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:

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Machelle Bindrup is a master. She helps people feel their best in front of the camera, as well as looking their best. Her skills help them have confidence for both video and still pictures.

1. Armorer

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.

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Denise Christensen really helps people keep their cool. The calming effect from the MUA carries over into people’s body language in front of the lens.

2. Icebreaker

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.

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This is a picture I made this week working with Denise. Because of her, I’ve got nothing to touchup on this detective’s face. This makes my life a lot simpler, and my client gets a usable image right out of camera.

3. Personalizer

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!).

While making a set of pictures with this wonderful guy we had his hard hat on and off several times. Having Denise on hand to fix his hair each time was invaluable.
While making a set of pictures with this wonderful guy we had his hard hat on and off several times. Having Denise on hand to fix his hair each time was invaluable.
His family came along into the oil field to support him while we made pictures and did a video interview. I knew we needed to make a little family picture, but I also knew mom was not planning to be in a picture; however, when I introduced her to Denise who would help her look her best, the girls jumped on the opportunity. An MUA really helps people feel picture ready.
His family came along into the oil field to support him while we made pictures and did a video interview. I knew we needed to make a little family picture, but I also knew mom was not planning to be in a picture; however, when I introduced her to Denise who would help her look her best, the she and her daughter jumped on the opportunity. An MUA really helps people feel picture ready and have confidence to be in a picture.

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.