TIGI photographers, Alex Barron-Hough and Mauro Carraro, share their top tips for creating a successful photographic collection for your salon.

Posted in Education, Business Education, Business |

TIGI Photographers Alex Barron-Hough and Mauro Carraro have varied and exciting jobs. From shooting at events such as The Alternative Hair Show, and working at fashion weeks, to covering TIGI shows and client events across the globe, they also work on TIGI collections and ad campaigns, and support educational courses such as the TIGI Session Course.

The pair also work on TIGI client shoots and are involved in this process from the initial meeting where the concept is discussed, to supporting model selection at the casting, as well as the general organisation of the day including booking make-up artists, clothes stylists, photographic assistants, and props.

The shooting day is always full on, and their experience and understanding of what is required for the desired outcome is invaluable. The work doesn’t end there however, as the next stage is choosing a small selection of images from the hundreds, sometimes thousands, that have been shot, that are then put into post-production for retouching, before the final collection is delivered to the salon.

Fuse sat down with Alex and Mauro and asked them to share some ideas so that when you’re planning your next shoot, you are armed with great information.

If a salon is thinking of shooting a collection, what should the starting point be?

Alex: “It’s always important to have a clear vision of the hair that you want to create. For example, decide if it’s going to be sharp and geometric or more textured and abstract. This will give a strong guide to the overarching look and feel, and allows us to pull together the correct creative treatment and subsequent teams.”

Mauro: “Hairdressers, make-up artists, clothes stylists and photographers are all very visual people. So good mood boards are key to explaining the looks you are hoping to achieve.”

How long before the shoot date should the planning begin?

Alex: “I am a firm believer that a longer lead time will result in a smoother production, so I believe ideas should be bouncing around in your head for months to allow for lots of hours spent playing with techniques on clients, friends, models or head blocks.”

Mauro: “I agree. I would always recommend at least a six week prep time from the date of shoot. Longer if you need but less will always throw up issues. It can take three weeks just to cast the right models and any good make up or clothes stylist will be busy at least a month in advance.”

Alex: “But, realistically, if you only want a simple ‘standard’ salon shoot we could it turn around within a week or so, but it’s not ideal.”

"The photographer and hairdressers need to be thinking as one! Completely united, so communication is key to this."

Alex Barron-Hough

Is it important to know what you want to do with the images before you do the shoot (such as competitions, digital, editoral coverage, advertising)?

Alex: “100%! This is imperative! Not knowing what the end goal is would be crazy. Specific nuances are impacted by the type of shoot we are looking to create.”

Mauro: “Absolutely. How you intend to use your images is key to how they are shot, so understanding your audience and the platform is vital from concept. The difference can be from shooting the picture landscape so it works for your website landing page, the side of a bus or website banner, or portrait for editorial or competition usage. All too often hairdressers shoot for competitions and forget you really need to leverage the collection in as many different mediums as you can. The cost of a shoot is high, so just doing it to enter awards is just not financially viable.”

How important is it to create a mood board and what should this include?

Mauro: “Mood boards are essential as the start and middle of your project. They are how you tell which models you want, to how the make-up is going to look on the day. If you don’t have some sort of guidance of how it should be, you have no starting point. Although it has to be said, we don’t always stay on plan!”

Alex: “A mood board is the blueprint, and the most efficient way that all creatives involved on the job are singing from the same hymn sheet. Obviously we all have different interpretations, so it’s crucial to see a visual representation.”

As the photographer, what references do you need in order to be able to give the hairdressers the best direction?

Alex [firmly]: “The photographer and hairdressers need to be thinking as ONE! Completely united, so communication is key to this, the photographer needs to be involved in every aspect, such as styling, make-up, and the hair.”

Mauro: “I like to see my photography as a tool the hairdresser can use to fill their salons with clients. Image making and collections should be about promoting your business and putting bums on seats. So my recommendation is to look at the person you want to have a conversation with on whatever channel you use. We did shoots recently to promote grey coverage so we shot older models. We shot men for a salon that wanted to increase their male grooming and we even did a prom queen shoot for a salon looking to target client’s for the party season. It’s about knowing your market.”

At the model casting what should the hairdressers be looking for?

Alex: “Well good healthy hair obviously. But actually the personality of the model is crucial too. You want to feel the connection, trust is also super important, as sadly many hair models have had bad experiences on hair jobs so are rightly nervous!”

Mauro: “The first thing you should always look for in a model is the type of hair you hope to work with. Next is the style of the model. There is no point in choosing a long-haired model when you really want to promote a bob, or a blonde model with roots that make the hair look bad. So ensure the model fits your criteria and will also appeal to your clients.

What limitations are there when using professional models? Are there restrictions in terms of what you can do to their hair? Also what about image rights?

Alex: “Obviously a healthy budget will often open up conversations when it comes to the amount of change a model is prepared to be open to. From the model and model agency point of view, a big change requires the model to have new marketing, and often a new book and portfolio, hence changes are often very restricted. It’s super important to ensure that image rights and usage fees are agreed upfront too, as this again can obviously have a big knock on budget implications.”

Mauro: “Also, I would always recommend using professional models as they will normally guarantee a good picture. That’s why they are professional. That doesn’t mean a non-professional model doesn’t work. If you do decide to use an untested model, expect to work harder and try a lot more approaches to their look to achieve the end result.

The flip side is that the look the professional model has is the one you will have to go with. So, except for a trim or colour refresh, you will struggle to change their style and hair colour. Having said all of this, I’ve done shoots with salons who use their own clients in a funky, adventurous way to give their image a more realistic approach. So there really is no hard and fast rules to model choices.”

"The best rule of thumb I can offer is: does the model look good, is the hair right, and do they work in a collection."

Mauro Carraro

How many looks should you expect to do on each model on the shoot day? 

Mauro: “The number of looks you can achieve on a shoot day is up to your skills and creative imagination. I would always recommend trying at least two looks per model as that way you know you’ve tried your best, but with wigs and hair pieces you could shoot more if you have the time and clothes to keep changing the looks. Just remember this will all take time though, so a good team and concise planning is imperative.”

Alex: “I would say do one well and anything else is a bonus! But this is dependent on how experienced the team is, and your planning. For example, having to wash product out and completely reset the model’s hair puts huge time pressure on the whole team. We’ve seen it go very wrong!”

How much information does the clothes stylist require before the shoot in order to prep the right clothes and accessories for the desired looks? And how much time do they need to be able to pull all the looks together?

Mauro: “The mood board is always the strong reference. Even if it’s just a single page with a good clear definitive style. This could be as simple as copying a style from a TV programme, a magazine reference or tear sheets from your favorite designer’s collection. We did one shoot for a salon in Birmingham that wanted to reference the TV show, “Peaky Blinders” with the idea that this concept would establish their Birmingham credentials, whilst another salon group wanted clean classic lines evocative of Chanel, to fit in with the colours and design of their salon.”

Alex: “I think it’s really important for the stylist to work together with the photographer and lead hairdresser from the start of the project, so they have a feeling for the textures, colours and overall direction of the fashion styling, but once the models are confirmed it’s always good to update the stylist with the models measurements. That being said, a good stylist should be well prepared with multiple sizes of shoes, and anyway, clothes should be pinned and clipped to fit perfectly!”

What happens on the day? How does it work?

Alex: “The photographer and crew arrive early and start by setting up the lighting, cameras, backgrounds etc, then the creative team will arrive, set up the work stations, grab a coffee, sit down and ensure everyone is on the same page and ready for when the models arrive. Then it’s ‘all hands on deck’ getting the models into their first looks and on set, so we photographers can start shooting.”

Mauro: “If you’ve prepped it and models have been cast well, the day should be busy but enjoyable. With a little bit of room left for some creativity and some flexibility in your plan you will find the day motivational and inspiring. Everyone should come away with a sense of achievement. The shoot day is a day for every single person to concentrate on all the things they’ve learnt of their craft and encapsulate it into that definitive image or images.”

After the shoot, what is the best way to select the final images?

Mauro: “Selecting the final images is almost harder for me than shooting them. The shape or the look of a particular hairstyle is so personal to each one of us, it’s difficult after the shoot for me to choose just one. I guess the best way to do this is to edit the favorite ten or twelve, then choose the best three, then finally the best one. This can take a couple of weeks just to narrow them down. The best rule of thumb I can offer is: does the model look good, is the hair right, and do they work in a collection. And that’s after you’ve considered whether it should be landscape, square or upright… Choices!”

Alex: “During the day, I try and work with the lead hairdresser to mark up our day selects and I would always recommend trying to do the first edit together at the end of the day, whilst it’s fresh in everyone’s mind. Then I like to print these images on large A3 contact sheets for the client to take away and make a final edit.”

How long does it usually take from the shoot day to the receipt of the final images?  

Alex: “We have been known to turn around within 24hrs should the deadline require this, but typically allowing at least 1-2weeks would be fair.”

Mauro: “To pull a really definitive collection together you should allow six weeks of planning before the shoot. Two weeks of editing after the shoot and then depending on how many images you retouch at least another two-four weeks. It’s not a simple process!”

See more from Alex: and Mauro: