Makeup or No Makeup? Why Makeup Application is Important for Your Photo Session

My goal as a photographer is more than to provide my clients with beautiful imagery. Yes, that is the end goal, but as a photographer it is also my job to educate my clients on what it takes to capture the quality of imagery that I provide.  Soon after my clients book me for a photo session, the planning begins.  I take time to provide recommendations for what to wear by suggesting colors that compliment one another and photograph well.  I educate them on the best time of day to shoot, lighting, posing, and other tips that will make their session go smoothly.  Lastly, I highly recommend professional makeup application. I understand that a lot of women are able to apply makeup themselves, but I believe professional photo sessions should have slightly more than your normal everyday makeup routine.  I suggest this for a few reasons.

  1. A professional makeup artist knows how to even out skin tones, hide blemishes, and match makeup for your complexion. Have you every seen someone photographed with camera flash and have a ghostly looking undertone? Perfect example of a situation that could be prevented with professional makeup application.

  2. A professional makeup artist also has an eye for what will photograph well. From contour, highlight, to defining your brows they’ve got you covered.  

  3. The use of professional grade cameras and lenses with the right light can make you look amazing. However, this equipment has the ability to pick up such great detail that it can accentuate problem areas as well. i.e. (blemishes, discoloration, under eye circles etc.

  4. Lastly, it boosts your confidence and makes you feel photo ready!

I decided to get the opinions of a few professionals. Here’s what they had to say.



What are a few reason why you believe professional makeup is important in photography?
Professional makeup is SO important for a successful photo session. Makeup, not only gives the client a beautiful, natural glow, it also brings out confidence that translates in every image. A professional makeup artist is able to assess a client's needs and provide an experience that helps them to look like the most beautiful version of themselves. 

What features do you make a point to highlight to make your clients photo ready?
In order to make my clients photo ready, I love to focus on glowing complexion and captivating eyeshadow application. I start with skin because creating a clean, smooth complexion helps the client to appear refreshed and vibrant. The eyes are important because they bring out the client's personality. Whether a soft smoky eye, a neutral eye, or a pop of color, an eyeshadow look brings together the style of the shoot and the client's personality is essential. Focusing on these elements help to bring out the client's confidence; which in turn, results in a successful shoot.

If you had to pick 2 things that one should never skip when applying makeup for a professional photoshoot, what would they be?If I had to pick two things that should never be skipped during professional photoshoot makeup application, they would be skin prep and taking the time to BLEND! Oftentimes, because photoshoots are fast paced environments, we rush to "get it done". Well prepping the skin with moisturizer, primer that works with their skin needs (oil absorption, blemish reduction, smoothing, etc.), and concealing all help to alleviate "touch-ups" later. Also, blending at every step is essential. From the shadows to the skin, blending creates an undeniably flawless face. Not only do these steps help the artist, they help the photographer with less post-shoot edits. 

What advice do you give your clients to prepare them for makeup application? 
To prepare for makeup application, I always advise my clients to do several things...

1. Drink plenty of water leading up to the day of the session

2. Cleanse your face prior to the shoot.

3. Relax and Trust your artist. \

Lashes or no lashes? Why?

"YES" to LASHES!!!! Lashes help to bring the entire look together. In some cases, they help to lift and brighten the eye. Sometimes, they soften a look and add more romance. 

Oftentimes, clients who are apprehensive about lashes have, either, never worn them or had a bad experience with false lashes. With application by a professional, using proper tools and products, your experience should be stress-free and seamless. 

Check out more of Nadia’s work HERE



What are a few reasons why you believe professional makeup is important in photography? 

Makeup and photography to me are synonymous! They go hand in hand.  It is especially important regardless of the type of photo shoot (natural, headshots, portrait, beauty, avant-garde, editorial, etc.) as proper makeup application will accentuate the client’s best features and also minimize editing/retouching. Another great reason is that a makeup artist will know what type of products to use less or more of depending on the shoot’s lighting. — You ever wonder why you looked so great when you were putting on your make up in the bathroom and then completely different when you get outside? Case and point! Whatever the lighting set up is (natural, fluorescent, warm, or gel), a makeup artist’s main goal is for you to look like you in your photos and not an orange troll! Makeup artists know how to manipulate makeup to work well under different types of lighting.   Lastly, we all like to look great and natural in our photos. However, seldom to popular belief, it may require more makeup than the average person may wear on a daily basis to achieve that natural “no makeup-makeup” look. This is also why professional makeup is essential in photography. A makeup artist will help you look your best which will translate beautifully in your photographs!

What features do you make a point to highlight to make your clients photo ready? 

On every client, flawless SKIN, whether it be matte or dewy is always my key point of focus. I want my clients to look like themselves. A 2.0 version of themselves, if you will and it starts with nailing their complexion. Other points would be clean brows as they frame the face, and a lash that opens the eye to pull the viewers of the photo in since eyes are often the point of focus in photos. I think these points are essential to making any look complete. 

If you had to pick 2 things that one should never skip when applying make for a professional photoshoot, what would they be? 

Skin prep! It’s important! All makeup artists swear by skin prep. It varies based on the client's needs and goals of the shoot. If we’re going to do several looks that require different makeup styles, then we’d want to prep the skin in such a way that we could build upon each look without having to start all over again. Or if we need the makeup to last for several hours, skin prep may be different in comparison to a quick shoot to ensure the makeup has staying power. In any case, prepping the skin is crucial because it lays the foundation for the final look.  

Second, I’d say creating contrast and dimension also known as highlight and contour. It can be as natural and understated as the client wants or as bold and dramatic as the client likes. Either level of intensity is important when shooting. Highlighting and contouring are key in photography because, without it, faces can fall flat in pictures. The intention is to enhance areas of the face that naturally stand out or attracts light and give dimension to the areas of the face that normally has “shadows” like the hollows of the cheeks, below the jawline, and the perimeter of the forehead. It creates the illusion of brightness, that lit-from-within look, or camouflage larger features that a client may not want to accentuate. 

What advice do you give your clients to prepare them for makeup application? 

Skin prep the day before!!! I know, you’re probably like, again? Skin prep is the real deal breaker for flawless makeup application. I recommend that clients gently wash and exfoliate their faces the night before a shoot. Then follow that up with a hydrating moisturizer so that skin will be supple and moisturized on the day of the shoot. Also, a good night’s sleep is always advised. Hydrated and well-rested skin looks younger and more radiant.

***Pro tip: Exfoliate lips too using olive oil (or any oil you have and sugar) to buff away chapped, dry skin. Smooth some lip oil or balm on before you go to bed the night before and those lips will be photo shoot ready as well!

Lashes or no lashes? Why?

Yasssssss because why not!? Just kidding... But really, lashes are important in photo shoots because as stated before, the right lash opens the eye. They don’t have to be dramatic to get the job done, but they do give a nice touch and finishes the “look” in and shoot. They’re necessary for sure!

Check out more of Shaharlee’s work HERE



What are a few reason why you believe professional makeup is important in photography?

It takes an artful eye to see the beauty and potential in each face. A pro artist is not only trained to apply flawless, enduring makeup, they are also skilled in the art of making you feel at ease in every aspect of the process. As an artist I also understands how many different factors can effect your look. For example, makeup for photography is entirely different from everyday makeup. How many times have you seen a bride or someone on set that didn’t look quite right in her photos? Maybe her skin was uneven or shiny or her eyes didn’t quite have that ‘pop’. More than likely, the person who did her makeup did not understand how to apply makeup suitable for photography.

What features do you make a point to highlight to make your clients photo ready?

I have a minimalist approach to beauty. I love to highlight healthy glowy skin. If the skin is beautiful everything else will look great! Skin, is the first thing people notice and remember.

If you had to pick 2 things that one should never skip when applying make for a professional photoshoot, what would they be? 

Ahhhh man only two! Never ever skip skin prep that’s your base! Concealer to spot correct. This question is really hard to answer lol

What advice do you give your clients to prepare them for makeup application?

Eat your veggies, moisturize morning and night and drink plenty of water! Oh and exfoliate your skin 2-3 days a week

Lashes or no lashes? Why?

This is a tricky one.

For photo-shoots, I love to use individual lashes. Sometimes the lash band is too harsh for beauty shoots. If I can get away with no lashes I may not use them. Honestly it all depends on the look. Believe it or not it takes a skill to create a look that's beautiful without lashes.

Check out more of Ciara’s work HERE

Danielle KingComment