Shooting Hair

Hey Everybody

I'm being put up for a woman's hair product commercial soon by a director friend who is sure he can persuade the agency to give it to me despite my having no hair on my reel!

That old chestnut again… Has he already shot Hair or Food, or Cars, or Beer or Dogs or Cats. It's catch 22. Maybe I've just avoided hair all these years, but anyway, now's my chance!

So guys ( and girls) who shoot hair, what's the secret? How to get that perfect shine?

My take on it FWIW. Shoot 35mm. Dark hair will better reflect whatever big soft source you put up at the right angle to produce these beautiful highlights. Or is it all added in post nowadays? Sometimes it can look a little suspicious.

Are you using specific shutter angles combined with frame rates?? Hard light rather than soft?

Or is it all down to the Hair Stylist? ( I very much doubt it..)

Dying to know what I'm in for How to get that look!!


Garry Turnbull

>>So guys ( and girls) who shoot hair, what's the secret? How to get that >>perfect shine?

A technique I've used that worked well is to use a smaller direct light cantered and in immediately in front of a soft box. The softbox provides overall lighting and the smaller direct light ads a bit of contrast and provides the highlight in the hair when the model moves.

Being a still photographer I can't give you specifics on which lights to use, but for stills I used a 4'x6' softbox and a direct light that had an 18" pan reflector on it.

Balancing intensity between the two light sources is a matter of taste, but I liked having the direct light near equal to the box light.

Cliff Hancuff

Hello Gary,

Actually, it “IS” the hair stylist and make-up artist in conjunction with beauty lighting.

All the great lighting in the world can't make a bad hair day good.

Good luck.

Mark Woods Cinematographer
Stills That Move, Pasadena, California

Big big soft sources 3/4 back



Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based

Combination of big soft & hard light for reflection is a good suggestion.

The Briese light does it kind of all in one. Shoot as high a frame rate as production lets you for the hair tosses.

Don't complain if Hair & Make-up take 3 hours, embrace it.

It's not voodoo, you can see it in the viewfinder.

Florian Stadler, D.P., L.A.

>>So guys ( and girls) who shoot hair, what's the secret? How to get that >>perfect shine?

A while back DP Tom Denove was shooting some Le Orel hair spots and I dropped by to get some publicity photos.

He was using 8 BAGLITES some large 4x6 Chimeras and for the back light using the Chimera with out the front screen only the inner baffle. Great highlights.

If you want I can send you some shots of the setup directly do not want to clog the works here with large files.

Ed Barger
310 401 0633

An HMI'd source 4 works for me as the direct hard source for picking up shine when the shot allows it. Its controllable. Add to that the big soft source and 3/4 to 3/4 backs.

I squeeze the shutter a bit.

Sometimes the stylist has a treatment for the hair that helps you grab some shine. I let the direct hard source overexpose a touch.....depending on the situation.


Mark Eberle

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