How to Photograph Your Makeup Work: Composition
Last week, we discussed the importance of lighting, which we identified as the most important part of a successful makeup photograph.
This week, we will discuss the importance of an additional photographic technique: composition, or the arrangement of “stuff” in a photo. There are countless theories on proper composition, but remember, it is okay to veer from them, so long as you have a better idea.
Rule of Thirds
In any visual arts class, one of the fundamentals of composition is the Rule of Thirds. This concept proposes that we divide a photograph into 3 sections. If you edit a photo on your iPhone, you may notice some lines separating a photograph into 9 quadrants as you mess around with a photograph. These lines are showing you the Rule of Thirds.
Now how do you use them? It’s simple—place important parts of a photo on these lines and they will give a sense of balance. In a makeup artist’s case, “important parts” would include the model or client and objects that may appear in the background, such as makeup, windows, even flower pots.
Another point you should be aware of when photographing your makeup is the angle of the camera. Oftentimes, bad photos include unintentional skewing and distortion which makes the subject appear warped.
To get a true to life shot, it is important to keep the camera at eye level so that tilting doesn’t create unintentional distortion.
On the other hand, intentionally creating angles can give mood and style to a photo, as well as highlight flattering features. For example, a photo taken from above can make the eyes appear bigger and the chin more narrow.
An angle from below can emphasize the jaw and give a sense of intimidation. Depending on the makeup look, there are a variety of angles and directions to point the camera.
Simplicity Works Too
Oftentimes, successful makeup photos often consist of a centered subject, positioned in a ¾ view. Generally, straight on photos are considered boring, but they can be striking if done right. They show off makeup very well too, because both sides of the face are visible.
Another technique is to zoom in on a singular feature. This is usually the eyes or lips. By isolating a feature, it allows the viewer to focus on that feature individually. Also, it is a smart way to conserve application time.
If you are applying makeup on yourself or a model simply as a way to add to your portfolio, you can save a lot of time by just applying makeup to one part of the face.
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