Ask an Agent / Hair & Make-up for 'Real People'

Ask an Agent is a regular monthly column tackling all your dilemmas about the photography industry – the photography industry’s first Agony Aunt! If you have any questions you’d like to ask a photographers agent please send them to Questions can be on anything to do with the photography business, such as photoshoots, marketing, professional practice, pricing, contracts, legal stuff – anything!


This month we have a great question from a freelance designer about using a hair & make-up artist on shoots when a very natural look is required.

Dear Ask an Agent,

I need to commission photography for an annual report of several employees. I have got a few quotes in from photographers, some of which include a hair and make-up artist. I don’t want the employees to look over made up though, what’s your take on this? I know a lot of your photographers shoot some very natural images and that you also represent hair and make-up artists. Is it a good idea to have one on a shoot?

Brian Philips. Freelance Designer.

Hi Brian,

Thanks for your question. Nice to have one from a designer. This comes up a lot actually on these kinds of shoots and a lot of people share your concern. When commissioning photography of ‘real people’, and not professional models, the brief is usually to keep everything natural. Some clients even specifically request 'no hair and make-up' thinking this will help make the end result more authentic. However, the opposite can often be the case!

In our experience, when people know they are having their picture taken they turn up to work all dolled up, perhaps even after a trip to the hairdressers and looking nothing like they would do at work normally! The job of our hair and make-up artists is often to to ‘de-glam’ the subjects and start again.

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 16.46.12© Patrick Harrison / Hair & make-up by Claire Portman

The key is to get the right hair and make-up artist and brief them correctly. Our division LPA Style represents some great artists who have tonnes of experience making people look ‘everyday’. I would wholly recommend you do retain this option on your shoot if budget allows.

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