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From make-up to the Blemish tool

From make-up to the Blemish tool - This guide shows you how to make someone look great without them going under the knife!

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Category : Portraits and People
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Making someone look great isn't all down to the photographer as make-up artists and re-touching experts both have a part to play.
 
A good make up artist is paramount to a shoot. They can help enhance features, help disguise problem areas and they can also bring a look together by making make up complement an outfit, theme or season you are working in. A make up artist's goal is to create symmetry in the face and to make the skin appear healthy looking something which Cheshire based make up artist Deborah Lawson knows about in great detail: “A make up artist often carries an array of different bases and has to assess each clients skin and decide what type (if any) of base to use and ensure it goes on smoothly. Their goal is to create healthy looking and even toned skin and to create symmetry to the face.
 
It is also extremely important that a make up artist understands how their make up will react with the photographer’s equipment so a basic knowledge of lighting, flash and so on is needed. Most shop bought foundations contain ingredients which, when used with a flash, will give a white face effect in the shots that isn’t visible with the naked eye. This also happens with some well known illuminating pens often bought for concealing. A make up artist needs to understand how the ingredients in the products will photograph and use them accordingly. This is also the case when using products such as glitter and learning when and where to apply them.”

If a make up artist applied each face with a standard technique, their portfolio would soon look monotonous. Having said that there are a few basic guides that can be applied to all faces: “Ensuring a perfect base match initially is important to ensure that all blemishes are concealed as a clear skin is always desired. For women, mascara and eye shadow helps to make the eyes appear larger and gloss helps to create fuller lips. Use foundation where needed, concealer, powder lightly, powder blush, powder/pencil eyebrows, subtly contour eye shape with eye shadow, mascara and curl lashes (optional), balance lip line with lip liner and add gloss/ lipstick. Spending time mastering how to achieve a flawless natural beauty make up is key as once you have mastered that you can build on that to achieve stronger looks.”
 
It's obvious that women wear make up but for a photo shoot it's important for your male clients to wear it too. It can look quite obvious which is a look a photographer does not want so the make up artist must use a light touch to keep it looking natural. You can also use make up to make them look more masculine by applying it to areas such as the jaw and nose, areas which are often related to masculinity. For body shoots Deborah also uses make up on their abdominal muscles to enhance the shadows.
 
Make up isn't just there to enhance a client's features though, it can also make the photographers job easier. Techniques such as hiding dark under eye circles and covering blemishes with concealer all help reduce post-production time for the photographer. Make-up can also be used to create fuller lips: “You can make a fuller pout by applying gloss at the centre of the bottom lip and with a thin brush and a liquid illuminating product, draw a thin line just above the lip line on the cupids bow of the lips. This will make the top lip appear slightly larger on a photograph.” It can also add definition which is useful if a photographer is taking a picture from some distance away. It can also be used for a close up, 'natural' beauty shot to get a flawless finish to the skin.
 
Equally make up can ruin a shoot too,” explained Deborah. “If done badly it can affect the work of the rest of the team. A poorly matched base (foundation), clumpy or blotchy mascara, poor blending, an incorrect toned or heavy handed applied blush, shiny skin, smudged lipstick, wonky or incorrect coloured lip liner etc. will draw attention to the picture for all the wrong reasons.
 
When applied correctly make-up can make someone look and feel great which in turn makes them feel more comfortable in front of the camera. Deborah sees part of her role as preparing the client for the photographer. She makes them feel as beautiful and comfortable as possible to ensure the photographer gets the best shots he or she can.
 
I always make sure I take time to get to know each client as I am working on them so when it’s time to shoot they feel they have a relationship with someone from the ‘team’ that they can approach.”
 
Good communication not only makes the client feel comfortable it makes every member of the team's job easier too. Deborah always asks the photographer to give her as much information  about the shoot as possible.
 
They are the ones behind the lens so I try and create their vision as best I can for them. If parts of their ideas will not work for whatever reason I will always have a chat with them about this and suggest alternatives. Nine times out of ten I am given a vague brief but it is left in my professional hands to create the look. When this is the case, I will try and produce rough visuals or explain to the photographer what I will be doing with the styling so they can plan in advance what they will be doing with their lighting set up and in what direction their shots may go.”
 
Once the make up is applied Deborah's job doesn't end. She often stays for shoots so she's on hand to powder if needed. She also helps the model change, holds the reflector and basically assists the photographer any way possible.
 
A good photographer should be friendly, reliable and easy to communicate with. Good photographers enhance a make up artists work without manipulating it beyond recognition. I like photographers to have a creative input as well and to treat everyone as an equal part of the team. It’s also vital they are happy to communicate with visuals if that helps the rest of the team. This is because everyone’s idea of a ‘natural make up’ for example can be very different and visuals help ensure everyone is working from the same ideas.
 
One good portrait photographer who Deborah works with his Chris Hanley whose Cherish the Dressproject is all about making people look beautiful.
 
For me attention to detail, like hair and make up is very important,” explained Chris. “You also have to choose the right light and complimenting colours with clothes and backgrounds. Also if you are a male photographer, get to understand fashion, look at quality monthly magazines, take note of city centre window displays, look at their selection of colours. Look at the fashion pictures in catalogues and note the styling, e.g. v necks are always a good bet and sleeves over fingers on young people look great,but never have sleeves stopping at fingers! Look at how using clothing creatively can hide a multitude of things. Be very critical on you picture selection, if you think an image makes someone look large, leave it out.”
 
When you're trying to make some one feel great communication is the key and this must start from the first second you meet them or talk to them on the phone. “You must come across happy and attentive and get your client past that first nervous enquiry. Conversation is fundamental it can help with not only confidence building but it can be inspiring for the client. The initial telephone conversation or e-mail is normally quite negative, like I always look fat, my nose is too big, or I hate smiling. At this stage its reassurance and   talking about my experience in making my clients look fabulous. This relaxes people and builds their confidence in you.”

Believe it or not Chris often finds that men are picker then women, they have issues with thinning hair which can leave them lacking in confidence. For ladies they hate their chins, neck and tops of their arms. You can offer advice on how best to stand to make these problem areas less prominent but this doesn't mean you have to be instructional, you can easily get the look you're after with a light hearted approach. Chris finds the work done prior to the shoot and a cup of coffee on the actual day opens people up so by the time they step in front of the camera every thing's OK.
 
When it comes to the shoot Chris believes it's important to to take each client on their own merits, what you have in front of your lens is what you've got and experience allows you to recognise this. Turning clients half onto camera can lose pounds, distributing weight onto one leg works great.
 
If you look at the stars on the red carpet of a film premier for example you'll notice they are always 3/4 to camera looking over their shoulders - Oldest trick in the book.”
 
Chris tends to stay away from wide angle lenses. He suggests you invest in a prime telephoto lens, something around 135mm is perfect. Shallow depth of field is also great for knocking backgrounds out of focus too. A long lens and a shallow depth of field will also create soft backgrounds and they turn colours into blocks. “Seeing colour and marrying it with clients clothes will undoubtedly take your picture to another level.”
 
A tripod is always a must and if you can shoot in natural light as it's both soft and flattering. High key lighting is great for hiding lines and wrinkles and low key lighting makes men appear more manly. “If you cut out top light, have a large amount of soft directional light and a small source of lick light it it also guaranteed to create a great image every time.”
 
Chris' images are always finished to the highest standard and he ensures this by balancing the colours, cropping the images in Aperture. He then re-touches all of the files in Photoshop and depending on the shoot he may change the overall look of the photograph with everything from funky bold colours to subtle grainy pastel shades.
 
Of course if you don't want to do the post-production work yourself you could hand your photographs over to a professional, re-touching expert like Glen Feron. Glen started airbrushing and using bleaches and dyes on images in 1975 so switching to Photoshop was almost second nature to him.
 
Some photographers are very good with retouching and can handle most things they need corrected on their own whereas other have some but minimal experience and can only get so far and might need someone who's done this specifically for years. There's a lot to know and sometimes it can get very complex depending what needs to be done,” explained Glen.
 
Just about anything can be changed in an image but giving people slimmer figures, enhancing breast size, cleaning faces and really doing anything a surgeon might be asked to do on someone are what I get asked to do the most. Changing background colours, fixing make-up and hair are also popular choices.
 
The original image.
After Glen re-touched the image.
Backgrounds are often changed to help emphasis the story the advertiser or client wants to tell, a process which isn't easy to do as everything has to be resized or adjusted to fit the main image, colours also have to be adjusted to fit. If the photographer doesn't like a particular part of the image they may ask to use an element from another photograph rather than reshoot something which can take hours or even days to do.
 
Even though Glen can spend days trying to create a flawless image keeping the portrait natural and not over cooked is often the desired look so you have to know when to stop, particularly on faces where if skin is too smoothed out with bags under the eyes gone totally it can look very doll like and too perfect.
 
Even babies have bags under the eyes, so not seeing that in most faces is a tell tale sign of it being retouched. Keeping it to a minimum on certain features is a better way to handle it. Some clients ask for too much for that polished look but that's there call if they want to go that far. I was asked to often but advise against it, and try to let them know that also.” 
 
It may be no surprise to hear that women are often re-touched more then men. As well as having their waists shrunk and wrinkles removed it's also a good idea to adjust their make up, lashes and lips. When it comes to men Glen finds he softens facial creases and removes shadows, so they are retouched to a lessor degree.
 
As well as adjusting people Glen also removes items or cleans up parts the photographer forgot to remove.
 
I change things such as dirty floors that were not noticed to lighting and undesired shadows on faces and figures. I even remove background objects that were not supposed to be in the shot and even add clothes on women when they realise the photograph will be used on the front cover of a magazine.”
 
The work Glen produces show obvious changes something he believes is now widely accepted and required.
The original image. After Glen re-touched the image.
 
Retouching has been going on in advertising, publishing & other areas for decades not known to the general public to improve the image for it to sell better with a enhanced and polished look.  With all the media attention now it's known all over that it's being done and accepted that it is an enhance imaged.
 
I think you can look at it as a new and improved image just as women and men go to salons to improve there looks and go to the extent of surgery too. It's an improved look they want to have. Nose jobs are false, but they want to look better. Who wouldn't want to look ten years younger?”

Visit Glen Feron's, Chris Hanley's and Deborah Lawson's websites for more information.

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