Top 5 Make Up Artists on Instagram and How They Will Make You a Better Portrait Photogapher

Top 5 Make Up Artists on Instagram and How They Will Make You a Better Portrait Photogapher

Just like ever camera owner is a photographer, every person who owns an abundance of MAC products is a makeup artist. At least that is how it seems on Instagram these days. There are now more makeup artists on social media than ever, and finding the right ones to follow can be tricky. Following the best makeup artists can make a portrait photographer better. If you follow them closely, you can step up your game.

When it comes to photography, the most common phrase that is thrown around is “it’s all about the lighting.” It is heard so often that, more often than not, many photographers dismiss is it as a cliché that is boring. But the truth is, any kind of photography is in fact, all about the light.

For those who may not know the importance, light is the tool to shape anything and everything. With the right amount of light in specific areas contrast is added to a photo. Good contrast will make a photo look super sharp. At the same time, bad lighting will make an image look dull and unattractive. Lighting allows a photographer to give their subject pronounced features as opposed to looking flat. For a portrait photographer, it is essential to give models bone structure and for say, landscape photographers, you can make mountains pop and look alive with proper lighting. This applies to not only portrait and landscapes photography but to product photography and every other genre.

Understanding how to properly light a person’s face is essential in a portrait. The face in a portrait is the first thing a viewer’s eye is attracted to. Thereby, it becomes the most important element we must concentrate on. Here's when makeup artists kick in, and how you can learn exactly how to correctly light a person’s face and retouch it.

Makeup artists study the humans face day in and day out. They understand exactly how to make a the dimensions of the face jump out in the most flattering manner. They can make a nose look thin, make a large forehead look smaller, heighten cheek bones, and even bring out eye color.

The following makeup artists are great to follow and learn from. Not only because they are good makeup artists, but because they freely share their process. By watching their short sped up clips you can learn so much! Follow them closely and you can learn exactly where on the face you want highlights and shadows. Understanding how they work is the key to stepping up your portrait and retouching game. I promise you.

Samera is my all time favorite, as you can see below, he shares a mapped out diagram of the makeup before he blends it. This is how I learned how to dodge and burn.


He used to share these a lot more often back in the day so you may need to do some scrolling.

Anastasiabeverlyhills has lots of videos showing you how she applies eye liner and eye shadow. Follow carefully to learn how to make eyes pop through the highlights and shadows above and below the eye.

AURORA is a beauty blogger that shares a variety of helpful tips worth learning from.

Lilly Ghalichi has a lot of videos showing how to apply makeup, again this is great for understanding where highlights and shadows should be on the face.

Naomi Giannopoulos another one of my favorite accounts to follow!

I'm sure there are hundreds more amazing accounts out there. Do you have any favorites to add to this list? Link them in the comments for us to see!

Dani Diamond's picture

Dani Diamond is a fashion and commercial photographer based out of NYC. He is known for his naturally lit portraits and unique retouching techniques.

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Is there an equivalent term for makeup artists who overly 'HDR' stuff? The amount of layers on these ladies is comical.

note: not knocking Dani's excellent images, those are 50 layers absent from the example feeds

Someone feel free to correct me, but "contouring" is the term I have seen that MUAs complain about being used inappropriately. Sort of like HDR, there are reasons why you'd want to increase the dynamic range of a photo (reasons you'd want to contour) but it should be FAR more subtle that people tend to go with it.

Comical and plastic they are indeed, most of them. It's even worse when you meet someone like this on the street, makes me want to turn that "opacity slider" to around 35%.
I'm sure they're all nice people and stuff but ... that make up man ...
COME ON, there should be some reality check, RIGHT ?

I agree, Dani's edits are well done and very tasteful :)

Lots of good information.

Just leaving this here.

My personal favorite makeup artist(and maybe I'm biased too because she's a good friend of mine. Plus we've been working together a lot recently too. :) )

Great info and sooooo important for us!!
Thanks for sharing.

A make up artist ether breaks or makes the shoot just as important as a photographer and a model I have seen great make up artist make the best of what is going on. I like a lot but have lots of images that are used for commercials that have just a little. It is all about what the vision is about. Both images below are done by the same make up artist

I wouldn't let a MUA near a baby

I use her for my make up help because she is awesome and so talented.

Gotta say: now this lady is good... VERY good!!! Thanks for the tip.

To be honest that Samera guy doesn't enhance the natural beauty of the women at all.. he paints them all the same way, not that good a make up artist in my opinion.. But than again i really don't know much about make-up.. This is just my opinion.. :)

I just traveled to Vegas for some engagement photos, and I'm getting flown to New York for a wedding, but it's articles like this that make me really embrace hiking through the mountains with a 13 pound lens, in search of wildlife.

I'm a makeup artist and I'm totally put off by the amount of makeup women think they need to put on, these days. They are hair length from just using carnival masks. They think the makeup "does it all" for them so all you see are these soulless eyes. ):Taking about zombiefacation omg:(

"The following makeup artists are great to follow and learn from. Not only because they are good makeup artists, but because they freely share their process." What?! That's like following a poor photographer because he posts all of his lighting diagrams.

If the MUA's given as an example are so "great"... why are all of the most liked posts from assorted Instagramers that I follow... including Dani... seemingly with little to no make-up. Mostly natural beauty daytime pics.

This is dimly lit bar-hopping or in the old days considered "theater makeup". Come to think of it: fits perfectly in the drama department.

@Lee - get back soon and do another bikini shoot of your neighbor. That was 90% beautiful (-10% for the iPhone)

My favorite these days is Hung Vanngo, he can do the standard contouring stuff shown here, every decent MUA on IG does this with their eyes closed, but also has the variety and subtle touch which you see in a truly great MUA

He is *incredible* I agree!

Great article. Also wanted to leave this here for anyone in the Toronto area looking for a talented up & coming MUA.

I'm sorry, but this article has horrible examples of what good makeup is. I've been working with makeup artists for a while now and this contouring/Kim Kardashian makeup is both unflattering and unrealistic. Real makeup artists understand skin and how to work with it, not just paint over it with obscene amounts of makeup. If you want to see actual makeup artists, and not painters, look up Val Garland and Isamaya Ffrench.

The concepts are good to understand where the bones and contours of the face are most impacted by good shading and highlights, but trowel makeup is weird looking and often (IMHO) harder to post process than good, lighter makeup. Dani's models have very good makeup! . Thank god the MUA didn't trowel over those gorgeous freckles! I once commented on a notorious portrait software company for posting an ad with a gorgeous red head with beautiful freckles and then an "after" shot of her with none. Ugh. If we could find a model with freckles like that!!!! So beautiful. :) Not so impressed by some of the other examples, but they do show where to emphasize.

What's up with the gallery image for this article? The difference between the two images is entirely the result of post process, with no difference in makeup whatsoever.

And the makeup examples in the article hideously garish. I didn't realize clown makeup was the new thing.

Holy #cakemakeup batman! My Emirati friend would totally did those women. lol

Some interesting information here. I have a makeup artist that I use for certain portrait photo sessions. This article gives me some information to talk over with her!!

thanks Dani, it is a good point..., I started out many years ago as a make-up artist and I worked with a lot of photographers who did not understand the bone structure of a face, and the natural way the light would hit.
I think photographers could learn a lot from studying the work of good make-up artists, I could easily provide a list for people interested.
I am happy most people here seem to know the difference between 'make-up' and 'damn girl you look like you came straight from RuPaul's drag race'