Kim Dalton's picture
Crew Mom

Who's in the Crew? - Spotlight on Anna Cillan

NAME: Anna Cillan

WEBSITE www.annacillan.com
CREW PROFILE https://headshotcrew.com/Annacillan
INSTAGRAM https://www.instagram.com/anna.cillan/
FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/annacillanphotography
LINKEDIN https://www.linkedin.com/in/annacillan/

WHERE ARE YOU FROM AND WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?

I was born and raised on the West Coast in a small city on the East side of Washington state called Richland. It is one of 3 cities so the locals refer to it as the Tri-Cities. You wouldn’t believe it, but the whole eastern side of Washington is a dry and desert-like climate. Too much to explain here but Google the rainshadow effect at your leisure. Today this area could be considered the next Napa Valley as the dry climate is perfect for winemaking. Ahh to think I wanted to leave this small city when I was younger. I now live in Chicago where I have been almost longer than I was back in Richland. So, yes, I am a Chicagoan!

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SHOOTING HEADSHOTS?

I have been shooting headshots since Oct 2017 after I took Peter’s Headshot Intensive in Chicago and never looked back. I almost didn’t take his course because I already spent a shit ton of cash on another overseas workshop with Scott Robert Lim, but I knew that I had to bite the bullet and just pile on the education if I was going to even think about leaving my corporate job.

WHAT IS YOUR LIGHTING SETUP FOR HEADSHOTS?

I use 3 Westcott Solix lights with 1x3 strip boxes and generally start with the triangle set up and then when I feel I have a solid set of images, I switch to parallel with a kicker. I use a Stella Pro Cx10 to light up my background for a clean white tone.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR STUDIO. DO YOU OWN IT? RENT IT? OR LIVE IN IT?

My studio is in my private residence. It's actually quite nice and does the job for both headshots and studio portraits. My kitchen area is perfect for hair and makeup and I have just enough space to use my 85mm for full-length portraits. My clients love the cozy vibe, the view from my place and I have a wall of beverages they can choose from to enjoy while we sit down to select their images. I will admit that it is a pain to set up and tear down, so eventually, I will see myself in a studio space soon enough.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU LIKE TO SHOOT?

I shoot portraits for Personal Branding, High School Seniors, Dance, and High Fashion...especially dramatic shots. I do love capturing action so you’ll likely see some sort of movement in my portraits.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER PH AND THE HSC?

It was in 2016 where my curiosity about professional photography began. I googled online classes and found Creative Live which is where I was first introduced to Peter. At that point, I never even thought of headshots, but when I saw a snippet on Peter’s Headshot course, I was drawn in by his excitement to take a photo of just a person’s face. So I watched and was intrigued by what it took to capture an expression. It also helped that he was so freaking hilarious.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO JOIN THE CREW ONCE YOU FOUND IT?

It took about a year because I had no idea there was a Headshot Crew. I knew of Peter from Creative Live in 2016, but it wasn’t till the next year when I heard he was coming to Chicago for the Headshot Intensive that I just had to go!

WHAT IS ONE THING PEOPLE WOULD NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU?

I sing! I have been singing for Old St Patrick’s Church Concert Choir in Chicago since 2001. From there, a group of us branched off to create an annual fundraiser show that showcases songs from Musicals. Yes, I do love musicals! So you better believe, I’ll likely pick up a song or two if karaoke is in the picture.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOU?

I was an IT professional for 20+ years before getting abruptly cut from my job in June 2019. By abrupt, I mean I was let go that SAME day. Needless to say, I gave myself about a solid week to sulk in what just happened, and then I sat myself down to really think about what my next step would be. Do I want to keep going back into a world that I didn’t feel passionate about and get paid the salary that keeps me comfortable or actually just jump ship entirely and do something that I love and risk being able to make a living off of it?

As you can see, I come from an Asian background, and just the idea of career instability is not easily accepted, at least not in my family. Which is why my Mom constantly pushed me towards the world of IT that I didn’t want to be a part of anymore. Well, I didn’t give in. I kept pushing forward with photography with Headshots via knowledge from the Intensive and the crew. Built-up my website, established CRM and the like, and established Tony’s TNT method...(solid next level shit) which elevated my confidence and my bankroll even further. Go Crew!

Now a little over 2 years, and through a pandemic, I’ve managed to make this photography gig my new normal. Interestingly enough, just in Oct, my mother out of the blue asked me if she ever got me anything for congratulating me on starting this business. I coyly responded with “why yes, you gave me a ton of full-time IT job listings!” We both had a good laugh but then she continued to say. “Well, you did it. This IS your full-time job”. There you have it...my creative job that I love and better yet is Mom Approved!

9 Comments

Earl Gardner's picture
Protégé

Really great read! Congratulations on your success!

Anna Cillan's picture
Protégé

Thanks Earl!

Peter Istvan's picture
Protégé

Awesome!

Robert Feiner's picture
Protégé

Great learning more of your backstory Anna.

Rich Soublet's picture
Mentor

Awesome read about an awesome human!

Nicolae Pop's picture
Associate

Awesome! I love to sing also... Maybe at HSM3 we can get to a karaoke place and let it rip :-)

Pete Coco's picture
Associate

Awesome, Anna! What an inspiring story!

Mondo Rojas's picture
Protégé

I love reading these and getting to know the crew members a little more.

Michel Zwanenburg's picture
Protégé

Inspiring story Anna!