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Makeup Artist... yes or no?

May 07, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Should you hire a Makeup Artist (MUA)?

Most, if not all women are able to do basic makeup. Certainly if you are working with a professional model she should be versed in basic beauty makeup.  The real question is what are you shooting? Are you shooting a senior portrait? Are you shooting glamour or boudoir? Are you shooting for a magazine or professional portfolio for both you or your client?  If the answer the any of these questions is yes, then you should consider a professional make-up artist. Note here that I mentioned a professional make-up artist. There are quite a few people that will 'do' makeup for a client, but are not skilled enough to produce a polished final product. If you are looking for artistic makeup, a MUA is a must.

From a photographers standpoint, the MUA can serve as a second set of eyes on set. They can look for shiny skin, smudges, fly away hair. She can be a valuable member of your production team particularly if concept images go out to everyone at the same time. If you let the MUA know, for instance you are shooting with a particular type of lighting, or shooting with Gels, She can be certain the bring the appropriate makeup. Are you planning closeup glamour shots or are you planning casual lifestyle images with few if any close-up images. Are you shooting indoors? Outdoors? Is your subject going to very active during your shoot? 

A dedicated make-up artist can also serve as a second set of hands on the set. Moving props, holding reflectors, adjusting lights can be an incredible time saver for a MUA who is familiar with studio shooting.  She may even be able to help move equipment if shooting on location.

Let also be honest for a moment.  There is no shortage of models or clients concerned about their safety during the photoshoot. Social media is often flooded with comments related to "Guys with Camera's". Many photographers are reluctant to allow a 'escort' on set, but if the client or model is aware that a MUA will be on set, she will likely feel more comfortable. This is particularly true is the photographer is male and he is shooting lingerie or artistic nude images. A MUA on set can often serve as a safety net for the photographer as to what did (did not) happen and well as make physical adjustments to hair or wardrobe during the shoot.

Another point to consider is word of mouth relating to clients or models. If word gets around that you regularly work with a MUA, this is a great marketing tool since those shooting with you will know that they will look their very best.

OK, this does add production costs that either you or your client will have to pay. This may not be true ALL of the time. A makeup artist may like a particular concept of shoot, may be looking to break into a particular market like senior photography, or simply may be looking for someone to collaborate locally. Any or any of these factors may allow you to negotiate a rate with the MUA particularly if you shoot on a regular basis.  Keep in mind though that Makeup kits can be expensive, so don't expect too many trade shoots as she needs to cover her expenses like all others on the team.

Not sure where to find a makeup artist? Forums such as model mayhem have dedicated forum for makeup artists. If you are part of meetups or other social media groups, put out the word that you are looking to collaborate with a makeup artist and chances are good that you will get in touch with someone who will only elevate your art!


Makeup kit photo by Kinkate (Pexels)

Bob Barford is a portrait/glamour photographer is PA.




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