Rossa Jurenas, lead hair stylist for Schwarzkopf Professional, is no stranger to the Contessa circuit: she’s a five-time winner and has been a finalist most of the times she’s entered. We dropped by her photo shoot for this year’s competition to get helpful hints on how you can better your chances of becoming a finalist.
1. Go with the flow.
“I believe in a photo shoot you need to have flow. When you look at a collection it’s about flow and the story,” says Jurenas, citing other magazine photo shoots as some of her inspiration. She keeps journals, books and online folders with notes so that she can quickly create storyboards before a shoot. The storyboard however is just inspiration, not a literal plan of the exact looks she hopes to do.
2. Read the rules.
She recommends reading the Contessa rules carefully to help give you direction.
“I read the rules, and it actually says ‘We wanna see this, this, this and that.’” She uses this as the basis for deciding whether to focus on versatility, diversity, colour or texture (or all of the above) when creating her styles.
3. Don’t copy what was popular last year.
“I will look at last year’s winners…but I don’t analyze it and think ‘How am I gonna do it this year?’ but I look for what inspires me.”
She also suggests keeping in mind that shooting something that may be a big trend in the spring/summer may be out by the time fall judging rolls around.
4. Pick the right models for the right occasion.
Jurenas suggests always shooting extra images and looks, especially when you aren’t using professional models because “you just never know.”
Also, be prepared to make readjustments. For instance, one of Jurenas’ first ideas on the day we visited just didn’t look flattering on the model chosen for it. So she switched the design.
Avoid models with faux tans. It may not read on camera with the lighting.
The best advice she’s ever received when it comes to shooting? “Don’t make it look too portrait-ey. Go for more high fashion.”
5. Step up your game and challenge yourself.
Beyond teaching photo shoot seminars herself, Jurenas also looks for help from professionals to help make her visions come to life.
She felt the styling was integral to her shoot this year, so she decided to hire professional models and a stylist. “I’ve been doing this for so long I feel I need to up my game.”
6. Don’t shoot to win.
“Don’t shoot to win. I’m stoked about this shoot. So why not enter it? It’s for marketing my own portfolio. I didn’t win a Contessa last year but [one of my finalist] image is on the cover of Salon Magazine [for May/June]. Right there is a win,” says Jurenas. She also says that clients “go crazy” knowing about the work she does outside of her salon. “You build up your clientele through marketing your salon with this kind of stuff.
“I shoot for myself…That’s how I grow.”