Makeup Photography Tips & Tricks




Introduction: Makeup Photography Tips & Tricks

About: I am a very energetic, friendly, and outgoing person! As you can tell by my interests, I love doing anything active or crafty. I love a good balance of nature and technology. I am a Linguistics major, cur...

To the makeup bloggers and enthusiasts of the internet, I'm sure you'll agree that there's nothing more frustrating than poorly taken/arranged photos. Especially if you'd like to recreate a look but can't achieve the same colors you saw in the original photo because the photo was not true to the makeup in reality.

Don't be that person!

Here are some tips and tricks to help you not be that person and take the best possible photos of your makeup to share with the world!

You can do it! I believe in you!

Let's get started :)

Step 1: Lighting

Lighting can be detrimental to makeup photos. It's important to find the best lighting that will portray the color of your makeup and complexion as accurately as possible. First, it's important to understand different types of lighting.

Incandescent lighting will make any photo you take seem a bit warmer (More orangey and tan, as seen in the first photo.) than you appear in reality. Gives you perpetual Asian-glow realness! Incandescent lighting can work well for makeup photos taken in bathrooms, provided you have a source of incandescent lighting from multiple angles. (From front and above, from left and right, etc.) Incandescent lighting comes from your typical, household, lightbulb.

Florescent lighting has the opposite effect of incandescent lighting, and will make your photos appear cooler (More pale and washed out, as seen in the second photo.) than you appear in reality. Ideal lighting for that pale, never-seen-the-light-of-day, vampire look. There are few instances where florescent lighting is the most optimal lighting. I have yet to find one myself. Florescent lighting comes from the lights you normally see in office or warehouse ceilings.

The natural lighting of the sun can often give you the best results in the right circumstances. However, it does have a tendency to make blemishes and oiliness more prominent so if you do utilize natural sunlight, try to ensure your face is in a source of shade while facing the direction of the sun. (Note: Staring directly into the sun will make you psychic so you should definitely do that.)

Mixed Lighting:
Mixed lighting can have strange consequences. It's best to find a single source or type of light to take your photos with. In most cases of mixed lighting, you will get the worst of both worlds. (See 3rd photo for example.)

When/if it can be avoided, flash is not your friend unless you're fancy enough to have a defuser. If you don't know what that is, then great! You don't have to worry about it :) Just avoid flash when possible when taking photos for the purposes of sharing a makeup look. Flash in a dark room will almost always result in red-eyes. Not cute.

Shadows from the features of your own face are typically undesired in makeup photos, as seen in the 4th photo. In the case of contouring, the magic of the makeup is the illusion of shadow. Real shadows can hide the contour and won't give you credit on the hard work you put into creating the illusion. You can avoid shadows by facing a single source of light or having two sources of the same type of light, on either side of your face, at eye level.

Mirrors can actually be a source of light! Hence why bathroom photos often turn out well and are some of the best places to take makeup photos within a household. A large bathroom mirror can provide an even source of light that covers your entire face! Fun fact: I take most my photos with bathroom mirror light.

It is best to face a single source of light. Ensure there is no light facing toward your camera from behind you. This will cause a glare and your camera lens won't be able to capture your complexion or makeup colors accurately.

Step 2: Quality Control

If you're anything like myself, you're not made of money. You know what costs money? Fancy cameras!

The majority of makeup bloggers and enthusiasts today take their photos using phones or simple point-and-shoot digital cameras. If you're lucky enough to own a SLR or DSLR camera, then you should read this step anyway, just in case :)

Digital Cameras:
Whether you're using a point-and-shoot or DSLR, there's a couple things to keep in mind. Most digital cameras come with a setting called "macro" and is often symbolized by a silhouette of a flower. Use this setting to take close ups of eyes and lips.

Using the "auto" setting, typically a solid black or green camera image, is an easy way to get good photos of a whole look/face.

Phone Cameras:
If you do use a phone to take your photos, and your camera has both a back facing camera and a front facing camera (for selfies) always, always, always use the back facing camera. No matter what type of phone/smart-phone you're using, the back facing camera is always better by a few megapixels. Enough to see a difference as seen in the example photo above!

When using the back facing camera, it helps to use a mirror to ensure you are in the frame. Face a mirror in a well lit room, face the back facing camera toward your face and use the mirror to navigate you lens.

Taking a photo of your reflection in the mirror will lessen the quality of your photo. I don't recommend using this technique.

Photo Editing:
Photo editing is not taboo! When you have a photo that is too warm or too cool, photo editing can come in handy for corrections. Or if you take a quality photo that isn't portraying the colors accurately, playing with the contrast, light, and saturation can help make a more genuine photo. Whatever you do to the photo, ensure that the colors and complexion stay true to what your makeup looks like in reality. Filters are not your friend, in this case.

There are a number of photo editing and arranging apps that can be downloaded. Using your smart-phone to take your photo makes it easy to take advantage of these amazing apps.

Step 3: Arrangement

There are many ways to arrange your photos.

The Picasso:
One thing to keep in mind when you are arranging your photos: You are not Picasso.

Like an essay needs neatly arranged thoughts and ideas, a makeup photo also needs to be easy to interpret and understand. Zooming into points that only display half of each feature on your face is not effective. Turning your features sideways complicates the spectator's view. Keep all images upright and focus each photo on one aspect of your makeup.

The Face:
A single photo of your face to display your makeup as a whole look is common. For the most optimal face photo, follow the tips of Steps 1 and 2. Try to fill the photo with your face, but don't cut off your neck. You don't want "floating head" syndrome.

Tip: It's okay to look directly at the camera, but for a more professional looking photo, looking beyond the camera or "off in the distance" will give a more model-esque look to your photo.

2 Frames:
If you use two frames, you can utilize them in many ways. If the focus is eye makeup, a photo of one eye open, to show how the makeup wears, and a photo of the same eye looking down, to show how the makeup application should look when complete, is suggested.

If the focus is the face as a whole, one photo of your eyes looking outward and one photo with your eyes peering down is recommended.

Tip: Looking down makes for a better photo than completely closing your eyes.

3 Frames:
I find that a 3 frame photo is the most effective arrangement. One photo that displays how your makeup wares as an entire look, two photos that focus on one aspect of the makeup, typically eyes or lips. If it's eyes, one with your eyes open (looking beyond, not at, the camera) and one with the eyes peering down. If lips, one close up photo, head on, and one close up photo from the side.

4 or More:
ollowing the tips of the previous steps, arrange them as efficiently as possible. Having 4 or more frames can make the photos too small to see, so I wouldn't suggest any more than 4 frames.

Step 4: An Effective Photo!

Despite the tips and tricks I've provided, sharing makeup through photos is a form of expression. Like any form of expression, you are entitled to express yourself in any form you choose.

With these tips, my hope is that you will be able to share your photos in the most effective manner possible. Thus, getting you more positive attention and likes/favorites.

Some of the iPhone apps I used for the example photos are:
PicLab HD

If there's a look you'd like me to make an Instructable for, let me know and I'll work on it as soon as I can! Otherwise, look forward to more makeup related Instructables from me! As well as some related to the crafts I enjoy.

You may also message me for products used in a certain look.

I hope your makeup photos benefit from this Instructable! Keep sharing and stay beautiful!

- Stephyyisms

Hair & Makeup Contest

Participated in the
Hair & Makeup Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Exercise Speed Challenge

      Exercise Speed Challenge
    • Pocket-Sized Speed Challenge

      Pocket-Sized Speed Challenge
    • Super-Size Speed Challenge

      Super-Size Speed Challenge

    14 Discussions


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Not a problem! Thank you for checking out my Instructable!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    interesting read. You have certainly applied your photography classes into a good instructable :) I will always use this knowledge now! Thank you


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Love your name, StarbucksLover! Haha!

    Thanks for the comment!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Cool makeup! I love the rainbow eyes. Seeing all the different lighting options with the same makeup is really interesting to see side by side. Thanks for posting!


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, Natalina! Let me know if there's a look in here you'd like me to do an Instructable for.

    Thanks for commenting<3


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Great tips, and Step 3 about arrangement is applicable to anyone looking to improve their photo impact


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I'm glad you found my tips helpful! I took Photography in college and dabble photography as a hobby so I try to apply what I learned there to my makeup obsession :)

    This is so good! This instructable should be a prerequisite for anyone who wants to do makeup blogging!