Have You Heard… E5 with Simon Ellis

How To Create An Award Winning Hair Collection with Simon Ellis

  1. Why create a hair collection?
  • Have a clear reason/understanding as to what and what you are doing the project
  • If for salon/personal, who is your target audience, where will images be placed,  what is the usage (salon display, client PR, salon /education services/self promotion) as this will define the creative style/commerciality
  • If third party Award, know the rules, timelines, quality and number of images for entry/submission, ownership of image rights. Research past events/your competitors
  • Being clear on the reason and outcome will define the quality level, number of models/images/production values, team and budget

TIP: Spend the time to understand what is needed and what you want.  Be clear on your budget as mistakes can be expensive.  Aim high but be prepared to compromise!

  1. Research and story/moodboard :
  • Once you have defined your reason for doing, then define the number of images/models as well as number of hair/clothing changes
  • Each key image should have its own story/moodboard – start researching hairstyle/haircolour, makeup, clothing/accessories, backdrops, posing, lighting/colour
  • Go through key magazines (French/Italian Vogue, Love Self Service, etc..) , Online/SoMe, image libraries (Getty, Shutterstock, etc..) and cut/tear out relevant image inspiration and build the board to be able to clearly understand and explain what you are after to anyone who asks as well as to brief the team
  • Once storyboards are completed these can be used to define your production values and team (if any)

TIP: The story/mood board is the key to a successful shoot/image.  The devil is in lots of detail.

  1. The Team (if necessary – Of One):

Select the team based on the story/mood board(s) and imagery you want.  Leverage your connections, contact art/photo/media colleges, book a professional, or simply do it all yourself – because you can!

  • Hair/Haircolour (pre coloured)
  • Makeup/Nails
  • Stylist (clothes/set)
  • Photographer – optional/larger shoots
  • Videographer – optional/larger shoots
  • SoMegrapher – optional/larger shoots

TIP: The better the team and the clearer the brief, the better the outcome!

Keep it tight as too many opinions can cause confusion

  1. The Model (the secret to success):
  • Never, ever compromise on the quality of your model – go for gold every time!
  • Consider using agency new faces, street casting, modelling schools
  • Do a short list of prospects but final choice should only be done via live castings rather than Z-cards/videos

At casting, check:

  • Experience – how long in the business
  • How extensive/old is the imagery in the book
  • Height(s) if more than one model and shooting gin groups/couples
  • Smile/openness of face
  • Confidence/openness
  • Posing repertoire – more than just one pose
  • Walking/moving

TIP: Shoot and Film everything on digital camera/iPhone/iPad so you have a record. Select via screen image as often looks different than live.  For larger productions create a casting sheet for note taking and cluster models (by hairtypes/storyboards etc..).

  1. The Production:


  • Choose your space (studio, salon, location, etc..)
  • Plan the timeline (make sure enough prep. Shoot & break time)
  • Recommend max two to three models per day (even models get tired)
  • Organise someone to shoot prep and backstage imagery for additional SoMe/advertising/promo activities

TIP:  Plan hair colouring as close to shoot as poss to keep colour fresh.  Do all

clothes fittings up front and take photos as a record – reduces wasted shoot time.


  • Choose one person to Art Direct and as Go To person (all on set communication and image decision taking)
  • Keep on set team to the minimum (models can be shy)
  • Take test shots to check lighting, clothing and posing (also to relax model)
  • Art Director to brief model on needed posing /mood
  • If shooting on Iphone, link to a laptop to check images in larger format and to
  • Cluster and save separate storyboards/key images in folders to better manage imagery post shoot

TIP:  Look at and follow on screen Images rather than live shoot, what comes out of the camera/iPhone is the measure of success.  Stick posing and facial mood storyboards next to model(s) so they can easily refer to them during live shoot


  • Do picture selection at end of each day/shoot
  • Open each Storyboard folder, put the shoot imagery side by side and reduce to best only
  • Once section has been made – decide on which images to be retouched
  • Use professional retouching service, photoshop or Iphone app (facetune)

TIP: Decide on style of final image(s) and try to stay true to your original vision when retouching.  Do not over retouch, as can easily look fake!