Julia Kuzmenko McKim 2

Coming across a female photographer that is articulate, focused, beautifully talented and intelligent is such a gem to find. Originally from Russia and now residing in the heart of Los Angeles, this artist represents a wonderful balance of educator, creative and mentor. Meet Beauty Photographer, Retoucher and Digital Artist, Julia Kuzmenko.

Being an International College of Professional Photography graduate, Julia specializes in Beauty and Fashion with a special skill in retouching. She’s been published in major international publications throughout the fashion and photography industry that represent her various shooting and post-processing techniques. And once you see her work, you’ll know exactly what consistent and beautiful techniques I speak of.


“I think because I am a female photographer I am not hooked up on possessing the newest equipment that’s out there. I do believe, however, that great quality camera and lenses make a big difference for the quality of work I produce. But I personally never chase the technological progress of the industry. I usually update and upgrade my equipment when I really feel the need for it.

I’ve been shooting with Canon 5Ds for the past 4 years. It was Canon 5D classic since 2009 and I moved up to Canon 5D mark II a couple of years ago. It’s a great camera and I am not in a hurry to upgrade to mark III as of now.

As for my favorite lenses, I still own and shoot with a couple of those that I bought back in Moscow when I first got into photography 7-8 years ago.

Because I initially was into Portrait photography my first two lenses were Canon 50mm f1.4 and Canon L 24-70mm. I bought both of them in 2006, they’ve travelled the world with me and still are my go-to lenses for various types of work.

I also got interested in Beauty and Fashion photography a few years ago, so now there are two more great lenses that I absolutely love: Canon 100mm Macro f2.8 for closeup Beauty, and a brand new Canon L 35mm f1.4 for Fashion shoots.”


“I believe one of the important things in the beginning of anyone’s journey into the photography world is to figure out what genre they enjoy most of all. It will help them to narrow down what lenses and equipment they need to have in their kit, and keep them focused on learning more about that specific genre.

If you already know what you love photographing the most, then there are a few things that I think may make a big difference.

Observing. I know that I am most inspired and mentally prepared when I look through a lot of great images on the web and in magazines before my shoots. And I don’t mean I flick through photos mindlessly, I look at specific elements of the images: framing, color grading, posing and make mental notes about what I like, what looks good and what I should avoid doing for my own images.”

Preparing. “Once I have figured out what I would like to create, I put together a shot list in my notebook. I describe the makeup and hair, frames, poses and other details for each shot. I have learned that taking the decision-making time out of the shoot really helps to come up with better results.

I also always put together a reference board of images on my Pintrest (http://www.pinterest.com/retouchacademy/) and send the link to my team. That way they also have the time to prepare and ask questions before hand if something isn’t clear, and we are all on the same page on the day of the shoot.”

Analyzing. “Once the images are shot, I quickly browse through them all in Lightroom in the evening and leave them alone until the day after. I believe in order to be more objective when selecting the images that will see the light of the day, you need to get disconnected with the fresh memories of the actual shoot.

I’ve noticed many times before if I make my selection on the same day right after the shoot, I almost always completely dislike my choices after a few days.

So, I leave the photos to sit there and return to them in a day or two if I can. I look at them with a fresh eye and analyze what I did well and what I did wrong. I usually write down my observations into my note book. Both the positive and negative details get recorded. It helps me to remember to repeat what worked well and avoid the mistakes in the future.”

To see more of Julia’s excellent tutorials, go to .