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Blog

Photo-Ready Makeup

Jessica Palmer

Two very frequent questions I get regarding makeup and photography...One is usually from a person who does not wear much makeup (or none at all), and the other from someone who is no stranger to makeup but feels like things don't look quite right when they get their picture taken.

So the first question is: "Do I need to wear [any, more, extra, heavy, etc] makeup that day?" That day of course referring to anything special where pictures are being taken (usually a wedding, family pics, you know what I mean!).  Well I could probably write a book on this one question, and I will give you my two cents, but I want you to hear what some industry professionals have to say too!

Photo credit: Charleton Churchill Photography

"An image is not just about the moment the camera shutter clicks, but what went into that moment. As an artist, everything inside the image matters: Location, colors, the right outfits, composition, lighting, props, direction, and posing or interaction. However, what good is all that without a properly painted and dressed up person? In the movies, people wear makeup (yes guys too) to enhance their look. Why should we expect less in a photograph?" Charleton Churchill, Charleton Churchill Photography

So in other words: YES! Makeup is a necessary part of a fantastic picture! Plus a well done makeup job will boost confidence which will show in the pictures too! And while a heavy makeup face is rarely what anyone actually wants, it is entirely necessary to enhance your features so you look like YOURSELF in a photo! And of course I always recommend hiring someone to do your makeup for those special times too so you don't have to worry about it ;) Even the "no-makeup" look takes makeup and a little extra skill doesn't hurt!

So moving on...The other question I get asked quite a bit, in fact I was reminded of this issue yet again when a friend texted me the other day (Hi Brae!), is "I wear (a good amount) of makeup but in pics I feel like I always look like I'm not wearing anything. Why and what can I do to change it?"

Photo credit: Lydia Photography

"Everyone wants to look their best in pictures! But most people don't realize that the pure, beautiful light that is great for pictures also can wash you out--a la that just rolled out of bed ghost face! Done well, makeup can add back in the radiance we all want to compliment that glowing smile!" Lydia Takeoka, Lydia Photography

It's true, lighting washes people out...it can make a rosy complexion look pallid, a diminish features that seem defined face to face.  Makeup is necessary, more than usual makeup is necessary. 

Here's the catch: everyone's definition of "natural" or "dramatic" is different, and how you view yourself (or judge yourself!) in a photo is not going to be how everyone else (or your photog, or your makeup artist) views you. Here's a few tips that can help you get a handle on this:

  1. Makeup gets cut, cut major, in a photo...depending on the lighting you're working with, it could even cut what you did in half.  So even those who wear nothing or next to nothing will need a little makeup so you don't look like death warmed over ;) And for those of you who wear a full face on a regular basis you may want a more dramatic look or even just kicking it up a couple notches. I recall a recent photoshoot in which I kept having to add so much blush to the model (she was photographing pale and we wanted a flushed look) I thought there was no way it would look right but because of the amazing light we had it cut out so much of the color...she looked naturally rosy in all of the pictures, no one would have known how much blush she had on that day ;)
  2. Intensifying your look for pictures does not necessarily mean piling on more of what you normally do...it's all about being strategic in product and product placement.  A brighter pop of blush on top of your normal cheek look will help you look awake.  A touch more of bronzer than you usually use on your forhead, temples and cheeks will give extra glow to your complexion.  Slightly more depth in your eyeshadow, or using false lashes will help your eyes sparkle. And do not forget your lips! It's so easy to lose your mouth in a photo so I recommend using something a shade or two deeper than you normally do to achieve the appearance of your "normal" mouth. Nudes are fun, they are my favorite, but make sure if that's what you normally do that you use one with more color (like peachy or pinky) because in a picture a true nude could very well make you look like you are ill!
  3. Determine what your starting point is, what your normal is...this isn't one size fits all! Everyone has a different look and that's ok! The nutshell is: whatever you do normally should be intensified.  And if you feel like you just can't figure out why you don't look right in a pic take some time to to really figure it out: is it that you feel pale?  That your eyes don't stand out enough? Find those exact things that you want to change and that's how you'll know where to strategically use more or different makeup!

So let's recap: makeup is good!!  It will make your pictures better and boost confidence,  not to mention it'll also make your photographers job easier too!  One size does not fit all since everyone's normal varies.  Find your normal, determine the level of intensity you want, and use more than the usual so you don't feel bare.  Be strategic about product placement in the areas that seem to fall flat when you photograph.   And when in doubt, hire an artist to do the dirty work for you!  Did I mention I know a good one? ;)

So Cheers to Photographers, and to a little extra Polish and Pout in your Pics,