Beauty Photography: Sexy Look

Makeup artist: Makala Fairley

Makeup artist’s idea was to create a sexy look. Bright red lips, smokey eyes, lace dress – sounds like a perfect scenario for the complete look, but the first thing that I noticed was that the model  didn’t feel comfortable wearing the look. Here I need to mention that she wasn’t professional model trained to pose. The look was so unwanted for her that during the shoot she even refused to look at the photographs to see how good she was doing. She was trying her best, posing the way I asked her to, but her gaze didn’t meet the requirements of the look, she lacked some confidence in her face and movements. And there’s nothing surprising – she had to create a new personality, totally different from herself in front of the camera.

My first step was to help the model to get used to the camera, so I told her what poses to try and took multiple photographs not really caring about the result.

Next I wanted her to feel more relaxed, so offered her to make some movements instead of posing – to turn from side to side, to toss up her hair and so on. The technical problem was that I needed to focus  and frame very quickly, but after some tries I began to frame during the first movement, to focus during reiteration and to photograph on the second (third etc) reiteration. After these cheerful activities it looked like she got used to the process.

Then I asked her to repeat poses we started with and what I saw through the lens was the actual look we were going for. She looked self-confident and feminine and actually made me believe in the character she was playing.

Here are 2 photographs with similar poses to compare, left one is the 7th frame taken on the day (unedited) and on the right is the 93rd exposure:

Except the difference in retouching (the first is just cropped while the second was edited in a number of layers) you can see model’s reaction to the camera. In the left image the model is smiling, but the smile is strained, she looks tense and a little bit afraid. In the right image she’s comfortable, looks like she’s enjoying the process and creates completed look we were going for.

This session didn’t involve anything new for me from the technical side of view – softboxes and a reflector in front of the model and hard light on the background. Helping a subject to feel comfortable is a standard for me, so the workflow was usual as well. But the change in the model was greater than usual, the role-playing was really convincing successful. Next I plan to pay greater attention to subjects’ reactions to the process and changes in their mood and behavior to get one step closer to understanding how to help a model to become an actor or actress in front of the camera.

(Outcome 2)

Contact sheets:

sexy1          sexy2          sexy3


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