I learned from very early on in my career that the essential requirement when working creatively with hair is thorough preparation. During my apprenticeship I was fortunate to have assisted three exceptional hairdressers – my father Peter Collinge, Michael Rasser of michaeljohn and Robert Lobetta. All three had quite different styles of working but they all had one common philosophy, and that was to be meticulous in preparing the hair prior to styling it.
This attention to detail paid dividends – in Dad’s case, when he was winning trophies in the highly combative world of competitions, and with Michael and Robert through their photographic work. There was very little retouching and certainly no Photoshopping back then, so with the exception of removing the odd stray, the finished hair style had to be pretty much perfect before the photo was taken. Today, I always think of their commitment to excellence whenever I’m on a shoot and always strive for a flawless finish.
Preparing the hair can take many forms, using a variety of techniques. It’s not just about adding product, it’s also about ensuring the cut and/or length of the hair is correct for the desired style. Is the hair too soft? Is it over conditioned? When dressing long hair, I can spend a considerable amount of time just prepping it through brushing over and over again until I’m absolutely confident it will react how I want it to. At hair shows over the years, one particular hairstyle I demonstrate is the Two Minute Up Do, but often joke to the audience that it takes an hour of preparation. I certainly don’t want any nasty surprises in front of hundreds of people, so it’s only the preparation that gives me the confidence to go out and attempt the style. I suppose it’s the old saying that comes to mind: ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’.