Southwest Hairstyling Awards 2015

My roommate is a badass.

Not only is she an MVP-caliber, national-championship-winning footy player who graces the cover of the Denver Westword from time to time, but she’s also a rad and insanely talented hairstylist at Starling Salon off South Broadway.

This past spring, she was nominated for an exclusive honor at the Southwest Hairstyling Awards: the Avant Garde category.  I couldn’t have been more proud and excited for her!  As the icing on the cake, she asked me to shoot her entry photos, which was something I had never done before but was thrilled to get involved with.

For her shoot, we worked out of her friend’s hair salon.  When I first arrived at the space, I noticed that it had superb natural light and plenty of well-lit areas to shoot in.

Is that where we ended up shooting?  Of course not.

Instead, to better match Hallie’s overall vision for her looks, I had us squeeze into the salon’s small wash station area, which had perfect dark grey walls and low ceilings, where I could control the light better.  I wanted more drama in the light of the photos, and I wasn’t getting it in the open air sections of the salon.

For the lighting itself, I used my trusty Ice Light as my main source of illumination, and when needed, I supplemented with some off-camera speedlites placed strategically near and around the models.

Lindsay, our first model on the left of the photos below, was lit only with the Ice Light, coming down at her at an angle from the upper left part of the frame.  Sarah, in the middle, was illuminated only with the Ice Light, with the butterfly light cascading down on her from directly overhead.

Finally, Lindsey, our model on the right, received the most complex lighting set-up from the day.  I wanted to give Lindsey a little back light in her photo, to separate her face braids from the background a bit, but because of how small our shooting space was, the multiple speedlite set-up was just too much.

As evidenced by the Ice Light, I’m a huge Jerry Ghionis fan.  When I attended his How To Wow workshop that he put on in Denver a year ago, I purchased the Omega Reflector for situations just like this.  With this reflector, you can take the middle out of it and shoot through it.  If you set up a speedlite out of the frame facing towards your subject and shoot through the middle of the reflector, you can still back light your subject while filling the front with soft, diffused light that has bounced off the reflector itself.

Pretty cool, right?

Well, in my moment to shine with this crazy-cool contraption, I realized that I had left the Omega Reflector at home.  Of course I did, because I am notorious for forgetting at least one thing no matter where I go, whether it’s a trip, the bank, or downstairs to my room.

So, instead of busting out my rad little reflector gadget, I had an assistant (shout-out to the amazing Emily Ross for helping out) hold up a white paper trash bag with the middle of it cut out, through which I shot Lindsey’s photo.  I only used one speedlite for this set-up, which was up and to the right of Lindsey, angled a bit down towards the janky-ass trash bag reflector.

While I’m quite sure the actual Omega Reflector would have worked much better, I’m still pretty pleased with how our DIY set-up got me the light I wanted for her frame.

Denver fashion photographer

Seeing the three images we shot together really made it all come together for me for an otherwise challenging day.  I now make sure that the Omega Reflector is in the trunk of the car no matter where I go.

Sadly, Hallie didn’t take home the award for the Avant Garde category but I am still proud of her and to have been involved in this collaboration.  It was definitely a new avenue for me, as I don’t do a ton of studio work, and it pushed me out of my comfort zone immensely.  I hope to improve upon this type of work the next time that Hallie is nominated for a super rad award like this.

Thank you for stopping by the blog, and thank you again to the wonderful team who put these images together!

Southwest Hairstyling Awards | Avant Garde | Hallie Adrian

Hairstyling + concept: Hallie Adrian //  Makeup: Brittany Slaughter of Alchemy Creative // Wardrobe + accessories: Mildred and Bernice // Assistants: Emily Ross and Lindsey Kastanek

See more of Hallie’s work with the team at Starling Salon: Denver Fashion Week, November 2015

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