Expert Advice

Preparing Stylists to Succeed at Sebastian Professional What's Next Awards

Anne Moratto | October 31, 2016 | 2:05 PM
GianPaulo Columbo mentors Nicole Greer, Tribe Studio, Encinitas, CA
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Rian La Fleur, from Bella Rinova salon in Houston, TX is an educator who has mentored others in the past and is now submitting for the first time.    
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Michael Haase on set
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Brianna Sherman,Studio 78,Oceanside, CA consults with Oliver Shortall
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The inspiration, The Eclectic Collection
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     Lindsey Rice, Wella Field Education Capability Manager for Lifestyle Brands
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In the day of the overshare, it’s still not easy to really, truly put yourself ‘out there.’  To reveal yourself and your work for everyone to see. But stylists who compete in photographic challenges find the reward is in the doing. 

The big problem, often, is how to get started.  Sebastian Professional has taken away every excuse by creating a two-day competition seminar that prepares participants to enter Sebastian’s What’s Next Awards (WNA), taking them through all they need to know to develop and produce a photographic entry.

The class, Groundwork: WNA, is being taught by the most recent winner of the What’s Next Awards Affiliated Artist Category, GianPaulo Colombo, along with mentor and Signature Studio Artist Oliver Shortall.  Attendees came with their tools, their model and their creativity, while Sebastian took care of wardrobe, makeup artist, photographer, and all the catering.

Ultimately, the cost of taking the class shakes out to much less than it might cost to produce a shoot alone. And there is the added benefit of Colombo and Shortall being within calling distance, at all times.  Photographer Michael Haase is, himself, an accomplished hairdresser, salon owner, educator, as well as the man behind the camera.  It is a no-brainer.  So why do some still hesitate to participate?

"People get discouraged by the perceived cost of putting together their own shoot and they are afraid to showcase their work," Colombo says. "But no one is going to judge you here. What people think of the end result is all in the eye of the beholder."

We asked Colombo to talk about that fear--and how to dispel it--along with some tips for success from his years of competing (he has won several Mirror Awards, Contessa Awards, North American Hairstyling Awards, in addition to his recent WNA.)

 Why participate in the first place?

It allows people to know who you are. You can be very talented but to be known creatively and to get yourself to another level and get exposure, doing competitions, doing photo shoots is what you need.  Doing competitions helped me get my name out there in the industry but also allowed my clients to be more confident in me.  It creates a buzz in the salon. 

 What’s the first thing you need to do?

Have a direction of where you want to go.  Have a road map.  Whenever you are entering or doing a collection have a plan.  Plan your ideas on a mood board or story board.  You can find inspiration in the color of a flower or from architecture.  All these ideas and inspiring images help shape your vision of your final photo.

Time management and Dealing with the Pressure

I’ve done many live competitions.  To deal with pressure, you have to build your self-confidence.  Whenever you are competing you are ultimately competing against yourself.  Don’t look at other people, take deep breaths and tune out the other people around you.  And leading up to the competition, make sure you have practiced and prepared. You can’t wing it.  Have a few backup plans and if you know the model you will be working on ahead of time (because sometimes, like at the WNA, you only find out the day of or night before) try a few different styles on them.  If you don’t know the model, then practice your look on some different lengths and different types of texture.

Picking a model

It’s very important. But you don’t have to get someone who is 5’9.  They are focusing on the face and the hair so height doesn’t matter.  Look for someone with great and interesting bone structure. A  different, almost androgynous look to your model can make the image come out even better because it is unique, it makes you stop and look. Also sometimes too much hair can be a downfall and harder to work with.

Picking a photographer

Again, so important.  Sure, you can shoot yourself or with a friend but you really want someone who knows how to shoot hair. Collaborate with them, talk about the background, the lighting, about the mood of the photo and use visuals as examples.

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