Toronto-based Tony Masciangelo, one of Canada’s top editorial stylists, owner of the Alcorn Salon and 2011 Session category Contessa winner, says the key element to creating beautiful editorial hair is that it’s not about the hair, it’s all about the girl.
Certainly that is true when you’re styling super models for top fashion magazines that Masciangelo works with—such as Vanity Fair, FLARE, FQ, FASHION, and Elle Canada. The creativity of editorial hair is often in the hands of the designers and editors, but Mascianglo says the styling elements for photo shoots are similar.
Communication with the photographer, art director, makeup artists or any others involved with the photo shoot is also key. “But you can’t be too insistent on just your ideas. The photographer might have a different vision. So don’t show up on set with any preconceived notions. Have an idea of what you plan to do, but have 20 more in your kit. And be open to whatever happens,” says Masciangelo.
Ara Sassoonian, an award winning hairstylist and photographer from Montreal-based Pure salon, says, “A strong synergy between the hairstylist and the photographer is essential. The stylist must make the concept clear and express his/her expectations.”
When it’s time to shoot, the hairstylist should be next to the photographer to ensure the angle is correct and looking to see if any touch-ups are needed. “Doing hair for photos is totally different than working behind the chair. There are details that you don’t see in real life,” says Sassoonian.
Post-production is also very important. This is when frame selection, cropping and touch- ups (i.e. Photoshop) can be done. Don’t just leave it up to the photographer.
A view from the lens
With 15 years of experience shooting commercial and editorial fashion, as well as being seasoned hair competition photographer, Richard Dubois says the best advice he can give a stylist planning to show a hair collection is “to have a very clear vision of what the collection will look like. Having visual references and a sit-down meeting with the photographer beforehand is essential,” says Dubois. “The photographer and hairstylist need to be able to find a creative rhythm to work well together.”
Figuring out a budget that works for everyone is also very important. “Concepts don’t need to be complicated and expensive. It’s best to first allocate your budget toward hiring strong talent. If the budget is limited, start small and simple with a single entry with three models and a simple wardrobe.”
Planning a photo shoot can take weeks. Hairpieces must be ready to go, kits stocked up and the day planned out to include prep time and breaks. The day of the shoot is not the time to try your hair concepts out for the first time. Trial runs and even getting test photos done, can help you fine-tune the concept and ensure that “shoot day” runs as smoothly as possible.
For newcomers and veteran stylists alike, getting into photo-based competitions takes an extraordinary amount of planning and strategy. When choosing a photo competition chose the category you decide to enter wisely. Read the rules and regulations carefully and make sure you understand the judging criteria. Knowing what you’re shooting for will further define and refine your collection and possibly help get your collection into the winner’s circle.