A ‘Flashy’ Makeup Photo

This is Sarah, a wonderful local model who I’ve had the pleasure of photographing now on a couple of occasions. I’ll blog those photos very soon, but the purpose of this single photo blog is all about the makeup and particularly photographing it.

Makeup studio lighting photoshoot


Being married to a full-time professional makeup artist, I’m a male in what is widely regarded as a very female orientated domain and this is very often made humour of with clients and models when in the studio.

The upshot of all this is that over the years make-up beauty photography has formed the backbone of my photography business, and it’s what I do on a daily basis for a living.

As with most areas of photography, beauty work has its own specialised requirements and needs to be approached with knowledgeable consideration to the makeup. There is certainly no ‘one size fits all’ lighting approach for beauty photography, and various factors come into play.

As any good makeup artist will know, it’s all about the subtlety of details and extreme accuracy once a makeup look has been decided upon. Any part of a make-up artist’s make-up application will include contouring, highlighting, blending, colouring and many, many more skilled aesthetic decisions based on face shape, facial features etc.

Therefore when photographing the work of a professional make-up artist, where it’s all about the make-up, it requires a considered approach and a high degree of knowledge in what the make-up artist has applied. A SPF free foundation may well have been used to prevent bounce back or hotspots for example. Ultimately the objective is to ensure any finished image will convey the entire look, the detail within it, and showcase their work in its full glory.

My work as photographer is a continuation of the skilled work already carried out by the make-up artist, and face shape, colouring, the exaggeration of strong facial features while playing down other areas, subtle highlighting etc. all strongly influence how I will light it (the make-up).

For this there is no other consideration other than studio flash or continuous light, both of which are controllable to sculpt the face. Each face is different and each make-up application is different and will require a slightly different approach to lighting, pose etc.

I’ve seen cases where a photographer has used natural light to photograph make-up for make-up artists work. This is a complete no no in my book. For natural light to be in any way flattering it has to be soft and will probably be a filled light also. This will almost certainly yield a flat, contrastless light and give a washed out look where the skilled work of the make-up artist in applying contouring, highlighting etc. will be complete lost in the images.

If you are a make-up artist please consider these points as make-up applications will only be as good in final image as the photographer’s knowhow in lighting and posing it.





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