If you frequently shoot fashion, and you have already paid for the model and the studio, with a quick lens and lighting change you can create a secondary income stream that will probably cover your initial expense of the shoot.
Hairstyle galleries are probably the single largest photo users on the Internet. When I started the very first hairstyles gallery in 1998, it was to help readers visualize the hair advice I was giving, and to aide them in finding a new hairstyle. Little did I know at the time the headache I was creating for myself, or that my idea would spawn an entire industry of hairstyle sites that now number in the hundreds of thousands.
Creating the gallery was not a problem as a college friend and I had developed a thumb nail link gallery system in the late 1980′s, before the Internet as we know it today was in full swing. The problem was finding the photos of the hairstyles I needed. The first hairstyle gallery, consisted entirely of a full disk of hairstyles that came with Corel Draw. I have no idea why Corel included the disk, but yeah for me.
The galleries were hugely popular but as you can image, fashion photos have a definite expiration date. I needed more hairstyles, and they needed to be up to date. With no other sources available at the time I had to shoot them myself. Happily I minored in fine art photography, and owned a couple of up scale salons with champion grade hairstylists.
These days, with my dwindling eye sight and patience, I no longer pick up the camera myself. I therefor have to rely on reader contributions, industry promo’s, and stock agencies for the photos I need. The frustration I face every year when screening thousands of photos, is that the photographer was not shooting for the hair industry, and thus most of the photos miss my criteria for one reason or another. As a result I far to often have to settle for less than idea photos and hairstyles.
Although I can’t speak for other hairstyle sites, by necessity their needs should be pretty much the same as mine, and here is what I need:
1. High key photos against a white backdrop. I love the low key photos for my own personal taste, but my readers want to print the hairstyle and take it in to their hair stylist. For this reason the lighting has to be perfect for the hair stylist to see how the hair was cut, and then be able to duplicate the cut.
2. Make sure you use a key light on the hair.
3. Although it well vary a little depending on the quality of the lens, I found that 85mm tends to yield the best results with little distortion. It isn’t a firm rule, but a good starting point.
4. A hairstyle photo is really a portrait shot, often with a little more shoulder and chest to hint at a fashion trend.
5. If it is a complex hairstyle, such as an asymmetrical cut, you will need more than one angle to illustrate the hairstyle. This is especially true when photographing up do’s. An up do is the most difficult hairstyle to create and you will do well to get it from all angles, including birds eye view.
6. Short hairstyles and medium length hairstyles are the most searched, and thus in demand more so than other hairstyles. Also keep an eye out for hairstyles with great coloring.
7. Don’t forget male hairstyles. Men are evermore aware of fashion trends and looking for great hairstyles too.
8. Ethnic diversity. There is no other way to say it, but there just aren’t very many good hairstyle photos out there when it comes to ethnic diversity. This more than anything else is a source of constant frustration for me. There is virtually nothing out there for Asian hair, and the vast majority of African American photos are styled in African tribal colors and prints. The black women who read my column and seek my advice, are either metropolitan, or urban in their look, and I need photos that reflect that fashion sense.
9. No matter how good the hairstyle, if the model’s skin and makeup are not absolutely flawless, I can’t use them. When it comes to makeup, more is often better.
10. A hairstyle fashion photo is just that, so don’t forget jewelry such as earnings, and a necklace if it makes sense to the style.
11. Lastly, when you upload them to your stock agency of choice, remember to tag your photo accordingly. If it isn’t tagged for hair, it is unlikely that I will ever see it. Also make sure that the photo is in high resolution. Although the usual sizes are 90 x 135 px for the thumb, and 300 x 450 px for the enlarged view, the photo may also make its way into navigation or a slider and need to be able to reproduce well there too.
The draw back is that stock agencies do not usually supply the name of the photographer, model, stylist and so on, so although I like to give credit, I don’t usually get the chance to do so. I will write more on getting your name out there in another article, so make sure you also have all of the copyright releases you will need.
I hope you found this article helpful, and look forward to your feedback.