A Makeup Tip I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Started Photography

A Makeup Tip I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Started Photography

When I began photography I didn’t understand the importance of lighting and the difference makeup has on an image. Looking back, if I would have first understood and attempted to master the techniques behind makeup, I would have understood the proper way to light my subjects when photographing them.

During my short experience as a retoucher, I had a lot of questions. Primarily, I always wondered where it was necessary to dodge and burn. I knew that there had to be some sort of guideline to follow. This question led to a lot of googling, culminating to the rabbit hole of makeup tutorials on Youtube. The most important thing I learned was the concept of contouring. Out simply, contouring is the art of expertly highlighting and shadowing the correct spots on the face in order to accentuate and bring out the subjects best look. Once I understood this concept, not only did I become a better retoucher but my lighting skills  improved significantly.

The purpose of contouring the face using makeup is to enhance bone structure and giving the face a more dimensional look. The goal should be to define cheek bones, making the nose look as thin as possible and producing an overall 3D glow. 

Highlighting and contouring go hand in hand - here are a few Youtube videos that explain contouring:

Julia, a fellow writer for Fstoppers put together a fantastic three part Dodge & Burn aticle: PART 1, PART 2, PART 3

Here are a few before/after photos from my Facebook Page worth studying. Take note of the areas I dodged and burned. 

Log in or register to post comments


Thanks man I had been researching the same thing a few years ago and didn't get answers this straight forward. I really appreciate that you have your OWN style of portrait btw. I can actually look at photos online and tell that they are your shots.

Keep doing that.

Dani Diamond's picture

Thanks so much for the kind words. It really means a lot.

Steve Johnston's picture

WOW, Great info, can't wait to play with this effect

Dani Diamond's picture

Make sure to show me results!

Aaron Brown's picture

This is great info, Dani. Cheers man!

Dani Diamond's picture

Thanks for checking out the article Aaron.

Nice article you've written Dani.

Kian McKellar's picture


Very helpful. Thanks Dani!

Kian McKellar's picture

Do you have any good examples for shading men rather than women? Or do the same principles apply?

Dani Diamond's picture

Men are a lot more forgiving, in fact you want the dodging and burning to be a lot more harsh. Sorry i don't have any diagrams but you can take a look at my male fashion portraits to get an idea.

Kian McKellar's picture

Nah I understand exactly what you mean. I wanted to make sure there wasn't more to it than that.

Very informative, thanks for posting.

Karl-Filip Karlsson's picture

Gets a little bit confused. what is the difference between dodge & burn and contouring? are they not the same? :)

Dexter Maneja's picture

dodge and burn is a STEP you do to CONTOUR or dodge and burn is part of the process in contouring. :)

saphire gaskas's picture

As a professional makeup artist and an amateur photographer I totally agree, every photographer should have a little understanding of makeup, so important

Thanks Dani for article,.

Eventhough d&b isn't new stuff to me, it was nice to see this article also took note about make-up and how understanding it makes use for us photographers.

Zack Williamson's picture

I was just thinking earlier this week that I need to learn basic makeup techniques for head shots since most of my work is sports and product. This is really helpful!

Dani Diamond's picture

Zach cant wait to see results

Christian Berens's picture

That's crazy, I can honestly say I've never watched a girl get her face fully done. I usually go on to other things, but those were great videos!! I can honestly say, I'm glad I'm not a girl, I can't imagine doing that every day (yes i know not all girls do lol)

Thanks for posting!! I'll definitely try and use some of those post processing tips!!

Dani Diamond's picture

Same here bro. Being a girl ain't easy glad I'm a dude.

Fritz Asuro's picture

I actually never thought that my mom's study on cosmetology will benefit me :D

Darren Nana's picture

Great article Dani. Always helpful to see something a little different and before and afters are always nice to see, It helps people understand what the foundations (SOC) are of a good image. I often find myself looking at the back of the camera thinking "is that what a pro would be getting in camera?"

Jason Ranalli's picture

Completely agree. When someone who knows what they are doing gives you a generous glimpse behind the stage curtain I can better calibrate whether my shots are good enough out of camera or whether I need to refine my shooting and lighting a bit.

More comments