Portrait Photography: How Much Makeup Should I Wear?

portrait photography

When applying makeup for a photo session, a good rule of thumb is that it should be only slightly heavier than usual. However, what does this mean in terms of the colour or amount of product you use? Use this post as a guide as you get ready for your upcoming family photo session.

Applying Foundation: No Heavy Coverage

The right poses and head positions will help bring out your natural features, so do not feel pressured to cake on the foundation. Choose a tint that exactly matches your skin tone, and aim for light, sheer coverage. Starting with a primer can help conceal uneven textures and fine lines without changing your look drastically. However, this is not the time to experiment with highlighting and contouring unless you are comfortable using those techniques. Be sure to test any new product a few weeks in advance to ensure it works and looks great without irritating your skin.

In general, use makeup to highlight your features while keeping your look fresh and natural. This is especially important for family portraits, where you will be photographed next to the natural skin tones and freckles of your children.

sistersAvoiding Shimmer and Shine

Although shimmery products often look stunning in person, anything shiny or glittery can reflect light and affect what the camera sees. For example, mineral-based products are a top everyday choice, but in photographs it can cause faces to shine or glow. Depending on the lighting, even lip-gloss can create a distracting reflection. Matte, neutral makeup is easy to apply and photographs well.

After applying your foundation and blush, use a translucent powder to banish shine and set your look. You can bring along any products for touch-ups during the shoot, including the powder or oil-blotting sheets. However, I would rather you apply makeup beforehand and then forget about it and focus on the shoot! Particularly for outdoor shoots, a natural, windswept look combined with smiles and laughter often makes for the best family portraits.

Choosing Colours: No Out-dated Eyes or Lips

Although you should not worry too much about your looks during a shoot, I do believe that applying a bit of colour can help your natural features pop. You will want your portraits to look fresh and modern for years to come, so avoid any fad products or seasonal colours when it comes to eye and lip shades. For eyes, stick with neutral shades of shadow that are not too dark and consider using eyeliner only along the upper lash line to help keep your eyes from looking smaller than normal. For lips, find a shade that enhances your existing colour without exaggerating it. Test your full look ahead of time to see what looks best, thinking of emphasizing without overdoing.

More Quick Tips

We have the basics covered, but here is an additional handful of quick tips:

  • Apply your makeup in good lighting or natural window light for best results
  • Use new mascara to ensure it is clean and will not clump
  • Apply a slightly brighter blush or wear more than usual, as it will not appear as vibrant in photographs as in person
  • Blend well using applicator sponges to avoid streaking or uneven coverage
  • Drink plenty of water in the days before the session to stay hydrated and help your skin feel and look its best

Feel free to contact me directly with any questions before your family portrait session!

Talk soon,
Margherita :)

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