All Photos Courtesy of Travis Curry
In photography there are many factors that go into making a great photo. One of those factors is the TEAM. I am a Portrait & Fashion Photographer, so things like hair, makeup and wardrobe are key elements to my shoots and I understand that it’s a team effort to pull off one of my shoots. Unless your client is a professional model, a photo shoot is probably something that they aren’t the subject of on a daily basis. It’s not uncommon for one of my clients to tell me that this is their first professional photo shoot. I’ve had clients tell me, “Thank you for making me feel like a Supermodel for a day!” which is an experience I couldn’t have given them by myself.
A photo shoot should be a memorable experience that’s set way above any sort of daily experience like going to dinner and a movie or hitting the gym. A photograph can make a huge impact on someone’s life, it’s important that we bring out the best in our client during their session.
What is a Creative Team?
You can call it what you want to call it: Glam Squad, Beauty Team, Pretty Ambassadors or whatever your heart desires. I just refer to it as The Creative Team or The Team. My team usually consists of me and one hair and makeup artist (HMUA). It’s important for me to work well with my HMUA because together we are the people responsible for making our client feel comfortable and confident. I’ve built my roster of HMUA’s to be filled with talented, respectful and fun artists that all desire to bring out the best in their clients. Not only does my HMUA get our clients ready for the shoot, they are there throughout the shoot to do touch ups and changes, provide styling help and any assistance that we need.
Your team can be as large or small as your client needs. You may find that you need to have your own assistant or separate hair and makeup artists. Your client may need specific help with wardrobe, so hiring a wardrobe stylist is another valuable asset to the photo shoot experience. For headshots and portraits, I prefer to work with a smaller, more intimate team however if the client wants a bigger production experience, I will give that to them! Of course the more people you add, the more your client’s budget needs to increase to properly pay your team. If I’m shooting a fashion editorial or advertising client, I will add in separate stylists, wardrobe, manicurist, etc.
Working with Male Clients
Instead of offering a Hair & Makeup Artist to my male clients, I offer a Grooming Artist. Usually my Grooming Artist is a barber who is capable of styling, cutting and working with facial hair. I’ve had male head shot clients in my studio who have come in with beards and shaggy hair and left with a fresh face and a great new hair cut. That is not something that every male client needs or wants, but if I feel like the shoot will go that way, I make sure to hire one of my licensed barbers. Hairstyling is important – even with short hair. I like to keep makeup to a minimum on men, focusing on hydrating their skin and bringing out strong features like jawline, cheekbones and eyes.
When Do You Use A Creative or Beauty Team?
For all women’s portrait & fashion shoots I require a HMUA. For most men’s shoots I also have a Grooming Artist. It is a rare occasion that I don’t work with a team. There are so many things that we can control and transform with good hair and makeup. If something isn’t working on camera, then the HMUA can fix it. I would rather spend time on set making it right then having to spend hours adding in digital makeup in Photoshop. There are a lot of things that I educate my client on before their shoot to make sure everyone is on the same page and prepared to rock the shoot!
For the first part of the photo shoot experience, the client is with my HMUA. I like to give them some alone time while they get camera ready. My HMUA’s are great at talking with the client and can quickly calm their nerves. After I finish setting up in the studio, I go back into my office and check in with everyone. I find that the hair and makeup prep time is a great way for me to connect with my client well before I start photographing them. An important part of the client experience is to feel comfortable and connected with me.
Building a roster of great creatives takes times, I recently wrote about Working with Hair & Makeup Artists, which may give you some insight on where to start with building your team. For a while I only had one go-to HMUA, but I have since expanded and built relationships with new artists that my clients love and that I love working with!