Let’s talk about photos

I want to cover a few things today; one is why I take my photos behind the chair the way I do, and one is a few ways to spot photoshop when looking for photos.

Behind my chair

I want to start with the way I photograph hair behind the chair. When you’re browsing Instagram or Pinterest, it’s easy to spend hours looking at beautifully posed photos of hair after it’s been done and styled. In general it’s about marketing; the most attractive photos tend to catch the eye and bring you in, which results in more exposure and hopefully more business. You may notice that just about every photo I take of the hair that I do is often while they’re still sitting in my chair, unposed, cape on, salon exactly how it was when I finished the style. There’s a reason for that. Most of my time behind the chair has been spent being a realist when it comes to styling. I’m not the person who spends a long time on their hair every day (and there’s not a single thing wrong with that if you are that person), and most of my clients also don’t tend to be that person either.

Part of what you get when you come to me is someone who will listen to how you like to style your hair and not do a big style that you would never do. Obviously if you prefer something fancier because you’re getting your hair done, then, my friend, we’re gonna do the thing, but most of the time I like to style your hair for you how you would generally style your hair for one major reason – I want us both to see the finished result how you would normally wear it so I can fix any things that might be bothering you before you leave. I stand behind my work and I also give you 7 days from the haircut to come back and have things tweaked at no charge, but let’s be honest, if I can save you that trip I’d like to. Your time is worth something to me, too.

What’s photoshop, a wig, or natural hair in photos?

Something I see a lot is people bringing inspiration photos of hair that just isn’t going to be achievable. More often than not what they’re showing is either a wig, or has been photoshopped to show the desired result rather than the result that was actually achieved. 

A wig tends to be too perfect in photos, and sometimes easy to spot by looking at the hairline for discrepancies. The Cold Wire goes into a lot more detail to identify a wig but the main points are to investigate the hairline for things that don’t line up, the colors don’t match, it looks awkward, it’s too flawless, (in person) the wearer is touching their hair a lot, it looks too stiff, there’s an attachment point, or there’s too much hair. In general when looking at inspiration photos, if it looks too perfect and too good to be true, it probably is.

Most photoshopping with hair tends to be the color of the hair, which can be really hard to spot. In general you’re looking for color to be too even and the shadows are in the wrong spot. You’re also looking to see if the same person is appearing in the same position. This person gives a step by step tutorial for doing the photoshop, which also helps you to pinpoint some of the things you should look for like edges not lining up/being too soft or harsh/bleeding of the colors, etc. On her you can see her unfiltered blonde hair on the right, a photoshopped brunette in the middle, and a lavender on the end. you’ll notice that the two photos on the left look too soft particularly in the area at her chin and traveling down across her chest.

Here’s another one that gives good instructions to help you know what to look for, like a solid contrasting background, and some of her results.

Want to check a photo? There’s a number of places you can check to see if a photo has been edited. You can do a reverse image search and see if the same photo comes up with a variety of finishes. You can also check on Tin Eye or Google Images.

So what do I suggest for inspiration photos?

Honestly, mirror selfies. It’s hard to see the back usually but more often than not a selfie taken in a mirror or clearly somewhere in a person’s home tends to be minimally filtered and pretty close to the result that you would see in person. The more candid the photo, the more realistic it tends to be in regards to real life. You can also look for a complex background and how smooth the hair appears to be. It’s hard to alter messy hair, especially against a complex background.

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