Crew: Makeup Artists

Apr 10, 2018

Whenever photographing people for a fashion, portraiture, or lifestyle shoot, it's a good idea to consider utilizing the services of a makeup artist. Makeup artists are trained to understand the way light shapes the human face and have mastered tools and techniques to alter contours and emphasize features, making people look their best.

Screenshot of Wonderful Machine's Find Crew Page for makeup artists

As with any collaboration, communication is a key factor in getting the desired results. In this post, I'll discuss some tips a photographer should keep in mind while working with a makeup artist.

Choosing the 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 you know any photographers or models, ask their opinion about the skill level and professionalism of the makeup artist.

Make sure the makeup stylist’s portfolio matches the type of shoot for which you're preparing. Consider the way 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.

Screenshots of Michaela Kireta's and Susie Jasper's Instagram accounts

Instagram accounts of makeup Artists Michaela Kireta and Susie Jasper.

Meeting the makeup artist in person prior to 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 professionalism and the personality of the makeup artist. Dallas-based photographer Scott Slusher imparts some of his advice. 

Take a look at what is going on – magazines and online, Instagram. There are so many outlets these days where you can look to see what's going on. It's fun to collaborate and meet people, see how you work together. If you have a makeup artist that you absolutely love, put them on your job. Try to get them.

Before the shoot

As you prepare for the shoot day, make sure the makeup artist is aware of the creative intent behind the project, as well as the logistics of the shoot. Knowing the location and having the shot list will help the makeup artist figure out how they are going to set up and manage their time.

In order 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. Germany-based hair and makeup artist Michaela Kireta says the more a photographer describes and explains, the better. 

The photographer should always tell the makeup artist in detail what he wants, show some mood boards etc., so that everything gets clear from both sides. Make sure there are no misunderstandings and the pictures can be the best as a result.

During the shoot

The makeup artist will need a comfortable, well-lit space to work, and ideally a chair for the model, a mirror, and a table to spread out tools and makeup.

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 is following the intended vision is to communicate your honest opinion. Remember, everyone is working together to make you and the client happy. 

Photo of Susie Jasper applying makeup on a model by Scott Slusher

Susie Jasper applies touch-ups during the shoot. Photograph by Scott Slusher.

After the shoot 

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 together (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 web make sharing (and tagging) easy! 

Fashion portrait of a model by Scott Slusher

Photograph by Scott Slusher. Makeup by Susie Jasper

Next time you’re looking to add a makeup artist to your team, consider using the Wonderful Machine Find Crew tool. If you’re a makeup artist interested in being listed in our crew directory, please reach out via email or call us at 610.260.0200. 

Additional Resources:

The Ultimate Guide to Finding a Makeup, Hair, and Wardrobe Stylist by Jeff Rojas

What Makeup Artists Wish Photographers Knew by Nicole York

A Photographer's Guide to Working with a Makeup Artist by Devorah Goldstein