Roberto Ligresti
Roberto Ligresti

When MODERN started Artist Session it was truly for selfless reasons. We knew we had access to the best photographers, makeup artists, fashion stylists and models. We wanted to offer the hairdressing community the opportunity to learn how to do a photoshoot and learn how to get those photos published.


In the beginning, it was all for you. However, we did not realize at the time how this would benefit us. We did not imagine the incredible results that would emerge from these sessions that would eventually grace our pages and covers. We also didn’t anticipate how much fun we would have!


The Details

Artist Session is a two-day workshop where eight to 12 artists learn how to break into the freelance world of hairstyling through a hands-on photoshoot experience. These artists are a perfect blend of first-timers and regular session artists.


On set at Artist Session

Day one is all about inspiration. Freelancers, public relations agents and other insiders offer their “take” on the photoshoot world and the industry. Day one also includes a model casting where approximately 85 New York City-based models come to meet the artists.


On day two, attendees get to participate in their own editorial photoshoot—this is meant to replicate what a real photo session is like and how it feels to be on set.


The Why

Artist Session kicked off several years ago when MODERN Beauty and Fashion Director Maggie Mulhern, who manages many of MODERN’s photoshoots and covers, felt the need to share what she has learned on set with the up and coming hairdressers who wanted to get the behind the scenes scoop on actually doing a photoshoot.


“I have been working with top hairdressers since the early 1980s and have shot with just about everyone, the biggest names in the industry, the most exciting salon pros,” Mulhern says. “I’ve been learning from them for three decades.”


Attendees have fun on set

The How

Hairdressers have always asked Mulhern how to walk away with a beautiful image or collection, how to get press, and how to up their profiles.


“There are so many elements to a photoshoot,” Mulhern says. “It’s not

about finding a model with great hair and a good photographer. It’s about finding a great model with a great face and a fantastic photographer. It’s about getting the right makeup artist. It’s about fashion and location. It’s about posing and featuring the good, masking the not so good.”


All of this is taught and most importantly experienced at Artist Session.


Great Photo, But Then What?

That’s the kicker. So many hairdressers do have great photos. The finishes we see on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook are wonderful, but rarely of the quality (size, resolution, setting) needed to be published in print. While these real-people shots are fantastic, many professionals want that studio, professional team experience. At Artist Session, attendees learn how to reach out and get their photos published internationally.

Artist Session attendee Chaunsey Hildebrandt begins molding her model’s hair to prepare for a full head of blue, orange and yellow wefts.

Public Relations and International Exposure

One of the most important aspects of the Artist Session program is to introduce attendees to the top agents in the field that guide on who to reach out to, how to introduce your photo and tips on how to get published. Past speakers have included: Helen Oppenheim, Jayne Morehouse and Julia Labaton.


Superstar Speakers

Top freelancers and artists have come to speak at Artist Session to share their personal experiences “making it big” and how to take those life lessons and apply them to the attendees personal career paths. Among them: Ward, Kevin Ryan, Frank Rizzieri, Oribe, Dean Banowetz, Sacha Quarles, David Lopez, Ezel, Ruth Roche, Ana Marie Rizzieri, Ted Gibson, Sam Villa and more.

Attendee Misty Stetz works on her model.


The Artist Session program is geared toward working artists who already know how to do hair (the team does not teach hair techniques). Although there are many first-time artists attending Artist Session, there is an impressive list of artists who have participated in the program including NAHA alum and award-winning competitors Sherri Jessee, Jake Thompson, Sam Villa, Rusty Phillips, Shirley Gordon, Danielle Keasling, and others who have gone on to win various industry-wide competitions and have their work published worldwide.


Oh, and the Goody Bag

The Artist Session goody bag is like no other in the industry. Valued at up to $1,600, the bag is chock-full of the finest appliances a session artist needs. The last bag was filled with four different sizes of curling irons from Hot Tools, a CHI flatiron, clippers from Andis, the Italia Brava blowdryer from BabylissPRO, RSession NaluWaver, a DevaCurl DevaFuser, and Cricket brushes and combs.


Maggie Mulhern, right, and Artist Session attendees look at the monitor with celebrity stylist and guest speaker Ward, of Living Proof, to learn the ins and outs of session photography.


Price: $2,000 for the two-day session, $450 observer/assistant fee with a registered attendee

Next Artist Session: May 2-3, 2016, in New York City—for future dates, visit or email Joyce at

Notes From Past Attendees

“Participating in Artist Session is something that is magical. The photographic expertise of Roberto Ligresti, the makeup talent of David Maderich, and the fabulous stylist Rod Novoa brought my concept and vision together in a work of art! I have expanded my ability in doing photographic work. The connections and friends that I have made through this program are invaluable. Most importantly, this program has provided further development and growth for me as a professional that are priceless.” —Rusty Phillips, Kansas City, Missouri, cover artist, NAHA winner, published internationally, six-time Artist Session attendee


“What I like most about Artist Session is the people. I have participated in lots of editorial workshops, and this is the best for working on your own artistic expression. It is also great to be able to choose your own model to get the look you want and have expert coaching all along to keep you strongly on your path. Roberto Ligresti, David Maderich, Maggie Mulhern and Rod Novoa are some of the people I trust most and are all at the top of their game.” —Gay Dering, Santa Rosa, California, NAHA winner published internationally five-time Artist Session attendee


“Artist Session was my very first photoshoot experience. And wow, what an experience. I learned so much. I learned more about myself and discovering my own talents and abilities. In the past I always had someone over my shoulder, and it didn’t allow me to express myself completely. The creative freedom and being your own art director was the best part for me. I had my vision, and I was able to execute it on a top model, with fantastic makeup and fashion and all photographed by a top, award-winning photographer. Since doing artist session, I have moved to New York City, done TV, fashion week, and so many more photoshoots with fashion magazines. There is no way I would have accomplished what I have without Artist Session. It gave me the exposure I needed to advance my career.” —Diana Macaluso, New York City January 2013 MODERN cover artist

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