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Preparing for a photo shoot takes time, dedication and a group effort! If you’ve ever been on set, you know that its all in the details and clear communication is key for a successful outcome. And, if you’ve ever been on set with Sam Villa or his team, you know how much magic goes on behind the lens to make things happen! From preparing with mood boards to team meetings to start the day for discussing overall flow and general feedback, teamwork really does make the dream work!

Whether you’re working on set or at the salon, each day stylists work in teams together – checking in to see how their styles are coming along and offering advice when needed. Much like working together in a salon, working on set is a similar experience.  When the Sam Villa team is working on set together it is a truly collaborative experience. Asking each other questions, giving opinions, and growing together around a common goal.

Recently, Sam Villa Professional shot their new collection in Los Angeles with their ArTeam and despite members of the ArTeam being from different salons, they are able to replicate that same salon cohesion on set.

Going behind the scenes from concept to completion, Andrew Carruthers, Education Director for Sam Villa discusses working on set, details about the team, and what they love most about working together!

How was the team formed? 

The team for this shoot was pretty small by design. We’ve discovered that keeping a “sacred space” at these shoots is really beneficial to keep the right focus and the positive vibes flowing. The hair team consisted of the Sam Villa ArTeam, which is Sam, Jesse Linares, Anna Peters, and I. We brought in Sam’s cousin Rick Menolez to be our only support person on the hair side. For our Photographer, we created a great relationship with an amazingly gifted young lady named Katie Parker who we first worked with last year. She captures a really perfect balance of fashion and relatability in her images. More importantly, she’s a kind and humble person that stays positive even at the end of 10 hours of shooting. Makeup and Wardrobe were brand new for us this year and they were both personal recommendations from people we trust. We had Teal Druda for makeup and Amia Serrano for wardrobe. Both of these ladies impressed us with their ability to bring images to life, but again, their personalities sealed the deal for us. We build a team around connection and trust above talent... we really believe that if people feel they are part of a family and they are safe to create, talent comes to the surface. 

How did you prepare for the shoot?

We work as a team to prepare mood boards to get a direction for the imagery. We build out a Dropbox that each person adds their ideas to and then refine down from there. We’ve recently found that we have a sweet spot when working together –when we have a common vision but don’t get so dialed into exact looks that we become inflexible. We need to capture a ton of images at these shoots because we typically only get one per year so we have to stay light on our feet to keep the pace of the shoot. If we get too attached to exact looks, we can’t capture the variety of imagery we need for the year. 

How were looks chosen?

This can be hard because our artistic side wants to get into the studio and get creative. But, we have to look closely at our needs for the year from the standpoint of Social Media, Press Releases, Education, Website, etc. So those initiatives help create and guide the shot list.

You all truly work together as a team, how was this relationship forged?

Relationships are built on trust, collaboration, and support so we make sure the entire team is part of the process. Even the photographer, makeup artist, and wardrobe stylist are brought into our discussions so that it doesn’t become a place where people feel they are being dictated to. It’s awesome to see someone like Sam be so willing to trust and turn over control to his team members. In that kind of atmosphere, working together as a team – actually more as a family – happens naturally. It’s taken us some time to work out how that all works and in the end, letting go of control and trusting that each team member will bring their best has produced our best content.

What looks were created? 

We break up the shoot into 4 big categories.

  • Short haircuts
  • Medium haircuts
  • Long haircuts
  • Styling/finishing

Within those 4 categories, we try to capture at least one classic look, one salon trend, and one image that pushes towards the creative side while still being salon friendly. 

How does your team feel these looks will translate as movements within the industry this year?

This year, a lot of our imagery represented the current trend towards texture in haircuts, finishes, and style. We don’t really see our brand as trend influencers... we see ourselves more as the educators and messengers. So, nothing that we shot is going to be a surprise to anyone but we hope it inspires them to fulfill the needs of their clientele in a new way. 

What key products/tools were used?

We get a ton of support from our friends at Redken with product and color, which is essential to the success of our shoot. We used their new Dry Texture products a ton on this shoot because of the trend towards slightly more matte finishes and natural movement. We did a lot of work with our Sam Villa Artist Series 2-in-1 Marcel Curling Iron and Wands since bends, waves, and curls are so important in the salon right now. And we couldn’t live without our Sam Villa Signature Series Textur Iron on shoots to get the level of fullness and body the hair needs to express body and volume on film. Hair has to be a little bigger than life to translate in an image.

The amazing team!


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