Ready for Your Close-Up?

No glitter or shimmer powder. This is the first sin!

Either will create an unattractive reflection at odd angles. It makes lighting difficult to place and editing a pain in the butt. Just don’t do it. It may look gorgeous in the mirror when you put it on, but you are looking at it from a very specific angle, straight on, and often with weak daylight through a window behind you (where your face is actually in shadow) or with a light directly overhead or in front of you above the mirror. None of these options shows you how the light is bouncing wildly off the curves and angles of your face.

Whether outdoors in sunlight or under professional studio lights, more likely than not, you will be posing in positions to try to flatter your facial features and body as much as possible. These are never straight on. They are almost always at variations of ¾ angles to full profile shots. Your head is often angled up or down in ways you do not normally hold it to put on makeup. All these factors mean that the light is bouncing off your face in a VERY different manner than you saw in the bathroom. Usually straight at the camera.

You might think, “Oh, but we can work with that, it looks so pretty!”

Not really. It makes it look like a person is covered in uneven, splotchy, irregularly sized moles except they’re white or purple or bright pink. Sometimes it looks like the worst case of dandruff and dry skin you’ve ever seen. And usually, the full extent of this is not seen until the images are up on a big screen ready for editing. Because of the nature of the thousands of tiny reflections in every which way, it may be more apparent in certain head angles than others, or the glittery flecks may be so tiny that  we can’t see it on the preview on the back of the camera if we don’t have a capture station with a full size monitor attached.

It distracts from the eyes and the lips, which are where a viewer’s eyes naturally go. Anything that draws a viewer’s eye away from the eyes and lips makes them only able to think, “what the -EFF-  is THAT on their face?” and nothing else. And it’s very time consuming to edit all the little flecks out.

Don’t do it.

No extreme makeup unless requested. This is the second sin!

First, the best, classic, endure-the-test-of-time portraits have minimal classic makeup that often only enhances a person’s features. (In all the years I’ve modeled, I’ve done my makeup exactly two different ways. The change was slightly darker eye shadow and and slightly redder lipstick to fit a different style. That’s it.)

Second, certain colors do not look well with all skin or eye tones in photographs. Certain shades make teeth look yellow. (I found that out pretty early myself, to my own horror, when I got some images back when I was about 18 and broke this rule.) The lighting at the shoot location may not behave the way the lighting did in the room you got ready in with the mirror. It may be warmer or cooler, which can change and distort how the extreme makeup shows up in the final image. The backdrop or plants or buildings in the location may clash. The wardrobe may clash.

Basic rule: don’t do extreme makeup without permission.


I’m a HUGE FAN of incredible makeup artistry. It’s a gift I don’t have and I adore what real artists can do. But there are certain things that need to be prepped with the entire shoot. This kind of imagery works best with headshots that are intended to focus on the makeup itself, not the person wearing it, and nothing else in the frame. Everything in the shot is composed and chosen to enhance the artistry itself, not detract from it.

For me, personally, I love to work on these kinds of projects. But when the project is properly designed to show off the work and the talent–not as a surprise in the middle of say, a boudoir or classic portrait shoot.

In short, don’t surprise me. Send me your sample images  instead, and I’ll be ecstatic to work with you!


If they tell you to come ready with foundation and cover up finished yourself, do that. If you are trusted to do your own makeup to save time and have been asked to do it, don’t show up without any on and expect them to squeeze you in. If they tell you to come bare faced, THEY MEAN BARE. FACE. NO MAKEUP. NAKED ON YOUR FACE. Trust me, they’ll know, and make you wash it off anyway. Also, sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t want moisturizer on your face that morning. Ask for instructions if none were given.

Please keep in mind that they have to be licensed in most states (including where I work) and are required to keep their equipment clean and everything up to proper hygiene standards. They would go out of business and lose their licensing if not face legal ramifications if they unknowingly gave an entire cast pink eye, or spread cold sores to everyone by not following protocol. Also, you might end up with these conditions or passing this conditions if you don’t know what you are doing.

Help the makeup artists out. Do what they tell you, and they’ll make you look fierce or glamourous or sexy as called for.

Nails! Trim your nails. Don’t bite them. Keep your hands hydrated with hand lotion for at least a week before a shoot. They are one of the most overlooked details that can get missed even on the set that day, and can really break what should’ve been a great image. Some models I’ve known have gotten manicures (and pedicures if barefoot or in open-toed shoes) just before a shoot. Not everybody needs to do that. But at least trim, file, and clean your nails to make them look clean and healthy.

FOR MALE-IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUALS: Guess what? Male models and actors wear makeup. Surprise, if you didn’t already know this!

It’s not often visible, as skin and lip shades are intentionally matched as close as possible. Men (and male-identifying individuals) tend to have foundation applied to their faces to even out skin tones, reduce any shine, and they may have barely tinted or clear lip gloss or balm applied to their lips. Depending on the makeup artist and the look they are going for, there may be other items to enhance how you look, but it will not look like how a person identifying as a woman applies makeup. It’s so subtle you can’t see it standing in front of someone. So don’t be surprised that you are asked to take a turn in the makeup artist’s chair yourself. They may also trim or neaten up your facial hair if you haven’t done so yourself–including eyebrows.