How to Organize a Simple Location Beauty Bag

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Ludmila Borosova
Ludmila Borosova

The perfect photograph is a combination of all elements around it – the work of the photographer, the outfits from the stylist, the crafted facial expressions of the model, and the beautiful makeup made by the talented hands of the makeup artist. But what if you’re the only one that’s responsible for all the tasks mentioned above? And what if your makeup artist is only booked for the beginning of the shoot, and isn’t staying for the fix-up during the photoshoot? It’s time to learn a new skill and get your photographer’s makeup/beauty kit together!

Today, we’ll cover the following:

  • Why is it crucial to use makeup in photography?
  • What is the current trend in photography makeup?
  • How to learn the basics of makeup as a photographer
  • How to build your first beauty bag for photoshoots

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Recommended Reading: If you’d like to learn how to create amazing portraits, grab a copy of Photzy’s premium guide: The Art of Portrait Photography.

Makeup Is the Foundation… Literally!

In portrait photography, we have many genres that you can perfect. Makeup and proper hairstyles aren’t a necessity in any of them, but some genres are making use of this craft much more often. They are frequently close-up portraits, beauty photography, or editorials that you can find in popular fashion magazines. Makeup makes your pictures pop by adding whole new levels to the picture. It makes it easier to express feelings and fashion statements, but it’s not everything.

Makeup makes your pictures pop by adding whole new levels to the picture. It makes it easier to express feelings and fashion statements.

I see the biggest value in post-production, where it helps in many places. The biggest advantage is always correctly applied foundation and contouring. If blended properly, it shows the facial features we aim to highlight. My favorite part of the face is cheekbones – and even though you can emphasize them while editing, a good foundation makes this step faster and more precise.

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

In close-up portraits, this also creates a great base for retouching. In modern methods used by professional re-touchers, you must be able to achieve a smooth look while leaving skin texture untouched. While makeup foundation is often overlooked in real life, it is the main ingredient of great photo makeup. Other add-ons, like eyeshadows, serve as contrast makers in your pictures. Not only do they complement outfits or background colors, but they also create a darker spot to play with when applying curves or dodge and burn.

The “No Makeup” Trend: What?

Even though the current trends are making makeup disappear, it only seems like it. “Why would I take time to learn something that’s getting out of fashion?” I see where you’re coming from. The current “no-makeup trend” doesn’t literally mean wearing no makeup as a model. It’s about taking all the necessary steps to look as natural as possible. It’s less about the colors, sparkles, and eyeliners and more about the quality of the foundation and highlighting the natural qualities of the model. Personally, it’s very tricky, because achieving this “no-makeup makeup” look is way harder and demands great skills. As a photographer, you need to be aware of upcoming trends and embrace them when possible. Learn how you can incorporate them into your portraits. Explore best practices. Get creative with them. But at the same time, don’t forget that trends come and go. Whenever you feel like doing the absolute opposite, do it! In the end, it’s your taste that matters. If you want to fully express it, you should learn the basics of makeup and hairstyling!

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Learning the Absolute Minimum Elevates Your Work!

Now you understand that the right “touch” on set could make a significant difference in the final photograph. You don’t need to master the craft to elevate your work. Let’s start simply by doing small steps and taking bigger challenges as we go.

Watch the artist’s work – Do you remember how many activities you perfected just by watching the master work? Next time you’re on set, take time to absorb what the person is doing. Don’t focus on overall makeup; take in the subtle steps. How is she holding the brush? What is she using to add sparkles? How does she make sure that the hair is fixed? How do they add other decorations using glue?

Ask and learn – Whenever you struggle, ask ahead! Is the makeup artist leaving for the photoshoot? Find out what details you should be looking for while she’s away. The model will be moving around, so anything can happen. Ask how to fix what needs to be fixed. Discover why different products need to be used. Ask what not to do. A great example is wedding photography when you need to be aware of all things to NOT do. Did you know that there are even special ways to dry tears when wearing makeup? Now you do!

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Practice on yourself – Do you feel somewhat confident wearing makeup? Do a self-portrait session. You’ll be the makeup artist and the model. The way you put on makeup for pictures is very different from your daily routine. Try it to see what you do well and what can be improved. You will only realize this once you upload these full-resolution pictures and retouch them!

Use free resources to learn – The Internet is full of free tutorials, so take full advantage of them and start learning. Start with learning the basics of applying makeup for photography and follow up with cute trends and creative projects. Once you know how to correctly apply base and blend it in your favor, you can start building on it.

Apply for a makeup course – If you’re really enjoying what you’re doing and you feel like you should take your skill to the next level, apply for a course! There are plenty of options in every city. If not, you can pay a local artist to do private lessons. Owning a certificate will enable you to have a huge advantage over your competitors. You’ll be able to sell a package that includes both photographs and makeup.

The Internet is full of free tutorials, so take full advantage of them and start learning.

Getting better at a new craft takes some time, but it’s not a waste if it complements your main hobby or work. Makeup goes hand in hand with photography, so investing your time in it only makes sense. After that, you should invest some money in a quality beauty bag that you can carry onto some photoshoots.

Here Are the Top 10 Things You Really Need in Your Location Makeup Kit


The number of times my clients asked me for a hairbrush is countless. Be a photographer that is ready for a wind crisis! I recommend buying a large hairbrush for untangling hair and also a comb to get just a few strands under control.

Bobby pins and paper clips

These little magic inventions can be used for fixing hair or any clothes or accessories that need to tighten up. They are very small and effective, which makes them ideal to retouch later!


We all know that hair has the talent of picking the worst time to be frizzy! Carrying hairspray in your bag allows you to have a quick fix.

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Makeup foundations

Create a collection with a bunch of shades to serve different skin colors. This will be the biggest expense of your makeup kit, but it is a necessity to correctly fix any skin imperfections.

Oils and glitters

Glowing skin is in fashion, so buy a few skin products that can be applied to glow during a photoshoot. The oils often come in natural transparent colors, but there are glitter versions that have fun color options.

 Translucent powder

While glowing skin can look perfect, it may sometimes not be the intention. There are special powders that exist for photography makeup, and they remove excessive shine.


It’s always good to have mascara in a bag because nothing is as important as eye makeup! There are also disposable applicators if you will be using them with multiple people, so no worries!

Blush and highlighter

Sometimes, the cheek just misses a bit of extra color or spark! Highlighters are extremely popular in photoshoots these days and add a beautiful final touch to the skin and contouring.

Collection of eyeshadows

Even though we established that nude makeup is now trending, it doesn’t mean that adding extra color will hurt your pictures. A very popular way of using eyeshadows now is selecting only one bright color that matches another element in the picture. Ready to try that?

Makeup remover

Finally, don’t forget to add anything you need to remove makeup from the liquid to the cotton pads, ear sticks (for small corrections), or makeup-removing wipes. Mistakes can happen, and you need to always have an easy fix on hand with you.

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

You don’t need to have the perfect beauty bag to start, just these simple essentials will go a long way. Remember that with providing this extra service also comes responsibility: keeping the products and brushes clean and sanitized for further use.

Recommended Reading: If you’d like to learn how to create amazing portraits, grab a copy of Photzy’s premium guide: The Art of Portrait Photography.

Self-Check Quiz:

  1. Where can you see the biggest value of makeup as a photographer?
  2. In which genres of photography do you see it used most often?
  3. How is the current trend of makeup developing?
  4. What are the characteristics of “no-makeup makeup”?
  5. How can you learn the skill from other people?
  6. What other resources can you use to get better?
  7. How can a makeup certificate improve your business?
  8. What are some of the things you should have in a beauty bag?
  9. Should you include some hair products in your bag as well?
  10. Is sanitization of these products among your responsibilities?


  • Organize a collaboration with your favorite makeup artist. Meet up with her before the photo shoot and ask her if she could explain the steps she is taking. Make notes!
  • Do a self-portrait photoshoot with different makeup styles. Check them out very carefully while editing to make sure you appreciate what you did well and find out where you can get better. Try these ones:
  • Nude “no makeup” challenge
  • Celebrity makeup challenge
  • Colorful eyeshadow challenge
  • The most creative makeup challenge
  • Emotional makeup challenge

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