Knowing how to take beauty shots is integral to any photographer’s repertoire. Aside from being useful for portraits, beauty shots are also important for publications, product campaigns, and commercial shoots. But taking a good beauty shot is deceptively complicated. What seems like a simple close-up shot, actually relies on many different details that can make or break your final photo.
If you’re new to beauty shots or you’ll simply looking for a way to elevate your photos, here are some easy on-set tips you can use to enhance your next shoot:
Make a mood board
With a mood board you can organize and plot specific poses, set designs, makeup looks, and themes that you want to emulate. It’s relatively easy to make a mood board, too. If you want to go old school you can use cut-outs from magazines or books. Alternatively, you can create a digital mood board through free online platforms. These can be more eco-conscious and practical since these are paperless, have pre-set themes, and are shareable online. Having your mood board on set is also a great way to keep the whole team aligned with your vision. From the client to the model, everyone can easily reference your mood board.
Prepare your camera settings
Though most photographers already have their preferred camera settings, it still helps to make on-the-day adjustments. This can account for changes in lighting, makeup, and the wardrobe. Similar to skincare product photography, you’ll want to be open to different shooting styles to emphasize unique shapes, shadows, and textures.
Typically, you’ll want to use a high-resolution camera with a macro lens. This lets you create images with the utmost clarity and detail. This is especially important if your shoot is meant to highlight the makeup or jewelry that the model is wearing.
Hire a professional makeup artists
In beauty shots, your subject’s face is the main event. Hence, it’s important to find the right makeup artist who can create a flawless look that won’t distract. With a pro, your model’s makeup won’t look messy or unfinished. Plus, if your model comes in with inflamed skin, an experienced makeup artist will know how to do skin prep.
To reduce any redness, your makeup artist should have sensitive skincare products that will soothe and alleviate the model’s skin. This can include moisturizers with colloidal oatmeal as is it known to relieve irritations. When applied before makeup, it will calm the skin and make it easier to do touch-ups. The better the skin and makeup looks, the less post-editing you’ll need to do.
Choose the right backdrop
If you’re planning on using a dynamic printed backdrop, make sure that the colors complement your model’s makeup and the product you’re showcasing. If need be, you may want to play with depth and blur. This way, your image will still have the suggestion of print without taking up too much attention. A safer choice, though, is a solid seamless paper backdrop. These are affordable and non-reflective options that you can easily set up.
To choose the best color, take into account color psychology and theory. Neutral shades like grey and white brighten the face and encourage concentration. Meanwhile, deeper shades like red or brown create warmth and add an inviting atmosphere. If you’re doing multiple looks, it helps to have a production assistant who can swap backdrops for you. If you have the extra help, it’ll be easier to find the right backdrop on the spot.
Play around with lighting options
Lighting can make all the difference, especially in beauty shots. As a general rule of thumb, soft lighting can help diffuse features. Alternatively, targeted lighting can create more emphasis on certain areas. You can choose one type of lighting or pair both for a more balanced finish. To better control your lighting, try out a Three Point Lighting setup that can give you a full and well-rounded image.
This usually involves three separate light sources, but the actual placements depend on you. On the day of the shoot itself, it also helps to have light modifiers like beauty dishes. This way, you can better direct the light as needed. If you’re on a limited schedule, try different light setups before your model arrives so you at least have a rough idea of what works.
While a large part of what makes a shoot successful lies in pre-production, what can really set your shoot apart is how you work on the day itself. Once you’ve perfected an approach to beauty shots that marries your vision with your client’s, you’ll be confidently producing images that are gorgeous, effective, and high-quality.