May 2012

Steve Sleeper

Beauty Insider| by Steve Sleeper


Secrets to Photo Shoot Success

by Jessi Marshall, Professional Beauty Association

In competitive fields like the beauty industry, it is essential to be set apart from the rest. Making a professional portfolio that emphasizes styling technique and skill is key to this success.

Whether you are looking to do editorial work, runway shows, a marketing piece for your salon, or entering competitions, your portfolio and the photos inside it are a representation of your brand and what sets you apart.

"The effort I have put into my photo collections has been returned to me ten-fold," said Charlie Price, one of only two NAHA Hairstylists of Year, winner of numerous industry awards, and platform educator. "I pour my heart into my work, but most importantly I'm smart about putting the right ideas, people, and promotion into the photo collections I create. That is what has helped advance my career."

A portfolio shouldn't be just point-and-shoot photos of clients before and after their visit to a salon. Instead, models should be expertly photographed and arranged as to accentuate the color, cut, technique and inspiration of a hairstylist. The goal is to create a cohesive collection that showcases styling abilities and knowledge.

"Cohesion of a photo collection is essential. You have to truly think through the models, their clothes, the makeup, and of course the hair," said Steve Elias, NAHA 2010 Editorial Stylist of the Year.

However, having an edgy, professional, and always current portfolio is only the first step in garnering fame and prestige. Stylists must learn how to make their photo collections work for them. This includes entering their work into national and international styling competitions. Where to start and what not to forget?

"Do your homework before you enter any competition, which includes story boards, model selection, and overall cohesion," said Price. "Secondarily, make sure your shoot is appropriate for the category you are entering. In other words, doing an Avant Garde cut for a Contemporary Classic category or vice versa will ensure your defeat."

One photographic beauty competition is the North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA). Taking place every summer in Las Vegas, it is attended by thousands of beauty professionals and seen worldwide via live streaming video. This year, the NAHA Awards Ceremony will be held on Sunday, July 22, 2012 –

To enter the NAHAs, applicants must submit a portfolio of their work based on the criteria of each of the 13 categories they hope to win. This is standard for most competitions, as a photo sampling of a stylist's work is required for judging. Having won and been a finalist for multiple categories, it is only fitting that Price and Elias share their additional tips on entering.

Charlie Price's advice:

Steve Elias's advice:

One other piece of advice when dealing with photos, know what high-resolution images are. They equate to 300dpi and that is what any magazine will need to publish your work and what most competitions request. If you do not know about "high-res," find someone ASAP who does and make sure to send only those images to editors for print. (When you email photos to editors for consideration, send low-resolution (100dpi) so it will not clog up their email.)

Beauty events like hairstyling shows and competitions offer finalists mainstream exposure that could launch their careers. However, all this stems from having photos that convey your skill and style. So don't be left on the salon floor, cut the competition apart with high-quality photos of your best work.

Jessi Marshall is Director of Industry Programs & Education for the Professional Beauty Association | National Cosmetology Association (PBA | NCA), a non-profit membership organization made up of beauty professionals, salons and spas, distributors, and manufacturers dedicated to improving their careers, individual businesses and the industry as a whole. For information, visit or call 1-800-468-2274.

Want to get exposure? Stylist Newspapers are always looking to feature new talent and exceptional work. Send your images for consideration to