Building your makeup portfolio for the first time? Professional MUA, Charlotte Ravet, is here with 5 tips to help you find and connect with photographers in your area! 

Charlotte is the proud owner of her very own hair and makeup business, A Date with CharlotteHer extensive resume includes working for Prada, L’Oreal, and even the cast of the hit show, Glee! A developer of educational programs, Charlotte has even been awarded Best Makeup Educator of the Year by the Australian Industry Makeup Awards.

The Value of Your Makeup Portfolio

As a beauty expert, your makeup portfolio is critical! It’s just as important to you as a resume would be for someone working in the corporate industry. As such, the quality of the work you’re showcasing needs to just be exceptional as the work itself.

Sure, you can use your phone to take images of your clients when developing your portfolio. However, this isn’t the mark of a professional makeup artist. Particularly, if you have the desire to work in fashion, advertising, or commercials, you’re going to want to avoid using your phone’s camera.

Instead, it’s strongly recommended to have your makeup portfolio built with a creative team – including professional models, stylists, and photographers.

Makeup portfolio article, in-post image, camera and makeup products on blanket

Let’s Start With The Basics…

In a nutshell, your makeup portfolio is a physical embodiment of the best work you’ve done in the past. It’s a visual representation of your talent and skill. Your portfolio gives potential clients a taste of what you’re capable of achieving for them. No successful makeup artist would be where they are today without a solid portfolio under their belt!

Generally speaking, the “no makeup” look is the most requested type of makeup by clients. So, this is definitely a look to include in your portfolio! Especially for editorial work, this is because the focus is NOT on the makeup itself. Rather, the makeup application you do is but one puzzle piece in a much larger vision. Furthermore, another advantage of showcasing the “no makeup” look in your portfolio is that it’ll be much easier for potential clients to imagine hiring you for advertising jobs, fashion brands, etc.

That being said, I would also advise you to create a body of work which reflects what you love, too. Most of my paid work is natural or glamor makeup. However, I still do what I love and showcase that in my portfolio as well. For years, I’ve been told my work was too colorful, too bold, too dramatic, etc. But that hasn’t stopped me from creating painted faces with fluo colors!

In fact, this type of makeup actually brought me a LOT of work once I made a name for it. The truth is, as the old saying goes, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day of your life.” So, it’s always best to create makeup looks for your portfolio that excite you!

Building Your Makeup Portfolio

It’s important to know that building your makeup portfolio is not going to bring you money in-and-of itself! In fact, some projects might even cost you a bit of money for specific products and material. However, don’t get it mixed up – this is absolutely a worthwhile investment!

Firstly, you’ll be developing a portfolio you’re truly proud of. Secondly, this portfolio WILL help you bring in money once it begins attracting clients your way. And lastly, you’ll then be able to carry this body of work with you throughout your career, and continue building upon it!

But when you’re brand-new to the industry, how exactly are you supposed to get started? How do you get professional photos taken, with the help of a professional creative team, if you don’t know anybody yet?

Photographer at desk, looking through selection of prints

Collaborative Projects

Get involved in a collaborative project, such as a stylized photoshoot! While these types of projects are typically done on a free basis (meaning you won’t get paid for it), there are tons of other benefits that are just as valuable.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, then you’ll need to find people who want to work with you, too. Speaking from personal experience, the hardest part of building your portfolio is connecting with local vendors for the first time. Of these vendors, arguable the most important ones to connect are photographers. After all, in order to create beautiful images, you need a photographer.

Here’s the thing: great photographers receive COUNTLESS emails every single week from makeup artists asking them to work with them. So, how can YOU stand out of the crowd? What can you do to set yourself apart, so that the photographers you want to work with want to work with you back?

Here are 5 tips to help you get started…

Your Makeup Portfolio: 5 Tips for Connecting with Photographers

Tip #1: Make it easy!

When it comes to photoshoots, the biggest part is organizing the shoot with the team. This includes finding an idea, acquiring models, putting together a creative team, artistic coordination, etc. All of this is a lot of work!

Usually the photographer is the one putting the team together. But if you already come with suggestions of stylists and models wanting to shoot with you, you’ll make the work much easier. Thus, the photographer will likely be more inclined to partner up with you!

Tip #2: Share your ideas!

Before I connect with a photographer, I first do my research by looking over their work. Then I’ll formulate an idea and/or concept for the photoshoot that I think would match the photographer’s unique style.

Typically, I’ll establish contact through emails or social media. When reaching out, I’ll send a few moodboards which I believe they could be interested to shoot. You can create an amazing moodboard on platforms such as Canva and/or use Pinterest for your reference images.

Importantly, I don’t reach out to them and say, “I would love to shoot ‘something‘ with you…” Instead, I introduce myself and say, “I would love to shoot ‘this‘ with you!”

How has this worked out for me over the years? Well, I’ve pretty much had a 100% success rate so far, so I’ll let you be the judge! Moreover, this approach has even given me the opportunity to art direct some editorial shots.

Happy woman on phone at home

Tip #3: Be persistent!

Sometimes, you’ll try to reach out to a photographer and not hear anything back. While it might be tempting to give up on this prospect entirely, I encourage you to try again! When it comes to networking, there is nothing to lose! So, if the photographer didn’t get back to you regarding a photoshoot? Kindly touch base again after a few weeks.

Remember: people sometimes get busy. But this doesn’t mean they are not interested!

Pro Tip: Just know when to draw the line. While there’s no harm in following up once or twice with a vendor who hasn’t gotten back to you, sending a million messages will likely put that person off and create a bad impression for you. Furthermore, if they do get back to you and decline your offer, respect their decision. Don’t keep pressing!

Tip #4: Keep in touch!

Let’s say that you’ve participated in a photoshoot that went very well. However, you haven’t heard back from the photographer regarding other projects. Why not add them to your newsletter and share your recent work?

(Not too often – but once a month, or once every two months, is enough!)

A simple newsletter that showcases your latest work is a great way to keep your network active and informed of what you’re doing! After all, you can’t only rely on social media to keep your network thriving. Newsletters are a great add-on for your business. Who knows – they could result in even more work to help strengthen your makeup portfolio further!

Not sure which platform to use for this strategy? Personally, I use MailChimp and I love it!

Tip #5: Make friends!

Reaching out to photographers can also come from word of mouth. You may befriend stylists, hairdressers, or models in the beauty industry who know the person you’re looking to connect with! So, make friends with those around you, always be professional, and never fail to do your best work. Your network could very well give you that foot in the door you’ve been needing! This has happened to me many times – often, without me even needing to ask for it!

Makeup artist applying liquid tonal foundation on the face of the woman in make up room

Building Your Makeup Portfolio: Final Thoughts

Building your makeup portfolio and connecting with people can look a bit frightening at first. But like all the other steps you will undertake in your career, it’s really only the first step that’s the hardest to take! Once you get going, it’ll become easier and easier, I promise!

Plus, you’ll soon realize that the makeup industry is much bigger than it looks! If a photographer doesn’t get back to you, despite your efforts to connect, don’t beat yourself up. It likely has nothing to do with you. Just see it as a new opportunity to connect with a different photographer. Something amazing will ALWAYS be waiting for you around the corner!

Learn everything you need to know to build a strong makeup portfolio by enrolling in QC Makeup Academy’s Portfolio Development Workshop today!

Author Charlotte Ravet

More posts by Charlotte Ravet

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • There is information that i need…
    i never heard this before….
    Thanks for the information

    MUA Jakarta

    • Sarah-Lynn Seguin says:

      Hey Wanda, thanks so much for reading! We’re so glad to hear that you found some beneficial information that you hadn’t heard of before. Connecting with photographers is definitely a key step in building one’s makeup portfolio, for sure! 🙂

      All the best,
      The QC Team

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