Loving Our Selfies – Building Confidence With Hair and Makeup

Sometimes, I want to blame mass media for women “having” to wear make up to “look good”. Although the way we see beauty is a bit skewed because of media, I can’t lay all the blame on it. Some scientists say makeup dates all the way back to the African Middle Stone Age, over 6,000 years ago. Not only did women wear makeup, so did men as seen in hieroglyphics, paintings and drawings. It’s also believed makeup was worn by almost every culture. Crazy, eh? I guess it goes to show, we all like pretty things and always have. Hold on, I swear this whole column is not a boring history lesson, although if you ask some of my former students, I’m really good at those!

Back in the day, I hated makeup. HATED IT. I was a tomboy who wore Abercrombie flannels that looked like they fit my brother who was a 6’3” hockey player; I’m 5’7” just for a reference of size difference there. My hair was a curly mess (wait, it still is) and I didn’t give a hoot if my eyes popped or my cheeks looked rosy.

I hated it so much so, that when I was a rep for a senior photographer and I went in for my shoot and he had a makeup artist there for me, I cried. “But I don’t wear makeup,” I whined. “I want to look natural!” At that point in my life, I didn’t know good makeup does look au nataural!

He made me do it, and praise the Heavens above he did! Although I whined like a baby about it, what I didn’t realize at the time is how a camera sees my face is different than the eye. My photos turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself, (minus the gynormous, caterpillar eyebrows I had at the time, woooooo girl, glad those puppies get waxed now!) and part of it was because I actually listened to my photographer, got the makeup done, and I’m not gonna lie, I felt a little like a bada**. And that was in 1998, before the digital revolution. Now there are so many darn megapixels you can see every nook and cranny in a person’s complexion. I swear, the camera could tell you about a zit you’ll have next week they’re so stinking sharp.

That’s why a professional hair and makeup artist (HMUA) is a great addition to any photographer’s team. “Make-up artists are professionally trained to use the best-of-the-best products,” says my amazing HMUA Lindsey Losiewicz of Lindsey Marie Beauty. “We are trained to know what looks best on camera and what looks best on all face shapes, skin tones, skin types and hair types and colors as well.”

Amanda Holloway, of Amanda Holloway Photography, agrees having a professional HMUA is important. “Getting hair and makeup done just adds to the entire experience that you are offering to your senior. They will love being pampered and the end result is a beautiful, flawless finish with gorgeous flowing hair a la ‘Charlie’s Angels’,” she says.

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The whole experience, as Holloway mentions, is one of the biggest of your client’s senior year, so why not make them feel special, all while bringing out their natural beauty in the process?

“Getting my hair and makeup done really made me feel confident about myself, and honestly, it was a really fun opportunity,” says my 17-year-old model Melissa. Before her shoot, she told me she had terrible skin (yeah, right!) and she was nervous about modeling for me. She stepped in my door and as soon as Lindsey got to work on her, I could literally see her relax and soak everything in. She says she not only felt like a princess, but Lindsey also gave her tips about makeup along the way she could use for everyday looks.

Another client and former student of mine, Becca, agrees with Melissa, “The best part, [about my session] in my opinion, was before the shoot even began when I got my hair and makeup done,” she said. “Not only did the pictures turn out better in the end, but the whole process makes you feel happier and better about yourself during the shoot.”

I melt reading that. Knowing that little extra touch made her feel  good about herself is what this is about for me. Becca’s mom, Linda, literally made me cry when she said, “Having my daughter feel that beautiful while getting her hair and makeup done, and then seeing the final product, it truly is a blessing as a mother to see your daughter that happy.” How could you not want to cry after reading what you did as an artist, in cooperation with your HMUA, has made a young woman and her mom that happy? And they will cherish these photos for the rest of their lives. Damn I love this gig!

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Jessica Pearson, of Jessica Pearson Photography has the same reaction with many of her clients. Ashley said of her session, “The makeup artist, Jamie, meticulously spent time making my makeup look FLAWLESS! I felt just average looking when I arrived, but after the makeup was completed, I felt like a movie star and I could not stop looking at myself in the mirror.”

I have a caveat, here. I never want any of my clients, or anybody, to feel like they are average, or not pretty enough as they are and that’s why I require hair and makeup. Gosh, I would die of a broken heart if they thought that’s why I did it! The hair and makeup isn’t about hiding natural beauty, it’s about allowing their natural beauty to shine through in photos. In my senior magazine, I have before and after shots of some of my clients to show the difference of how skin looks on camera without and with makeup. Then, I explain how the camera sees almost too much and even men in the entertainment industry wear makeup for that reason. In addition, I also make sure they know the makeup is how they want it. They bring in photos to give to Lindsey and she works with that and the client’s tones to make the look work for them. And for real, the confidence it gives my girls makes my heart happy. They feel so good about themselves that it completely eliminates the awkward first 20 minutes or so of the shoot. You’ve already chatted with them, asked questions about all kinds of things, they feel totally gorg and ready to rock their shoot! It’s really a win-win situation.

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So now here’s where our confidence as photogs comes into play. You know when your client is confident and happy it makes your “job” sooooo muuuuuch easiiiieeer (can we say that in quotations since for most of us it’s so much fun, it’s hard to call it a job?)! You know that saying, “Happy wife, happy life”? I say, “Happy girl, my job’s a whirl”. Ok, I don’t really say that because it’s stupid, but I think you get my point.

As Pearson says, “When the senior is more confident and relaxed, it makes my job easier and makes me more confident when it comes to posing the girls.” I could not agree with her more. I have seen girls go from shy to “watch out Kate Upton” and myself go from feeling like a doofus posing to Annie freaking Liebovitz. Just that little bit of pampering gives them a whole new outlook about themselves. The smiles come more naturally as do the laughs and I’m not stressing out that my client is uncomfortable and not having fun.

Post-processing takes on a whole different dimension as well. Holy crap does professional hair and makeup save some time when editing! Because a talented HMUA knows what they’re doing, they use just the perfect complimentary colors so your client’s skin tone looks flawless. They can contour (something I hadn’t heard of because I barely know how to apply makeup!). Blemishes are, poof, gone! And they can also make features stand out. Some girls feel like their brown eyes are boring (which they are not!), but a good makeup artist can make them pop just as much as sky blue eyes. Which in turn, makes us not have to over edit to get them to shine and look like “alien eyes” as Holloway calls them.

Truth: I do not wear makeup and do my unruly hair everyday. It’s not necessary. Bah, I can barely get myself out of leggings most days! However, I do require both for my female senior clients now. I’m not sexist though, if a dude wants makeup and guyliner, I am aaaaall over it! And you know what? When I go to do a shoot, I put that makeup on and BOOM! I feel ready to tackle the world. It’s weird, and I hate admitting it because I don’t think beauty is connected to how much makeup we wear, but a little blush and mascara can take me from feeling like a ragged, worn-out, hobo to ready-and-raring to go. It does the same thing for my clients; I can see in their faces how excited they are for the whole experience, which makes me more assured and excited for their shoot.

Professional hair and makeup isn’t a reality for everyday, but senior photos are not an everyday event. They are something your client looks forward to for a looooooong time, so make sure you give them all the confidence you can and make your clients feel like they are one in 7 billion, because no matter what shape or size, they are. And they are beautiful.

tara