Expert Advice

Get it right

Web Editor | July 10, 2011 | 6:16 PM

Professional beauty photographer Tom Carson travels the globe from his home base in Charlotte, North Carolina, working with hundreds of colorists who know a picture is worth 1000 words. Great hair color makes the makeover difference, he says, but mishaps abound. Want a model to go ballistic? Need an agency demanding more cash because you changed a model’s look so much, they claim her portfolio is worthless to clients? Wanna throw $5,000 down the drain? It’s all happened, says Carson, when makeovers are dramatic and planning is poor. Here’s what he says you should know:

In the studio

• For before and afters, make a color change of at least three levels. And don’t forget to get the before shot!

• Don’t do color the day of the shoot, unless you’re doing step-by-steps. Even if you have the time, color stains will have to be rubbed off, which turns the model’s skin red.

• Do use a neutral background; it shows color best.

• Do your homework on what the model had done previously. Hair that turns green during a step-by-step shoot kills the day.

• Plan the mood and feel of your shot. A single, direct light rarely shows color best. Backlights reflect off the hair beautifully and mini spotlights can help highlight a portion of the head.


• Sunlight may make your color look fabulous, but let the photographer make that call. Ghastly shadows on the face are not offset by shimmery highlights.

• Never shoot when the sun is straight above you. The best time to shoot is a half-hour after sunrise to about 11 a.m., then 3 p.m. to sundown, but light varies by location and season.

• Avoid busy backgrounds that detract from the hair—especially
if your color is subtle.

Anywhere, anytime

• Communicate changes clearly. Videotape your model agreeing to the look and indicating, with his or her hand, the length to be removed. Unwillingness to go on record separates a winner from
a troublemaker.

• Include in your model release that you are not responsible for damage resulting from products and chemical services or failure to reveal previous services. Get it signed before you start the makeover.

• Involve photographers in selecting a make-up artist. Make certain that the artist plan is appropriate. Heavy glamor make-up doesn’t work for a business look. Only use team players on a shoot.

• Be sure models will show up. Often, models-found-around want a freebie but fail to show the next day. Carson says this is less likely to happen with the owner’s clients.

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