I get a lot of questions about what to wear from clients, but I wanted to talk about something just as important today, makeup. I mentioned in my what to wear for family photos post that you should wear more makeup than you would typically wear, but I still get clients who are apprehensive about wearing more product on their face. I have a few basic makeup for photography tips to help guide you in the right direction, along with photos for comparison.
Honestly, I feel that you should get your makeup done by a professional the day of your session if you’ve invested a lot in portraits for yourself or your family. Be sure to mention that you’re getting your makeup done for photos. This is VERY important. A good makeup artist will know what products to use and which to avoid. Something that looks great in person does not always translate well into photos. If your budget doesn’t allow for getting your makeup done or you feel pretty comfortable with doing it yourself, this post is for you.
This is what I typically wear on a normal weekday. I’m a mom of two toddlers. I stay up way too late and wake up way too early. Mascara and lip balm are all I have time for most days. I might put on some blush or fill in my brows if I’m feeling extra ambitious and have errands to run.
Brace yourselves friends, this is what my face looks like up close (apologies) with just the above makeup on. My fellow shutterbug, Zayda, helped me out with this post and she’s probably going to kill me for posting this picture, but a good before and after is where it’s at.
Nothing wrong with a bare faced look, but you have to admit that it does look pretty drab in photos. We followed the next 10 steps to show you how the right kind of makeup can really help your final look on the day you get your picture taken.
1. Moisturize and Prime
That camera the photographer is holding has the capability of capturing every single flake and pore. Nerve wracking, I know. Moisturize and then prime with a silicon based primer. Pressing your primer into areas prone to larger pores can also help minimize their appearance on camera.
2. Natural Light
Apply your makeup in natural light. Something that looks great in the bathroom without a window may actually look very different in daylight. You want to be sure that what you see in the mirror is exactly what it will look like on camera. If natural light isn’t an option, at least check the colors before you head out the door with a small mirror by a window.
3. Foundations and Powders
Avoid mineral makeup and anything with SPF in it if possible. Mica and titanium dioxide reflect light, which can make you look pale and washed out. If you suffer from dark circles, a color corrector will do wonders. Dab a little on before you apply your foundation. If you choose to wear foundation, make sure it’s blended in well and matches your neck color. Choosing matte powders to set your foundation is also just as important. You don’t want to look shiny come picture time.
4. Matte is More
Stick with matte products only. Anything with shimmer or glitter in it will reflect light. Sticking with matte shadows, blush, bronzers, etc. will make sure the camera picks up the color.
Your brows help frame your face, fill those babies in. Fill them in slightly thicker if your natural brows are thin. If you have light colored brows (talking to the blondes and redheads), please DO NOT skip filling in your brows. They can disappear almost completely in photos and no one likes to look like they’ve shaved off their eyebrows. Make sure they’re cleaned up and neat. Get them waxed, threaded or tweezed 48-72 hours prior to the session to make sure any redness or swelling is gone by picture day.
6. Frame Your Face
Heavy contouring is not necessary unless you’re really going for a glam look. A little matte bronzer around your hairline, jawline and tiny bit in the hollows of your cheeks can really help draw attention to the center of your face.
7. Go Bold
Go a tad bit darker with your shadow, blush and lip colors. You may think it looks like too much in person, but the colors will not be as bright and saturated in the photos. Don’t be scared.
8. Warm vs. Cool Toned Lip Colors
If you show your teeth while you smile, enjoy your morning java and it’s been a while since you’ve had your teeth bleached, this tip is for you. A lipstick with warm undertones can make your teeth appear more yellow. This means corals, peaches and warm reds are out. Cool or blue undertones make you teeth look whiter. Huzzah!
9. Falsies and Black Mascara
A basic black mascara with a pair of natural looking falsies can do wonders for the eyes. This goes for all hair colors. If a full set of falsies scare you, put some individual lashes on your outer corner instead.
10. Lip Gloss
I never ever wear lip gloss. I dislike the texture on my lips and it usually ends up all over my kiddos’ faces anyways. But putting a little bit on right before your photos will help your lips look fuller and more youthful by reflecting light. Who doesn’t want fuller lips? Avoid putting it on too far in advance to avoid bleeding your lip color. Mature skin is more prone to color bleeding, so avoid dark colors and keep the gloss in the middle of your lips.
Want to see the after closeups? We were both joking that we felt completely ridiculous with how much makeup we were wearing walking around our community trying to find a good place for photos on a Tuesday afternoon. The colors were much more intense in person.
What the makeup looks like from about 10 feet away.
- Stick with neutral shadow colors that enhance your eye color. Trendy shades will look dated. This doesn’t mean browns and gray only. Muted mauves and plums can look fantastic too. Bright Barbie blue (Barney purple, Kermit green, etc)…. not so much.
- Use a setting spray if you’re naturally oily or if it’s warm or humid outside. I use Skindinavia’s Bridal Setting Spray (<–affiliate link) and my makeup does not budge all day when I use it.
- Bring oil blotting papers for your t zone just in case.
- Brands don’t really matter. Don’t think you need to buy expensive makeup just for your session.
- If you have freckles like me and wearing liquid foundation just makes you look muddy. Consider powder foundations. Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush Foundation is my current favorite.
Any makeup artists or photographers out there have any other makeup for photography tips to add?