Model posing for makeup artist portfolio

Your Makeup Career

Building Your Makeup Artist Portfolio: Participating in a Styled Shoot

Okay, so you’re working on building your portfolio as a makeup artist. Does it include a styled shoot? Should it? What is a styled shoot, anyway? And how do you take part in one?

The basics:

What is a styled shoot? Well, pretty much what its name implies – a shoot that’s styled. That’s it. Simple, right? The rules depend on the specific shoot, but typically they involve props, outfits, looks, and other details that are arranged around a certain theme. Some are classy, some are wild – it’s up to the organizer (often the photographer) to decide.

At its most basic, a styled shoot will require at least a hair stylist and a makeup artist (you’re indispensable – lucky you!). The photographer may have other professionals on the team too, depending on the shoot.

Why should I do a styled shoot?

If you’ve already got some experience as a makeup artist and you’re working for a high-end styled shoot, guess what? You’re probably getting paid! That’s right – doing styled shoots can be part of your business. A fun part, too, since some of the themes might give you a chance to try some really out-there looks.

Model with fun makeup at a styled shoot

But as an up-and-coming makeup artist still working on developing a portfolio, styled shoots offer another big advantage. Because photographers are often working on a tight budget, a lot of them are looking for a skill exchange – you do the makeup for their shoot, and they’ll let you use the photos to update your portfolio or website. They may even agree to pay a small kit fee to cover your expenses.

You could also collaborate with the photographer to get the photos published in a magazine – good publicity for both of you. Just make sure you work out the details of whatever agreement you’re going for before you start the shoot.

Basically, even if you’re not getting paid, it’s a pretty good deal.

Okay, I’m sold. Now how do I find a shoot?

If you know any photographers, that’s probably the best place to start. Even if they’re not planning on doing a shoot any time soon, chances are they know a few other photographers, who each know a few other photographers… you get the picture. Once your name is in the pool, it’s only a matter of time – especially if you make it clear you’re looking to build your portfolio, not for profit.

You can also note on your website that you’re willing to participate in a styled shoot. That way, photographers searching online for makeup artists in their area will be more likely to contact you.

Is this shoot going to be a waste of my time?

Not all styled shoots are born equal. To avoid wasting your time on a shoot that’s poorly organized and may end up falling through, check for warning signs when you first touch base with the photographer.

By the time they’re contacting you, they should already have a clear theme locked down, and probably a location and tentative date as well. Don’t be afraid to ask if they don’t provide all of this up front – and if they don’t have an answer, just tell them to get back to you with more info later so you can make a decision.

I want to organize my own styled shoot!

Go for it! If there are gaps in your portfolio you want to fill, organizing your own styled shoot might be your best bet.

Organization is key – pick a theme (get more specific than just “vintage” or “fairy tale”) and location before contacting other professionals. You’ll definitely need to reach out to:

Photographer and model at a styled shoot

And depending on your shoot, you might also want:

A good way to make sure you get the look you’re going for is to spend some time creating an online “inspiration board” full of photos that give you ideas for your own shoots. Share it with your other professional collaborators so that everyone is on the same page.

Before the shoot, plan a timeline for the day and make a list of all the supplies you need to bring (like props, lighting, and clothing). Make sure to negotiate terms with your collaborators as well. No one likes finding an unexpected bill on their doorstep the day after a good shoot.

The shoot is over – now what?

Once you have the photos, pick the best and add them to your portfolio. Put them on your website, too – or if you don’t have a website yet, try adding them to a site like Behance that houses online portfolios for a wide range of artists. Wherever you end up using the photos, just make sure you give credit to everyone else who took part in the shoot with you!

Young woman posting makeup artist portfolio photos online

The nitty-gritty legal stuff

Just like you, your collaborators are probably professionals looking to build their own businesses. Getting to know the run-down of the legal stuff keeps anyone from getting hurt—remember, these shoots are supposed to help out everyone.

Whether you’re posting photos to your website or adding them to a hard-copy portfolio, always make sure to give credit for any work you didn’t do yourself. That includes:

Your collaborators have to show you the same courtesy – make sure they give you credit for your work!

You’ll also need to get your models to sign a photo release form, even if it’s a friend or family member. You can easily find a template for one of these forms online.

Tip: Once your work is online, anyone visiting your website can easily take and use your photos – without crediting you. To prevent, this, try using photo editing software to put a watermark on the photos you plan to put online.

Want to learn more about building your makeup artistry portfolio? There’s a new course coming soon to QC Makeup Academy! Keep an eye on our Facebook Page for more updates on our Portfolio Development course!

Hair Styling Essentials course now available

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