Sorry, a MUA isn’t a new piece of gear… it’s a person. Working with a makeup artist (MUA) for the first time is a memorable experience. I used to think an MUA just put makeup on people, but that’s like saying a photographer just takes pictures. A good MUA is truly an artist, and their work makes your photography leaps and bounds better. Here are three reasons you need to work with an MUA:
Why is it that people don’t like to be in pictures? I bet 87.3% of people reading this blog have said, “I bought the camera so I wouldn’t have to be in front of it!” Well, the MUA is marvelous because she (or he) gives people a layer of armor which usually helps them feel more confident in front of the camera. There’s some rationale that since a professional MUA has done her work on me and approved me for pictures, I must be ready. It’s almost like I’m going to be photographing the makeup, not the person, and they’re ok with that. It’s weird, but I think you’ll find similarly that an MUA gives people an armor and confidence. Take the image at the top of this post, for instance. Ashlee is a graphic designer who directs me and uses my photographs to put her works together. Well, Machelle convinced Ashlee to let her make her up and be in some pictures herself, and we had a great time and Ashlee really came alive while we shot. Ashlee has stood in for light testing for me many times, and had seen Machelle’s work do wonders with others, but until she put on the armor herself, she didn’t believe she’d look so terrific in pictures, too. It was really a fun time together, the three of us making some lovely portraits of Ashlee.
Not only does the MUA help give confidence, but he also helps get the shoot underway and breaks the ice. A big part of the armor comes in the form of easy conversation. A relaxed MUA helps my subjects to calm down and feel ready for the camera. He’s the first person they interact with, and he is a master of getting people ready both physically and emotionally.
As I begin making pictures, the MUA is ready to hand to help adjust hair and clothing for each new pose. When I ask for her help placing one single hair in just the right spot, it helps my subjects see that I really care about helping them look their best in pictures, and that leads to more trust in me and my skills. I think I’m not explaining this with as much importance as this deserves, but she really makes things run more smoothly, and quickly, and comfortably, which all adds up to better pictures (and repeat clients!).
In addition to helping people feel confident, comfortable, and attended to, she also speeds things along on the shoot and in post production. I’ll get a much greater percentage of good pictures because the hair is always in place and wardrobe straight, and I’ll spend less time touching up pictures because the blemishes are covered and the hair isn’t flying around the backdrop. These things all make the MUA worth her weigh in MAC products. I’ve enjoyed working with from Utah, and Donn Eaton Quist from Oregon, and I’d recommend them to you, too. Check with other photographers locally and see who they recommend near you.