Photography for Makeup Artists

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Have you ever been frustrated because you can not find a photographer who will shoot the work you like to do? Or you are not able to pick the images you want from your test shoot? Or you are not able to put into a test shoot your own creative concept? Or maybe you just want more freedom and control over your looks, and what to add to your portfolio. 

Above are just a few reasons why some makeup artists wish to learn photography for their business. Including myself. Oh and another huge reason is I absolutely love it. 


Model below Paighton Menmuir

I chose to undertake photography so I am able to produce my own work for my portfolio (very refreshing). A big thank you to my partner Ben, who came home one day, with a new camera for me. Very unexpected. He was upset, seeing me frustrated in not being able to find photographers, or have photographers tell me what images I can use when I organised the shoots. Therefore he got me the camera, so I have the control over my looks. 

I have also worked with some amazing photographers over the years which I have really enjoyed, but as time went on, I was finding it harder to organise the looks I wanted to shoot, and some of the photographers were not testing as much. Now I can  create as and when I please. 


 started my photography adventure in October 2016, and I have to say I am really enjoying it. I have shot with agency models over the last 12 months which has really helped boost my portfolio with different looks. I have also shot a client's party event and done a lot of before and afters to market my makeup lessons and courses. Deciding to try photography is one of the most beneficial business decisions I have made recently. I have control over what I shoot, when I shoot and the final images. I will continue to also work with other photographers as this is also a very important part of being a makeup artist, but having this extra sideline is really helping boost my business. 

Below is a look I created using textures. I wanted to create something with fullers earth, colour and some shimmer. Using all Kryolan Makeup. Edited by Ravora Artistry. 

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If you have a passion for creating, are struggling to find photographers, or just want more control then get yourself a second camera and start to learn. And you too can create for your own portfolio. It is very rewarding and satisfying creating and shooting your own work.

Below are more images in which I have created using my Canon 500d kit lens. I do hire someone to edit the images for me, as I just do not have the time to do this, plus the lady I use is a professional retoucher, therefore does a much better job than I would do. I have edited some of my images but it takes a lot of time, sometimes you just have to pay a pro to do a better job and do it in a quicker time. My retoucher is Ravora Artistry

Recently I have started to use a new lens which is a Canon fixed 50mm 1.8 lens. Very small, great for portrait images as it opens up wide to a 1.8 aperture, which allows a lot of light in, and gives you a lovely blurred background, which makes your subject stand out more. 

For my lighting set up I keep it very simple, 3 softboxes. I sometimes only use the main key light (which holds 4 bulbs). If i wish to light the subject from the back I will place a light behind the subject, and place one facing the backdrop to brighten this area. It depends how much shadow I wish to have as to how many lights I use, and where I place them. In time I will wish to venture into using different lighting set ups, but for now using my makeup room at home as a studio this setup  works very well for me. I use my white wall as a backdrop, and for darker backdrops I ordered a black paper photography roll. This I attach to a 3 part stand. I did have muslin cloths as backdrops, which I attached to this stand, but they were always creasing and a pig to iron, which is why I got the paper roll. 

You can find 2 softboxes on this link, which hold one bulb each. These will give you a great start, Also great for taking any makeup images in for your blogs and social media. If you wish to have a min keylight with more bulbs in then you can purchase one of those here

Canon 50mm 1.8 Lens

Canon 50mm 1.8 Lens

X2 Singular Daylight Bulb Soft Boxes

X2 Singular Daylight Bulb Soft Boxes

Above more work shot by me using agency models. Nicole Gillispie at Colours. Caitlin Rooney and Caitlin Buchart. 

When I first started shooting I purchased a Digital Photography book, absolutely fantastic book full of assignments, basic camera functions and it has a huge section on Photoshop. This book is the thing that helped propel me in understanding photography. I am self taught using books and videos. 

Complete Guide to Digital Photography

Complete Guide to Digital Photography

Below is my most recent work. I contacted a local jewellery shop (Covert in Edinburgh) and asked if I was able to borrow some pieces. Which they gladly allowed. I hired a model from the new faces section of a local agency. I do not do hair, therefore I just tied it back and kept things simple. I do also like to use hair stylists for certain shoots, depending on the looks I am creating. 

NOTE - Always use the new faces section from your local agencies, they also require images for their portfolio and the experience, therefore it is a win win, all round for you all. 

Model Ana Borland Model Team. Jewellery supplied by Covet Edinburgh. 

I hope this has inspired you to look into photography, and start to create you very own images. And remember it is not just images for your portfolio you can create, you can shoot blog images, product images, makeup looks on yourself. There are lots of possibilities which can benefit you moving forward. 

Sarah x