Finding a makeup artist can be a daunting task. If your career is moving in a forward direction and you have more and more inquires about someone who can do hair and makeup at a shoot – it might be time to find someone to work with. In my experience many makeup artists (MUAs) do hair so it never hurts to ask when you find someone to share a gig with.
When my business started growing from client to client and gig to gig I was asked more often than not if I had a makeup person. It got to the point where I needed to find someone reliable and I’m glad it worked out. The main person I use is extremely reliable, professional, knows her stuff, and is very accommodating to our clients. She’s a wiz. However it took me a while to find this genius. I figured you could look on a site like Model Mayhem – but you never know what you’re going to get with that and it’s true. I feel at this point MM is half seedy half legit. I could go through a scouting service but did I want to make such an investment at this point? Not yet. So I did what any red blooded photographer would do – I put an ad out on Craigslist just to see what would happen. And you know what? I got some great responses.
Through the muck of folks wanting to get paid an unreasonable amount of money for the little experience they had, the folks that have never done makeup before but “wanted to try it out,” and the folks that “used to have a professional portfolio but something happened;” I found a few hopefuls that seemed like a good fit.
What I suggested to these folks was to do the first one or two shoots as a trade for our portfolios, which basically means even if we don’t click we could each walk away with something we could use for the future. The first person flaked out completely with barely an excuse. As a photographer you want to set things up in advance so you can plan out your shooting for the week or month in some cases. But to confirm the day before only to get “I’m sorry I just don’t have time for this tomorrow” means that you’re dealing with someone who is unreliable and oblivious to the fact that they literally MADE time through various emails. The second person was very late and didn’t really do a good job along with not really bringing a kit. I was lucky that the subject was a friend of mine and we just ordered a pizza while we waited. Now the third person (Chelsea Paige) was on the same ::ahem:: page that I was on. She was early, brought her whole kit, and knew what she was getting into. It was a feeling out process and after the first shoot we decided to give it another go. After the second shoot we decided on a fair rate for her service and have done numerous shoots together since then for many catalogs and magazine spreads along with some pretty high end corporate clients. She is my number one go to for makeup. My clients love her; she does great work, and has a great personality. I feel like I’m very lucky as a photographer to have found her.
Finding someone with the same creative passion doesn’t need to be a royal pain. But, you should vet the folks who come your way and not take them at face value. Tell your clients that they will get free makeup service IF the person shows up as your trial for choosing someone you want to work with. When you think you have found someone you have to ask yourself if their personality can go with the flow or if you guys have a good vibe. I can’t imagine working with someone I barely tolerate (which is part of the reason why I left a desk job to be a full time photographer!) A great rapport with the person handling your client’s makeup and or hair just adds to the wow factor of your service. You want to impress your clients with a bit of showmanship and make them feel like a million bucks while you and your MUA bounce banter off each other while making anyone who hires you feel welcomed and comfortable.
Whoever you work with is a direct reflection on you. Too many times you’ll see an amazing photographer that works with a crass makeup artist that does good work or vice versa. Folks make the excuse that it’s OK but at the end of the day it’s really not. I would rather deal with someone who is awesome and does great work than someone who is rude and does great work. The days of the diva creator are over.
Makeup and photographer go hand in hand and if you deliver a service that includes a good attitude with solid work then you need to find someone that’s on the same page. It might take a while but you’ll find that person and they will just add to your business.