Best online courses to study beauty photography and retouching


Online study is a fantastic way to add skills to your business without outlaying thousands of dollars. Through studying online I was able to go from being a beginner makeup artist, struggling to get good photos for my portfolio, to a beauty photographer, getting paid to take photos for other artists.

What I am looking for in a course is that it is easy to understand and follow, has real world examples, the tutors are highly skilled and exercise files to practice on.

I started out by studying retouching and then moved into beauty photography and posing classes. Not all online classes are created equally. Here are the best online courses in beauty photography and retouching I have taken.


Retouching Academy is my favourite online learning platform, offering free and paid classes for beginners to advanced students. One of my favourite photographers, Julia Kuzmenko, one of my favourite beauty photographers, worked on several of the courses.

I have completed all of the free online learning modules as well as the Master Dodge and Burn course and the Studio Beauty course. The courses are delivered via a mix of video tutorials, exercises and reading material. My photography and editing skills were elevated after accessing these resources. I also use their Beauty Retouch Panel.


Another fantastic online course is by retouching guru, Pratik Naik. This course contains over 100 videos, all broken down into the steps your workflow should take. Easy to understand and follow along with. Pratik is also one of the nicest people on the internet! I also use his Infinite Color Panel for colour grading.

The Retouching Series by Pratik Naik


Tina Eisen is one of my favourite beauty photographers so when I saw that she was creating an online class, it was an instabuy for me. When I saw the price I was gobsmacked, it is incredibly good value for money. The class is not hugely in-depth but covers all of the basics you need to start creating beauty photographs. Lots of people on photography groups I follow have been using her lighting set up with great results.

The Foundations of Beauty by Tina Eisen


Sue Bryce is a powerhouse of photography education. Lots of successful photographers that I know have mentioned going to her classes. When I was struggling with posing fresh models I looked for a class that could help me and found Sue. I took the Posing classes and they gave me amazing tips to guide models while shooting.

Sue Bryce Education

Well that is it from me! If you know of anymore excellent online classes for beauty photographers please comment and let me know.

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.