Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Beauty Item of The Week

Sonia Kashuk® Barely There Bronzer - Golden 47

To get a natural-looking glow for the summer Sonia's Kashuk's Barely There Bronzer in Golden 47 is a must-have for only $8.99 at Target®. I use this a lot for beauty shoots to imitate the healthy look of the sun. I also use it as a corrector to warm up the complexion and as a blush for very dark skin tones. This bronzer works on all skin tones except porcelain because bronzer can make porcelain skin look dirty. 

Photography: Marcus Smith (; Makeup: India Cherese, Model: Kim Matthews-Elite Chicago


  • This loose powder bronzer goes on with a light touch to brighten the skin’s appearance and provide a super-sheer layer of color
  • Bronzer features a natural golden tan tone and is ideal for people with oilier skin
  • Comes in a compact with a powder-pad applicator
  • 0.14 oz.
  • Not tested on animals

What are the ideal places to apply face bronzer? You don’t want a lot of shine in the center of the face where you’re usually more porous and apt to have fine lines because it will increase texture. Instead, put bronzer on the area that is most consistent with color and texture—on the outer perimeter of the face along the hairline and forehead, the crest of the cheekbones—places that have natural movement so that shine comes in a very unexpected way.

When applying bronzer, what type of brush do you suggest? A full powder brush is going to help the product to go on more evenly and appear more blended—there won’t be any streaking or harsh lines. If you use a smaller brush you’re going to be using smaller strokes and it’s not going to cover as much of the face.

Are there any exceptions to the “one shade darker” rule? If you’re a woman of color or you're a Caucasian who's tan during the summer months, you can choose a color two shades darker for more of a glow. You can also get away with bronzers that are redder and more golden. Reddish-gold bronzers aren’t good for faking a tan though—for that you want to use a self-tanner. Apply them on the face and body to add a softer glow to the skin and get a bit of color, then layer the bronzer on top. The bronzer is just there to complement that color—it’s not there to make you an entirely different shade.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Art of Planning Your Photo Shoots

Recently I had a conversation with a photographer I just started testing with who is in town for the summer. We talked about what it is that sets other well-known artists apart from your "average Joe" trying to make it in the industry. The answer to this was TIME & MONEY! That is what makes all the difference! I thought to myself that a lot of these successful and breathtaking images are a result of planning and putting in the blood, sweat, and tears to get an AWESOME image. I thought this blog may be helpful to a lot of people out there that wonder what is it they can do to make their work more eye-catching and successful. Myself included! The following information was pulled from various sites I retrieved tips and advice from the topic by just by googling and actual advice I got from seasoned pros in the industry. Hope this helps! :)

Have you ever wondered how long it takes for a pro (team) to produce a series of stunning shots (and why)? If not, then I'm sure you've at least wondered why your shots aren't (always?) as good looking as they are in your head. Well I know I have. The key to answering both questions is as simple as the word many artists don't really like (perhaps even hate?): planning. First things first. Why is it important to plan your photo shoot? Mainly because it will save you time. Secondly, it will allow you to think through what you'll be doing in a quiet environment, which will lead to you actually enjoying it much more, rather than (freaking out?) being stressed about "What pose should I shoot next?" Lastly, it will allow you to deliver images with a much better technical execution but moreover - images with a clear and useful concept.  
Sure, this is all good, but how do I do it? Well, for a starter - try to get a clear(er) idea of when and what you want to shoot next. Allow for a buffer of at least a day or two before the shoot (I personally find a week to be best) in which you can dream, plan and organize details for the session. Once you've done this, move on to actually planning the shoot itself. Here things will differ greatly depending on what and where you're shooting, but let me give you a sample scenario - you'll be shooting a session with a couple at their home, kind of a leisure lifestyle theme.

1. Always start with the concept. In other words, what do you want your images to communicate? Love, romance, wasting time, spending quality time together, entertainment, domestic work, cooking, on-line communication... If you force yourself to first list the concepts you want to cover, you'll be able to stay on track and use your potential to the max.

2. Make a script. That's crucial. Write down the pictures you have in your mind in a format similar to this: "Man cutting veggies on kitchen counter with woman giving him a surprise hug. Both smiling. Shallow DOF, focus on man." Writing things down will not only force you to be clearer about your ideas, but will also help you track where and what you may be missing. Make sure your list is as detailed as possible, while also preserving a natural flow of poses. Make it in sections and don't put together the kitchen shots with the ones from the garden... ;)

3. Think of the props. Yes, you do need that, and if you want good looking images, you'll have to go to the grocery store and buy some basic stuff (ie. stuff you'll be chopping in the kitchen; popcorn and drinks for the movies, etc.). If you're using stuff you already have, make sure they're in a nice condition and clean of dust, hairs and other dirt, which will be noticeable at 100% zoom of your final image. Mind the clothing in the context of your concept for the image.

4. Think time. Consider the setup you'll need for each of the shots and how long it will take you to move/change it around for the next. How long will it take for the models to change clothing (and makeup if needed)? Take an approximate higher value in mind as you plan the total time for the session. Allow for short breaks.

5. Be flexible and learn to follow the mood. The list/script is there to keep you within a margin, not limit you in your creativity as it emerges during the session or constrain your models in regard to what ideas they may get during the session. This is why, the better you know your script, the more freedom you'll have to work both with it and the people/environment around you.

If you want to create something you can use then you just won't be able to get far without planning at all. Spend some time reading or watching what the pros have already shared on the Internet about their procedures and you'll soon realize how much of it is playing a part in their creative activity. I've started doing this seriously as of recently and I'm finding it quite liberating. It doesn't just save you time, but also makes you much more efficient. Aside from the experience, I believe that planning is the main reason why for beginning photographers, makeup artists, stylist, you name it an hour of work translates in a mere 5-10 good shots. While an hour of shooting will result in at least three/four times, if not even more quality images, when a so-called "pro" is behind the camera.

Lastly, here's an exercise for you: As you look at images, try to analyze them in detail and think of what it must have taken the creator to achieve this (w/o counting the post-processing work). It is also true that professional artists are not just one person... it's more like a whole team of people. Yet, don't let this discourage you. One person with a plan can achieve far more than one person without a plan. :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Results of Having a Great Team

Making a strong photograph is a collaborative effort. When a great photographer teams up with a great makeup artist & the right model, magic can happen. They understand each other's style and needs. They can work in sync to get the best results. The intention is to capture a moment of true beauty, and it is much easier when everyone is on the same page and creating. My strongest images have come from a result of having a great team and a set concept.

Below are images from a beauty shoot I had back in March of this year with Commercial/Fashion Photographer Olesja Mueller and models Jessica Just-Caroline Gleason Management (top) and Mia Fields-Otto Models (bottom) in Los Angeles. These were shot in Olesja's studio for my portfolio and are by far my strongest images in my book. There really is no way to easily describe the impact that Olesja had on the development of my portfolio as a beginning makeup artist. The quality, composition, and the detail of her photography is absolutely incredible. She brought a lot of inspiration to the table and did a fantastic job. In every shot she focused on not transforming but enhancing what beauty was already there within each model. The models were a good fit for what we were aiming to capture.

To view more of Olesja's work go to: 

Will facial mists set or disperse my makeup?

Do you use facial sprays or hydration mists as some call it?  Apart from refreshing and hydrating our faces, some gals like to use this to set their makeup.  I for one, do that everyday.  However, recently, I read in a book by Bobbi Brown that this is not such a good idea because facial mists actually disperse our makeup, rather than help to set it.  Is that true?

Squirts vs mists I think the trick is to pick a facial spray that works well as a mist.  I’ve used a couple of brands and I find that some are poor performers only because their nozzles do not function properly.  As a result, the mists come out like a squirt of water and will definitely ruin your makeup!

Nozzle must work well So if you’re in the market for a facial mist, my personal favorite that I have in my makeup kit is 

Caudalie's Beauty Elixir To Go (1 fl oz.) with a suggested retail value of $15. It is part-toner, part-serum mist of essential oils and plant active ingredients.

If you are on a bit of a budget, a good inexpensive facial mist set is  

Evian's Mineral Water Spray Duo To Go with a suggested retail value of $11, this set contains two 1.7 fl oz. travel-sized hydrating facial sprays .

The nozzles on both these products always work fine plus the mists that comes out are really fine and not too strong, which is excellent to set makeup, giving me a less cakey look. Both of these products can be found at any Sephora store and contain Sephora's natural seal of approval. 

Tricks to misting When spraying, do not hold the facial mist too close to your face.  I know some ladies do this “walking in the mist” trick where they hold the facial mist at a distance, spritz generously and then walk into the mist.  In addition, it’s not a good idea to spritz facial mist all over your face too many times with makeup on.  I used to do that to soothe and keep my face refresh but at the end of the day, I found my makeup become streaky because of too much water content.  So these days, I spritz minimally, like twice a day at most.

Beauty essential vs good-to-have And finally, besides using them to set my makeup, I find facial mists are excellent to prevent water loss when they are applied immediately prior to using a moisturizer.  So for me, they’re a beauty essential rather than a good-to-have.

Go to    Photobucket    for more details on these products.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My First Post

Well I have decided its about time I start a blog. One reason I really wanted to start blogging was to let people keep track of what I am up to as a makeup artist & my progress. To share with you the ups and downs of making it in this industry. It's also a chance to showcase my latest work, provide tips and insights, and receive your feedback. I will submit new posts on here at least once a day. Not sure how this may pan out, but I think it will be a fun journey through my life as a makeup artist.

Peace! :)