my life in the land down under


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Late last month we travelled to Napier to photograph the NZARH regional hairdressing competitions. Although our main aim was to capture each of the individual models in a studio setting, I also got to do some photojournalistic-type shots of the action on the cutting floor during the first few events. I think this is my favourite part – except for the lighting, which was a mix of tungsten and fluorescent plus my flash; add to this the varnished wooden floor and walls of the hall where the event was held, and you get a weird colour balance that is difficult to correct. Maybe B&W is the answer…

The first time we attended a hairdressing competition was locally in 2010. I was fascinated by the creativity of colour & cut. It wasn’t just about the model’s head either, but the whole fashion package with makeup and clothing a vital part.

The hair stylists are great to watch in action. Early on in the day one in particular stood out to me; she was both fast and graceful with flourishing gestures. As hairdressing is not an area I personally have any ability in, I appreciated the speed and skill of their hands as they cut, styled, blow-waved… all to a strict time limit. Once the comps start, the room has a manic feel, with high-energy techno music being played almost continuously. We were at the other end of the hall from the cutting floor but the models had difficulty hearing us, and we had to work well as a team to direct them. I think a fair bit of lip-reading and mime was involved!

We photographed the hair comps last year as well, so had a good idea of what was involved and how tired we would be at the end of the day – we weren’t disappointed! We were on our feet for close to 13 hours from arriving at 8am to set up; finally getting all the gear packed into the car again and heading for home at about 9pm after the prize giving. We really appreciated John’s sister, who cooked dinner for us so it just needed a quick reheat in the microwave when we got home.

I can only sympathise with the models who had to be on their feet most of that time too (many wearing high heels) and commend them for their patience and good-naturedness.

Following are a selection of ‘floor photos’:

Model #1

Model #2

Model #3

Model #4


(their job included making sure the stylists were using the right products and no-one got hurt)

Models posing for judging

Judging in progress

Stylist #1

Stylist #2

Stylist #3

Stylist #4


Author: Janice

Married to a very lucky man (he sometimes agrees), I'm learning to be a better wife, homemaker, & step-mum to two adult children and their other halves. I enjoy thinking, writing, nature, travelling, reading, photography and other creative pursuits, and spending time with friends & family (not necessarily in that order). I work part-time with children & their families. I have too much stuff (working on that) and am not a morning person... that about covers it for now.

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