Wendy Hope’s Cascading Hair Beauty Shoot

Written by M. Gertz on . Posted in Beauty photography

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Wendy Hope beauty shoot

Samantha Xu of MUSE NYC | © 2012 Wendy Hope

Beauty, fashion, and celebrity photographer Wendy Hope combines her sense of fun and whimsy with a super precise and detail-oriented lighting style to create images of unusual beauty. How do you turn hair into a cascading waterfall? Read on for her account of a recent beauty shoot.

The inspiration for this shoot was to create compelling, iconic, advertising-style hair images for my portfolio. I’ve been collaborating with hair stylist Keith Campbell and we wanted to shoot a highly exaggerated, long, clean, and classic straight hair look with multiple highlights and shadows. We also wanted to create an image where the hair appeared to look like a cascading waterfall… of hair. I wanted viewers and potential clients to think, “Wow, that’s amazing, how did they do that?”


Wendy Hope lighting diagram

Lighting diagram | © 2012 Wendy Hope

I shoot with Profoto because I love the reliability and fast recycle times the packs provide. I shoot really fast when I get excited and Profoto can keep up with my rapid firing. For my main light I used the Profoto Beauty Dish with a grid placed at a ¾ angle to my model’s face.

Wendy Hope behind the scenes

Behind the scenes | © 2012 Wendy Hope

I knew I wanted to add multiple controlled highlights into the hair. I used Profoto 2400 Pro 7 packs and heads at maximum power in the A channel. We didn’t have a grid available for the strip chimera so we constructed one out of black gaffer tape and rigged it with office clamps to prevent the light from spilling — sometimes you have to be resourceful. This creates the striped highlight at the top of the head you often see in hair advertising. I used multiple heads with 10 degree grids and snoots and then extended them further using Cinefoil to create and shape narrow bands of highlights.

Wendy Hope hand-drawn lighting diagram

Shoot notes | © 2012 Wendy Hope

I often sketch out a basic lighting diagram, especially when working with my interns. It helps to visually demonstrate the lighting placement, accessories, and ratios. It’s usually how I work out the technical details in my head, although these variables are always subject to change once you get going.

Wendy Hope - Samantha Xu

Samantha Xu of MUSE NYC | © 2012 Wendy Hope

Photographed by Wendy Hope
Model is Samantha Xu of MUSE NYC
Hair by Keith Campbell
Make-up by Paul Innis

To see more of Wendy’s work, check out her portfolio, Wendy Hope Photography. If hair waterfalls aren’t enough, head over to her blog, Pink Lipgloss and Melting Ice Cream, for feathery eyelashes, sprinkle covered lips, and rainbow painted faces.


All images in this post are ©Wendy Hope, all rights reserved; story is ©Profoto. Please respect photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or repost elsewhere without written permission.

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Comments (1)

  • Kasper


    The light on the Hair Beauty Shoot!! Wow!
    Very nice! The cheekbone(s) softlight and the more dramatic light on the hair is a really good combo! Would like to see a Little more rimlight on the models left side


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