LET’S GET ROUD


Tuesday December 1, 2020


By: Naiia Lajoie

 

For someone who is so accustomed to lighting his subjects in order to capture their essence so perfectly, we are turning the spotlight onto arguably one of Los Angeles’ best headshot photographers, Michael Roud.

Originally from Leverett in western Massachusetts – a small, rural town comparable to the Berkshires, sans even a stoplight – Michael originally had his sights set on law school. The University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate studied Political Sciences and Philosophy with the intention of entering politics. His crossroads came upon moving to Hawaii shortly after graduating. Michael describes his experience as a “spiritual awakening”. “I realized that I didn’t like arguing or spending my time focusing on conflict” he reflects, “so…perhaps I was pursuing the wrong line of work.”

At this time he also began dating a photographer, which transitioned into a keen interest in film. He started working at a local youth center running the video department, nurturing what would ultimately become his passion: “It was [a] cool job because the center was right on the ocean and my daily work was making skate and surf movies with the kids.”

Trading island life for the golden coast, Michael is now based in Southern California, where his imagery dominates the LA market. He considers himself first and foremost a filmmaker, hoping to take his viewers on a journey with each of his pictures. Given his viewers are predominantly agents, managers, and casting directors, eliciting that je ne sais quoi from his clients – actors, models, and other entertainment industry workers – the pressure is on to deliver; not just on their part, but his. His secret? “I specialize in headshots so the journey falls within the eyes” he divulges. “It seems very small and simple but getting my subjects to tell a story with their eyes can be quite complex.”

Clearly Michael is quite adept at storytelling through his visuals, as he has had numerous billboards on the famous Sunset Strip, not to mention in cities around the world. His work has been everywhere from various museums to on Netflix. In fact, he has an upcoming film in production called Red Rabbit Down, which will soon be hitting theaters and/or streaming services, pandemic-pending.

Currently in the process of starting a film company, Michael wants to focus on narrative films that will “change the way people view the world by shedding light on subcultures.” This comes as no surprise as the self-described passionate, intense goof that he is (his wife is inclined to agree), likes to give back to the community by mentoring photographers at his studio. He works with three to four photographers every year, helping them find their unique artistic voice. They typically begin by holding bounces and learning lighting techniques, eventually transitioning into working with clients alongside him.

In terms of words of wisdom to other would-be visual storytellers, Michael has this to offer: “When you’re frustrated and think [that] you deserve recognition or accolades for what you’re doing – you’re only half-way there. There are always people out there willing to work just as hard as you, so life is not about what you want to do but what you choose to struggle over.” To check out his work, book a shoot, or perhaps even inquire about a mentorship, visit his website at www. michaelroud.com.



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