Are You The Ideal Photographer For Your Favorite Makeup Artist?

A few weeks ago I wrote an article How To Find Your Ideal Makeup Artist and received a lot of positive feedback as well as follow up questions from fellow-photographers who read it. Some readers wanted to know about the other side of the relationship, so I went ahead and asked my favorite Makeup Artists about the qualities of their ideal photographer.

Here is what they’ve shared.

Elizabeth Ulloa

Elizabeth Ulloa, Los Angeles-based Celebrity Makeup Artist, represented by Exclusive Artists Management, began her career by assisting Laura Mercier in NYC for 5 years. After she moved to Los Angeles the list of her clients grew rapidly and included A-List celebrities such as Britney Spears, Eva Longoria, Sting, Sheryl Crow, Jon Bon Jovi, Tom Ford and Tom Hanks to name just a few. She has also worked with legendary photographers and directors such as David LaChapelle, Francis Lawrence and many more. Elizabeth is a freelance makeup artist and works with several prestige and mass makeup brands such as Neutrogena.

Elizabeth: I have been a professional makeup artist for the past 20 years and have had the opportunity to work with many talented photographers in fashion, music, and advertising. When you are starting out, there is much more than good photography that needs consideration. Networking, open communication, building and keeping relationships is essential as well as working as a team.

First Impression is Key: Just as my website / portfolio needs to represent me and my artistry, a photographer’s portfolio needs to look visually appealing as well. When considering a collaboration with a photographer, I always look for a story in the work. Is the work cohesive? What type of models they cast, do they pay attention to detail, face expressions, lighting quality, and most importantly their originality & creativity.

Makeup by Elizabeth Ulloa, photo & post by Julia Kuzmenko McKim

Click to Enlarge. Model: Selena of LA Models, Makeup by Elizabeth Ulloa, photo & post by Julia Kuzmenko McKim

Communication is Key: If the shoot is a ” Test Shoot ” (TFP = Time for Print) make sure you plan ahead of time. All creative parties – photographer, makeup/hair artist, nail artist and wardrobe stylist – need to be in the same creative headspace the day of the shoot.

  • Well-curated Moodboards are essentials in brainstorming ideas for the shoot. This way there is no confusion on the day of the shoot and everyone is on the same page.
  • Be clear if you will be charging for prints, or retouching ahead of time.
  • Be realistic on time needed to distribute the images to all creative parties.
  • Discuss any additional expenses at this point (for example parking costs); or additional pieces that need to be bought such as wigs (as they are non-refundable for hygiene reasons), and whether you will pay, split the cost or if the stylist has any on hand.
  • Discuss expenses with the wardrobe stylist as well.

Realistic Timing: Scheduling a photo shoot requires quite a bit of attention to detail. Decide if only one model will be used or more. If you are using more than one model, stagger the schedule as this way no one will have to be just sitting around. Some makeup artists do only makeup, some stylists only do hair, and some do both, so figure out if you prefer to use one artist or two and ask how long it normally takes them to prep a model depending on the looks.

Makeup by Elizabeth Ulloa, photo & post by Julia Kuzmenko McKim

Click to Enlarge. Model: Jenn of Osbrink Models, Makeup by Elizabeth Ulloa, photo & post by Julia Kuzmenko McKim

Learn Glam terminology: Just like I know what a ring light is and how to do appropriate makeup for such lighting, it is equally important to know simple makeup and hair terms. Knowing the right terminology makes a difference in getting the desired results. An example for makeup would be “matte” – no shine skin work.

Personality: For me the photographer is the soul of the shoot, and he or she will set the mood for the day. I’m not always lucky to work with pleasant photographers, but lets get real we are all humans and not always have good days. The one thing I will not tolerate is verbal abuse and it does happen. Let’s keep it professional and creative and treat everyone with respect.

Organization: I love working with photographers that are well-organized: detailed call sheets are sent in a timely manner, thoughtful of essentials provisions, such as water, snacks etc.. (especially on full-day shoots).


Vlada Haggerty

Vlada Haggerty is a Los Angeles-based Makeup Artist. Her work has been published in the leading Beauty magazines around the world such as Harper’s Bazaar, she has made an appearance on CBS, Los Angeles and was featured on MTV. Vlada’s signature look that made her work wildly recognizable is dripping gloss lips.

Vlada: What makes me stop and check out a photographer’s portfolio or page on social media is beautiful lighting and retouching. I don’t like over-retouched images and when I notice shadows where they shouldn’t be. I won’t collaborate with a photographer who has not yet figured out these issues.

Makeup by Vlada Haggerty, photo & post by Julia Kuzmenko McKim

Click to Enlarge. Model: Laura of Osbrink Models, Makeup by Vlada Haggerty, photo & post by Julia Kuzmenko McKim

After that I look at the composition and the photographer’s ability to capture an interesting expression on the model’s face.

Basically, I love technical photographers with a vision.

Personality-wise, of course, it is ideal to work with a photographer who is reliable and responsive, not too pushy, open-minded and nice.

Lupe Moreno

Lupe Moreno is a Los Angeles-based Makeup Artist. After almost a decade of working in the beauty industry Lupe has secured a place among the best and well-known makeup artists in the Los Angeles area. She is recognized within the entertainment industry for her visionary approach to her craft and captivating personality. I personally absolutely adore Lupe and the work that we create together 🙂

Lupe: When I see a photographer’s work, I look very closely at the detail in the makeup and whether it is clean and well done, as well as hair and wardrobe styling. If models in the photographer’s work have unique beauty that amazes me, I can tell that this is a good photographer based on their intentional model choice.

Lighting and editing are very important. Too much retouching makes a face look fake. A well-edited photo is where you see the natural beauty and real skin.

Click to Enlarge. Model: Lisst of Osbrink Models, Makeup by Lupe Moreno, hair by Savannah Calderon, photo & post by Julia Kuzmenko McKim

Click to Enlarge. Models: Hilty of Osbrink Models and Oralia Cortes, Makeup by Lupe Moreno, hair by Victor Mendoza, photo & post by Julia Kuzmenko McKim

A good photographer, in my opinion, is the one that listens and connects with the team, appreciates the team’s work and knows what he or she is doing.

As far as putting a shoot together, I feel the photographer is like a Captain of the Boat: if something goes wrong and the Captain is unable to fix it – the Boat sinks.

Good photographers are the ones that get back to you with edited photos after collaborating. They take things seriously and don’t waste other people’s time. It is different when it is a paid job, because there the team is doing what they are told to do for the client. But in a creative collaboration every one should be given a chance to offer some creative input. At the end of the day, in a creative collaboration everyone is working for their portfolios and if the photographer chooses to focus on the model, or other details and forgets that there’s makeup and hair that need to be shown in their “best light”, than this shoot is useless for the team members.

Makeup by Lupe Moreno, photo & post by Julia Kuzmenko McKim

Click to Enlarge. Model: Laura of Osbrink Models, Makeup by Lupe Moreno, hair by Sylvia Stankowski, photo & post by Julia Kuzmenko McKim

It’s also very important to know who to work with, as artists. I personally prefer to work with female photographers. I feel that in the fashion and beauty industry female photographers often take things more seriously when it comes to collaboration. I have had unpleasant experiences with male photographers where I don’t even get to see the final result, let alone get the edited photos. I have also worked with some male photographers who were all over the place, working up to 8-9 hours on a shoot, and for nothing.

I believe as long as there is open communication and work ethics, photographers and team shouldn’t have a problem. Everyone should respect each other’s work and photographers need to trust their team of creative professionals. Therefore, a Dream Team is the one where everybody gets along very well, there’s great communication at all times and everyone has fun doing what they love.

Model: Taylor of Osbrink Models, Makeup by Lupe Moreno, photo & post by Julia Kuzmenko McKim

Click to Enlarge. Model: Taylor of Osbrink Models, Makeup by Lupe Moreno, photo & post by Julia Kuzmenko McKim

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Showing 3 comments
  • Kristina

    Great article, very honest and informative. I believe that being a part of a great creative and skilled team is so important and vital for all to be able to accomplish the same vision. I am only starting out as a photographer but I hope I will too, in future, speak highly about the members of my team as you do about yours Julia. I admire your work and talent.

    • Julia McKim

      Thank you Kristina!
      I am sure you will! It’s almost like searching for your partner for life, it’s not easy, but it’s very rewarding when you find the ONES 😉

      • Kristina

        Definitely, the best things in life don’t come easy, it’s true..but they are absolutely worth the effort. All the best to you and your team 🙂

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