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How to Take Good Makeup Photos

how to take good makeup photosAs a makeup artist, your work truly speaks for itself. Whether or not someone chooses to work with you will depend almost solely on the quality of your past work, and they’ll most likely be judging this by looking at photographs. If your photos are bad – even though your makeup skills are phenomenal – it can have a very negative impact on your success. In this post, I’ll be running through the basics of taking good makeup photos that will show your work for what it really is – amazing.


First off, you need light. No, I don’t mean bringing your model (or yourself, if you’re your own model!) to the bathroom and taking a photo there. Indoor lighting is artificial lighting, and is going to result in an artificial effect. This could mean harsh shadows, yellow or green tint, and an overall lack of detail. Sure, you could invest in a diva ring light or other professional light kit, but there’s a much simpler and more affordable option. Take photos by a window and use the good old natural sun as your light source.

When taking makeup photos near a window, make sure the light isn’t beaming in on your subject. You’ll want to wait until the sun is no longer at its peak, but also not beaming directly into the window. Sometime around 4pm is usually ideal, but this will change depending on the time of year and how early/late the sun sets in your region. You want a well-lit room, but you don’t want harshness. Have your subject stand in front of the window and face it. You’ll want to place your camera in between the subject and window, facing your subject. If you’re able to use a timer and a tripod so as to avoid casting a shadow onto your model with your body, that would be your best option. Otherwise, position yourself on an angle so as to avoid casting your shadow on her face.


Secondly, use a quality camera. Your iPhone or other phone will be fine for Facebook and Twitter, but you should at least be using a high mega pixel point-and-shoot for professional purposes. If you have a DSLR, that’s perfect. If you don’t, see if you can borrow one from a friend or just opt for your trusted pocket cam. The lighting is really what’s most important (aside from the makeup being the best you can produce). Make sure you’re using the right setting for portrait photography, and read your camera’s manual or head to Google if you’re not sure what that is. What you see when you look at your model may not be what comes out in a photograph if it’s taken incorrectly.

Go Easy on the Actions

Thirdly, go easy on the editing. You’ll want to color correct and crop to ensure the focus is on the face and the photo is true-to-color, but you should avoid anything aside from that. Do not add a bunch of brightness or contract, and don’t increase the saturation beyond what it actually should be. Also, avoid adding special effects like blurs, tints, or anything else. Once again, your work should – and needs to – be able to speak for itself.

Big is Better

Lastly, save the file in the largest and highest quality possible. If you have an online portfolio or need to email photos, feel free to save a second copy in a smaller size – but your originals should always be saved large. This is so you have the option to print them down the road without losing detail, and so you have the option to save additional copies in different sizes if you ever need to. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself for doing this.

That’s about it! Sure, I could go into more detail and start going on about ISO and white balance and all those other fancy photography terms, but if you follow these four simple steps you’ll be golden. If you have a photography tip, I’d love to hear it. If you disagree with anything I’ve said, let me know too! I look forward to reading your comments, readers!


Now you know how to take good makeup photos! But do you have models to practice your skills on? Check out this post on getting models in order to build your professional makeup portfolio!