A photographer talking about wedding makeup? Seriously? It may seem a little odd, and I’ll admit that I’m not a makeup expert, but I have been asked many times about makeup from a wedding photography perspective.
What is the best wedding makeup for photographs?
The most important thing is that you are comfortable with what you are wearing. It doesn’t make any difference to the photographs if your makeup is light or strong. If you are someone who usually wears light, natural makeup, you may spend the day stressing over how you look if strong makeup is applied. Stressed brides don’t make for good photographs no matter how amazing the makeup might look!! My advice is always to go with makeup that makes you happy and confident.
Hire a makeup artist or do it yourself?
I work with some incredible make up artists, but quite a few of my brides prefer to do their own wedding make up.
In my experience, a professional makeup artist will work with you to get the look that you want, and take control of the situation on the day. This can help you relax. I’ve actually seen brides drift off to sleep in the MUA chair!!
There aren’t any downsides (apart from the additional cost) to having a good, experienced professional to do your makeup. I know several who I would be happy to recommend to you. So please get in touch if you need some details.
Some brides prefer to do their own makeup as in this photograph from a wedding in London. The little girl is the bride’s daughter. It’s a wonderful example of the type of personal picture that can be taken without a MUA.
Light, daytime makeup isn’t quite strong enough for photographs, especially with a white dress, so I would always recommend wearing makeup as if you are going to a party.
When is the best time to get made up?
This doesn’t affect the photography, but in my experience, the makeup should be finished 10-15 minutes before the dress is put on. If you are made up too early, simple things like eating and drinking have the potential to ruin the makeup.
Wedding makeup photographs
I believe wedding makeup photography should tell part of the story while being creative and artistic. Typically, the makeup takes place in a similar environment at each wedding, so the ability to look for different photographs is essential.
A large mirror in the bridal suite at Thornton Manor creates a storytelling photograph which shows the environment, bride and MUA.
Sequences are important to me as a photographer. I like to be able to set the scene and then change my position to create something artistic.
At Swinton Park, a low, wide shot shows the room, the raindrops on the window and the makeup. The reflection in the mirror adds visual interest.
A second shot with tighter composition and a silhouette. These two pictures look incredible together in a book with visual cues like the mirror giving a nice flow to the images.
In my hometown of Lytham St Annes, I used the bride’s dress and veil to add interest to the wedding makeup photographs. The dress was hanging up on a wardrobe.
At this French wedding, I started with a typical viewpoint for the makeup photographs, but by stepping back and observing what was happening around the bride, I got an interesting picture. The bridesmaid with her tea and the bride’s mum walking into the room make for a great storytelling moment.
In my workshops, I always tell my students to avoid fighting the light. The strong, winter sunshine at Ellingham Hall was hard to work with, but I’ve used it to create something out of the ordinary, with lots of shadows and highlight interest.
At the bride’s cottage in Yorkshire, one of the guests touches up her makeup while being watched by her twin in the painting.
This photograph looks like a single bridesmaid looking into the mirror, but her reflection has a different hair colour. The result of observation, and allowing myself the time to look for something visually interesting.
A close-up of a Jewish bride. The light is good and is helped by the MUA’s arm which creates a vignette to draw the eye into the face.
The bride’s cats at a wedding in London. The bride and MUA in the background give place and narrative to the image.
A large bathroom mirror, shaving mirror, and ceiling lights help to create a moody image. The bride is at her parent’s house and by doing her own makeup, the image becomes more personal to her.
One of my favourite wedding makeup photographs with a touch of Surrealism about it. From a Jewish wedding in London.
Eyes are powerful. This is another favourite of mine from a wedding in Amsterdam.
Flower girls being made up at a Great John Street wedding in Manchester.
The bride’s sister-in-law and her daughters. Gorgeous window light and the positioning of the girl in the background make a timeless photograph.