How to select a model for beauty photography

Makeup & photography: Katie Saarikko  Model: Leanne Mitchell  Hair: Emma Jones

Makeup & photography: Katie Saarikko

Model: Leanne Mitchell

Hair: Emma Jones

When you are shooting beauty photography, the choice of model is super important. As I shoot with a macro lens, the smallest details will be picked up on the skin. If the skin is not appropriate for shooting in such fine detail, the time spent on post production can be huge. Selecting a model that is suitable for beauty photography is the first step to a successful shoot.

7 tips for selecting a model for beauty photography

  1. Find a skilled model - Being pretty does not mean the person is a skilled model, you should carefully check the model’s portfolio for a variety of facial expressions, poses and emotions. When you are shooting just the face there is not much room for movement so they need to be able to emote. Fresh models can be stiff and have no movement or flow experience which means you need to direct them through all poses. This is OK if you are confident with posing people.

  2. Eyelid space - look for a model that does not have a heavily hooded lid if the eye makeup is going to be a feature. While you can work with a hooded lid (Claudia Schiffer has hooded lids!) it is easier to feature eye makeup if you have space. I also look for balance and smooth eyelids.

  3. Full natural brows - drawn on eyebrows will show up when shot with macro lens, the less a makeup artist has to fill in the brows the better.

  4. Full natural lips - lip filler is incredibly popular at the moment but the filler can lose the edges of the lips and create a fake look. If you are shooting natural beauty images it is best if the model’s lips are full but natural or filled by a skilled doctor. I have had a model show up to a shoot after getting filler done that she didn’t have on her portfolio images and it ruined the look of the shoot.

  5. Age - for this type of shoot it is better to work with a model under the age of 25. There is nothing wrong with shooting an older model, but you will get the best results under these conditions with younger skin. The lighting used in a beauty shoot is direct and ideally picks up all the highlights and skin texture. I would shoot an older model using softer light.

  6. Skin - everyone has breakouts but finding a model with clear, well cared for skin is the most crucial aspect of shooting beauty. Skin texture cannot be photoshopped to look better if it is dry or cracking. Editing with non destructive techniques keeps most of the skin’s natural texture, so if you have lots of unwanted cracks and bumps highlighted by the macro lens you will spend a lot of time editing for a poor result.

  7. Hair free - removing all hair including peach fuzz from the face gives the best results when shooting beauty. In Australia, makeup artist’s are not qualified to remove hair, so it is best if the model can arrange this several days before the shoot. Applying makeup over freshly waxed skin doesn’t work as the waxing removes the top layers of skin and it won’t stick. To minimise issues, faces should only be dermabladed by a professional. That said all hair removal comes with the risk of breakouts. The model’s well being should be considered at all times before, during and after your shoot.