Diana Toshiko has been a headshot photographer since 2001. Clients have described her style as “vibrant,” “compelling,” and “visually stunning.” Read the Yelp reviews here. She recently sat down with her writer and actor friend Teresa for a frank conversation about her collaborative process, playing dress-up, and finding inspiration.
Why are you a photographer? When did you become interested in photography?
My father always had a camera. (Laughs) Because he always had a camera, I always ended up having a camera.
I fell into headshot photography in 2001. I was sitting with my friends one day and they were all saying, “I need new headshots.” That was when digital photography was starting to get popular, so I said, “I’ll do it!” Then what started as a hobby started becoming a job, and I started becoming really good at it. And now I’m a full-time photographer and actor.
Now everybody can buy a good camera and have their friends take their photos but I encourage actors to hire a professional. You get what you pay for! Also beware of Photographers who are cheap because you often have cheap outcomes. Do your research and find a great Photographer with great quality!
So talk about your evolution as a headshot photographer? How is your work different now from when you started?
When I first started shooting headshots, the industry was different for actors. Color was just starting to become common and there was still a feeling that you could wear costumes and play dress-up. And I know we’re all actors and we can do that well, but I think nowadays, industry people want to get a real sense of who you are in a photo. I’ve really grown to appreciate that subtle difference. Crafting the story of a photo means telling the viewer who someone is via the composition, the colors, the wardrobe, the background, and the lighting.
So if an actor wants new headshots, how does the process start?
Well, there are a ton of great photographers in LA. When looking for a photographer, you should find one that resonates with you. My vibe is very fun and kinda quirky and edgy. If that fits your personality, then I’m probably a good person to contact. From there, I do an initial consultation with my clients, schedule the shoot day, and then we just have fun.
What do you talk about in that first consultation? What should actors expect?
We talk about what kind of looks they want to capture. And by looks, I mean the different facets of their personality. We want to show you in different types of scenarios. Because everyone is more than one thing – we all have different levels. Then we discuss wardrobe and how best to portray those different qualities.
Then, in my head, I think about the colors and backgrounds that would match. I pick out the environments in advance. On the day, we hop in my car and drive to the different locations that match each vibe.
During the shoot, what can an actor do to ensure a great shoot?
Come relaxed and prepared. Pack the night before and bring a variety of things. If you like music, bring music. My shoots are fun and full of ease – I do my best to make the day feel collaborative.
I understand it’s stressful getting a photo done. I’m an actor myself, so I know that feeling when you’re like, “I gotta get this shot!” But the more you can be yourself, the better chance we have of getting that perfect photo.
What was your favorite headshot shoot?
Oh, I’ve had so many! (Laughs) I’ve been blessed. I love people. I love actors. I love collaborating. The most random things can happen during a shoot and it’s great. An inspiration will happen and we’ll both go, “Oh! Let’s shoot here!”
I just try to have a lot of fun, and it’s always a lot of fun. Everyone is different – everyone has a different process but I hope that when you’re done, you have these photos that you really love.