I’ve always been fascinated by beauty & glamour photography. I’ve paid close attention to every detail from the makeup & hair to the posing & set design. However, my favorite part has been the work done behind the camera. It’s taken me about three months to get really comfortable with my tools, style, and workflow. So I’m a little new, but like any skill you care for, you should always be developing it and crafting it. So I thought it would be a good idea to write about how I got started and update you in later blogs about what I learn along the way.
My first step was to save and organize the work of photographers who I thought are amazing. So I dived into the hashtags, saving beauty photos, and kept a mental note about what I specifically liked about them. I followed my favorite photographers on Instagram and YouTube. Some of them are kind enough to document the technical bits of what equipment they use and what their workflow is like. Some will host workshops in different cities, and some will sell their courses online. One thing I did was put together a digital reference/inspiration board. It’s not just handy for planning, but also during the shoot for directing the pose of your model and referencing a well-lit shot.
You want to do a reasonable amount of research on the technical side of photography before you look for your camera, lenses, and lighting equipment. The reason being, most equipment reviews probably won’t go into detail on what the specs mean for you in the real world. So YouTube is a great resource to help you get started. Look up ‘Photography Basics’ and learn about ISO, Shutter Speed, and aperture. You want to ‘future-fit’ some of your equipment if possible so don’t get the cheapest camera the first time around. Get a camera you can grow with by buying nicer lenses as you go. You want to learn about the difference between Full-Frame and Crop-Sensor lenses to make sure you don’t bottle-neck your focal-length. Keep in mind not all lenses are compatible with all cameras. So picking between Canon, Sony, Nikon, and other brands will be an important first decision.
The cameras in mobile phones have gotten pretty advanced with the ability to give you a very respectable bokeh effect but they’re not going to get you the results you want in every scenario, especially in beauty photography. They’re great point and shoot cameras but don’t have the kind of control you’re really going to want in the long run. That doesn’t mean you need to buy the equipment your favorite photographers are using. That can get very expensive. But with a reasonable budget, hard work, and marketing, photography can pay off artistically as well as financially. Once you finally get your equipment, you’ll really want to get familiar with your camera. Look up tutorials for your camera on YouTube or read the manual if you’re feeling nerdy. I started with a Sony Alpha series and the menu was daunting, to say the least. But you want to be able to make changes to your settings quickly in a shoot. So learn your settings and practice! Practice! Practice Practice! Take photos of your dog, your boyfriend your girlfriend. Go crazy!
Beauty photography seems to be all about the re-touching! Now I’ll admit, re-touching wasn’t my forte but with practice I eventually became better. Before starting photography I’d never worked with Photoshop, Lightroom, or Capture One so it’s been a long learning curve for me. You can outsource the re-touching work if you want to. However, it’s still a good idea to learn some re-touching yourself so that way you know what you can or can’t fix in the editing stage. I decided I wanted to learn how to re-touch for myself and It’s been an amazing journey even though I’m just getting started. But I’m really happy with the results I’ve gotten so far. I’ll be writing future blogs about my experience shooting RAW versus JPEG, Capture One versus Lightroom, interacting with modeling agencies, collaborating, my lighting equipment, camera settings, and building my team. If you found this helpful please consider subscribing to my mailing list to be notified about new blogs and subscribe to my Instagram @leylasapad