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Photographer & Makeup Artist Communication.

A while back ago, I was hired by a client to do makeup work for her personal portrait photo collection. This was the first time she hired me. We had never met before and I was excited to work with her. She explained to me the look she was going for, which was a smoky eye with neutral colors; basically a bunch of nude colors with bronzes. The client also asked me to give her a ‘sun kissed look’. Naturally I did what the client asked. When I finished her desired makeup look, she was extremely happy and satisfied with the result.

Thereafter, the photographer showed up and I was very excited to meet him so we can get ball rolling. I introduced myself and quickly began asking as many questions as I possibly could - "what camera was he going to shooting with, will the photos be taken inside or outside, what is the lighting setup, what his editing is, etc.,". I believe it's important for makeup artists to ask such questions, because the lighting, mood, setting and the photographer’s overall vision has a direct correlation with the makeup, client’s expectations, the model’s features and the finished product.

I also like to provide any sort of assistance to photographers such as: moving or turning lights around, doing touch-ups on the model, fixing their hair, etc,. Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting much out of him as he was not communicating nor giving me any sort of direction whatsoever.

Despite offering my assistance, I still found myself just sitting there hoping I’d be able to do light touch ups if needed. I believe that is what any makeup artist should do during a photo session. However, I was released to go home.

Having to leave mid-session felt strange as I’ve always stayed until the very end and found that a bit strange. But at the same time, I thought to myself - "Well, the client and the photographer must be happy with the makeup job as they didn’t want me to correct anything".

Few days later, I was hoping I’d be getting the copy of the photos, but did not hear anything from neither the client nor the photographer.

A month later, the stylist whom I worked with that day, reached out and told me that the client was upset about the photos. She said that they turned out horrible. I asked to see the photos, and she was right. They did not look good at all. The photos were overexposed, the color of the makeups I used were completely off. Some looked very saturated or non-saturated at all. The color tones were off and looked like they were not retouched accurately. Her skin looked like a ghost!

It was there where I realized how crucial it is for the photographer to effectively communicate and explain their vision and style with the makeup artist ahead of time. How important it is for the makeup artist to get familiar with the photographer's editing style of work, so they can effectively use the right color tones. It is also important for photographers and makeup artists to communicate in the post-production process, in order to work towards a favourable look that the client would desire.

Communication is KEY during any project. It is the driving force for a successful shoot. Makeup artists are essentially the photographer’s second set of eyes and can help them save a lot of time in the post production process. Why photoshop something, when it can be corrected on the spot? Why cool down some color tones when they can be warmed up with a few brushes on set? If the lighting exposes a model’s worst features, we can use make up to cover it up!

One key advice I have for any photographer and MUA who have never met before, is to meet before the project to get to know one another or at least have a phone conversation. I find that it helps to break the ice and get to know each other’s vision.

To sum it up here are the THREE MAIN KEY POINTS for photographers before hiring or working with the Makeup artist:

  1. Communication

  2. Direction during the photo shoot

  3. Feedback after the photoshoot & during the post-production process

At the end of the day all parties must work together for a positive experience. The client must be happy with the investment they made hiring us, whilst the photographer and the make up artist must be happy knowing they can proudly use the images as a portfolio piece.

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