Whenever photographing people for a fashion, portraiture, or lifestyle shoot, it’s a good idea to employ the services of a makeup artist. Makeup artists are trained to understand how light shapes the human face and have mastered tools and techniques to alter contours and emphasize features, making people look their best.
As with any collaboration, communication is a key factor in getting the desired results. This article will discuss some tips a photographer should keep in mind while working with a makeup artist.
Finding a great makeup artist can be challenging. As you go through portfolios and Instagram accounts, take note of their style and the people they’ve worked with in the past. If your shoot requires clean minimalist make up, you’ll want an artist whose portfolio largely consists of that type of makeup. As always, word of mouth from others photographers or from models can be especially helpful. Ask their opinion about the skill level and professionalism of the makeup artists they’ve worked with.
Instagram accounts of makeup artists George Kyriakos and Kacie Corbelle
Make sure the makeup stylist’s portfolio matches the type of shoot for which you’re preparing. Consider how the makeup artist enhances the natural features of the model, and recognize how the stylist takes the makeup further by playing with colors, textures, and shadows.
Meeting the makeup artist in person before the shoot is a vital part of the selection process. This gives you a perfect opportunity to exchange portfolios, discuss creative visions for the shoot, and judge the makeup artist’s professionalism and personality. New York-based hair and makeup artist George Kyriakos imparts some of his advice.
Booking someone from a social media account alone can backfire in many ways. Retouching apps have become so easy and accessible that an artist can fix anything in the image or literally create the make-up look on the app. A lot of influencers have never worked on set and don’t know the protocols and how fashion and advertising sets work. If you go through a reputable agency a good agent will do their best to not oversell an artist and make sure the right artist is on the right set.
As you prepare for the shoot day, make sure the makeup artist is aware of the creative intent behind the project and the logistics of the shoot. Knowing the location and having the shot list will help the makeup artist figure out how they will set up and manage their time.
To communicate the vision more effectively, it helps to have a basic understanding of makeup and the vocabulary. One good trick is to narrow down on a few images to provide visual inspiration for the artist and explain why you chose those images.
Feel free to provide any additional information that might help the artist, such as a photograph of the model, a portfolio of the hair stylist, or the intended use of final images. Evanston, Illinois-based hair and makeup artist Unwana Rose says the more a photographer describes and explains, the better.
The photographer should always tell the makeup artist in detail what he or she wants. This can include mood boards, creative briefs, shot lists, time/location info, call sheets, and any special makeup requests. Sometimes a call with the client is needed to make sure there are no misunderstandings, and the pictures can be their very best.
George explains why all of this detail is absolutely key to an efficient and successful shoot:
For us, the schedule of the shots and outfits are very important. This way we can plan the hair and makeup looks to save time. Say that 4 shots have makeup and hair looks that are heavier and more complicated and 5 shots with hair and makeup that are more natural. Then we should start with the more natural shots so we can build on the hair and makeup throughout the day if possible.
Chicago-based makeup and hair stylist Marcus Geeter says that the makeup artist will need a comfortable, well-lit space to work, as well as, ideally, a chair for the model, a mirror, and a table to spread out tools and makeup.
I always like to have a barstool or high chair available for makeup and a regular chair for hair. I also like a long table to set up and lay out all of my equipment. A room with great natural light is wonderful or a makeup mirror with lights that mimic natural lighting is always preferred.
While the makeup artist does most of their work before the actual shoot, whenever possible, it’s great to have the makeup artist remain on set to make touchups or last-minute adjustments.
The best way to make sure the shoot follows the intended vision is to communicate your honest opinion. Remember, everyone is working together to make you and the client happy.
The best way to build a relationship with makeup artists (and the rest of the crew) is to share the final product of your collaboration (once the client is comfortable releasing the photos to the public). Communicate when and how you’ll share the images with the artist. Most makeup artists are active on Instagram, so sharing a gallery of your favorite images resized for the web makes sharing (and tagging) easy!
Wardrobe and Prop Stylists Taylor Greeley tags Makeup Artist Kacie Corbell