfort zone on this project and I hope that comes across in the images and that I can collaborate with some great creatives as a result.”
This was a personal project and Blaise is indebted to the following people without
whose support this body of work would not have been possible: Roy and Ron at Jack Studios, hair and make-up stylist George Kyriakos, stylists Solange Khavkine and Stephanie Tricola and first assistant Craig Lacourt. He also owes a debt of gratitude to his long time retoucher Frank Fierro.