Photography Makeup Tips

I’m going to start by throwing my hands in the air and saying that I am neither a professional makeup artist, nor a professional photographer who owns high-end photography equipment. What I am, though, is a very enthusiastic lover of all things makeup and blogging and recently, photography. Still with me? Brilliant.

Many bloggers are well aware that photography is a key element to blogging and creating visual appeal, perhaps more so if you write a food or beauty blog. Being a beginner to the world of blogging, it can be intimidating when scrolling through other blogs or Pinterest and: a) figuring out how to Pinterest in the first place, b) having thousands of photos of flawlessly made up people being thrown at you. I still consider myself very much a beginner (clue’s in the blog name) and one of my favourite things about blogging is constantly discovering something new through trial and error. Whether it’s learning what to do or what not to do, it’s all part of a huge learning curve.

Anyway, let’s get back to the topic. Being someone who photographs my face fairly regularly for vanity blog purposes, I’ve discovered a trick or two when it comes to makeup and getting a great shot. Voila, I present to you a collection of my favourite makeup tips, specifically for photography purposes.

  • Always go for a flawless face.

Perfectly smooth, unblemished skin. Being someone who rather enjoys going down the natural route even when I am wearing makeup, it can feel like overkill whilst you’re putting it on. On camera, it’ll look perfectly natural.

Screenshot 2017-06-28 21.19.25

Always start with a primer to give you that smooth base and extra lasting power – you don’t want to be doing too many touch-ups throughout your photo shoot. If you have redness or discolouration, start with a colour correcting concealer palette. In a nutshell:

  • Green – Counteracts redness and disguises spots.
  • Purple – Brightens dull, yellow areas.
  • Peach/Orange/Pink – Perks up the under-eye area without that grey, unnatural hue.
  • Yellow – Disguises bruises that may have turned blue-black or purple.

If you don’t have any of the above, well… lucky you. Next, grab your favourite foundation. I recently learned a fabulous trick from Wayne Goss, an incredibly talented makeup artist who posts very informative YouTube videos – please check him out. The key to flawless, non-cakey foundation is (drum roll please)… blending for long enough. Spend several MINUTES blending. Using your beauty blender, foundation brush, what have you – press that stuff into your pores. Stick with it, and if you watch his video, you’ll see that you’ll have a perfectly smooth, even complexion by the end and it looks oh-so-natural. You’ll definitely want this, particularly if you decide to use flash photography. Finish with a light dusting of translucent setting powder for oil control, and a setting spray.

  • High contrast is your friend.

Screenshot 2017-07-06 18.27.39I find that the camera tends to flatten everything out a little. Your contour might be perfect in the mirror, but it’ll be barely there in the photo. Now is the time to amp things up. Here are some of my favourite tricks for each of your main features:

  • Eyes – Consider your eye shape (this post I wrote a while back on eye contouring might offer some help) and use it as a guide for your eye makeup. I find that eyeliner is a must, whether pencil, gel or liquid – you’ll want that extra definition. Particularly if you wear glasses like me, I find that sharp, clean lines work best and my go-to is almost always winged eyeliner, no matter what eyeshadow look I’ve gone for. Oh, and don’t forget the mascara.
  • Brows – Well-shaped, tidy brows. They frame the face and coming from someone who tends to be fairly lazy with eyebrows, the difference really is like night and day.
  • Lips – I like bold lip colours for photography. Dark reds, browns, mauves – take your pick. Consider your undertones, and think “my lips but darker”. Clean up the edges of your lips with a concealer for a more polished look. Lip liner is your best friend if you decide to do a nude lip.
  • Face – Get comfortable with your contour palette. More on this below.

You’ll most likely feel like you’re overdoing things by miles at this point. That’s great. I feel like makeup for photography is one of those instances where more really is more.

  • Contour with a gradient.


You know when you see contour palettes with about ten shades EACH for contour, blush, and highlight? Well, this is the perfect time to use them. Contouring with a gradient gives you a more defined look than usual, that is both multi-dimensional and natural. Here’s what I mean.

  • Contour – Start with a darker shade at the top of your cheekbone near your ear, and fade into a lighter shade as you approach the centre of your face. Nobody has an equal amount of shadow all the way down the cheekbone, and this is why contouring with one colour can look a little flat and more like a muddy smudge than an enhanced shadow. Do the same along your jaw line, lightening up near the chin where more light tends to focus.
  • Blush – Use a fairly neutral blush along the apple of your cheek, extended slightly upwards towards your hairline. Save the real pop of colour for the highest point of the apple, usually directly below the outer corner of the eye. Blend thoroughly.
  • Highlight – If you’ve gone shimmery with the eyes, use a matte highlight along the tops of your cheekbones, and apply a pearly one on the point of your cheekbone that is the furthest forward (stand so that a beam of light shines directly on one side of your face and not the other, and turn your face away from the light slightly – the first part of your cheekbone to go into shadow is your sweet spot). If you want the blinding, shimmery highlight look, use a bronze or pink highlight closer to the ear, and a champagne/cool-toned one for the sweet spot.

Just saying, I would never do this on a daily basis. Far too much work, and not enough time/clean brushes. All worth it for a great shot though, isn’t it?

  • Warm the face up.

Screenshot 2017-06-06 16.31.08

You’ll want to do this especially if you’re warm-toned or feeling a little ill that day. Trust me, it’ll look spectacular if you’re relying on sunlight for your photos. Go with a matte bronzer applied to the outer periphery of the face in a “3” shape, down the temples, cheekbones and jaw line. Take it down the neck and under the jaw line for extra definition. Matte is my go-to – if you want more shimmer, there’s always highlighter.

I would love to hear from you if you’ve tried any of these and how they worked out for you, or if you have any of your own makeup tips that do wonders for your photos. Let’s all learn from each other. You go girl.

– J

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