Ambient Light with Keri Gold Salon


You can’t be serious…

That was my first reaction when my buddy told me our client was in love with my images and wanted to hire me for more.

My first legitimate, commercial shoot and I nailed it. Talk about a huge sigh of relief.

My buddy Ty runs a social media consulting company, JTyAutry Consulting, and about two months ago he asked for a quote to shoot headshots and promotional images for his hair salon client, Keri Gold Salon. I had no flipping idea what to do.

Me? Commercial images? As in high end marketing images? No way! I’ve never done this before. What they hell should I do?

I took an educated W.A.G. (AKA Wild Ass Guess) at the quote, sent it off to Ty and the next thing I knew we were scheduling potential days.


Ty and I worked over the details for what the images needed to look like and what the final results needed to be. I’d get a 4 square-foot spot to shoot headshots of the staff, and then I’d have free reign to roam the salon and snag candid images. The one thing working in my favor was that the candid images could not have flash – it would be hairy enough taking pictures of the stylists working with actual clients. I love naturally lit shots, though everyone assumes commercial images are lit up like major Hollywood movie productions, so I was worried they wouldn’t be up to snuff. Well, I ran with what they gave me and the results were excellent.

The headshots were done with a two light set-up – a 20” Westcott Rapid Box as my key light and a bare speedlight fitted with a MagMod grid and 1/8th CTO gel for the kicker/hair light. As an aside – the more I use the MagMod system, the more I love it. The flexibility and extra creativity available with the magnet based grid and gel system is stupid simple and fast. It’s opened up a lot of new doors with my photography; I just wish I could use it to gel my 20” Rapid Box! It’d be a match made in heaven.


The trick with these images was that I used a higher ISO than usual because I wanted to capture the ambient light. When using flash, if you raise your ISO and slow down your shutter speed, you’ll see more of the ambient light’s natural color in the background of your photos. At the salon, the ambient light was a tungsten color. I liked having a gold background since the salon had Gold in the name.

For the candid shots, I approached them like I would the morning prep session of a wedding – the only difference being I would focus on the stylists instead of the clients. A lot of people were resolutely against having their picture taken, which I totally understood. Having your hair done is not always a pretty process. I did my best to explain that their faces would not be in the images, and showed them the pictures I had already captured on my camera’s LCD screen as evidence. Some conceded and some stood firm. We made due regardless, though next time I’ll make sure to have the salon tell each client before they are serviced that there will be a photographer on site. Hopefully the prior warning will make them more willingly compliant! Otherwise, a smiling face and warm demeanor go a long way.


One of the big things that helped me execute this shoot was having a clear idea and vision. Ty and I spent hours really discussing what the new branding needed to represent and show. I think this was the biggest contributing factor to the Salon loving their images. I had an idea in mind and it came through. I definitely recommend doing this with other clients – wedding, portrait, etc.

I spent days freaking out after I sent out the final images. Anxious, scared, and excited; I couldn’t wait to hear the verdict on my images. I passed with flying colors, got a great reference, a possible repeat customer, and potentially a wedding out of it. Not too shabby!

I feel like a broken record, but this is continuing to be an incredible year for me taking on bigger and bigger challenges and meeting each one head on. I’m loving/hating all of this forced personal growth stuff. It’s scary and rewarding – which is what life should be, in a weird way, right? Either way, on to the next adventure!

If you enjoy my work, feel free to view my other Galleries! If you’re interested in working with me, check out what others are saying HERE, be sure to check what your Investment will get you, and send your inquiries and questions HERE.


Mike Glatzer

Mike Glatzer Photography, Marietta St NW, Atlanta, GA 30318, United States