Friday, February 10, 2012

A Day In Pictures- Working On A Photo-shoot & Playlist

I wanted to do another day in pictures post but, I wanted this one to be about something different. So I decided to do a behind the scenes type of thing. Kind of a day in pictures when I'm at work.
The perfect opportunity came up last month when I did a shoot with my friend Anthony Norris.
While I was pondering what all I wanted to include in my post, I decided that I kind of wanted to make it a guide for working on a photo-shoot as well. Little tips & tricks that I have learned throughout the years. As well as stuff dealing with my set up & other things like that.
I also wanted to show that working on a photo-shoot is a lengthy process. It's more then just the time you spend at the actual shoot. You end up spending the whole day prepping, doing the actual shoot, & then cleaning up afterwards.
Then I decided to throw in a playlist just for good measure.
So, because I decided I wanted to do a million things in this post, it's insanely long.
It has a ton of pictures & a crap ton of miscellaneous stuff.
Hope you enjoy!

Time to start the day!

The first thing that I do after I wake up is grab my coffee & go over everything for the shoot. I write out all the information for the shoot as I discuss it with the shoot director, & everyone else involved, in my planner on post-it's. This way everything is in one spot. I write out ideas for the shoot, the theme, styling ideas, number of models & any information on them, addresses, phone numbers, times, & everyone involved's information. Seriously , write down absolutely everything! I check all my notes & review any e-mails that I might have to make sure nothing has been missed. I also go over my face charts & make any changes or add any finishing touches. I always try to do at least 2 face charts & have everything written out, plus have a reference picture for the photographer or shoot director. Many don't know much about makeup & this just makes things run smoother when I get to the shoot. 

I also start putting all of my gear next to the door first thing in the morning (for a shoot that's in the evening, for a morning shoot I would do this the day before). This way I can add to it as I think of things. I also make sure to double check & see if there is anything that I need to restock or that I might need to pick up.

Always keep your hair, makeup, & styling a simplified reflection of you. Don't feel that you need to completely change the way that you look. Just do a toned down, more casual professional version of the way that you normally are. Make sure that you always look pulled together no matter what the shoot is. Even if it's just a fun art project that you're helping a friend with. I have met some of the most influential people to my career during silly, fun projects. This includes internationally known models (including a few that work regularly with Ralph Lauren), famous hair dressers, important business owners, designers, well known makeup artist & all kinds of other people. It just goes to show that if you are always professional, the people around you will remember you that way, & then they will think of you when they have a project come up.

 I always make sure to stop & get water before a shoot, even if I have something else to drink. It's something I always find myself needing. Never drink coffee, anything with milk in it, or apple juice during a shoot. It makes your breath smell funky & you don't want that when you're so close to someone's face. 
I also needed to pick up bobby pins while I was at the store. Of course, I ended up spotting a few other non-shoot related things that I wanted too while I was at Walgreens (cute stickers!).

Check out the bottom of this post for my playlist for the drive to the shoot.

You always want to show up 15 minutes before call time. This will give you time to go over things with the crew & set up. That way you are ready to start working right at call time. Sometimes this will leave you waiting for people but, I still always encourage it.

 The cool little area that Anthony's studio is in. It's full of fun little boutiques & galleries.

 This coffee shop is just too awesome! So artsy & fun!

Even the trash is cool & decorated! 

Anothony's studio partner, Paul Moschell, has a display window in the walk way with all his nifty little paintings & dolls.

Once at the shoot, the first thing I do (after introducing myself to everyone of course) is go over the look that I have come up with. I always bring some colored pencils & a blank face chart in case the shoot leader & my ideas are completely different. That way I can whip up a new one there on the spot (another good reason to come early). Doing this first thing gets it out of the way & makes sure that everyone is on the same page. It's often difficult to explain your artistic vision through e-mail or over the phone.

Then I set up my kit.

(this picture was taken at the end of the shoot because I had forgotten to take one, 
that's why everything's so messy)
My kit is designed to be compact, travel easily, & have absolutely everything that I need. I have designed my kit so that I can work out of it & don't need extra table space to spread things out, because most times I don't have this luxury. My chair is the only table space that I get most of the time, so I have worked things out so that it's all I need. I also carry doggy clean up bags so that I can use them for trash & don't have to look for a trash can all the time. I just stick a little baggy in one of my chair pockets, then I can just tie it up & throw it out when I get home.
My chair wasn't that much of an investment when compared to some of my supply's but, it is by far the most valuable thing in my kit. I'm never scrounging, trying to find a chair at some random location. It saves my back from leaning over & keeps the model at eye level so I can work better. It's my table & my storage & my trash can & a place to store my purse. I don't know how I would function without this thing! Despite the fact that it's not something that most people think they will need, this is an absolute necessity! 
I always bring my full kit with me, instead of just what I think I'll need. Most of the time I find myself reaching for something I probably wouldn't have packed (like this time, when I had to cover 2 full sleeves of tattoos). This is another reason it has to be compact & easily portable. You never know when a shoot director is going to want to change something last minute or want to do an additional look or who knows what else. Always be prepared for any situation!

If you would be interested in more detail about what I carry in my kit or where everything is from 
please let me know.

Time to get to work! (thank you Anthony for taking these pictures!)

I always save lips for last because they tend to get messed up. A model might want to grab a snack or have something to drink or even need to go smoke outside. It's just best to do them right before the photographer gets started so that they look perfect.

Always plan & make time to do touch ups too.
Her eyes were watering a little bit & I needed to clean up under her eyes where liner had bled. Models also tend to touch their face & you might need to fix foundation a little bit.
Also, have the photographer take a test shot. This just helps you to see how the makeup will look on camera & if you need to tweak anything before the shoot starts. How makeup looks in person & how makeup looks on camera are two totally different things!

Nothing is more boring then being all done with your part of the work & sitting there with nothing to do. So, always bring something quiet to do. Nothing that requires headphones or that is too involved & you can't put down on a moments notice, because you never know when someone might need you for something. I used to bring a magazine or play a game on my phone but now, my kindle is my best friend on shoots. I can read (without having to lug a heavy book around), look at a magazine, surf the web, play games, pretty much anything. I love this little thing!

Some behind the scenes shots of my awesome photographer & model!

And a few shots from around the studio!
 This was hanging right by my head & stared at me the whole time I worked on her makeup! Creepy!

 I like this picture even though it's silly & weird.

Time to take it all off!
It is crucial to carry good makeup remover wipes! Most models do not want to go home in full shoot makeup & most locations don't have a place for them to wash it off! Make sure to get something designed for sensitive skin too.

Then I have to clean & sanitize everything when I get home. Products that I use get sanitized on site because it needs to get done right away. This doesn't leave me with too much to do when I get home unless I used a lot of brushes.

The finished product!

A few additional, miscellaneous tips:
Always eat before you head off to a shoot. Nothing throws you off your game more then being hungry.
Also, always pack a few snacks. You never know when you are going to get a break or if you will be anywhere near someplace to get food or if someone else will need a little something. Making sure I always have a few granola bars on hand has saved more then a few shoots.
Never chew gum on a shoot. It annoys everybody! Use mints instead.
If you need to talk on the phone, do it outside! Also, keep your phone on silent or vibrate. A ringing phone or someone talking on the phone disturbs everyone else on the job. Remember, this is a job (paid or not) & you always have to act like it is.
If I could teach one thing to new makeup artists, it would be to learn your lighting. Lighting completely changes the way that makeup looks on camera. Always talk to the photographer before a shoot about what the lighting is going to be. This will drastically effect how you will need to do the makeup. Subtle lighting darkens everything while bold lighting will make a bright color practically disappear. You have to know the lighting if you want the makeup to come across right on camera.
Offer anything that is re-usable but you would have to throw out to the model. Things like lashes or foundation sponges must get thrown out after they have been used & you have already spent the money on them so, they might as well have them. This always leaves a good impression of you with the model.
Plan to have the job go at least an hour over the time expected. Most shoots & events run long, it's just the fact of it. You will also have to leave time for packing up your kit, end of shoot/event chatting, & various other stuff. Don't be the person scrambling to get out of there. It makes everyone else uncomfortable when you're rushing them to get out of there.
Always stay until the end of a shoot! Nothing is worse then being halfway through the shoot & needing a touch up with no makeup artist (or who ever). Of course, there are very few exceptions to this but, make sure that it is something that has been discussed well in advance & that you provide the rest of the team with a mini touch up kit.
Make sure that you leave everyone with a business card before you leave. You never know where your next job or lead might come from. (I am horrible at remembering to do this)
The last tip that I am going to leave you with is a tried & true classic. Always be prepared! Trust me, no one else will be. Carry extra water, snacks, feminine products, deodorant, mints, cold meds, something for headaches, clothing clips, safety pins, a mini sewing kit, a few fast dry nail polishes & remover, hairspray, bobby pins, mini first aid kit, & anything else that you think could possibly be needed. I have saved the day by having each & everyone of these items in my kit or car. They don't take up a lot of space but, turn a tragedy into a success easily!

I always listen to something really fun & upbeat on my way to a gig. I have to be all calm & professional when I get there so, I let loose all my hyper craziness in the car.
A lot of times I listen to the A Night At The Roxbury Soundtrack just because it's pure fun.
This time I decided to make my own playlist of synth based 80's & 90's songs.
(these are in no particular order, as I was just listening to it on shuffle)
Freestyle - Don't Stop The Rock
Q-Feel - Dancing In Heaven
Harold Faltermeyer - Axel F
a-Ha - Take On Me
Yazoo - Don't Go
Talk Talk - Talk Talk
China Crisis - Working With Fire & Steel
Erasure - A Little Respect
The Cars - Shake It Up
Trans-X - Living On Video
General Public - Tenderness
 New Order - Bizarre Love Triangle
Herbie Hancock - Rockit
Depeche Mode - Just Can't Get Enough
Alphaville - Dance With Me
Tones On Tail - Go!
Duran Duran - Electric Barberella

I hope that you all enjoyed this look into my work life.
It's not always the glamours career that it's sometimes made out to be but, I wouldn't change it for the world! There's a lot of hard work, long hours, & tons of things that need to be done that are off the clock & you don't get paid for. But, if you love it, none of that will matter to you.
If you have any questions about being a makeup artist or anything that I put in this post & you would like more detail on, please feel free to leave me a comment or e-mail me.

Thank you so much Anthony Norris & Heather Garcia for all of your help with this blog post!
I couldn't have done it without you two.


  1. Thank you for this post, it's very well written and gives a wonderful insight into a day in the life of a make-up artist.

    1. You're welcome. If you have any questions or want to know anything else, just let me know.

  2. Love that pink dress! =)

  3. Replies
    1. If you ever have any questions that I didn't answer here or want more info on something just let me know.