We all have those rare photos of ourselves where we look at them and can’t help but think Man, I look good! Maybe it’s our outfit, the way our hair is laying just so, or perhaps even a perfect culmination of lighting and the right angle. It really doesn’t matter if the photo was taken by a professional, or by a friend’s iPhone in a dark club… it’s priceless to us.
Because we all really just want to know we look good once in a while.
For me, that photo is really anything taken on my wedding day. It was the first time in my life I’d had my makeup professionally done, and I don’t think I’ve ever looked prettier. It’s not that my makeup artist tried to make me into something I’m not… it’s that my image finally matched how I saw myself in my head. It felt like the very best version of me, and I loved it.
Providing that feeling to a client can mean higher sales, a better experience for your client, and more portfolio-worthy images for you.
When Should I Use a Makeup Artist?
Family portraits, engagement sessions, boudoir shoots, seniors, weddings, headshots… you name it. If a woman is involved, having her makeup professionally done is definitely something you want to think about. Let me list the reasons:
1. Confidence – If she’s looking her best on the outside, she’ll be ready to show you everything she has on the inside. This could really help with camera-shy clients.
2. Vendor Relationship – It’s never a bad thing to foster good relations with a fellow vendor. Maybe you can plan a styled shoot or other collaboration in the future.
3. Expertise – We may know light and camera gear, but no one knows makeup like the professionals. Leave it to them to pick the colors and sheens that photograph best.
4. Saves Time in Post – The better your client’s makeup looks, the less retouching you’ll have to do after the shoot.
5. Better Sales – If the client is thrilled with how they look in your images (instead of feeling just “okay” about it), you’ll have an easier time selling them prints and products.
Who Should Pay for the Makeup Artist?
If you’re aiming to be a luxury brand, it might be a good idea to include a makeup artist in all your photo shoots. It’ll feel like an added “perk” to your client, but you can simply work it into your session pricing ahead of time. If you’re not ready to hire someone for every session, you could start by bringing a makeup artist along for “all-inclusive” type shoots. An example of this would be a Boudoir session that includes the time, a hotel room, free champagne, and someone to do their hair and makeup. You’ll attract the type of client who is willing to pay a little bit extra to have everything taken care of for them.
If you’re more of an a la carte type photographer, then you’ll probably leave this option up to the client. But you should always be able to provide them with at least one good makeup artist referral. The downside to this is they are now shelling out extra cash on the side, adding to the overall cost of their session. If you’re a wedding photographer, the client typically secures and pays for their own makeup artist on their wedding day… but that doesn’t mean you can’t take the time to educate them beforehand as to why this is important.
If you find a makeup artist you know and love, you may be able to work something out where they will do it for free. Perhaps they would be willing to assist with engagement sessions, in hopes the client will love their makeup, and subsequently hire them for their wedding. Or you may know someone who is breaking into the business for the first time and would like to trade free makeup for some much-needed portfolio images.
Where Do I Find a Makeup Artist?
Ask Other Photographers
If you’re a member of a forum or local photography club or group, ask who others are using and who they like. Most people will freely offer that information because they want their favorite makeup artist to succeed in this business as well.
Hit Up a Salon
Drop by your favorite salon or spa and ask to chat with their lead makeup artist. Find out if she’s interested in doing some side gigs, or if you could add her to your referral list. Maybe offer to trade photographs if she’ll let you sit in on a future makeup session so you can see how she works.
What To Look For
Does her personality mesh well with yours? If she’s given a time limit, can she stick to it every time? Can she do different styles (or the specific style you’re looking for)? Does she know the kind of makeup that will look best on camera? Is she licensed (if that’s necessary in your state)? Does she have a backup or someone she can refer if she’s ill? Does her schedule have room for the types of gigs you’ll need her for?
Kelly Benton lives with her husband and two adorable dachshunds in Northeast Indiana, where she works from home as a Wedding Photographer. When she’s not photographing over people’s love, she’s a wannabe-rockstar triathlete with a penchant for funny movies and craft beer. Check out her blog or connect with her on Facebook.