Finding the right makeup artist can be likened to like finding the right dentist. Choose to do business with the wrong one and it could end up giving you a world of unnecessary pain in the future. In my experience as a portrait photographer, I have come to realise that there are four crucial elements that help make a perfect photograph. Clothing/Styling, model, location, and of course, the hair and makeup.


Makeup SetEach element works hand in hand to increase the overall, ‘production value’ of an image. Today, I’m going to speak a little bit about the makeup. As a photographer, (male one at that) I don’t claim to know the intricate fine details of what it takes to apply makeup. But what I do know, is that just like photography, the art form takes a little more than just being able to do the job.


Over the years I have worked with a good few Rufaro MakeupMUAs from far and wide.
Part of the reason why I like to collaborate on TFP sessions (that’s one for another post!) is to help me find makeup artists that I can vouch for, and possibly work with on the bigger more important assignments. Below I have compiled my top 5 points on what I have found makes the perfect MUA. Hopefully it will help you find yours too.


Side note. Shout out to _makeupbyrufaro_ and sophiereamakeup. The only two MUAs to have nicely satisfied all points as of writing this post! If you are in need of a MUA, feel free to contact them for their rates. They are punctual, reliable, professional and know how to apply a mean eyeliner!



No matter how good someone is, it’s all completely worthless if they are unreliable. I recently has a collaboration set up where a MUA cancelled on the morning, no more than three hours before the session. Fair enough, things happen, life happens, but from a business perspective in THIS industry, how can I ever feel completely at ease making a booking with that MUA again? What if I had a model coming from a remote corner of Scotland, paying for full photo session only to find out they have to apply their own makeup? Worse still, what if it had been someone’s wedding morning  and I had vouched for that particular MUA? These are the things that are highlighted in such collaborations as TFPs.


Time keeping

Much like the above point, in my book, time keeping is imperative. Rufaro Makeup2It not only shows that you respect the other persons time but it shows that you respect the
job. I have been on photo sessions where there have been upwards of 5 people involved. Not including the model(s). If the only person I happened to have recommended was the MUA, and he/she turns up late. My name, brand and reputation would have taken a hit. And if a photo studio has been hired, time is most definitely, money.



When working with a makeup artist, having one that is naturally flexible can go a long way to making your day that much lighter. We already have the model, so we don’t need two divas! (Only kidding models, I love you really) But seriously, having a makeup artist that can move with and  adapt to changes of plan/location with minimal fuss is a godsend. It will save you a headache and allow you to concentrate on what you do… making sure that the model doesn’t have a headache.


Previous work

Makeup ArtistIn the day and age of Photoshop and mass photo manipulation, It’s possible to  teach my cat to be a professional makeup artist without him even having to pick up a stick of Estee Lauder. My point is, you need to see a MUAs work up close and in real life before you can safely back him/her with the weight of your personal brand. If there isn’t an opportunity to do that, then observe their proposed online portfolio with a Hawkeye. True story, I once had a makeup artist hire me to take photos of 10 models she had worked on. Now, while I will always do a little post touching up to correct where needed, the kind of work she requested was tantamount to digital plastic surgery. I never looked at an online portfolio for a MUA the same way again.



And finally, experience. I’m going to be a bit controversial here and say that experience doesn’t really matter too much. At least where I am concerned anyway. The reason I say that is because when I first started out in photography, all I had was a canon 600D and a 50mm prime lens I purchased for £90 from Argos. I had no formal qualifications, no fancy equipment, and not a lot of real world experience. All I had was my reliability, flexibility, and passion to one day take amazing photographs. I just needed a chance.


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