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The SCENE Magazine

BEHIND THE SCENES: America’s Beauty Show Photo Shoot

Apr 19, 2011 04:46PM ● By The SCENE Magazine
America’s Beauty Show is the country’s most famous, educational hair extravaganza . Each year McCormick Place in Chicago becomes home to more than 400 exhibitors, and close to 70,000 beauty professionals in hair, nails, cosmetics, tanning, salon equipment and more.

Everyone who is anyone is there and it’s a chance for us all to come together to hone our skills, learn new ones, and get inspired all over again. T.V. celebrities as well as some of the world’s most prolific pioneers in the hair industry will be on hand to share their rich history and help propel us all into greatness. This weekend also gives us the Stylist Choice Awards, which is an award ceremony based on professional votes. This much anticipated weekend requires a promotional campaign that lasts 8 months, with over a million brochures mailed and advertising in every national trade magazine.

This year, the art directors of Modern Salon magazine selected Aquage to do the shoots for the campaign. Aquage is a professional only company that is booming through the industry right now. ABS wants to sell tickets to the event, and in order to do so the imagery needs to be exciting. The co-founder of Aquage, Luis Alvarez, selected three people within the team to create the styles for the campaign. Myself (Heaven Padgett), Shelly Devlin, and Ann Bray. Together we created a series that exemplified texture, shape and movement. For me, this was a huge opportunity and I couldn’t have been more excited. The process of putting together a shoot is an amazing collaborative effort between photographer, make up artist, hair stylist, fashion stylist and set director. When these worlds collide, sparks fly and it just feels like magic. My job was to create cuts and styles that showed texture and movement in the hair. I had the luxury of about 10 wigs at my disposal that I cut and curled and sliced and teased! Ten hours later I was armed with some wigs that might work, and tons of ideas. And yes, we do use wigs! Not all the time, but sometimes hair shoots require avant garde type haircuts that some professional models cannot do.

We hire models based on the type of shoot. If a live video is being recorded we need a model whose hair looks great on camera, no matter her size or height. But for this particular still shoot we were using “vanishing point” concept where we utilized parallel lines that seemed to converge. Such as hallways, escalators, etc. So we needed the tallest, thinnest frames we could find. If their hair doesn’t suffice for us, we use wigs!

The shoot was an exhausting four days, with four models. We did hundreds of shots throughout the convention center, which proved itself to be an awe-inspiring location. We took photos with Modern Salon staff, and filmed internet commercials and other various promotional materials. It was very exciting, and we just couldn’t wait to find out all that was in store!

By September, we finally started to see some of the ads in the magazines. It was “the escalator shot” and turned out to be the first of a series of teasers that would trickle out over the next seven months. Each month, a new photo would surface and the giddy feeling would arrive yet again. I loved flipping through the magazines and seeing all the hard work we had done come to fruition. Then, come January, I find out that one of my styles made the cover of the program! We never know what final decisions the art director makes on what photo to use. They might prefer a certain color palette, or even just base it on negative space to use for type. So to my surprise, I saw my beautiful Russian model in bright yellow setting the tone for the event. The program is about 80 pages long so there were additional shots throughout. The actual event happens in March so to top off the cake, I learned that a final wig I had cut would be the COVER of Modern Salon magazine. The striking red hair and asymmetrical haircut along with a stunning Marchesa dress had ultimate cover appeal, and lit the fire for the affair to follow.

We worked together as a team to create beautiful imagery that would last a lifetime. Had the model not been in that dress, with that amazing light that moment might never have happened. I may have cut a wig and placed it on a lovely girl, but the whole picture – as well as the whole moment – is the feeling that drives me to do what I do. There are so many aspects to what goes on behind the camera, and I hope this sheds some light how the preparation and chaos eventually become art!

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The SCENE Style Columnist Heaven Padgett is owner of The Hairem Salon, founder of Heavenly Cosmetics and a member of TEAMQUEST, as an International Guest Artist for Aquage. Heaven has been a stylist and make up artists for almost 20 years and works with celebrity stylists and clients all over the country for photoshoots, fashion shows, hair shows, DVD shoots, and Academy Trainings.  She was born to work in the industry, and has the experience and industry savvy to be our certified SCENE fashionista!