SLR Lounge has been around for some years now, and many of you reading this will have been with us in some form or fashion along the way. What’s been and continues to be interesting for us, for me, is to speak with you and see how you’re progressing. There are so many in the SLRL community as a whole who are doing truly impressive things, and with each new step, there is presented a different challenge, which is where we come in, hopefully, to lend a helping hand.

In that vein, it has become apparent that the learning curve at the start is much steeper than a few steps down the line, and while that’s somewhat to be expected, it’s also quite apparent that one of the reasons experience can sometimes be put on hold is money. As you progress, the equipment pieces can become increasingly expensive, the education required more specialized, as can be the talent you work with and so on. It’s one of the reasons for SLR Lounge Premium, so whatever level of learning you require will be ready for you as you need it, without a thought to purchasing a singular program.


A typical working day shoot can get up in dollars fast, and if you’re doing it as a test or practice editorial to boost your portfolio, it’ll likely be largely on your own dime, so it’s not uncommon for photographers to try to do as much as they can, to stretch the greenback within an inch of its life. One way this is often done is to skip the use of a make-up artist (MUA), and while having an MUA is best practice, not being able to fit one in the budget shouldn’t always dictate whether your shoot materializes or not.

The thing is, if you’re not going to have a MUA, you best damn well have an idea of what you’re doing unless your subjects are flawless or MUAs in training. You should be able to instruct your subjects on the basics and have an understanding of little things to do to make your shoot and post processing that much better. You can see the original list here, and I highly recommend you read it first, and due to requests, here are a few more simple photography tips on styling and makeup pieces that can make your shoots better, and make you a client’s hero.

How To Think About Makeup

Aim to enhance rather than totally change. This should serve you well, and as many of you are wedding and portrait shooters, this really should be in the back of your mind at all times. You want to bring out the best in your subjects, but they must remain true to your subjects. Remember that people want to look their best, but still look like themselves. In order to achieve that, it takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of work to make it look like it took none.


Beware of SPF

This is an easily overlooked issue because SPF has found its way into almost everything these days, and despite its many merits, it has none in photography. Tell your client to make sure they do not use any products like foundation with SPF, and to look out for moisturizers with it also, as products with an SPF rating can really make someone look very washed out. If you’re shooting with certain lighting conditions, this becomes accentuated, and the SPF products also often have a habit of being highly reflective, so they’re not exactly good for flash.

Prep Is Key

Everything you do to the skin is generally best done on a blank canvas, and that doesn’t just mean devoid of products, but also of flaky skin, and so on. A good exfoliation the night before with a good moisturizer after can save you SO much headache in post.

Highlighting Powder/Cream

Highlighting powders and creams are great for women to accentuate certain bone lines, like the jaw, brow, and cheekbones. The will help add definition and structure to the face, and that is reflected in the images. But that’s common knowledge; what’s less common is something some runway and high fashion models do even when not strutting – they use the powder, along the center of their legs, however much is showing, to create a stronger appearance of angle and length.


It’s actually brilliant and works brilliantly in photos making your subjects look leaner and have more depth. Rosie Huntington is known for this, and it’s easy for a photographer to either do or to instruct. I just recommend having extra pads for hygiene and wipes to clean up.

Hair Creme For Definition & Visual Interest

There’s literally one hair product I’ve always kept on hand for the past 15 years; it’s what I use for myself mostly and always have it on hand for shoots. It’s Bumble & Bumble Brilliantine, and it’s excellent. I love girls running their hands through my hair, so I never really use hard waxy stuff, and this gives some definition and hold without being hard.


Bumble & Bumble products on a whole are generally very good, and models and discerning subjects tend to be happy to give their stuff a go, but Brilliantine is the one I suggest to keep on hand, as with just a pea sized amount it can give hair a polish, give it definition, a piecey look if needed, and an all round languid “slept-in, sexy look.” I promise you I have no affiliation to B&B, but it works. So many images of mine even up on SLRL feature models using it.

Yesterday, I was testing out a new umbrella, and the subject’s hair was nice but flat, and being very dark it just was providing zero visual interest in the image. After deciding to go with a somewhat wetter look, I suggested using this, and it really turned the images around as the hair looked thicker, and the slight polish caught the light in a reflection adding the much needed visual interest. For this reason, it’s particularly good for darker hair. It’s a very light product, it’s only about $25 and lasts because you can use it so sparingly. Its other great use is for taming stray and dry hairs. Sure, you could use a dryer sheet, but this works better in certain instances.

Brightening & Adding Shine To The Cupid’s Bow & Philtrum

Want to make your portraits of women pop more and have your subjects look just a little bit better? Work on the cupid’s bow and philtrum. The philtrum is that groove or cleft between the lip and the nose.


In post, I will often brighten or lighten the crests of the philtrum, and the cupid’s bow to bring a sense of separation and definition to the lips and the shadowed under-nose area. It works wonders. It can be really nice to have a little glisten to that and using something I mentioned before, Eucerin Aquaphor, you can achieve it. Ask the subject to use their finger or a q-tip and lightly dab a little along those lines, and you can go a step further by highlighting them. Try it; it’s subtle, but worth it if you’re into details.



Once again, I’ll add that you should practice extremely good hygiene whenever handling these products or your subject, and always ask before touching your subject in any way. If you’re a guy, this stuff still applies, and as mentioned before, it will help your subject trust in your knowledge and help you build rapport when you can even teach them something.

If you like this kind of stuff, seeing the behind the scenes, the little tricks that can make a shoot better, you may like our Natural Light Couples Photography Workshop.