How to Take Amazing Pictures of Your Makeup Looks

You’ve heard the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” That is definitely the case when it comes to capturing your makeup creativity. We all have those days when we look in the mirror and say, “Wow, my makeup looks amazing today. I think I may just take a photo of it!” I, for one know that I have.

However, when it came down to trying to take a photo of my makeup, it never seemed to look anything like what I had actually created. Rather disappointed, I kept on trying to find new ways until I realized that there are little tricks to help your makeup show up in photos just as it does in person. Here are five simple tips to help you photograph your makeup just as you see it!

If you have other question or suggestions/tips, please post them in the comments below and we can work them in to later revisions of this guide.


Amazing photos doesn’t have to be about lights and equipment. Good lighting is without a doubt the most single important thing when it comes to taking accurate photos of your makeup. Natural light always works best. When taking pictures outside it’s important to remember the best time to take most photographs are in the early morning or afternoon. Midday lighting is often too harsh as it can cast dark shadows under the eyes and around the nose.

Try to avoid direct sunlight as much as possible, as this tends to wash out the color. Another great way is to find a room with windows that reflects outdoor sunlight. Any brightly lit room will do. If you choose to use lamps for your lighting, know that the lighting will be harsher, but also bring out color more. If you are working with professional lights, it’s best to use an umbrella to soften the light and not make it so direct and avoid casting shadows. However, to save some money bounce light off of a piece of white cardboard will. It work wonders and is an inexpensive way to practice.

natural lighting, complementary background, and great framing (by starryskies214)


The kind of camera you have determines the kind of background that would be best for you to use. If you have a simple point and shoot camera (Ex: Nikon COOLPIX) you will want to keep your background plain and simple. Point and shoots do not give as much range of depth of field (blurring of the background) as a dLSR (Digital single-lens reflex) camera would.

If you have a dSLR, any background would be good, just as long as it’s not too distracting and your main focus is the makeup. For me though a clean simple background is always best. You want the attention to be on your makeup, not what’s behind you. Don’t be in front of a busy background such as a public street. Use available items that are either dark or light as backdrops. If you choose to be outside, then try a simple location with minimal background.  Keep in mind, your makeup should be the star!


Make sure that your face or the specific area with makeup is the main focus. This way the viewer is not distracted by the other things around you, and focuses on just the makeup itself.  For example, if you are photographing just your eye makeup then there is no need to photograph the whole face.

Showing off specific techniques such as creating an outer v, blending or doing a cut crease needs to be the focus of your photograph. However, if you are showing a complete look, photographing the entire face is a must. Even with complete looks, you should try to have some detail eye shots (these are the looks that get the most “Loves” on the Idea Gallery and get featured on the front page of Makeup Geek).

The Zoom feature on a camera can add to the pleasure of photography. However, many people are confused between optical and digital. Optical zoom is what the lens is actually capable of.  This is an unmanipulated zoom, and the result of changing the focal length of the lens. Digital zoom is an artificial zoom, where the size of the image is digitally enhanced to create the impression of a longer lens. While that sounds like a good idea it usually isn’t. Photos can look fuzzy and out of focus. Only optical zoom will produce clean, crisp pictures that will show off your makeup creation.

Now let’s talk about the other type of focus. This step is critical for having a professional looking photo. Whether it’s a shaky hand, or movement of the subject, keeping things in focus and preventing blurring is a must. While getting professional photos may not take expensive equipment, it does take a steady assistant. Use a tripod if you have one. They only take seconds to set and adjust but help in taking great pictures.

Taking pictures of small objects, such as your eyes, can be tricky. Any minor movement of the camera will have your eye off center. Using a tripod will reduce any unwanted movement in the camera. If you don’t have a tripod, try using a shelf or anything that will make your camera stationary. Or better yet, have a friend take your photo for you.

Also, try using the camera’s timing option. Almost every camera has one these days. Consult your manual to find out exactly where it is located and how to set it. This will give you a fixed time between pressing the shutter and the camera actually snapping the picture. Depending on the camera this could be anything from a couple of seconds to ten seconds, and often, you can have it take multiple shots to choose from.

Perfect focus and the right angle can make all the difference (by Jangsara)


Posing for a photo isn’t hard when you know your best angle and poses, and they aren’t that hard to figure out.  Practice in front of a mirror and see what makes you look and feel great. Most people are used to taking their photos straight on but every now and again, a slight angle looking up, down to the side and so on can add a little jazz and spice to the photograph.

When photographing your eyes look down as opposed to squeezing your eye shut. This prevents those wrinkles on the eyelid. When taking open eye photos try raising your eyebrow or lifting it so you can get a better view of the color on your lid. Don’t take a full-face photo either. You know, one of those driver’s license pictures that we all love so much. Instead, try taking your photo at an angle to emphasis cheek color and capture your lips and eyes as well. Just remember, they key to pulling any good look off is confidence.

Cropped & Framed

Cropping is an easy and yet important step to consider when editing your photos. Although not every photo will need to be cropped the visual impact can be greatly improved. Remember; always work on a copy of the original photo. If you work on an original any changes you make are permanent and can’t be undone. There are many reasons to crop a photo, but here are a few.

If it’s off-center or not close enough, crop and center the photo. That way our main focus is on the makeup, and not other distractions. This also helps out if you have a simple point and shoot camera that is unable to create that depth of field. It keeps your photos really simple and easy.

One important thing to know is not to over crop you photo. For example, if you are taking a picture to show off your smokey eye, there is no need for a full face picture. This will cause you to have to crop the picture down so much it will make the picture pixilated which will make it blurry. To get a clean, clear picture of what you are trying to show off, focus on that area. Just remember, taking pictures of your creations should be fun and exciting. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get it at first.  Remember, practice makes perfect.

The EXTRA Close-Up

Getting an extra-close photo of your eye is very helpful for showing off the detail in your work.   Depending on your camera, there should be some settings to help you accomplish this better.   If you use a more simple model of camera set it to “Close up” mode which usually is indicated by a picture of a flower in most cameras.

If you are using a more advanced camera you might want to do the adjustments manually. I set my camera to the manual mode which is denoted by the letter “M” (at least it is in Canon cameras). Then I set the aperture value to around 5.0 and the shutter to 1/200. Depending on the light conditions you might want to adjust the ISO value. If the light is good then you can have a lower ISO value  and if you’re photographing in not too great light conditions you can put your ISO to a higher value. The best thing to learn the relations
between shutter, aperture and ISO is to experiment and see what happens! :)

Share with the Makeup Geek Community

Interested in sharing some of your new photos with your freshly-learned photo skills?  Check out our Idea Gallery and submit your own look!

Rating: 3.8. From 16 votes.
Please wait...

Posted in Becoming A Makeup Artist on (last modified: May 16, 2017)