Interview with a Makeup Artist: How can they enhance your shoot?

I first met Janelle Corey when I was assisting on a fashion shoot with photographer Zuzanna Audette. I was very impressed with the group effort between the photographer, hair, wardrobe and makeup. I since then have worked with Janelle and have seen her career take off and travel the world with her talents as a Make Up Artist, working with major artists. Janelle has given me some wonderful advice on working with Make up artists and how they can really enhance a photo shoot with their expertize.

1. What is a MUA and what does it stand for?

A MUA is a makeup artist. They are responsible for making up the talent on a film or print project. In my opinion, they are also responsible for helping to make the talent feel comfortable. The makeup artist is typically the first person that the talent spends their time with upon arrival to a shoot. If they can make the talent feel comfortable right away, this can dictate the mood of the shoot and the end product, as a comfortable model is everything when it comes to a successful shoot.

2. How did you get started, education etc…?

I was going to school to become a lawyer. I had taken all of the necessary college courses to graduate and every elective class had to do with law. Though I loved what I was doing, I didn’t feel like I would be completely fulfilled in law. I sat in the parking lot of my college and cried as I thought about what I really wanted out of life. I was 23 years old and thought that I had everything right. My mind kept pulling me back to the memories of applying makeup on people and how good they felt when I was finished. There was something so special to me about the look in their eye when they saw how they looked. I felt so fortunate to be a part of their positive feelings towards themselves. I think that it is rare these days when a woman feels truly good about herself. If I can be a small part of that I will sustain my own personal happiness forever. I decided that day that I was going to try and pursue a career as a MUA. From there I went to Barnes & Noble and bought every book I could find on how to apply makeup properly. I also practiced on anyone that would let me and tortured my sisters with hours of application and mock photo shoots. It was hilarious!

3. Why is having a MUA essential to a photographer? What can you provide to help a photographers images stand out?

Makeup is a very powerful tool. There is a very distinct difference in a photo of someone who had their makeup professionally done and those who did not. Though a natural face is a beautiful thing, a professional makeup job done well can help to enhance the features of your model tremendously. Makeup that is done well also brings confidence and as I mentioned before, a confident model will translate in your photos so much better than one who does not feel good about themselves.

Photo by Jozef Ezra, Hair and Makeup by Janelle Corey

4. What have you learned from mistakes?

Over the last ten years I have learned so much but mostly about how to care for your model properly. I learned to be attentive and that by asking if they needed a sweater or a drink of water, I was establishing a relationship and a trust with this person immediately. Once I formed the trust with them, the makeup application came very easily.

5. What advice would you give to photographers when they are choosing a MUA?

My advice when choosing a makeup artist is to review their work. Research your subject and bring those into your shoot that you feel you can trust will be consistent and polite. If you can meet with them to discuss the project, that would be best. If you can’t, a short phone call can potentially tell you everything you would need to know about you MUA’s personality and whether or not their personality will work with your project.

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Photo by Jozef Ezra, Hair by Emiley Golie, Makeup and wardrobe by Janelle Corey

6. How would you describe a work flow on set with a photographer? Do you talk about the shoot before hand?

Typically an organized production will involve correspondence beforehand and hopefully a meeting face-to-face as well. There should always be some kind of communication and connection between the photographer and MUA prior to shooting. Ideally there should also be mood boards discussed and an understanding between the two that will help dictate a shoot seamlessly. If everyone is on the same page there will be so much less confusion on the day of the shoot

7. Why is shooting for camera and lights, different then everyday makeup?

Typically you would have to do a heavier application for those shooting as opposed to those wearing their “everyday makeup.” When shooting, you take into account lighting, longevity, and the desired look by the photographer and/or client. I believe that a common mistake these days is that there has to be loads and loads of makeup on someone just because they are doing a shoot. This is incorrect, as what we tend to forget is that the modern day lens of a nice camera can capture the beauty of ones face much better than they used to. Therefore, less is more with makeup. If you can keep one looking more natural, you more than likely have also saved the photographer from extra and unnecessary post production work.

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Photo by Zuzanna Audette, Hair by Cami Talbot, Art Direction and Makeup by Janelle Corey

8. What advice would you give to MUAs starting out and trying to find photographers to work with?

Don’t give up! Persistence is key! Practice as much as you can and always approach people with confidence, especially when starting out. I remember bugging certain local photographers over and over to let me come and work for them for trade. I offered my services for free in order to obtain the photos for my portfolio. I would have to rub my sweaty hands down my jeans before actually meeting the photographer for the first time because I was so nervous, but hopefully they never knew that. ;) To feel confident enough to “fake it until I made it,” I would study my Kevin Aucion book and practice on anyone that would let me. As long as you are passionate, practice really makes perfect with your makeup application.

9. What are some of your favorite photographers?

I would like to give a shout out to all of the talent in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was fortunate enough to be in a town that has some of the most passionate artists I have ever met. I feel like we often create something from nothing there and are able to produce a grandiose result. The examples of those around me helped drive my passion and absolutely helped me gain the confidence to go and tackle other areas of the industry. If it weren’t for photographers like, Justin Grant, Zuzanna Audette, and Jozef Ezra when I was starting out, I would not be in the place that I am today. I thank them tremendously and am continuously in awe of their artist abilities and performance.

Photo by Jozef Ezra, Wardrobe by McKell Maddox, Hair by Janae Mechling, Makeup by Janelle Corey

10. What projects do you have coming up?

I am really excited to be starting a new venture with I will be doing some video tutorials with them at the end of July in Los Angeles. I have started writing articles for them as well and have geared my focus towards advice on makeup for photographers. It has been a really fun new experience and I am enjoying it thoroughly! I have also just wrapped a major bridal campaign in Byron Bay, Australia and will be heading back to the states to prepare for my upcoming tour with Rihanna and Eminem starting on August 1st. I am thrilled to be working wardrobe on their 2014 Monster Tour! When I finish up with that I am also very much looking forward to doing more makeup courses in Utah and Los Angeles. My partner and I have created a really great program to teach the average woman, model, photographer or beginner makeup artist everything you would need to know to feel confident about your application on yourself or someone else. The courses are two days long and when you are finished you have complete knowledge on how to do a day look and evening look for regular days at home or for a photo shoot. I never knew I would love to teach as much as I do and I am so thrilled about it. :)

11. Where can we find you?
[email protected]

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