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How to Cast a Make-Up Artist for your Photo Shoots

The majority of portrait shoots will benefit from having a makeup artist, or MUA, on board. Even if the model is male, professionally done makeup can make a world of difference. Personal portraits can benefit too. Having just the right makeup look can make or break a concept. It can add so much. Done badly, however, it can also ruin the whole idea and distract the viewer. This is why casting for a makeup artist is so important.

There are a number of stages that you should go through in order to be sure that you have got the right person for the job. If you have never worked with a makeup artist before, it is even more essential to follow these steps. You need to be sure that what you are getting will be right for you. So read on to learn just how to find that perfect make-up artist for your shoot!



Start Your Casting

First of all, it’s time to look around for MUAs in your area. This may be an easy task or a more difficult one, depending on where you want to shoot. Larger urban areas will offer more potential candidates. There are two ways to search for an MUA. The first is to try to find local artists in Google and contact them through their websites. The second is to put up a casting call on a relevant site and let them come to you. We’ll look at that option here.

To start with, find the right site. There are a number of portfolio based casting sites out there for photography. The bigger they are, the more likely it is that you will get a response to your casting call. As a photographer, you may have a profile on one or more of these sites already. If you do not, it’s time to set yourself up. Don’t be afraid to run the same casting call in more than one place at the same time, especially if you have more than one shoot to cast for. This will widen your pool of potential candidates.

Make sure to state as much information as possible up front. Stating your budget at this time is a really good idea. This prevents applications from those who are out of your range. You can also give some details of what you are looking for. If you have a moodboard or inspiration, share it. The more precise you can be, the better. Don’t forget to state a time and date if you have one in mind already.


Vet Your Applicants

Before too long, you will have applications to look at. These should be accompanied by a portfolio. You can also view portfolios during Google searches – just check out the pages on the MUA’s website. It is really important to look at the work they have already done. This will give you some idea of what they will be able to create for you.

If you are looking to use bright colors, find someone who has experience in that area. The same applies for classic looks or dark make-up. If your concept is very detailed, look to see if they have done something with a similar level of difficulty. Though they may not have done something very similar, you should be able to assess their levels of skill.

Try not to take the quality of the images into account. When doing make-up for private clients, the MUA may only be able to take a few snaps on their camera phone as evidence. They may also have backstage photos, but still be waiting for the full edits from the photographer. Judge them by what you can see in their images, not how well they are taken or framed.

If the portfolio does not have what you are looking for, consider asking them for more. Especially if they have applied to you, they probably think that they can achieve what you are looking for. Maybe they have more shots which are not in their portfolio for one reason or another. Or perhaps they will honestly tell you that they are trying out a new thing. Whatever the case may be, make sure that you have your eyes open when it comes to portfolios.

If you do not feel confident in their abilities, you should rule them out at this stage. Likewise, if you ask to see more images and they do not respond, cross them off the list. Reliability is very important. If you can’t get in touch with them even at this stage, who knows if they will turn up on the day of the shoot?


Discuss Your Ideas

Now comes the time to choose your MUA and get started on the work. Discuss your ideas with them and see whether they are on board. This is important because, sadly, not everyone pays as much attention as they should to the casting call.

Clarify the time, date, and location in which you will shoot before getting too far into the conversation. This will save you time if it turns out that they cannot attend. Next you can start to talk about what you want from the shoot. Use visual references where possible so that they can understand you more clearly. You should also let them know the concept or theme behind your shoot. This can give them the context to come up with a look that fits perfectly.

If you cannot agree on an idea, or your MUA does not seem to understand what you are looking for, then it may be time to move on. Particularly when you are investing money into a photo shoot, you need to make sure that it will provide you with exactly what you are looking for.

If you work well with your MUA, you may wish to contact them again for more photo shoots in the future. While you are researching this shoot, keep the details of any high quality MUAs in your area to one side. Even if you do not cast them this time, they may be suitable for a future project. This can help to make the casting process much easier in future.


Do you have a method for casting a makeup artist? Tell us in the comments! 

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