One of the things proving to be the most challenging as a freelance makeup artist is getting enough editorial beauty photos for my portfolio. Yet having incredible beauty shots is the common denominator with all of the makeup artists whom I love and follow the most. The more I inquire to beauty photographers about shooting with them, the more I realize that they are hounded often by makeup artists, and have learned to stick with a team that they know they work well and vibe with. Since I've met many photographers whom I love in the past 4 years, I thought it would only be right to reach out to one of my faves, Nichole Alex, to do a beauty shoot with me. If you don't know, Nichole has shot pretty much every plus size model in the industry, yet she is very interested (and very great) at beauty photography. So we decided to finally put a plan in place to shoot some beauty looks.
The first time we did this the focus was on clean beauty and we didn't venture outside of the box too much because we were both testing the waters. So the second time around I really wanted there to be a theme and a mood for the looks and to put more effort into them. Even though I'm a very "go with the flow" type of person, this is one of those scenarios where you want to have a clear idea of what you're going for in the beginning. While this doesn't mean that you have to attach yourself to an outcome completely, but it means you want to have a vision.
Now that I've done this a couple of times and I'm more comfortable going into another beauty shoot with a clear idea of my vision, I thought I would create a step by step guide for anyone getting started so you can feel more prepared going into your beauty shoot.
1. Make a Mood Board
Pinterest is the easiest and more convenient way to do this. You can create an account, make your board by typing in any key words for the mood you're going for, then invite anyone else who is participating in the shoot to add to it as well. For example, this shoot I'm showcasing was floral themed. So when searching images on pinterest, I searched "floral" "editorial" "makeup" and got plenty of inspo. Then from there I traveled down the rabbit hole of related images until I found enough photos for inspiration. You can also choose to keep your boards hidden if you're working on a secret project, then only you and the other pinners can see it.
Another alternative to pinterest is just creating the mood board in a word document. This can be a bit more time consuming but it's a more common way if you have photos that aren't saved on pinterest. For example, I had a few that I saved from Instagram and didn't want to go through the hassle of uploading them to pinterest myself then pinning them to the board. So I just airdropped the photos to my macbook and put them in a word doc. Then once I created the full mood I turned the file into a PDF and sent it out to the photographer and model.
2. Find a Model
You may have a million and one ideas for beauty looks that you want to shoot, but if you don't choose the right model your looks may not translate the way that you want them to. For example, if you want your main focus to be eye shadow with lots of color and intricate techniques, you wouldn't want to choose a model with hooded eyes. Your work would get lost and wouldn't show up as well with a model with larger round or almond eyes. For this shoot I chose Mari because A. she's just perfect, but also because she has amazing skin and distinct features. I knew I didn't want to go too heavy on the eye products, just enough to create some interest. But most of the looks would revolve around her skin and enhancing her natural beauty.
3. Be Realistic about Your Looks
The first beauty shoot I did was with two models and two looks and I was doing hair and makeup. If i'm being honest this was way too much work for me, especially since it was my first time. I felt very rushed in my process because really everyone is waiting on the makeup artist for most of the day and I hate feeling "late" even though I technically was on my own time. So this time around I felt much more relaxed having one model with 3 looks. That way if we didn't make it through all 3, I at least was only working on one person and didn't feel as rushed.
I'm not sure if all artists do this, but when I shoot beauty I like to set aside a few "hero" products that I want to showcase in this shoot. I'll pick about 3-4 different brands to use for the look and make sure that I tag them in all the photos. I've even sent a few edits to the brands themselves just to let them know I appreciate their products and have used them in a professional setting. I've received free products and follows on Instagram for doing this, so it can be worth it to take the time.
Even though the focus of this is makeup, this is not just your show. This beauty shoot is a collaboration and you need to make sure that you and the photographer are not only on the same page, but also comfortable with being honest and flexible with each other. Sometimes I have an idea that I think it great but it isn't translating so well on film. That's where the photographer gets to step in and suggest another idea and you both get to meet in the middle on something great. I've definitely been in positions with photographers that couldn't take feedback very well and the miscommunication showed in the photos and I was unable to use any of them. You don't want to waste your day like that. Make sure you have great communication with your team and that you're all comfortable collaborating and you should be golden.
6. Edits, Edits
If you're super lucky (like me) and the photographer you're shooting with is also amazing at editing, you don't have too much to worry about with this. But that's not always the case. With beauty photography there is definitely such thing as too much editing. You want these photos to show off what you can do as an artist, but you also want them to look clean and polished as if they're good enough to go in a magazine. This is where you need to discuss editing, and making sure whoever is taking care of this is finding a balance between letting the makeup shine and not ever doing it. You want the tones to stay true and the skin to still look like skin.
Now that the shoot is over you have a couple options for what to do with these photos. First, you can take the finished edits and post them on your social media and portfolio and call it day if all you were looking to do is portfolio build. Just tag as many brands and other artists or publications that you want and hope that they love your work and choose to repost it. OR, you can submit the photos for publication. When you do this you'd want to make sure that your work falls in line with the mood of the publication. You'd also want to see if they have a photo minimum. For example, some magazine have a 6 photo minimum. So you'd want to make sure that your beauty photos tell a "story" and have enough images to submit. Each publication is going to have different requirements so just check those out ahead of time and submit accordingly.
And those are my tips! I'm sure there are so many other ways to go about this, but this is my formula for the time being and so far it's working out great. If you've found this helpful please share with any other professional artists that may find it helpful. I'm really aiming to help pros and aspiring pros to be more successful in this industry, so if you can think of anything else that you may have questions about, please feel free to inquire in the comments section. See you next time!