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Hair Photography
Gregrory Geiger, hair photographer

As a hairstylist, are you creative, talented, experienced, or just ready to show your clients what the future hair styles will be?
Photo-shoots are the way to show your skills. In this day of social media (Facebook, Twitter) the instant access to your website and the use of internet news feeds, posting your work is the way to improve client visibility of your work and the services of your salon. But just having your iPhone snap and post is the same as serving a PB&J sandwich to your clients.

The Planning:
Storyboards are scary to everyone. The first time. Once you create a few, they become easier and you along with the rest of your team can't work without them. I've written a page, "How to create a storyboard", that is at the end of this page. It will help.

Photo-shoots at least twice a year. Do a "spring-summer" and "fall-winter" shoot. If you follow Women's Wear Daily, American Salon, Modern Salon and Elle, Glamour, Marie Claire magazines you will know what the trends will be in the coming season. You can also Google photos from runway shows in Milan and Paris to see what the clothing designers have had hair stylists come up with. While many of your clients will not embrace the "wild 'n crazy" they will look to see what you can produce or what toned-down approach could be done for them.

Please treat this photo-shoot as if you were being paid $500 per hour! Find a great model, get an experienced make-up artist, do some serious planning on the clothing. Find an up-scale clothing store that you can network with. They loan you the clothing, you agree to keep some of their business cards in your salon. The photographer is a critical member of your production team! This person must get the hair! It's all about the lighting. Post a casting-call on your Facebook page, Google photographers in your state (don't think locally, you want the best you can afford!) and add the key words "hair photography". Look at their work critically, are the photos in sharp focus on the hair, is your eye drawn to the hair, does the photos look like they were done for NAHA, Wella or another national competition? Attention to detail is key with the photography. Fly-away hair where it shouldn't be, are the eyes blended well, lipstick that has a crisp line and NO photos done outside! I have written a page of Questions to Ask on Hiring a Photograper, see the end of this page. Good photographers that have a studio, have 2, 3, 4 high-end digital cameras and 8+ light heads, will not be cheap. You can expect a superior quality product, done quickly and having a WOW factor. There is a reason you don't do $5 hair cuts, the photographer will not be taking $5 photos.

Shoot-it, Show-it, Sell-it:
After the photos are taken, get right on the post-production process. Pick the photos as soon as they are posted for your review. Get a written schedule from the photographer on when you can see edits, approve and order webs files and enlargements. If the photos look like art pieces, have a preview party after hours for favorite clients and their friends. Offer a discount on the first appointment for new clients that book and leave a deposit that night. Make this a WOW-factor with a few of the models present wearing the clothing from the clothing store you worked with. Ask that store to do a posting (or e-mail) of your event to their clients. Once a week post one photo on your website and Facebook page. Have a good description about the style, how it was inspired, and the care needed to do the style for everyday wear. Contact your local newspapers, the internet publications (Patch.com) and TV stations that have news features programs. For your clients that get a new style cut, ask them to post on your Facebook Wall that they were happy/thrilled/excited with the new hair style.

Once you do a photo-shoot, take a month off (but you and the crew will be excited and will only wait 2 weeks!) then start planning your next creative session. This time you will be better organized. You should be making folders that have: Hair - Make-up - Clothing - Background/Props - Accessories. Make a schedule with the shoot date set, back-time (reverse scheduling) to set the production schedule. Start collecting names to invite at the next Preview Party. Think about a charity raffle. At each successive photo-shot you will find the planning process easier and more creative. You will also find bookings increase, you become the local expert is hair-style trends and this becomes team-building for your salon.

Shameless Pitch:
G. Gregory Geiger (G3) is both a Certified Professional Photographer and has the degree of Photographic Craftsman from the Professional Photographers of America, Inc. As of May 2013 he begins his 43rd year as a photographer, with training in 16mm film, TV studio, video-tape, live video, helicopter TV news, 20 years as a nationally published wedding photographer and now a commercial photographer, you will find him very experienced, professional and very easy to work with. G3 has earned 2 Kodak Gallery Awards, a Fuji Master Piece award and a regional Emmy. In 2012, Gregory took First Place in the Paul Mitchell Systems "Top Stylist Competition", plus two of his photography entries had 4th Place finishes. However, his attitude is, "I'm only as good as my last photo-shoot, if it wasn't award-winning caliber, I have not done my very best for you."
When it's time to book a great hair photographer, book Gregory, he will get you the great results!


The Storyboard:
Why make one? Simple, it's a blueprint that keeps your creative focus on the track you started. Your storyboard gets your final vision in print as you had first envisioned it. Once you make the storyboard, stick with it. Go back to it during the planning, color, cut, styling and especially doing the photo shoot.

Getting started:
Look through piles of magazines! Make 5 folders: Hair - Make-up - Clothing - Backgrounds - Textures. Tear pages out of the magazines, put in the respective folder. Don't limit yourself to hair or fashion magazines. Look for trends, find photos of fashion shows in Paris and Milan; look at travel magazines, look at trade magazines, nature, architecture and professional photography magazines. You are looking for design styles, textures, patterns. List some Key-Words to describe your work, then Google search those words. Print out photos and patterns that you like. They all go into the respective folders.

Step 2:
If this is for a competition, read the Rules! Print out the Rules! Highlight the Key Rules!!! Now I suggest you start with the hair. What style? Look through the Hair folder, are you doing long or short? Straight, curls or ??? Do you want a pattern? Take the scissors to the photos, start clipping and combining. Bangs from one, layers from another, get a shape that you think is different, makes a statement. Hang the combo image, step back look at it. Look at it against a black wall, or dark gray or white wall. What one gives you a better feel.

Step 3:
The Team: Clothing Stylist (CS), Make-up artist (MUA)and Photographer. Have the CS give you possible clothing ideas and suggestions, remember texture-texture-texture! Once you have the clothing then it's time to work with the MUA. You want to have a smooth transition from hair-to-face-to-clothing.  The Photographer, he or she will need to see your story board. What were you thinking of a background? What feel did you want for your work? Open, airy = lots of light, a light background; dramatic = dark shadows, edge lighting. Photogs call this respectively, "high-key" and "low-key". I will ask if the hair can be moved with wind, do you want a wind-blown look? The photog should ask about accessories; jewelry, gloves and props. Ask the photographer what he thinks the photo should be, a vertical or horizontal (also known as portrait or landscape). If it's to be full length shoes will need to be discussed.

Step 4:
Put together all the elements of the photos. You are making a complete plan for your shoot. You should have a storyboard that makes the hair come alive! As you are working on model selection, refer back to the look on the storyboard, the same for prep (color, cut and styling).

Step 5:
Many clothing stylists own a tagging gun. They buy the outfits, carefully remove the tags to later retag them and return the clothing and other accessories. Make a Call Sheet, see below for a sample. Go over the prep again in your head. Double check the product you will be using, check on scissors, curling irons, hair dryers and all the other tools you might use. Be sure to have at least 2 of everything!

At each stage of your prep, go back to look at your storyboard, it will keep your original vision as the final look that will be photographed.

Good planning & good luck,

                                                                                                                       Call Sheet for Photo Shoot on ______________________ Ver:_________
Created on:                            
Last up-date:                                    By:
Project: (Jessica Rabbit hair shoot for competition photos)

Prep day for hair:
Site phone #:
Start time:                                                         
Approx end time:
Model to bring:
Team members:
Creator:                                                                                   Cell #:
Model:                                                                                                Cell #:
Hair Stylist:                                                                   Cell #
Cell #
Clothing stylist:                                                              Cell #
Photographer:                                                                 Cell #
Studio Mgr:                                                                    Cell #

Shoot location: (address)
Location Phone:
Crew arrival time:
Notes on changes:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Questions to ask before you hire a hair photographer:

Some details you should ask and know about, before you hire a photographer to do a photo shoot. The Golden Rule, "he who has the Gold, makes the Rules", in this case, if you pay the photographer, you control the use of the photos. Don't EVER agree to a TF (Trade For) photo-shoot. Now the photographer solely controls the photos, he/she can ship off the files to magazines that would consider publishing them, the catch, there can be a 6 month hold or embargo on the photos while the magazine considers their editorial needs. At the end of the 6 months, if that magazine elects not to use them, you get photos that are 6 months old.

Find A Photographer
  1. Start with a Google search on "Hair Photographer" in your state.
  2. There will be a website, carefully read all the content, look at the photos.
  3. Are the photos competition or magazine quality?
  4. Do you feel the photographer understands doing hair photography or is this person a camera owner that has a few good hair pictures?
  5. You will pay for experience, expensive cameras don't make a great photographer, being passionate about photography isn't a substitute for experience. Only having years of daily photography assignments gives experience. You will be investing many hours of planning, finding a model, picking the right clothing and accessories, doing the color, cut and styling and the time for the photo shoot to hear, "opps, my camera battery died, I don't have a spare".
  6. Make a list of questions you need answered, contact the photographer to either ask to cover your list or if they will take the time to write out answers to all your questions.
  7. Meeting the photographer if possible. This is a serious project for you, ask to meet the photographer. What is their personality like? We have all seen brilliant hair stylists that are sadly lacking in people skills; the same with photographers.  You need someone that is a pleasure to work with, doesn't get up-set when things go wrong, off schedule and run late.
  8. Get a copy of the Release. Carefully read it, ask questions. If needed, ask for changes and you are allowed to create your own Usage & Licensing Agreement for the photographer to sign.
  9. Where will the shoot take place: as I am a studio owner, I will always suggest in the photo studio. The studio gives the photographer more control of the photo session. Changing backgrounds, props, lighting all go to make that perfect shoot. Do the work at your salon, get in the car and drive to the studio or do a practice, prep session at your studio and the next day do the actual styling at the studio. I can always bring most of the needed equipment to your salon. It's the one accessory that I don't bring and wish I had that gets left at the studio, that is the piece of equipment that would make the photo so much better!
  10. Insurance: does the photographer have insurance? If they bring a light into your salon and it gets knocked over damaging a station, will their insurance cover the repair? Or they run a power cord across the floor, the model trips and is hurt in the fall, will their insurance cover the injury or worse the reshoot?

Hair Photographer Tips - Hiring a Photographer - Tips for Models