Hair & Makeup for Brand Photography

Seattle hmua

Do I really need it?

I get it – you don’t think you need to hire someone to do your hair and makeup for your brand photography session…I mean, you do it for yourself everyday right?

Maybe you’re afraid of not looking like yourself in the pictures if someone else does it for you.

Or maybe you don’t normally wear makeup and you feel like it’s too foreign a concept.

Or maybe you just think it’s not worth the added expense.

I’m here to dispel some of the myths, and give you some solid reasons why I use professional HMUA’s (hair & makeup artists) on my full branding shoots. And before I go any further, I need to clarify that I’m very discerning with the HMUA’s I work with… it is not a one size fits all!

“To me, the essence of truly modern makeup is the freedom to be yourself, to express who you are.”

François Nars

So… something happened the other day that brought this whole subject up for me.

A client who had booked a traditional headshot with me chose to have her hair and makeup done…fantastic! I love it when clients make that choice for headshot sessions – I encourage it. Now, the reason I don’t include it in those sessions is mainly because headshots are a low investment for the client, and are short sessions. Because of this, they tend to get rescheduled fairly often and it makes for a lot of extra time communicating and rescheduling the HMUA – who over time will understandably get annoyed at all the changes to their schedule. It’s just the nature of it.

So – back to this client. (And let me say here that had I known, I would have referred her to someone I trust!). First, even though she had given the HMUA the time she needed to be finished, it went an hour over – so she was an hour late for her session. And when she showed up, she was so unhappy with the result that she did not want her pictures taken. To her credit she was laughing – because it really was, well, pretty far off the mark. Although she had told the HMUA what it was for (branding) she had given her overdone eyebrows, outrageous fake eyelashes, and a generally hard, unsubtle look. No wonder she didn’t want this version captured and put on her business card! (She is a beautiful, vivacious, extremely intelligent woman who works in a conservative industry.)

Now, although we got a good laugh out of it – and we did take a few quick pics just for the memory, the fact is that both our time was wasted.

My point here is not to belittle that HMUA (she undoubtedly has clientele she is perfect for and love her) – but rather to illustrate how important it is to find one who is versed in branding, film, and commercial work. Who understands what brand photography is, and knows that it is not the same as wedding, boudoir or senior prom makeup. Also, since so many of my clients are 40+ women, it’s important for the artist to understand the concerns that often arise with that demographic. Fortunately for me, the Seattle area has some fantastic choices, and I am fortunate enough to work with some of the best.

Although I have it in the description of my headshot sessions on my website that I will refer clients to a good HMUA if they want to go that route and have it in their budget (and I also typically ask if we speak on the phone), this was one that was booked directly online and was definitely a lesson to me to be sure I double check regardless! I never want my clients to have anything less than a (very) positive experience.

All that to say, while you might think all HMUA’s are basically the same, they usually specialize in certain areas, and you want to be sure they fully understand the look you are going for and have experience in that genre. I mean, it’s the same with photographers…choose someone who is dedicated to the type of photography you are looking for.

“All women are pretty without  makeup but with the right  makeup they can be pretty powerful.”

Bobbi Brown

So now let’s talk about why I firmly believe professional HMU so important for branding sessions, and why I include it in my packages.

First, having your hair and makeup done sets a tone of pampering and self care. These sessions are all about you, and that starts with feeling and looking your best. Being able to express what you want to project in the images, and how you want to convey your style and personality is the palette that the HMUA will draw from to create a look that feels like you – the best, most confident version of you.

It’s a proven fact that when we feel our best we feel more confident and project ourselves into the world differently…and that in turn affects how people respond to us – and so on and so on. It is no small thing.

Also – in response to the myth that says makeup and fashion are inauthentic, I beg to differ. When you work with a skilled HMUA or stylist, they will help you express yourself more fully through your “look” by really listening to who you are, what matters to you, and who you are speaking to through your business. What’s really interesting about this (at its best) is that while it may be true that because you aren’t used to using these tools it might at first feel unfamiliar – when you see the final images you realize that that’s the person and power you’ve known has been there all along. Too often we hide our light – especially as women in business. We have a legacy of being afraid to shine too brightly.

The last reason has to do with my brand. I’m always striving for better, to learn, to provide the best experience possible and deliver images that my clients are excited about. I want my client’s images to be polished, professional, and elevated. A good HMUA is a critical factor in achieving that. I care about your brand as much as I care about mine.

And finally, I just want to say… you’re worth it.

Hair & Makeup for Brand Photography

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