Filtered Vs. Reality: How One Colorist is Managing Client Expectations with Hair Inspiration Photos
"I decided to post some of my recent work in a side-by-side collage as a filtered and unfiltered to get my point across to clients. I bought a popular set of presets, uploaded them to Lightroom and pasted the settings on to my photos. WOW. What a huge difference."--Kristin GripPhoto 1 of 4
"These new filters are not as cheesy as the ones built into Instagram - they actually look believable. You can change a warm level 7 blonde into a white ashy blonde with contrasting lowlights in less than 10 seconds while somehow adding a bronze glow to your skin."--Kristin GripPhoto 2 of 4
"It’s important for stylists and clients to know about filters and the effects they have on hair. Filters are beautiful but not REAL. Filtered photos of hair are usually not realistic. You might be in love with the filter more than you are the real hair. Look how I used a filter adjusted the blonde in this photo. It’s a gorgeous picture and one that I’m sure would bring in a ton of engagement but I would be lying about the work and my ability if I posted it."--Kristin GripPhoto 3 of 4
"Clients: be aware of this when choosing your inspiration photos to bring to a stylist. I find myself saying, “well, that girl’s hair doesn’t even look like that in reality” far too often. Try to pick unfiltered photos for your inspiration shots. You can usually click on the models tagged photos and find some unfiltered shots."--Kristin GripPhoto 4 of 4
With all of the hair inspo options available at clients’ fingertips—Google image search, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr—very rarely does a client sit in your chair and let you help her dream up her new look without a photo reference.
But clients aren’t typically aware of what happens behind the scenes on these image-heavy platforms—with how often images are screenshot, filtered and edited and reposted, many times the inspiration photos clients bring in aren’t even reflective of what the hair looks like in real life.
Kristin Grip, an Orange County colorist and extensionist who was named a MODERN SALON 100, recently started to use her @hairbykristingrip Instagram page to educate her clients and followers on the realities of photo editing and filters.
“I remember when Instagram was new and I would take all my photos with my client seated in my chair, no faces, no ring lights, no natural light, and NO filters,” Grips says. “WOW, have things changed. Now, you not only have to be an amazing stylist but also become a damn good photographer to keep up on the ’gram. Some take it a step further to use photo editing tools to adjust the color grade, which are drastically changing the true color of hair.”
To tackle the realities of today’s inspiration photos, Grip began a series of posts on her Instagram page where she shares a perfectly filtered and edited image of her color work with a swipe to see the non-edited version.
“I bought a popular set of presets [filters that can be imported and applied to images to create a unique color grade, clearer resolution and the ability to fine-tune and alter colors], uploaded them to Lightroom and pasted the settings on to my photos—wow, what a huge difference,” Grip says. “These new types of filters actually look believable. You can change a warm level 7 blonde into a white ashy blonde with contrasting lowlights in less than 10 seconds, while somehow adding a bronze glow to your client’s skin.”
Grip recognizes that these filter presets are great for travel, fashion and beauty influencers looking to have a perfectly curated page, but for colorists and stylists? Not so much.
“It’s a gorgeous picture and one that I’m sure would bring in a ton of engagement but I would be lying about the work and my ability if I posted it,” she says. [EDITOR'S NOTE: We saw one of Grip's examples of filtered work and didn't see that the caption mentioned it was filtered and shared it on our page! It was so beautiful but totally fooled us! It wasn't until a reader, familiar with Grip's work, told us about the series that we looked into this further, which is how this story came to be.]
Grip cautions her clients on having realistic expectations, but also wants to encourage stylists to stop comparing themselves and their work to these filtered photos.
“It’s time we educate our clients on what these filters are doing and be realistic on what is achievable,” Grip says. “I’m usually able to trace back the photo to the original post by clicking on the model’s tagged photos to find someone who happened to tag her without a filter—that’s the image I send back to my client. Most are mind-blown at how different the hair looks in real life vs. the page it came from.”
Grip encourages all professionals to use these comparison photos to educate clients about filters.