In my 30 plus years with Modern Salon Media I have had the pleasure to judge hundreds (if not thousands) of hair and beauty competitions. These have included any and everything from NAHA to Empire's Nail Competition to Miss Teen New Jersey. I have traveled the world judging international events including Wella's Trend Vision and Goldwell's Color Zoom throughout Europe as well as a Zotos competition in Japan several years ago.
Although it sounds so "cliche", it is truly an honor to participate in every event. I take my judging responsibility quite seriously. While looking at an entry I think of the competitor (or team) and treasure the efforts put in to the finish.
Over the years I have learned that there are keys to winning (or at least doing well) in any competition. Here are my top eight suggestions to presenting a good entry.
1. Follow the rules! There are usually so many winning finishes in every competition that the judges frequently have to look for reasons to eliminate an entry. NOT following the rules is usually first and foremost way to LOSE a competition.
2. The model is the most important element of any photo. Don't select a model based on HAIR...base it on the FACE. If you are entering a headshot in a print competition, it doesn't matter if the model does not have typical model stats. Book her (or him) based on look and length of neck...the longer the better! It's a different story in live competitions...go with a classic model height and shape. But again, make sure the face is perfect for the competition. (FYI, this does not necessarily mean beautiful! Interesting works too.)
3. For a print competition, photography is key. Even if your model (and her hair) is gorgeous, if not photographed well, it will not resonate with the judges. Simple rule: a dark haired model should be photographed on a lighter background, while a blonde or lighter haired model should be photographed on a darker background.
4. Know HOW you will be judged. I judged one competition that had a photo element, followed by a live element. There was one very interesting entry. The photo was fantastic and earned the highest points from all of the judges. However, the entry seriously disappointed in the live part of the competition...but because it had earned so many points in the first section, it still placed (it came in third). If possible, ask to see the judging sheet beforehand.
5. Learn what the judges are seeking. On a recent judging panel I was told there were two judges looking just for technical expertise and...cleanliness! The cleanliness aspect surprised me. While I personally love a colorist that kind of "slops" around and leaves the floor looking like a Jackson Pollock painting, most companies want to make sure their artists and their working spaces are neat and clean. ("The winner will be representing us worldwide," said one of the technical judges, "I want to make sure he or she will represent us well.") One of the best finishes in that competition didn't even place because the colorist had a messy station.