Should I Hire a Makeup Artist for my Boudoir Shoot?

Jul 2, 2013

Make Up Artist Miss Honey Bare

When I first started playing around with photography back in university, I was also working part-time as a visual merchandiser and makeup artist at a cosmetics company in London to fund my rather ambitious final major project. This was the first time I’d ever photographed people in a studio environment, and I was in a fortunate position that many of my work colleagues had volunteered to be photographed for my project and so were capable of doing editorial makeup on themselves or each other.

Although I definitely picked up a lot of makeup hints and tips from working on my project with my colleagues at the cosmetics company, it was fair to say that they all had a much higher skill level than I did in both hair and makeup. Their contouring was better, their eyeliner flicks were more even and their attention to detail was spot on. The difference was noticeable enough for me to go looking for a hair and makeup artist, which is when Miss Honey Bare fell into my life over gin cocktails one Sunday lunchtime and landed herself the role of resident stylist.

“It’s important to hire a makeup artist if you want to have a professional finish to your photos – just as it is equally important to hire a photographer who knows what they’re doing”, starts Miss Honey Bare, when I mentioned this blog post to her whilst we were preparing the studio for a day of shooting. She’s currently halfway through the daily ritual of setting up her makeup kit on the table by the large bay window after having gone through all my client notes and inspiration images the night before.

Having worked with Honey for over a year now on more shoots than I can actually recall, I’m pretty sure I still haven’t seen the entirety of her hair and makeup kit, which seems to grow daily with new shades, colours and brands.

“Makeup artists will use specialist products that look great in HD including highly pigmented shadows and lipsticks that really pop out on film.”

This week Honey has invested several hundred pounds into new brushes alone and is talking about plans to invest several hundred more into new colours and replacements of finished products. The same amount of money I would happily invest in new lenses or studio equipment but would never dream of spending on cosmetics! For each and every product on that table, she can tell you if it is suitable for dry, combination or oily skin as well as whether it can set off any allergies.

She continues, “It is my job to know how to highlight and contour the face to ensure the most flattering effect on camera, just as a good photographer needs to know how to light their subject.” Having witnessed my clients being transformed into screen sirens daily in my own studio, I couldn’t agree more. The skill of a makeup artist is not just making sure a client looks great in natural lighting but knowing how it will appear under the studio lighting. They will have more knowledge of what can be done and how to do it both time- and cost-effectively – and sometimes suggest even better options than you’d first thought of.

A major advantage of building a strong working relationship with a makeup artist is that their attention will be primarily focused on styling, whilst your main focus is elsewhere, allowing them to notice things that perhaps you might not have picked up on until the post-production stage. “A good makeup artist will find the correct balance of stepping in to retouch at appropriate times and not ruining the flow of the shoot.” Says Kath, whilst Honey continues, “It’s a team effort and there needs to be communication to achieve the desired outcome.”

From a photographer’s perspective, capturing images perfectly in-camera will save you time in Photoshop later on, particularly if you plan on editing multiple images for your client. However, the benefits of a makeup artist aren’t just noticeable in Photoshop. For many clients – particularly private clients commissioning portraiture – the experience of a hair and makeup artist is a decadent one that helps boost self-confidence in front of the camera, which often leads to better posing.

For many clients, their current makeup routine is the accumulation of many years of experimentation and practice. Although they are comfortable with their own skills for normal everyday use, the pressure of looking good on camera can often be too much. Speaking to a good friend Alison, who recently booked a makeup artist for her wedding, she replied, “You’d think you’d know your own face best, but what you don’t know best is your makeup bag, and that’s where the magic comes from.”

“Booking hair and makeup was an integral part of my photoshoot”, explains Lola La Rouge, a burlesque songstress and recent client at the studio. “Having a makeup artist’s expert eye over me the whole time, making sure my hair and makeup remained picture perfect from every angle, meant I never had to worry about my hair and makeup and gave me the confidence to work the camera. This is so valuable, as ultimately it helped me get that perfect shot I’d been hoping for. “ And Lola isn’t the only client who’s sung the praises of their makeup artist either: when asking my boudoir and burlesque clients for a testimonial after their photoshoot, I often find that the first thing they mention is the feel-good factor of being pampered in hair and makeup.

“Bringing a professional, calm and enjoyable personality to a shoot is invaluable” responds Kath. “Put your customer or client at ease by talking them through the look you aim to achieve. Most of all it’s about keeping people relaxed and making it an enjoyable experience,”

If you haven’t worked with a hair and makeup artist before in the studio, the process of adding someone new into your working environment can be a daunting one. Just like photography, there are hundreds of makeup artists out there, covering a range of abilities, styles, skill levels and budgets. The price of a makeup artist is usually a good indication of their ability, although it’s always a good idea to ask for examples of their portfolio first to make sure their work will complement your style.


Ready for your moment in the spotlight? Why not book your own boudoir shoot with me today – check out my boudoir photography packages here and then drop me an email with your preferred date. I can’t wait to hear from you!


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