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Tips for Make Up Photography (Product Photos for Make Up Artists)

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Related course: Wow Factor Photography

Makeup is everywhere today. Professional cosmetic photos are always in demand.

It’s important to know a few makeup photography tricks to succeed. Whether you’re taking photos for your blog or working for a client.

Clean Your Makeup Beforehand to Avoid Extra Work

Product shot of three lipstick crayons in different shades - makeup photography tips

This might seem obvious. But it’s a tip that’s often overlooked by product photographers. The cleaner your makeup is, the less you’ll have to edit. The more efficient your workflow will be.

Gently wipe the products with a dry cloth or wet wipe. It’ll depend on the material. If possible, spray the product with water to get rid of dust.

Use Natural Light to Save Money

Flatlay cosmetic product photography shot
Most things tend to look better in natural light, which is why it’s being used more and more often in makeup photography. Combined with the right backdrop, your makeup products will stand out thanks to the depth made by natural shadows and highlights.

When you think of product photography, professional studio equipment comes to mind. Studio photography is an important part of the makeup industry, that’s true. But it’s no longer the only option out there.

You don’t have to spend thousands on lighting equipment. Many product photographers agree that natural light creates more flattering results. It makes products look authentic.

The highlights and shadows add depth to the image. This is important in makeup photography.

To make your natural light studio as professional as possible, shoot next to a large window. If you want that clean studio effect, use a large sheet of paper as a backdrop.

Natural light can create a lot of harsh shadows. To fix this, you can hold a smaller sheet of paper next to the product. It’ll create an extra source of light to your DIY studio.

Change Your Aperture in Different Locations to Diversify Your Results

A stylish makeup product shot of Becca Lipstick on a luxurious platter
You don’t need expensive lenses to improve your makeup photography. The right angles, lighting, and aperture can all turn a simple composition into an eye-catching product photo. In this case, the photographer used a Canon EOS REBEL T2i with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. The aperture was set to f/1.8. Even though 1.8 is a fairly large aperture, it’s enough to capture details on small products like lipstick.

You don’t have to use the same aperture, or f-stop, in every location.

For lifestyle photos with more than one product, use a large aperture. It’ll make your main subject stand out. Your aperture needs to be large enough to blur the background. But it should be small enough to capture important details on the makeup. Something like f/2.8.

In a studio with a white backdrop, you can use any aperture you like. If the backdrop has details that you’d like to remain sharp in your final product, use a small aperture like f/11.

In either case, use a tripod. This will ensure that you don’t end up taking shaky pictures by accident.

Don’t Use Flash to Avoid Unflattering Glares

A makeup product shot of compact powder against black background
Without harsh light, makeup products like this compact powder have the chance to stand out on their own. The more atmospheric the light, the easier it is to appreciate the makeup’s natural, unedited colours. Flash would remove all of these qualities, which is why it’s so unnecessary in makeup photography.

More often than not, makeup products are shiny. Or they have some kind of glitter on them. This makes them impossible subjects for flash photography.

If you need extra light, use a DIY reflector (foil or paper). It’ll create more highlights and soften shadows.

Use Colourful Backgrounds to Enhance the Makeup Product

Flatlay cosmetic product photography shot
Here, the photographer chose a faded pink backdrop with soft textures. This goes beautifully with the colours of the makeup products. Simple decisions like this can significantly enhance your makeup photography and make you stand out from other product photographers.

White backgrounds are no longer necessary in product photography.

The key is choosing the right background colours. Use vibrant colours as long as they don’t take the attention away from the makeup.

Soft pastel colours tend to complement almost every other colour.

You can also use black backdrops for an atmospheric effect.

Experiment With Unusual Lighting to Make Your Photos Look Unique

Flatlay cosmetic product photography shot

Makeup product photography comes with a lot of helpful guides. Don’t let this stop you from breaking a few rules.

One of your main goals is to make the makeup look as appealing as possible. To do this, you can use unconventional lighting tricks.

Experiment with reflections, artificial light, and lens filters. In the photo above, the photographer softened the harsh sunlight. They used a glass filled with water.

This created an elegant combination of shadows and highlights on the cleanser.

Without these textures, it would look like a simple product. The unusual light gave it a boost of energy. Without it, beautiful product photography wouldn’t exist.

Make Sure Your Style Is Consistent to Avoid Messy Results

A cosmetic product photography shot - makeup photography tips

As you take different photos of makeup, you’ll start to develop your own photography style.

The more you experiment, the more you’ll find out about your creative preferences. You’ll also find it easier to take appealing photos wherever you want.

You need to be consistent when it comes to product photos. Once you have a few looks in mind, stick to them throughout your shoot.

This applies to lighting, color correction, and framing. If you experiment too much, you’ll end up with results that are creative and messy at the same time.

This is very important in client photography. Consistency and quality are more important than anything else.

Surround Your Product with Elegant Details to Avoid Boring Compositions

A floral themed cosmetic product photography shot - makeup photography tips
In this photo, the yellow carnations complement all of the makeup products. Choosing the right colours for your props will make your makeup photography look outstanding.

Makeup is often associated with elegance and softness. If you’re taking lifestyle photos, this is a great way to enhance your compositions. You’ll avoid boring results.

Place flowers, glitter, rings, etc., around the makeup. Like colourful backgrounds, these props should be soft enough to enhance the products. They should not take the spotlight away from them.

When taking photos of makeup surrounded by other objects, make sure you use a large aperture. Too many details will confuse the viewer and make it seem like everything is for sale.

Also, you can use manual focus so that your camera doesn’t end up focusing on the wrong object.

Conclusion

When you learn how to photograph makeup, you’ll be able to create what your clients ask for. And you’ll take striking photos of any makeup product.

In today’s world, this is an important skill that can lead to photo opportunities that you deserve.

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