Should You Show Your Makeup Artist Inspiration Photos?
A recent bride-to-be wrote this in an email after we met for a makeup trial-run:
“You do a great job, and I love what you do, but I really didn’t feel comfortable with it, and as it’s a daytime wedding I’d like something lighter and more natural. Had a look through your portfolio and this is more along what I’d prefer…”
She had emailed through some photos from my portfolio of brides wearing darker makeup than I applied on her…How did this happen? Here’s my reply:
“You’ll be interested to know the makeup on these ladies was – in person – slightly darker/more than the makeup we did in your trial. This is the beauty of good photography! And makeup looks softer and more natural on camera, partly because we’re not looking as close-up as you would have been at your own photos. If we took a photo of your after your trial like these photos, you might look the same – all creamy and natural and gorgeous.”
I then explained how I could lighten the makeup for her…Bride’s response:
“Ahaha. Isn’t it funny how we never think we look as good as somebody else.”
The problem with using photos for makeup inspiration
For 95% of my bridal makeup booking, I meet the bride-to-be before her wedding day (often months in advance) for a chat and trial-run of the planned or proposed makeup look.
We discuss what makeup style she wants for her wedding, any ideas she has and what she wishes to avoid (naturally, the answer usually involves the mention of caked-on makeup and looking over-the-top). And working around those guidelines, I tailor a look around what I think will best suit her hair/eye/skin colours, personality, planned outfit and theme or occasion.
About half my trial-run customers meet me for their trial-run with pictures in hand (or in notebook or iPad) of what they’d like their makeup to look like. Usually the images have been found on the internet and pinterest. When I try and work to these photos, after the trial-run, some customers aren’t comfortable with what they see in the mirror, or don’t think they look quite as amazing as the pictures they’ve shown me.
The most obvious reason (that they don’t have the same features as the models or celebrities in the photos) aside, my customers are afraid the makeup looks too obvious or think they appear ‘too made up’. This is sometimes the case even if I’ve taken care to ensure it looks natural, as they’ve requested.
Why, if they love what they’ve seen of my previous work, is their makeup any different?
The answer? It’s not.
My style of application is pretty methodical and consistent. But even if I were to replicate a specific bridal look from my portfolio on a customer who thinks she wants the same makeup design, it might still look different in person. I have done this a couple of times at a bride’s request – used my notes and face charts from a previous bride to create the same look on a current customer (I have six years’ worth of real-bride face charts)…but it usually still looks different to the picture. Why?
I’ve geekily deduced two main reasons for why a bride might be initially disappointed with her trial-run results, when comparing her makeup to that in a photo. The image below hints at the first possible reason!
Problem 1: “Even I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford.” – Cindy Crawford
Now, I work hard to ensure all my brides look freakin’ amazing in real life, but nothing can compete with the perfection and polish that professional lighting, photography and post-processing lends to a face.
Most of the photos in my portfolio were taken by professional photographers, so most have been ‘processed’ to some degree. Perhaps the model or bride in the photo, in person in finished makeup, didn’t look quite as flawless as her photos either!
But there’s another reason a customer might not look as pretty as the photos from which we’ve taken our inspiration…
Problem 2: Are you looking too close?
When you have your makeup applied by someone else, if your first instinct is to zoom up to the mirror to be confronted by the fine (or deep) lines around your eyes, then most likely you’re not going to like what you see.
When finished applying the trial makeup, I suggest my customer stands back to see the overall ‘look’ we’ve created. Is it glamourous enough? Is it the ‘feel’ she wants? If not sure, does she think it’ll grow on her and could she end up loving it? Then I suggest she ‘zooms in’ to check if anything needs ‘tweaking.’ Is she confident the foundation is smooth and evenly blended? Are the eyebrows shaped how she prefers? Does the lipstick follow her natural lipline?
If I were to apply your makeup and have you look closely in the mirror, you too might notice tiny flaws you’d never before seen…but simply because you don’t look at your face that closely under everyday circumstances.
When checking out your makeup (whether professionally or self-applied), give yourself and your inspiration photo the same playing field: Position your face in the mirror so its a similar size to how the subject of your inspiration photo looks on paper (or on screen). Walk closer or farther away from your reflection to achieve this, just as an experiment.
Solution: Be media-savvy and give yourself some grace.
Give yourself some grace. We all know how photoshop has changed the advertising world and what we see in commercials and magazines. Most bridal makeup photos are no exception, especially bridal inspiration photo shoots. Finished, professional photos often differ to what’s achievable in real life, whether it’s an ad using a model or a real bride’s professional photo.
Remember this when working with your makeup artist (or doing it yourself) to achieve your desired bridal look. Acknowledge how your makeup looks in person may differ from how it appears in the photos and it’s true – you do need stronger makeup if you want it to show up on camera. By making these small concessions and compromises between what looks good in real life and what looks amazing on camera, you’ll enjoy your bridal makeup experience so much more.
TIP!: Ask Your Makeup Artist If They’d Like To See Makeup Inspiration Photos
Some makeup artists do their best work when not restricted to a photo, so think twice before showing your artist makeup inspiration photos at your trial-run (or before or after). Some of my team love to work to photos, others really don’t. If not sure, just ask.
Your makeup artist may see the image differently to you. When a bride has shown me what she considers a soft, natural brown eye look, I might also see the heavy false lashes, black inner eyeliner (not a look most brides enjoy), imagine the darker depth of the brown that would have been applied in real life for it to soften on camera, heavy under-eye shadow, shiny skin (often looks greasy on camera if shiny in real life) etc etc…
Lots of brides feel it’s their right to show their artist a picture of what they want. I get it. You want to communicate what you want, be heard and get what you paid for. I do too!
But if your artist prefers no photos, instead of showing images of makeup, use your words to describe the look and feel you are after. If you trust the artist from the work you’ve seen – verbalise what you’d like, let them do their thing.
I find I do my best work when I’m start with my customer’s natural features, colours and personality plus my experience to create a custom look for her, rather than copying a photo of someone else.
THEN if it’s not what you’re after toward the end of your trial-run, or you don’t love it as it is, whip out the photo and use it to explain the changes you want, or specific colours or shades you’d like used.
At least this way:
• The artist doesn’t feel so restricted (most of us are ‘creatives’, after all)
• You benefit from their vast experience of knowing what past customers have enjoyed
• You get a look tailored to suit you, not the model in the photo.
After a few bad experiences copying photos and unsuccessful trial-runs, I now usually refuse to look at any makeup images from the customer at the start, but am open to them closer to the end of our makeup trial-run or appointment.
I wish you bridal makeup success! Rest assured, with a skilled makeup artist and talented photographer, you will look as pretty as a picture.