Tess Steinkolk is best known for her fine art portraits that have graced corporate headquarters, art galleries, CD covers, book jackets, magazines and publicity materials for some 30 years. Her photos have helped launch the careers of many now well-known actors and musicians. Contact for gallery show listings.
Her works are notable for capturing the inner qualities of human subjects — in settings ranging from controlled studio lighting to the natural outdoors, such as in war-torn Nicaragua. Her versatility reflects her rigorous training in classic film photography and a natural ability to connect with people and put them at ease.
The Sundance Channel
The Harry Walker Agency
Bratskeir & Company
Mohonk Mountain House
Check out studio movie in "Video"
“My experience with Tess couldn't have been better. The shoot was done in completely comfortable settings, allowing for plenty of creativity and laughs, while never losing sight of the all important goal of capturing great images. She's a great photographer and a great person, which made the "work" totally stress free on our way to producing some fantastic stuff. I thank Tess for everything she did in making this process very fun and I would strongly recommend her to anyone looking for a great experience and most importantly great photos.”
"In a city like New York, where there are SO MANY photographers to choose from, it can be an overwhelming task just to do research on them. Let me help you end your research right here and now...Tess is the best. I've had MANY photographers do my headshots over the 15 years I've been in the city, and I've never been more comfortable and alive in a session as I was with Tess. She simply knows how to get your best out of you...and it's all in the eyes!"
"Shooting with Tess was comfortable and stressless. She was fun, energized, open to ideas and eager to please, but most of all, she's just a really smart and skilled photographer."
"My session with Tess was even better than what I'd imagined or hoped for. From the moment I arrived, I felt completely comfortable and at ease with Tess. After a quick run-down of the process we got into the session, which was incredibly fun, easy and carefree. Throughout the session Tess checked in, making sure that the shoot was going the direction that I wanted, and always asking for my opinion and my desired results. It was truly a collaboration to get the best possible shots for me and I am THRILLED with the final product! Tess is a wonderful photographer, and her photographs are stunning. She will birng out the best in you and you will love the process of getting there. I will certainly be calling Tess whenever I need new headshots."
"Everyone should be photographed by Tess Steinkolk! Tess is at the top of the field and at the top of her game. She makes a work of art out of everyone. She's fun to work with and puts you at ease. She is accessible before, during and after the shoot - the shoot is fun and focused; the editing is easy with quick turnaround. Her team of stylists is tops, too. Tess is a class act. And, so are her photos!’
“Our staff can't stop singing your praises for the amazing job you did with our photo session! As you know, doing a photo shoot in a corporate environment has many challenges, but your professional, yet down-to-earth approach put everyone at ease so they could let their best personalities shine through. We have received a lot of wonderful comments from long standing clients who have appreciated the opportunity to put faces together with the people they have worked with over the years. Thank you for making the magic happen!”
Mirjana Novkovic/Vice President of Marketing/The Harry Walker Agency
"Tess is a true artist in every sense of the word. I was so impressed with her profound understanding and use of lighting during the shoot! Her photographs all tell a subtle story and are absolutely captivating. She also has a fun and completely infectious personality which puts her clients at ease and brings out the sparkle in their eyes. Her results are consistently gorgeous and I can't wait for my next session with her! "
"When I first came to New York, I tried a couple of photographers. The shots were okay, but they didn't make me look special. After my first session with Tess, Iknew I'd found 'my photographer.' I had fun, was relaxed, and we got great shots. That hasn't changed. Tess knows what she's doing, she doesn't waste time and yet our sessions are always fun. And, yes...she makes me feel unique and photographs it! I've gotten jobs because a director liked my headshot (true), and I've heard (many times) a casting director say, 'Good, you look like your picture.' Our last session (as in the past) yielded shots that capture my personality. Nothing generic about them, and they're technically excellent. Tess has always produced headshots for me that make people look twice."
"I cannot recommend Tess highly enough. Shooting with her is always easy, relaxing and fun. She is an amazing person and a gifted photographer. My latest shots are working wonderfully well for me. Response from agents, directors and peers has been uniformly positive!"
"I have been spending my summer in LA, interning at production companies and doing some acting before returning to school at Yale this Fall. I am just dropping you a note to let you know that everyone has been complimenting me on my headshots! Everyone I have met; agents, managers, actors, producers, directors, casting directors, etc., has literally been raving about them, saying how great they are. I thought I should let you know that your work is really popular here!"
Alexis del Vecchio
“Tess thank you so much for everything!! You are a super photographer and although you were working hard, you made it so much fun. The pictures are terrific! I received the instructions, receipt and pictures , so will get to work on those. I SO MUCH appreciated your advice and input of "what to do and how to do it." And Emmy Lou (I hope I got the name right) is a sweetheart.”
“The response to the new pics has been across the board AMAZING!!!
Reps on both coasts, commercial and legit (LA is VERY picky!) my literary reps, theater friends, non-biz friends and family on social media LOVE them. All say some of the best EVER - so THANK YOU!”
"Tess Steinkolk isn't a headshot photographer . . . she's a photographic artist whose canvas just so happens to be 'the headshot'. She cherishes the way light and shadow play off the human face. She knows how to capture your eyes so they 'talk'. She understands how to bring your character off the page. Her headshots look like you, which is why we need headshots in the first place. And she's a pleasure to be photographed by."
Norm Golden, Actor/Director/Coach
“If you want great head shots that look like you on your best day, I highly recommend using Tess. Headshots can be unnerving. Since they’re the first impression casting will see, they have to make a big impression, while showing who you really are. I instantly felt comfortable with her, which is so important to me for getting natural looking pictures. She is skilled at listening to give you exactly what you want, and will give you good advice on how to achieve it. She’s professional and responsive. I never felt rushed, or pushed to do more than I needed. Tess truly wants her clients to be happy. Using Tess, I got gorgeous pictures that really let my personality show.”
“I had a photo shoot with Tess and it was easily the most comfortable I've felt at one. Tess was great at making me feel comfortable and met me where I was at in regards to my experience level, encouraging and instructing me at the perfect times. There were so many great head-shots, I had a tough time picking my favorites and have several photo styles to use for different mediums."
“Tess is a DREAM PERSON! I shot my newest head shots with her last November and her and her team were nothing short of amazing! My makeup and hair was carefully and beautifully done- adding less or more depending on the looks, etc. I've never felt so comfortable and invited as when I met and worked with Tess! She just puts you at ease and you don't think about the results of the photos one time- you just have a GREAT time and then have AWESOME photos at the end of the session!In terms of post-shoot, Tess sat down with me and we chose a few favorites, which she "fast-edits" ON THE SPOT so you can sort of see what the final will look like! What a treat, that was! Once you choose a few fast favorited you're sent a link of all photos, and a favorites folder to then choose the poses and go into editing. She will even send them to the printers for you, should you need hard copies!For the best head shots, it's a simple choice just choose Tess and you have nothing to worry about!”
“Working with Tess was so enjoyable and straightforward. She encouraged us to shoot outside given the beautiful light where she worked spontaneously, always aware of what the light was doing. I never felt she was shooting a shot she had repeated over and over, it truly felt tailor-made. She captured a wide variety of looks and managed to bring out a lot of aspects of my personality at once, a testament to how easy and comfortable she made the whole experience. On top of all that, she is a lovely person and I enjoyed spending the afternoon with her. I highly recommend Tess!”
“Tess is the only photographer I can rely on for fabulous head shots. I've been going to her since 1981 and actually flew across the continent to have her update my photos recently. She is warm, funny, fun - totally puts one at ease and captures great expressions when you may not expect it - only to grab an excellent shot. She'll shoot outside or in the studio and is a delight to hang with. She gives great, easy direction and keeps current with the latest "requirements" of head shots for all professions. Her work is affordable, and she is just a kick of a person to spend a session with - which can be a bit intimidating with other photographers. Just go. You will not regret it!”
“I am very pleased to say that my experience at this business was 5 stars. Tess is a great photographer. I arrived on time and she walked me through the entire process. She offered some refreshing tea and had everything set up to start. Her pug is adorable too and didn't bother at all.
We did several shoots with different clothing. The makeup artist was great too. Virna Acosta did an excellent job and was very professional and friendly simultaneously. We also did some photoshooting outside. And the natural lighting really did magic on the camera lens. Tess had different back drops as options as well. She also gives good instructions on how and where to look at the camera to capture your best.
I'm happy to say that overall I do recommend Tess' business to get your industry headshot.”
“I am thrilled that Tess was still available to shoot my headshots! I am a return customer... as another reviewer said, when you find "the one" there really is no going elsewhere. It is the way she directs you during the shoot, she has just the right words to say to illicit the expressions you are looking for in a headshot.
Her space is warm and inviting. Tess, that peach tea is SO refreshing, a great pick-me-up during the shoot. Her makeup artist Virna was so Pro!
I wanted a natural look. Im happy to say I am a mature woman, and even so, very little retouching is needed.
Being someone who is also a photographer, I appreciate Tess's consumate professionalism. Her experience and confidence shows, but she also listens when the customer has a specific request or critique. After the shoot we sat down and discussed the options for post production, which was super informative.
Don't waste your time saving a few dollars and having to reshoot... Just go to Tess Steinkolk, you won't be sorry. ( I will be posting my final headshot choice soon).”
“As an actor you go through several photographers until you find the right one. Tess is the right one! Tess and her team are beyond professional and their goal is to help you get in the door and book work with their photo.
Tess starts off sitting down with you, wanting to know your character type and the roles you are going for. Then she gives you a bunch of options regarding looks and styles, shooting wise indoor, outdoor, studio style, etc. Her experience in this industry definitely shows in her work. She knows exactly what she is doing and how to work with you. Makes you feel very comfortable and confident in the shoot and that is a huge thing!!
Make-up was fantastic! You look like the best version of you! As far as choosing the best pics, Tess makes it extremely easy using a link that has all of your pictures that you then can make a favorites folder out of and then you narrow them down more from there. She edits several on the spot with you!! Usually this process can be a pain going back and the forth with the photographer with emails about edits and etc but Tess makes its so easy and simple!
Tess was by far the best experience I've had with a photographer for headshots and since then I've had several compliments on my headshots from agents and casting directors. She is truly the best of the best and cares about you getting the best headshot for your career!”
“If you want great head shots that look like you on your best day, I highly recommend using Tess. Headshots can be unnerving. Since they're the first impression casting will see, they have to make a big impression, while showing who you really are. I instantly felt comfortable with her, which is so important to me for getting natural looking pictures. She is skilled at listening to give you exactly what you want, and will give you good advice on how to achieve it. She's professional and responsive. I never felt rushed, or pushed to do more than I needed. Tess truly wants her clients to be happy. Using Tess, I got gorgeous pictures that really let my personality show.”
"As a working actor, I have for many years introduced myself to fellow professionals -- including and especially potential employers -- with photographs taken by Tess Steinkolk. Her photos of me are, beyond question, the best headshots I’ve ever had taken - the most expressive, the most effective. I also have a second career as CEO of Mainstreet Musicals Inc. and so, since time is precious, I rely on associates who are dependable and expeditious. Tess is both. After a photo session (whether headshot or group) with Tess, I know that I am going to have an enjoyably difficult time choosing the “best” shots because, predictably, almost ALL of her images qualify as “usable” portraits and many qualify as “best.” That’s what I call “dependability.“ Plus, Tess’s working process is “expeditious”… meaning that when I am actually in front of the camera, Tess’s charming personality takes charge quickly and in only a few short moments we have developed our most productive relationship to the camera. Without hesitation, I give Tess Steinkolk/Brown Dog Productions my highest recommendation."
Timothy Jerome: Broadway Actor and CEO of Mainstreet Musicals, Inc.
"Tess is the best headshot photographer in town. As both an actor and an acting teacher, I have always been thrilled with the quality of her work, both for my own photos, and for those of the many acting students I've sent her way. Tess has the ability to make you feel at ease and to actually ENJOY the often uncomfortable experience of being photographed, so that your photos come out looking like you at your best. She also has a terrific eye for choosing the colors for your background, and helping you to choose your most flattering outfits, that enhance your own coloring and personality to give you the best photos you'll ever have!"
Gillian Goll – acting teacher and actress
“Tess Steinkolk is, quite simply, the best. Her name is recognized by all of the top casting directors and agents with whom I've auditioned and interviewed. Two things tend to happen whenever I present one of her headshots: 1) people say "wow! That is a great picture!" and 2) people say I look just like my head shot. Tess has the gift to know how to encourage you to project who you are in the picture and to capture it beautifully. She's also a brilliant videographer and working with her to produce an actor's reel which truly captures who I am as well as what I have done was fun, enlightening and empowering. I'd recommend her work to anyone in the performing and modeling world.”
Laurence Cantor – actor
"Tess is one of New York’s best! I have been in New York since the early 80's, and not until Tess did my photos did I get noticed. I have now worked with her three times over the past 15 years and have never been disappointed by her level of professionalism and caring. Tess has a innate way of making you feel incredibly at ease, while making what can be a tortuous process, seem like a walk in the park. Her work is top notch, the quality is fantastic and her prices are great. If you need headshots of any kind, look no further.”
Bob Celli - Actor & Filmmaker
“Headshot excellence! I really needed new photographs to say the least as my old ones looked like a high school grad photo. I went to Tess and she blew me away. She was so accommodating and helpful. She explained everything and never tried to sneak in any hidden costs. She was able to get the album cover for an original song I wrote and we were even able to sneak in a few quality headshots during the sessions. If you want great shots and want someone with you every step of the way you should definitely shoot with Tess. And as a bonus you get to meet the coolest dog in the world.”
Bryant Martin – Musician & Actor
NYC 917-821-7576 firstname.lastname@example.org