I am super excited today. One of my clients is up for a major award in her industry- Hairstylist of the Year, Northwest Hairstylist of the Year Awards. Seattle is bringing fashion week (well, in our case, weekend) to town and my client, Emily Austin of Emily-Untangled, is up for the big one!

I was fortunate this summer to help Emily bring her vision to life. She has been a hairstylist for more than 30 years, is incredibly talented (and humble), and has never done a photo shoot to showcase her portfolio. We got together to brainstorm ideas and came up with the theme of “Real People. Unreal Hair.” Emily wanted to use her own clients, showing off the range of ages and styles. Each client would rock a look that featured silver or white hair.

With that, we were off to the races.

My role as Creative Director for the shoot was to help create characters for each of our models. Our first model was named Emily Marie, a 22-year old banker who yearned to be edgy, but couldn’t rock the extreme at the bank. Our second model, Kassy, is a sculptor and first-time grandma in her 60’s who is anything but a senior citizen. Lastly, and certainly not least, is Dr. Paul, a 80’ish dentist who daily rocks a stark white pompadour (styled always by Emily). Each would get a silver color- and each would receive a variation on that silver.

We gave each model a character to play since none of them had ever modeled before. Elaborating on our concept, we knew the story was the passage of time, given our models’ ages. It was so much fun to put together their storyboards with Emily. Dr. Paul was The Renegade, a “no apologies” Johnny Cash type, Kassy was The Warrior, as fierce and fiery as they come, and our youngin, Emily Marie, was The Industrial Waif, edgy, brave, yet wide eyed. We gave each of them a one-sheet with photo inspirations and keywords. I knew having their favorite songs playing during their shoot would be critical. Each of them gave us a playlist that Emily’s boyfriend, Eric, put together for the shoot.

I have to admit that I got to do my favorite thing in the world- DIRECT. I love bringing art to life and I love bringing out the best in people- in everything I do. The group of us, plus awesome photog, Meryl, and make-up artist, Michelle, played all day long. Each model ROCKED the shoot and Emily got to play and tweak and work her living art. It was a beautiful experience. I encouraged the elements of the characters they needed to “play”. I motivated them to go beyond their comfort zones to find just the right pose and to get the right shot. They had a blast. Kassy even said it was in the top 5 of the best experiences of her life. I was honored!

The photos are incredible and Emily’s concept is so brave and so out of the box. I am proud to be a part of this project and, whether she wins the award or not, she is a true innovator and willing to take risks to make her brand shine. She gave me carte blanche to make our ideas shine. I really appreciated that trust and that freedom.

Tonight is the night of the awards and I am pulling for Emily’s work all the way, of course. She is already a winner in my book.