3. Do I Need to Hire a Photographer for my Makeup Artistry Portfolio?

Do I Need to Hire a Photographer for my Makeup Artistry Portfolio?

Are you a beautician who wants to take it to the next level?  You’ve worked on your skills, put in the time, and now want to break into the entertainment industry.   The most important weapon in your cosmetic arsenal that will get you noticed is your portfolio.  

If you’re self-taught and have an online following, you might not know exactly what a portfolio is:  it’s basically a leather-bound book with clear plastic inserts where you place photographs.   You bring it with you to in-person interviews to showcase your artistry.  Your portfolio is critical to your job search. 

An aspiring beautician might think that photography done with a smartphone camera will be just fine.  It is true that photos taken with a phone will be all right or even good in some cases, but when you want to get a job in the highly competitive entertainment industry, you’ve got to do better.

The way to make your makeup artistry portfolio pop is to hire a photographer.  Here are just a few reasons why.

Camera type matters

Even if you have the latest android smartphone or iPhone, a DSLR camera, in the right hands, will always produce better quality photos.  Without going into too much technical detail, part of the reason a DSLR camera is better is because of the interior mirror and its mechanisms.  But remember, buying a fancy camera doesn’t make you a photographer; professionals have studied for years to learn how to take photos and know their machines inside out.  Unless you have the photography skills yourself, hire a photographer. 

Photographers know lighting

While you might take good selfies using a ring light, a photographer knows how to manipulate light sources and maximize natural light to make the most of your make-up artistry talent. Photographers use reflector disks, overhead lights, diffused light, direct light, flashes, and continuous lighting to highlight certain features of the model being photographed. For example, if you want your work on the model’s eyes to stand out, the photographer will arrange the lighting to maximize that feature.  

A mistake non-photographers make is using direct light:  while this is great for taking pictures of athletes, in beautician-type photos, it can make wrinkles and blemishes stand out. Yikes! 

In some cases, an overhead light source might not be compensated with another light source, causing unflattering shadows on the model’s face, hiding her beautiful make-up. Double yikes! 

If you’re still not convinced that a photographer is necessary, read on.

Photographers know focal lengths and apertures

Have you ever taken a headshot of a person and their nose seems too big for their face? Or instead of a soft effect, you have a background that’s sharp and distracting? This is due to the focal length of the lens and aperture, or how much the lens opens to let in light. 

The wrong focal length can distort the model’s features.  It may be barely noticeable, but if the model’s nose is warped, a potential employer might think you don’t know how to do makeup.  

The wrong aperture for portrait photography can also have disastrous consequences:  a “busy” or blurry photo will distract from your work. So it’s best not to fool around – get a professional to do the job. 

Photographers know settings and angles

Make the most of your makeup skills in your portfolio; don’t just throw in print-outs of selfies taken from a high angle with your chin tilted upwards. It is amateurish. A photographer knows what settings work best. It might be outside, a studio setting with a plain black backdrop, a social event, or a city skyline.  It all depends on what will make your work “pop”. The professional with the camera, in this situation, knows best.  

While the setting is important, so are angles. There are specific lighting arrangements set up with pre-defined angles that will give different effects. If you want to highlight a female model’s beauty, the photographer will place the camera and lights at heights and angles that will flatter her face.  This is called butterfly or Paramount lighting because the resulting small shadow under the model’s nose resembles a butterfly. This is just one example of how photographers can amplify your beautician skills.

You can experiment yourself with different lighting set-ups, but it might take days or even months to get the shot that is suitable for your portfolio. Not everyone has this sort of time; hire a professional and you’ll get what you need in a day or less.

How do I find a photographer?

As with any service, you’ll need to do a bit of research. Look in a search engine, Google potential photographers, check their rates, and most of all, read the reviews. Find out who specializes in fashion and beauty photography, and who specializes in portraiture. The research step in this process is one that will take some time, but it is worth the effort: don’t hire just anybody with a camera. 

If you’re worried about the cost and are tempted to do your own photography, don’t do it! There is another option available:  photography students and photographers who are just starting their careers. These “newbies” also need to build a portfolio and may need the services of a beautician or makeup artist. Sometimes, an exchange of services can be arranged:  you do the make-up, and they give you prints. You can contact art schools with photography departments and see if a student is willing to collaborate with you.  In all, you get a great service at a far lower cost or even free because you’re also giving them something in return.  

With all that being said, never, ever, ever ask a photographer to work for free in return for “exposure”.  Exposure doesn’t buy groceries or pay the rent! Pay a photographer, exchange services with a photography student, but never ask for something and offer nothing in return.

The verdict

With the reasons given above, there is no doubt:  you do need to hire a photographer to make your portfolio stand out from the competition. The entertainment industry is too competitive to just use whatever selfies you’ve printed up, no matter how gorgeous and skillful your makeup artistry is. A slapdash portfolio gives the impression that you’re not serious and not ready for the demands of show business.  

A photographer has the equipment, the skills, and the experience to determine what will work in your favor, what will highlight your skills, and what will stand out from the crowd. If you can’t afford a photographer, you can consider collaborating with a student or new photographer trying to get established in the industry. Both options are better than doing it yourself. So, in all, hire a photographer, and get noticed by putting your best face forward.


This article is courtesy of our creative team at Estella Marie Staffing

Our team works directly with Beauty Professionals, Salon Owners/Employers, and Cosmetology Schools to increase their exposure and sales by using creative techniques in business development, recruitment, marketing, public relations. client retention training and professional sales coaching. 2014, Estella Marie Staffing Agency was established as a company to serve the beauty industry professionals while providing quality applicants to beauty industry employers – consistently filling open positions. reducing turnover..

Estella Marie has established a database of beauty professionals that are eager to work in various professional environments. With over twenty years of experience in the Beauty Industry as licensed cosmetologists, salon owners, and special event coordinators – our team is here to serve you!

                                                              Estella Marie Staffing ~ Where Beauty Meets Opportunity