Annette Russell, TIGI Casting Director, shares her advice and tips for selecting the right models for your next salon photo shoot.

Posted in Education, Business Education, Business |

Continuing our tips for successful salon shoots, we take a look at one of the most important areas to of creating a salon photo shoot: casting the right models.

Annette Russell, former model and model agent, has worked with Anthony Mascolo for over 25 years and over the last 10 years has organised models for TIGI campaigns, shows and seminars, as well as for client shoots.

FUSE talked to Annette to get the lowdown on choosing the right model for the job, what happens at a model casting, and just what her role as TIGI Casting Director encompasses.

Annette ‘back in the day’ with Anthony Mascolo and hairdresser, Lawrence Anthony

How did you become a casting director?

Annette: I felt it was a natural progression from my years of experience in the fashion industry, specifically with models.

When you’re working on a project, such as a shoot, how long in advance do you start thinking of appropriate models for the job?

Annette:  As soon as I receive the shoot dates! Everything works back from this. Oh, and the budget, of course! The bigger the project, the longer lead time required – this also relates to the number of models and the variety of looks required to meet the client brief.

"My advice: Take inspiration from your own vision and experiences but also take influence from key players and current magazine editorials."

Annette Russell

Do you work with specific agencies or do you look widely for models?

Annette: Some key and trusted agents play a role in every one of my castings; my task would be impossible without their support and understanding of intense schedules. However, it’s always ‘horses for courses’ so a wider variety of agents may be called upon to meet the demands of model briefings.

What differences are there between casting models for shows and shoots?

Annette: Back in the day there was a huge difference. Being an old-fashioned kind of girl, I continue to have a certain standard for deportment (or model walk) along with a certain presence, which is vital for all my show models. And great deportment and presence is something I love to share in class with new faces who are tipped by their agents! However, these qualities also translate beautifully for the camera too. For a stills casting, a greater emphasis and attention is required on the facial structure, whilst for a show casting the client needs to focus on the walk. Having said that, many of the more successful models work in both fields and in more than one market.

When it comes to photo shoots, what should the expectations be?

Annette: Expect an amazing day of fun… but only if it’s filled with attention to detail and an open mind to embrace the experience. Shoots can be hard work, yet so rewarding. They’re about team work so to have your models fully briefed and prepared for their day’s work ahead is great.

When it comes to the hair, ‘styling only’ is more the norm within the fashion business, so if we do wish to cut or colour a model’s hair – and we regularly do – a full understanding must be in place with both model and agent prior to confirmation. Good communication leads to the smooth running of the day, which is vital when the whole team have so much to do in such a short space of time.

Over the years you have regularly worked with TIGI Inspirational Youth. What have you enjoyed about this experience?

Annette: In all the years in the business, Inspirational Youth has been one of the most ever rewarding for me. It’s an opportunity to give back to a world that has given me so much. I simply love IY!

Annette mentoring the TIGI Inspirational Youth team

What advice would you give to a hairdresser planning a photo shoot?

Annette: It’s all about the hair, the hair, the hair! However, it is important to translate your own interpretation to the creative team and the casting director in advance of casting date.

A mood board is of great assistance, to understand the hair, make-up, styling, and the set. This information gives an opportunity for me, in turn, to translate to the agents prior to the casting. In fact, my pre-casting preparation is crucial to meet the requirements of the cast session and ultimately to find the desired models.

My advice: Take inspiration from your own vision and experiences but also take influence from key players and current magazine editorials. But be open – a model may walk through the door and it turns out she inspires you!

What happens on the casting day and how is it organised?

Annette: Casting sessions for TIGI are usually ‘pre-cast.’ This means only requested models attend, saving time from both the client and model’s perspective. After seeing the pre-cast models, a short list of choices is drawn up and I then double-check availability with the respective agents prior to any confirmation agreements being made. Every model booking is handled in a bespoke way and in advance of the shoot date. This allows for negotiations relating to the rates and image rights, along with the necessary written confirmation agreements.

What’s your role on the day of the shoot?

Annette: On site I am a cross between a nurse and a lawyer! Occasionally a model may be a little overwhelmed, I am there to help! A client may be too expectant, I am there to help! For example, punctuality is a pre-requisite but stuff happens so, if I am on site, I am there to resolve as many little hiccups as I can. Travel time, especially in central London, may vary so I always try to be covered for all eventualities. I am there to look out for the safety and wellbeing of the models too, especially when it comes to travel and moving them around the City and the world.

"Know what it is you are wanting to achieve, then reach for the stars."

Annette Russell

Nowadays lots of shoots are done by street castings. How does this work and what pointers would you give to someone using non-professional models?

Annette: Tricky area! The 80s was a big era for street casting and these days the agencies themselves cover all the looks imaginable, now additionally in their ‘Social Division’. When booking through an agency there is the security that we have a reputable agent working on our behalf. That said, I am forever spotting new young talent and diverse looks! When it comes to making actual confirmations on such individuals, I prefer to work with one agent who kindly manages these people for me.

With your experience, what key tips would you give a hairdresser planning a shoot or a fashion show?

Annette: Go in with your eyes wide open, half shut afterwards! It’s all in the preparation and it’s all about communications with those taking part in the event or shoot. Ensure you have the right support team and delegate! Know what it is you are wanting to achieve, then reach for the stars.

Annette rocking out between shoot takes

As well as her invaluable work as TIGI Casting Director, she is also the director of So Dam Tuff


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