Makeup artists can be indispensable to raising the production value of a photoshoot. They make models fit the brief, they introduce important elements to the color palette, they make clients feel fantastic, and they bring the magic to conceptual photographs. Not all makeup artists bring the same value to the table though, so it's important for photographers to consider a few key elements before hiring an artist to their team.
For this article, I spoke to Denver Makeup Artists Brandy Rich and Nina Marie Diaz, and Colorado Springs Makeup Artist Kimberly Clay, all of whom work commercially and in the wedding/portrait side of the business. They gave me a list of points to look at to help photographers judge whether or not a particular makeup artist is the right artist for the job.
- Are they in compliance with state regulations?
- Do they know and use proper sanitation methods?
- What is their relationship like with other professional makeup artists in their community?
- What does their portfolio look like, and is it possible to see unedited images?
- Do they know what products to use, or avoid using, for photography?
- Do they know color theory?
A good makeup artist will always minimize the time you have to spend on post-processing and will always be open to constructive feedback.
- Are they versatile? Can they do clean beauty as well as glamour?
- Can they work with all skin types?
- Can they work with all skin tones?
- Do they practice proper sanitation of their kit?
A cheap makeup artist can be an expensive mistake.
- Do they understand and use proper sanitation?
- Is their work consistent in quality?
- What is their reputation like with other professionals?
- How good is their time management?
- Do they show versatility in the kind of makeup styles they can perform?
Look for a makeup artist that is versatile in style, but consistent in skill, who can work within an allotted time frame, has good standing in their industry, and follows impeccable sanitation.
It's clear that all the artists are concerned about one thing in particular: sanitation. If a photographer is looking for a makeup artist to work with, it's imperative to know whether the artist uses sanitary methods to ensure that the model or client is safe from things like the transfer of bacteria, which can happen if the artist doesn't properly clean their brushes or use single-use tools, such as disposable mascara wands.
From my own experience with makeup artists, I can say that I have had to consider each one of these points. It's important to note that each of these can be expanded upon and customized to each job. For example, a photoshoot using strobes will affect makeup differently than a shoot in natural light, as certain products don't behave as well under a flash. A trade shoot with all afternoon to play doesn't require the same kind of time management skills as working with several models at a runway show.
It's best to know exactly what you will need a makeup artist to do and see if you can find an artist who has experience in that area. Many artists will also have areas of specialty, such as bridal, editorial, fantasy, glamour, etc. and will know what each requires. Bridal artists know what makeup will stand the test of time, sweat, tears, and kisses, while artists who specialize in commercial beauty will know what will keep skin looking natural and still behave well under flash.
The next time you need a makeup artist for a shoot, refer back to this list to ensure you're working with the right person and remember: sanitation is king.