Hair Photos – Slapping Posters Up on Walls?

Posted by Alexander Irving under Building Authority, General, Photography, Ramblings, Salon Marketing, Strategy, Tips & Tricks

Photo Credit: possiiblymaybeenjoy

Is it About Hair Photos, or Storytelling?

There’s no shortage of salon professional hair photos in the beauty social media universe.

Thousands of stylists spend hours uploading their hair photos to salon pro websites hoping to attract new clients, and show friends their good work.

Sadly, with all that time and effort, most are just ‘posters on a wall’ with a 1-day lifespan … most often only a single post on Facebook, Bangstyle, SalonGalaxy, Hairbrained, Hairflix Society, etc. saying, “Joe Blow posted new photos to his wall” (or some such auto-post) accompanied by a bunch of ‘likes’ and a handful of comments from friends and clients, never to be seen again 🙁

Many of those hair photos are remarkable! But, even more are the ‘in-the-chair’ variety with lousy lighting … a poor illustration of what may be excellent work.

Our advice? If you aren’t up to taking top-notch ‘in-the-chair’ photos … don’t! It doesn’t serve you and show your work in the best light.

Point? All that photo posting is mostly unproductive time and effort. Seeing your own pictures on the web may be ego-satisfying, but it isn’t doing much for new business.

Note: Last thought on the single-post scenario.  If you posted a great hair photo, GO BACK AND USE IT AGAIN!  Occasionally review your existing on-line collection and re-use your ‘goodies’ in a new post on your blog, client emails, on-line newsletters, etc. … anywhere you regularly reach out to your clients.  Don’t let your good work disappear. 6 months or a year later (if your work is ‘classic’), it’s new all over again.

It’s Not Just the Photo — it’s the Story.

A photo without a ‘story’ (and some personality) is just a ‘poster on a wall’.

Each and every hair photo needs a story ‘caption’.  Prospective clients are interested in their needs, wishes and dreams. Your photos illustrate you have solutions.

Why did you choose that style?

What did it mean to that client?

A Story is Not a Novel.

It’s a warm, human, client need-focused sentence or two..

A couple of examples:

“Tired of her longer locks and marathon (hot and long) AM blow-drys L, Sharon wanted both easy-care and wash & wear style options.  Voila!”

“Brunette for years, Shirley dreamed ‘lighter’ … but nothing radical, please! Enter Balayage”

You get the idea.  Each of your hair photos illustrates the solution and the caption shares the client’s problem … all created by wonderful you. 🙂

It’s Theater.

As for the photos themselves, they need to be great! Often, the biggest hair photo faux-pas is poor lighting..

When you see a show on stage, the director doesn’t just leave the house lights on and bring out the actors.  Usually the house lights go out, they raise the curtain, and they control the lighting on the stage to match the mood and the positions of the actors.

The director/lighting designer places light instruments to ‘highlight’ where actors are standing, minimizes other areas of the stage, and bring the audience’s eye to the places they want the attention.

You often don’t even notice differences, but it sure doesn’t work if they simply ‘wash’ the stage with overhead lighting. They also use colored gels over some lights to help ‘set the mood’ and reflect what they want you to feel … the same can work with lighting hair.

Get Educated

If you’re going to do ‘in-salon’ photos, ask the good hair photo pro you are hiring to shoot your next collection to show you a few tricks of their trade you can use with clients in the chair.  Make a hair photo lighting lesson for you an element of what you want as part of your next photo shoot.

Even better … get really educated!  Here’s a good place to start, offering some of the best photography education.

  • Modern Salon’s Artist Sessions

Note: We spent quite a while googling, and were surprised by how few hair photo shoot classes and workshops we found.  Manufacturers offer hair shoot education from time to time but hair photo education classes are not that plentiful.

Update: January 11, 2012

Mari Smith’s blog post on lighting tips for shooting video for social media use.  Seems very useful although I recall hair wants a ‘keylight’ to put the focus on the hair and add ‘brilliance’.   Hopefully some hair photographers will chime in here.

Thanks, Gary Lyons for your very helpful comment below.

Now go out and do it right.

What Suggestions Can You Share For Getting Good ‘In-Salon’ Photos? Comment below.

9 responses to “Hair Photos – Slapping Posters Up on Walls?”

  1. As usual, great advice and food for thought!

  2. Sandra, thanks for your kind comment.

    Something new for What’s New The Salon :-)… May I suggest you get a Gravatar? Go to and give it the head shot you use on Facebook and elsewhere. That way when you comment on most of the popular blogs and forums out there your good-looking S&S faces accompany your comment. 🙂

    And a favor? … if would you share this post with your friends using the convenient sharing tools provided I would be in your debt. I am working harder to grow our blog readership. Thanks. Have a grand week!

    One more great tip I just learned on the “Salon and Spa Business Forum” on Facebook. Do your most shoulder-sagging task first in your day. After that, everything else becomes a piece of cake … and you always have a sizable accomplishment done every day.

    See ya.

  3. I love this, my favorite part is making the photo tell the clients story. Will do, thanks!

  4. Thanks, Emiko. I didn’t look so I’ll ask … Are you a subscriber or did you drop by from a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter post? Would appreciate a share or a link to the post or blog. Trying to grow the blog and get more subscribers now.

    Lots more good stuff to share here.


  5. This article was full of good tips! I want to take pictures because that client is there right in real time in your chair and you don’t want them to walk out. So you grab what’s closet your phone camera and egads…any suggestions for quick response photos that look awesome in person but lack color and substance on the phone.

    • Hi Tamara, I’m calling my friend Gary Lyons, a well-know hair fashion photographer to ask him to answer that question for you. When you want to know for sure… always ask a pro. One of us will be back to you here.


  6. Gary Lyons says:

    Hi All,

    First off this is a great article. It gives some very important information and I want to add just a bit to that If I might.

    It is my opinion that every hairstyle has it’s own story that other hairstylists might be interested in. It may be a Cut Story or a Color story. It might be a Texture story or a Design story, a Finishing story or a Braiding story. You see where I am headed here.

    Photo sessions are expensive for the average salon but lessening costs is another post entirely.

    I am going to talk about one thing. The Smart phone in-salon picture. Most smart phones have a fairly decent camera lens these days, especially the iPhone and the Android phones but most of the Smart Phone Photographers don’t understand the simplest part of the technology which is the lens. The lens on these phones has been developed for wide angle photos for the most part and therefore, when you stand next to your client and shoot down on the head to grab that great new look it is most likely going to come out a bit misshapen due to the lens distortion. To you, the hairdresser, it is just the normal view you have of the head as you are working.

    Try this next time! Stand about 5-6 feet away from your client and get on the same plane they are. In other words, get the camera lower so you are not looking down on them. Now, ZOOM IN! When you zoom in, it changes the view to one that is less distorted than a close up wide angle.

    Now that that’s out of the way! TURN ON YOUR FLASH!! This will give you the most accurate color rendition because the flash is a representation of daylight. Just think of it this way. Anything other than daylight will not accurately capture your correct color.

    Now tap your screen to make sure you are in focus and shoot away. I think you will find yourself much happier with your images if you follow these few simple steps.

    Feel free to visit my website at and contact me with any questions.

    So stay low, light it up, do beautiful work, tell the story and share what you’re up to in this amazing industry with others!

    Have fun and good shooting!!

    Gary Lyons

  7. This is a great topic, keeping it simple , a photo is 80%, model. great bone structure, clear skin and big bright eyes make the image. For the other 20% use a white wall somewhere in your salon and try to shoot with the light coming from behind the camera or phone. Remember anything other then the model in the image just takes away from a beauty shot.And of course a story always helps if you can do it in 140 words or less even better!
    here are a few example all shot on iPhone



    • Thanks, Gerard. Great to see you here. Thanks for sharing your experience.

      Would you consider subscribing to BeautyPRpro? if you browsed at all you saw we post judiciously and only PR tidbits of value.

      Whatever the case, see you on Hairbrained and elsewhere.