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How to Get the Windswept Hair Look without a Fan

The windswept-hair look has been a favorite for many portrait photographers over the years. Using a high-power fan ensures the look; but when power is not an option on a location shoot, it’s useless. Here’re a few “no-power-needed” tips and tricks to help get the windswept hair look without a fan.

Movement with the subject

Have the subject strike a pose. Take a few test shots to ensure proper exposure and lighting. Now have the subject take a step off their mark and when you yell action, they quickly move into position. This accomplishes two things. First, the subject won’t look like they stood still and just posed for a shot. Second, the hair will move across the subject’s face—adding motion to the image.

For this to work without causing motion blur in the subject’s face, use a fast shutter speed of about 1/200 sec. Another option is to pan with the subject. Focus on the subject’s face and move with them as you take the shot. This is a little trickier and requires practice.  

Use a reflector, foam core or a piece of cardboard in an upward motion

This may sound silly, but it works. Have an assistant start with a circular reflector, a foam core or a heavy piece of cardboard down low. When you yell action, have them quickly raise the reflector in an upward motion causing air to blow the hair up. Experiment with the speed of the movement. Short, quick movements gives the photographer more frames to capture. Just remember not to come down with force—it will blow the hair down.

Place the subject into the wind

Use mother nature to help with the windswept look. Place the subject looking into the direction of the wind. If the wind is very strong, have them close their eyes until you are ready to burst a few frames. This will keep their eyes from drying out or tearing up.

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