I got a request from a Facebook fan this week to explain the magic behind achieving camera ready makeup. Here’s what you can do to look picture perfect for your next close-up. Looking great in pictures isn’t reserved for those who are naturally photogenic. It’s actually a combination of three things: lighting, artistic direction, and technique.
Miles Aldridge is my absolute favorite photographer. His larger than life concepts; the symbiotic relationship between him and his makeup artist; his use of vibrant colors and new ideas; all these things make Miles Aldridge an amazing voice in this industry. For this breakdown I wanted to show a great example of the above techniques in practice and who better than Miles Aldridge. This shoot for Vogue with model Elisa Sednaoui is based on the 1962 film “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” and is perfect for what we are talking about here.
There are a lot of factors that go into creating an on-camera makeup look. Is it a still or moving picture? Traditional film or digital? Color or black & white? But the first thing that needs to be decided is the artistic direction. What is the desired effect that the powers-that-be are headed towards. Natural makeup rules are vastly different from the rules you break while creating avant-garde styles.

Black & White Photography:

– Color is obviously less important here, makeup needs to be thought of more in terms of texture and depth.
– Reflective makeup will appear even more dramatically on B&W film
– Bold liner will have more impact on B&W photography – this can be a good or bad thing, so make sure to use your editing eye.

Natural Light:

– Natural light can be particularly unforgiving, amplifying unflattering features, and lessening the impact of drugstore makeup (this is where you will really see the impact of professional products).
– Super bright sunlight can cause makeup to appear lighter, but a shift in the clouds and the shade can reveal everything on film that is seen to the naked eye …. so for outdoor shoots you need to walk that fine line.
– Crisp, well-blended makeup is especially important here.
– Mineral makeup can be highly reflective – so if you are worried about looking shiny you should avoid these products.

HD film & on-camera makeup:

– Most subjects on camera will need to use an anti-shine product of some kind. I like Makeup For Ever’s HD finishing powder.

– HD shows every imperfection.  It requires that you pay even more attention to detail.  Dry skin, blemishes, broken capillaries, etc – will all be visible on HD film.  Use your corrector palette paired with a good concealer as the best defense.
– But too much powder can show up unnaturally on camera – especially HD. Make sure to finish with a setting spray like Makeup For Ever’s Mist and Fix.

Studio Lights:

– Communication is HUGELY important here because depending on how the photographer is lighting the subject you will need to change your technique.
– When your model is being blasted by strong directional light you will need to bump up the contour even more so that the model’s face doesn’t appear flat.
– Studio shoots will pick-up on any inconsistency in the shade and texture – so make sure to blend (as always) and use primers (or careful skin prep) to prevent the oils in the skin from absorbing the products unevenly.

Fluorescent & incandescent indoor lighting:

– Can wash out your skin tone, make sure to strategically use your blush and bronzer (without going overboard).

-Wear a foundation makeup that has warm undertones, this will help to counteract the cool tones of the fluorescent lights. However, keep in mind that by “warm” I mean a foundation with yellow/golden undertones.  Foundation that are heavy on the pink undertones can make your skin appear unnatural and “mask-like”.

– The overhead florescent lighting that is in malls and department stores (where you may be doing a fashion show) can cast unusual shadows on the face. So don’t use overly heavy false lashes.

Remember these tips and you’ll never go wrong on set.

That’s a wrap!