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Stylists: Marketing your skills with images

Written by Sonya Miller


Posted on October 07 2020

I remember my first “stylist portfolio”. It was an 11x14 inch, leather bound book, with images of my best work. Basically a fancy photo album. Getting my work out into the world, most often, meant a face to face share with a client, potential employer, or publication. 

My, how times have changed. We now live in a world infiltrated with images, compliments of social media and your favorite alternative online platforms. It seems that every stylist across the globe has an online portfolio available to anyone and everyone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s easier these days to get your work out than the days of my fancy photo album, but it’s crucial to set yourself apart, if you want to stand out. 

 I’ve got to tell you that finding a professional photographer that just… “gets you”... is (in my opinion)  the most important marketing decision you can make as a career hairdresser. 

Anyone who knows me is (most likely) pretty darn aware of my beliefs in manifestation. How I met Nina was a remarkable example of the universe working in my favor. I knew who I was looking for, I just hadn’t found them yet. I started to focus my frequencies on this connection and waited....and then one day, there she was…ok, so not literally, there her work was in my instagram feed. It was a photo of Heather Hammers -a super talented musician and singer that performed at my salon’s open house event, the previous Christmas.


I knew the moment I saw this photo I had to call her.

There's nothing I love more than a strong synchronicistic event to show me the way. I remember opening my conversation with her with “I’m so happy I finally found you”...and she didn’t run! 

 Alright, I’ll move on from my hocus-pocus and get to the point- don’t hire just anyone. 

Don't hire the cheapest.

Hire the photographer that “gets you.”

Hire the photographer who is a well of passion for what they do- not someone who bought a camera and gave themself a label.

Hire an artist.

Hire someone who is honest with you, keeps you on track with your artistic vision, and will tell you if something isn’t cohesive. 

I can tell, when I watch Nina, I can pick up on the fact that she looks at the world as a series of photographs. She’s isn’t playing around. That’s who I want on my team. I’ve been working with my professional photographer, Nina Wilson, for a couple of years now. 

 Nina Wilson Photography

I thought this blog post would be a great opportunity for her to share some tips and tricks on taking better before and after pics, yourself, in the salon and also some direction of when to hire a professional photographer. 

When taking photos in the salon, you can use a digital camera or your phone. Nina suggests using the grid on your display in order to get alignment.

Natural light is best. Find a clean wall in the salon either directly across from a window or a wall adjacent (90 degrees) from a window. Directly across is ideal to create less shadowing, unless you are going for that effect of course. 

A ring light will work when natural light is not available. Make sure you shoot your photo through the middle of the ring with your camera far enough in, to not create light glare on your lens. 

You want your light source to shine on the hair and to keep the hair the point of focus. 

Do not put your client/model too close to the wall. Keep them back about 2 feet to create a softer background in your photos. 

Keep pictures bright, clean, and well lit. 

Do now limit yourself to only before and after images, also document yourself working, shots of you in your station mirror, mixing your color, give potential clients a look into your day. 

Nina suggests hiring a photographer to take headshots and photos of your salon. Not only does this show clients that you are a professional, it helps for future clients to know what to expect when they come in to see you. It helps to start instilling trust before the visit even takes place. It also allows customers to find a hairstylist who fits well with them. These photos will give them insight into your personality, your hairdressing expertise, what kind of people work in your salon, what the atmosphere is like, so much information can be expressed in your stylist and salon photo shoot. You can use these photos on your social media, website, postcards, business cards, the possibilities are endless.                                                                                                                      



On the occasion, maybe once or twice a year, Nina suggests booking a creative shoot. You can use this time to showcase your best skills, get creative, or promote an upcoming event such as prom or wedding season. Doing a stylist photo shoot will show your passion for your work and some insight into your creativity that you may not have time or the demand to express while working behind the chair.


Taking photos from behind the chair is great, but a creative stylist photoshoot will set you apart from the rest and shows your audience how invest you are in your career. 


In my opinion, a good professional photographer who can translate your artistic essence into a photo is imperative to creating a successful business. For salon owners, hairstylist, and really any business owner. Find a beauty photographer that matches your vibe- the two of you together will shine.