10+ Secrets to My Last Makeup/Cosmetic Shoot

10+ Secrets to My Last Makeup/Cosmetic Shoot

Photo shoot by Walid Azami

Photo shoot by Walid Azami

I’ve photographed a lot and from my experience this is really the simplest way to do a beautiful cosmetic shoot. In this post I’m going to show you some of the images and then do a simple breakdown of tips that you will need to know, and industry experts know from years of grinding.

Let me say that there are a few ingredients many photography books or workshops won’t share with you and I had to discover them on my own. That’s why I started my own photography course aimed at priming photographers to make money right away!

Lets start and do a breakdown now.

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  1. “Beauty Girl” is a term often used by industry professionals. It means she can do beauty (makeup ads), she knows her angles, she’s probably higher on the ranks, and she has a face for beauty ads. Sometimes models are hired for hands, for feet, or athletic ability. It’s not a derogatory term, it’s just like saying “Fitness guy” or “mature beauty” or “girl next door”.

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2. Perfection is boring! What makes the model stand out? In this case I loved Jade Isobel for her gap in her teeth. I loved her high cheek bones too! When you’re picking a model, see what makes them stand out. Often times what you don’t like might be their winning quality. It just hasn’t been photographed perfectly yet! You be the one who gives them a new look.

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3. You don’t need a lot of strobes or unique light modifiers. That’s flexing too hard and I feel that it makes up for something that is lacking. Yes, I’m guilty of thinking guys with BIG TRUCKS lack something so they have to makeup for it. So why do you need many, many lights unless it’s the look you want? I used a tiny soft box, very thin and relied heavily on the best light source of all - the sun.

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5. You know that perfect eyeliner or makeup line that you see in ads? It’s almost perfect on set, but it’s being done by human-artists. It’s imperfect and that’s natural to go into photoshop and fix the lines. What if you don’t? That’s YOUR prerogative and artistic decision. Make a choice and stick with it.

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6. Here’s what you will learn the hard way. Save years or tears by telling models to come with clean nails, neutral in color. If they have nails done, it’s probably very Cardi B at the moment and that’s fine for life…but not for a photoshoot. Remember when in doubt, less is more.

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7. Never aim a light at a mirror. It’s the worst light that reflects back (unless you love that party look and then it’s totally fine). Aim it at the person and you’ll get a clean mirror image. It also helps to clean a mirror before otherwise retouching is a punishment.

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8. I said there would be 10 tips, but I always give more. When you’re working with props they shouldn’t be exciting, especially with beauty ads. The excitement should be the makeup on the model and that’s ultimately the product. We’re selling a product and you want to show potential clients that you know this common sense but often forgotten part.

Part II of the tip: People will always grow restless. Who cares!? When the images are done, they’ll forget everything but the quality of the actual work. Let them remember beautiful work. YOU are the captain of the ship (my students in my course know this analogy well). Steer the ship based on your vision. They can wait. They will wait.

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9. Pay tribute to your inspirations. You will NEVER be seen as a fraud if you admit that. Guess what? The biggest icons pay tribute, it doesn’t make you less. It actually shows that you are knowledgable, courteous and can introduce a new talking point. Give credit! In this case there was a photograph of Solange that I loved. We didn’t hit the nail on the head so we adapted. But Solange did have influence on this photograph, whether we did her style or not. See - I’m not less.

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10. For the love of all things holy, use the sun! Every light modifier on earth is based after one of the sun’s stages. So use the real deal, save money and get good at sunlight or natural light before you jump into strobes. Remember, using strobes isn't a badge of honor. It’s just a thing you do, and so is using the sun. Look at some of your favorite photographers, you’d be surprised how many just rely on natural light.

Can we please do a bonus tip again?


I’m using a 5D Mark II. I’m using what a lesser known brand called Tokina for the lens. It’s NEVER EVER about the gear that you use. Clients never ask that. Good photographers never judge you on that. Only the mediocre newbies care as much about gear, as they should about the photograph. Let go of the latest & greatest policy, free yourself from those shackles.


GOOD! That’s a great way to start, declare it. If you’re not interested in building your photography career on an expedited path - feel free to skip this section. You already went through the article and I hope learned a few tips. Thank you.

For those wanting to do that, to fast track their learning and photography business keep reading. I designed my own masterclass that’s based on my own experience. My career means I’ve photographed and worked with Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Kanye West, Usher, Mariah Carey, magazine ads and national brands. If you want a course that holds your hand through every step, this is the one. If you’re looking for a way to get insta-famous, to gain lots of followers or likes…i’m not your man.

If you want a map to success, the same map that I used and have proven success as well as countless students before you… follow along. If you want a path of little work and easy cheats? This is NOT your course.

Want to know more? Start by signing up here for free. You’ll get a daily planner that I use EVERY DAY and it’s going to be your daily structure to success. Its’ free and I think at the very least you should get it.

I’ll also send you a link to a free webinar hosted by me. It’s a 30 minute webinar that will teach you so many tips on starting your business and being successful that I honestly think I should be charging for it. I won’t though. I want to show you how working smart is better than working hard. I want you to make money!

If you’re interested, click here.

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