(Click on photos to enlarge)
When photographing models, I try varying the setups so that each group of images has a somewhat unique look. One way to do this is by modifying the hair. That's why I enjoy working with long-haired girls and women. Compared to those with short hair, styling possibilities seem to increase in proportion to hair length. Here are examples of what changes can be made: the hair can be braided, styled into a ponytail or pigtails, piled on top of the head, left hanging loose, or held together with a ribbon or headband. Though I'll make styling suggestions, it's the model who usually comes up with the best ideas.
Along with makeup, clothes, facial expression, and body positioning, much of a female’s character can be communicated through her hair. What's interesting is how quickly she can change its look, whether intentionally or unintentionally. In fact, it can be the smallest movement or turn of the head that dramatically alters the hair’s arrangement, resulting in a totally different appearance.
Sometimes, there'll be a specific change I’ll want to make to the model’s hair. It may be something simple such as repositioning a few misplaced strands or using it to cover part of the face. However, explaining what the adjustment is so that she can make the change herself can often be time consuming. Since I know what it is I’m trying to do, my preference is to fix the hair myself. With her permission (and the permission of her mother if the model's a minor), I’ll make the necessary changes, which are usually minor and can be done quickly.
Even though there may be fewer possibilities because of its length, shorter hair can have potential too.
To me, this reads as someone feeling a strong emotion-perhaps unhappiness.
I think the strands dangling over Laurette’s eyes add to her somber expression. To me, they seem like tears streaming down her cheeks.
Responding to my request, Olianna put her hair up. It’s fascinating how the strands curve in all directions, with their tones ranging from light to dark. The back lighting, mostly on the left side, beautifully helps to separate her hair from the background.
This shot took considerable experimentation. Amelia was patient as I arranged and rearranged her hair. Initially, I disliked the wrinkly sheet, but eventually realized the wrinkles seemed to complement her hair.
After arriving at Klaryssa’s house and saying hello, I noticed her rather messy hair. I assumed she hadn’t combed it yet but would do so before we started shooting. When she didn’t, and I asked about it, she said that this was now her hairstyle. I considered suggesting that she “fix it”, but then realized saying so might offend her. I figured we could work on improving it as we shot. So, I began the session with her hair as it was. Interestingly, as we were shooting, I came to appreciate how well her hairstyle, with some minor changes, worked with her poses. Though it might have caused problems on other models, on Klaryssa, less “messy” hair probably would have resulted in fewer dynamic and fewer striking images.
Blowing the hair
It’s great fun photographing models whose hair is being wildly blown about. It’s a sensation many of them enjoy and can be apparent in their expressions. The pictures that result can be really interesting.
Previously, I used industrial or house fans to produce the necessary wind. I would position one close to the model’s head, making sure it wouldn’t be seen in the photo. The amount of hair movement depended on the strength of the fan and her type of hair. The best results seemed to occur when the model flicked her head (with her hair obviously following), just before the photo was taken.
These days, however, I use an inexpensive leaf blower, which works much better. I have a small, electric unit (you don’t want a gas powered one due to the fumes it produces). It can be clamped to a light stand or held by an assistant. Its low weight, powerful output, and ability to be aimed precisely make it perfect for blowing the hair.
Hanna seems relaxed as her hair flutters across her face. I think the slight head tilt helps emphasize the effect.
The left portion (from the viewer’s perspective) of Molly’s hair acts as a lovely background for her profile. The right portion beautifully fills the upper half of the frame.
The woman on the left was in her mid-thirties, and the girl on the right was in high school. The girl’s mother was sitting on the floor between the two ladies, pointing the electric leaf blower upward. As mentioned previously, it’s an impressive device for throwing a high volume of air in a well-defined pattern. Problems may arise, however, when the blower is aimed toward the face. With its high intensity, the moving air may make some models uncomfortable. In this case, the girl was hesitant about being subjected to this wind. But after her mother aimed the device at my face, and I explained how much I enjoyed the sensation, she was more than happy to proceed.
Finding The Shot
Focus And Blur
Lighting The Subject