Interview With The New LSW Beauty Influencer: Richard Monsieur
LSW: Richard, we are very excited to welcome you on board as a Beauty Influencer on The Leading Salons of the World. It’s very rare to see anything amazing in hair photography. Why this attraction to shooting hair?
R: Until about 5 years ago I did mostly editorial, commercials, children beauty, hair … My agent told me: “If you want to have the best clients you have to specialize”. So, I did, and it’s been a continuous success ever since.
LSW: Why do you think that there is less competition in Hair Photography?
R: Hair Photography is more difficult than Beauty. Hair goes everywhere… sometimes they use wind, it’s never clean, it’s always a lot of work. I’ve worked with so many hairdressers that now I can tell I’m 50% hairdresser. I’m joking!
LSW: What interests you in the collaboration with the Leading Salons of the World?
R: You have a great network of high end salons, so I think our collaboration would be a great way for me to build connections with salons that may need my work.
LSW: I’ve seen tons of pictures and really beautiful photographs for hair, but I’ve never seen anything close to what you do. What’s your secret to make your work stands out?
R: For me the secret is making the picture interesting. I think it’s a feeling, it’s also the way you light it, how you bring the shadow in the hair. If you bring extra shadow you see more contrast, so your eyes go faster to where it’s interesting.
LSW: This is the technical part of it but when we look at your photographs we can almost see a sculpture, or a painting. There is definitely a very strong artistic dimension that you add.
R: I’m someone creative, so if I do every time the same thing I’m really getting bored. Before being a photograph I was an engineer.
LSW: Oh that’s interesting, in what field?
R: In process engineering. When I chose my school I told my dad “I’m gonna be a photographer, he said “No get a real job”. So I started as an engineer, and with the money I made I bought cameras, studio equipment, I even bought a house and built a studio in the house and later I became a full-time photographer.
LSW: How did it influence your photographic work?
R: The technic behind it. You can be creative but if you want to break the rules you first have to know them.
LSW: How do you collaborate with hairdressers? I guess that they come with their original idea …
R: Most of them do, but from experience I can tell you that some don’t. Sometimes the hairdresser leaves it all up to me, so I’m organizing and producing almost the complete photoshoot when it comes to hair. I like that. I have a vision, and I like to share it. But sometimes hairdressers come with this perfect idea, they send me a book, photos, color pallets and they know everything they want. It’s also nice for me to make their concept work.
LSW: You won a lot of Awards in Hair Competitions
R: Yes, I did. Last year in the Netherlands, 2500 collections were submitted, I only shot 27 but received 23 nominations out of the 100 selected.
LSW: Not only you shoot but you also make all your Photoshop yourself!
R: Yes, I’m retouching everything myself because I think hair is one of the toughest post-production there is. You cannot draw hair in one line because hair is not one color. As I shoot with the hairdressers I know what they want, and I make sure they get that when I work on all the details.
LSW: You’re about to move to New York, what is the opportunity?
R: Everybody says “If you can make it in NY, you can make it everywhere so I took a plane and I’ve been here now for a month building-up some contacts. If all goes well I hope to be a lot more here.
LSW: How do you experience the difference between working in the Netherlands and the way that you started dealing with people professionally here?
R: I would say a difference of respect. I worked hard in the Netherlands to earn respect. In NY, I already feel respected. There is also a difference of exposure. In the Netherlands you shoot for 14 or 15 million people, in the US and in NY you shoot for the whole world.
LSW: What is your dream?
R: Yeah, my dream … become the best in the world, of course!
Seriously, for me the most important thing is to make a good living with the work I love. As an engineer I had a really safe life but now I do what I want. I work really long hours and people ask me “How do you get the energy? That’s easy, I love what I’m doing.
LSW: There is a wide and wild competition out here. How would you like your clients to talk about you?
R: I would like my clients to have the feeling that when they have shootings with me they feel at home, relaxed. I want that we can have fun together making nice pictures. And I think that is my goal in the end…having a great time doing what I love!