There's no denying Gina Milicia's success in the head shot and celebrity photography space with day rates up to $10,000 and often having to knock back work because they are uninspiring or don't sound like fun.

In this candid interview, Gina reveals the steps to her success from her first assisting job with a leading Melbourne photographer where she didn't pick up a camera for the first year, to taking a job as a pasta chef for a well known and up market Italian Restaurant with no qualifications what so ever.

All this in the aim of supporting her dream of making photography her business.

Gina goes onto explain the steps she recommends you take to find success as a headshot photographer and what you can do to get noticed by the agencies looking to book work.

Here's some more of what we cover:

  • Shooting for the entertainment industry – photographing people
  • Charging between $5000 and $10000 per day
  • Burnout after the constant push to build the business
  • Losing your creativity as a result of being over booked
  • Working at cost to shoot a particular person or be creative
  • Shooting the annual TV awards and EVERY big name celebrity in Australia
  • From failure to success after discovering photography as a “back up plan”
  • 8 weeks assisting a photographer… all spent cleaning the studio and how it led to a full time job with a leading photographer
  • Making your client feel like they are the only and most important person in the room to get the most out of them
  • People will forget what you say but they will never forget how they made you feel
  • Dealing with extreme pressure situations and excelling
  • How would you cope with 15 minutes to get all the images required for a celebrity campaign and only having the hallway to work with?
  • Dealing with big personalities, agent and support staff during a high pressure, time limited shoot
  • Why Gina shoots tethered for every single job and how it makes her shoots run more smoothly
  • Learn once and for all why it's definitely not about the gear and it's all about the photographer
  • The absolute importance of learning your trade and your gear inside and out
  • Coping and thriving in all lighting conditions, including mid day sun and how it changed business for Gina
  • Learning from the pros that went before you and why listening is often better than talking
  • Why shooting model tests is a good lead into the celebrity photography industry
  • Having a second income is the key to have the freedom to be creative and grow your photography business
  • Taking a loss on one job that might lead to many other jobs in the future, is it really worth the risk?
  • What are the possibilities that go along with over delivering on a promise?
  • When the eyes of a portrait subject have warmth, that's what makes the shot
  • Shooting celebrity and actor head-shots, the secret to a great shot is communication and to communicate, you need to shoot from a tripod
  • Shooting with multiple assistants on a job and their roles and responsibilities on the job
  • For the true photographer, the joy of photography as a business doesn't come from the money you're earning, it comes from the art you're creating
  • What you need to do to break into headshot and celebrity photography
  • How to stand out when presenting your portfolio to prospective clients, agencies and booking representatives
  • For every 100 rejections, if you get one yes, you're doing well
  • FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real and why Gina doesn't waste time worrying
Looking at Gina's portfolio of every popular celebrity, it's difficult to not admire her success and even feel some envy. Then hearing her talk about the pressure of having a 45 minute shoot cut to 15 minutes. Being restricted to a hallway to get the shots and the requirement to get everything needed for the advertising campaign with a demanding agent breathing down her neck… I'm not so sure about the envy.

If you're on Twitter and like to support the show and easily let Gina know you've been listening, click here to populate a tweet:

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What's on Offer for Premium Members

Something a little different for premium members this week. Andrew Cooney is a super talented, up and coming photographer who is ready to make the jump and go pro. He asked if I'd be available to answer some questions he had about getting started, what to expect and where to turn next. The conversation we shared was recorded and is available in the members section.

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What is your big takeaway?

Following this interview with Gina, I'd love to know what your biggest takeaway is – what is the one thing that you'd like to implement or learnt from what she had to share? Let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments below.

If you have any questions that I missed, a specific question you'd like to ask or if you just want to say thanks for coming on the show, feel free to add them below.

iTunes ratings, reviews and Shout-Outs

Each week before recording the podcast I check iTunes for any reviews and each week I'm excited to see what you've had to say about the podcast and am usually blown away by the comments and reviews. This week was no exception with 3 fantastic reviews. A big thanks this week to Boss Rhino, aka Tim who is a start up photographer in Adelaide, Australia. Also to Chris Gillham of All Reasons Photography in Queensland Australia, Marc Amesse of Light Scout Creative in the States and Ben from McMurry Pet Photography also in the States.

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Sincerely, thanks so much for your rating and review, I appreciate the time you've taken and it's a big help for the show. It's these iTunes reviews that make a big difference to the podcast being ranked well and found in the iTunes store. If you have the time and are happy to leave an honest rating and review, head over to iTunes.

Don't feel your comments have to be long, involved or gushy, an honest opinion is all I ask. Don't be shy about leaving your business name in the review either – that way I can add a link in the show-notes and show my appreciation with a proper thanks and a Google loving back-link to your website.

Get in Touch or Leave a Voicemail Message

If you'd like to get in touch, ask a question or make a suggestion for the show, you can email me, find me on Twitter or on Facebook at – I'd love to hear from you!

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Links to people, places and things mentioned in this episode:

Here are links to the different books Gina has written:

Portrait Ebook

Lighting Ebook

Posing Ebook

Find out more about Gina's upcoming workshops here: Workshops/Mentoring

In the interview, Gina talked about always shooting from a tripod for her work. Here are a list of the tripods and heads she uses:

Manfrotto 190XPROB – small, light-weight tripod that Gina uses when she travels

Manfrotto 475B Pro Geared Tripod – great sturdy tripod for location shoots

Manfrotto 058B – heavy duty tripod for studio use

Manfrotto 679B Monopod – for film, TV stills, and theatre

Manfrotto 229 3D Super-Pro Head – is the head Gina uses with each of the tripods

Gina's portrait gear essentials blog post:

Capture one pro – the software Gina uses to bring tethered images into her laptop on the shoot

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That's it for me this week, hope everything is going well for you in life and business!

If you've been enjoying the podcast, I'd love for you to tell another photographer about it – it could be in a Facebook Group you're a part of, a photography forum, with a photographer friend or on twitter.

If you do have a twitter account, simply click here: or use the share buttons below.

Thanks and speak soon