Sometimes, photographers find themselves in the position where they will need to collaborate with other artists to bring their vision or ideas into fruition. Recently, I’ve delved into the genre of women’s glamour photography and knew that I needed the services of a makeup artist. Trying to find a makeup artist that fits into your vision can be challenging, but I will share a few tips that may help make the search easier.

Finding a Makeup Artist

A good place to start is by checking a buy/sell/trade group on Facebook for your area. If you are looking for just a makeup artist, the commonly used abbreviation is MUA, or HMUA if you are also in need of hair styling. A beauty school can put you in touch with developing talent and their teachers. If you are in search of someone willing to practice their skills for a non-paying client or project, a student is a great way to go. If you are in need of a licensed MUA for paying clients, I suggest connecting with the teachers at these schools. Using a beauty school is a great way to connect with lots of local talent, and can provide many options and backup MUA if you network well.

Bridal events are often held late in the year, after wedding season has ended, and are most certainly attended by MUA’s. The majority of brides contract the services of MUA’s so attending these events can expand your network even further. Salons and spas employ a plethora of talent. The best part of working with a salon is the knowledge that the MUA/HMUA’s are most certainly talented, have a portfolio of their work, and are licensed.

Ultimately, I found an amazingly talented MUA by word of mouth. I approached a girl at Office Depot and told her I would love to photograph her. After meeting with her and discussing my goal, she mentioned a woman in the area that did amazing work. After I looked her up on Facebook and seeing how incredible her work was, I knew she was exactly what I was looking for.


Tips for Photographers from a Makeup Artist

The second time I worked with my MUA, Ilona, I asked her if she’d be willing to share a few things for photographers to consider when working with a makeup artist. She kindly provided the following tips to make collaborating great for both parties.

1. Help put a nervous or difficult client at ease by helping them trust me. Most women aren’t accustomed to having a professional do their makeup and have concerns. Educating them about the process and finding out their expectations before hand can go a long way in helping the process go smoothly.

2. Have the hair done (if applicable) before makeup, as the heating tools can cause the makeup to melt. The use of a blow dryer, flat iron, or curling iron creates a lot of heat and can cause the makeup to melt and the client to perspire. If this is done first, there isn’t as much of a need for the makeup to require retouching partway through the photoshoot.

3. Provide a space with a surface to place tools and products, and has direct window light. If a window is not available, ensure an outlet is available for the MUA to use their own constant light source. Creating a workspace that provides what your MUA needs will make the process go smoothly and efficiently.

4. Respect your MUA by keeping your commitments. Stuff happens, and sometimes it’s unavoidable that things fall through at the last moment. However, since this is a professional working relationship, it is important that respect for the MUA and their time is upheld and commitments are honored. In the event that the session needs to be reschedule, it is important to notify the MUA as quickly as possible.

5. Please ask assistants to not stand directly behind us as we work or watch our techniques. We as photographers have spent a lot of time refining our techniques and abilities, just as MUA’s do. It is respectful to give them space while they work. Often, MUA’s also sell one-on-one workshops on how to do your own makeup, so watching over their shoulder can take potential profit from them.

6. Be careful to not over-edit the makeup. It is a concern to MUA’s that their work is respected and not washed out in the editing process. I make it a point to only edit makeup if it needs touching up from wearing off during the session out of respect for the MUA.

There are an additional few things to consider when finding the right MUA. Be sure to work with a licensed MUA. This is important if you plan to write off the fees paid for their services. Also, cheaper is not better. You get what you pay for, and this especially rings true for makeup artistry. This cost is well worth the end result!


Having respect for those you develop a working relationship with can go a long way in furthering your vision and reaching your goals. I found editing was faster and easier, as there was less skin retouching necessary than usual. The time I saved from that alone was invaluable, and I am sure that I will be employing Ilona’s services in the future.