Tips for Successful Portraits
(think of these as suggestions, not hard rules!)

Download the PDF version here

Natural Look vs Light makeup
Natural look makeup for a photo shoot does not mean light makeup by daily makeup standards. You’ll be applying a good amount of foundation and using a lot of powder, compared to when you are going to, say, a workplace. What you need is good coverage combined with natural look finish. Don’t be confused!

Color of foundation
Match the color of foundation to the natural color of your skin in neck/chest area. You may know the color that looks the best on you, and that is fine for social events. However, in photography, nothing is worse than showing different colors on your face than the rest of your skin. As long as you closely match the color of your foundation to the color of your skin, then the whole skin color can be adjusted to make it look most attractive (darker or warmer) during editing.

Lips and eyes
The color of the lips and eye accents should be one notch darker than the best look in person. The lips should be shifted to the direction of darker red, and the eye accents should be one notch heavier. You can even wear false lashes for most types of work other than the actor’s headshot. Keep this in mind: the photographic lighting biases your face color to the lighter side.

Blush
You can use blush, and again one small notch darker than the best look in person. However, please make sure to make a few applications in small quantities. The first time should be applied and spread in a wide circle, and the second and third in progressively smaller areas. This is to make sure that the edges of the blush are gradual and not abrupt. You can always add more, but once you apply too much in one application, it is hard to blur the edge or remove some.

Powder
Don’t be afraid to use a lot more powder than usual. A lot of powder is routinely used in fashion and beauty photography to reduce shine and make the skin look matte. You will realize that a professional makeup artist will keep applying powder every 10–20 minutes of the shoot to prevent shiny skin. You should bring yours and apply extra powder regularly.

Hair (also for men)
You may want to use hair spray, gel, and other products to tame frizz and make your hair look healthy. Make sure to avoid products that give a matte look. These are fine for some situations, but not for a photoshoot. Matte finished hair will look dull and lifeless in pictures. Instead, use hair products that enhance shine. Hair shine sprays of various kinds are available for women (Biosilk spray is a favorite in the studio) and American Crew makes a good line of hair products for men.

What to wear - Women
Avoid big prints and busy patterns. Different necklines will change the apparent shape of your face. Bring a variety of different shirts/blouses to see what works best. For a no-jacket casual look, bring various colored blouses - ideally darker than your skin tone. Generally crew and V-neck shirts are best. Long sleeves are best, short sleeves are better - tank tops, spaghetti straps, etc. Should be avoided.

What to wear - Men
Flat collars are preferred over button down collars. Ties should be on the plain side.

What to wear - Everyone
Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you look great. Make sure your jacket and shirt fit you well (see advice about collars above). A poor fitting jacket or shirt will be obvious in the photos. Don’t overdress! Turtlenecks are almost always a bad idea (since they crowd the face). Clothes should be neatly pressed and should look new or like new. Avoid large lines orstripes. Blue/green/turquoise shirts/blouses or accents can help emphasize blue/green/hazel eyes.

What to wear for Couples and Groups
If you are having a portrait made with more than one person (Family, Couple, Engagement, Children, etc.), think about complimentary clothing. A family looks great if everyone is wearing Blue Jeans and White Shirts, or Khakis and Light Blue Polos. Keep darker colors on the bottom and lighter on the top when deciding. The clothing doesn’t need to be all the same, just in the same colors and shades. Feel free to contact me for suggestions or ideas!

REMEMBER: Select and wear clothes that make you feel comfortable. Select something that makes you look good.

Jewelry
Keep jewelry extremely simple - small is better. Avoid jewelry that would distract from your face or that looks dated. The picture is about your face not your jewelry.