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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Anatomy of a Photoshoot

Most of you will know by now that I do some makeup work on the side - it's by no means a full time job for me (yet! Fingers crossed!) but it is something I work very hard at and put a lot of hours into. A friend of mine made a comment last week that made me realise that most people simply don’t know how much work goes into a photoshoot! I did a beauty shoot just over a week ago and this post documents everything that goes into it - from my point of view, anyway! Preparations for models, photographers and stylists are of course all different but take just as much if not more time. Not all shoots involve this much planning, some require more and some less. Each one is different.

My friend Yat Tang was the photographer for this shoot and it was his concept. I’ve worked with him a few times and his work is beautiful. In a more professional setting he would be the client, and everything would need to be approved by them. He sent me this inspiration board:

flower beauty1

And then I set up my own Pinterest board to gather my thoughts and ideas as well:



Once I'd seen the models Yat had cast, I came up with a rough face chart for each and sent them to him for approval:

face chart 


One of the looks involved making a hair piece which I knew would really help take the photos to a better level.  I spent a couple of hours in the shops searching for bits and bobs for it, and I also went foraging for leaves, twigs etc. I then spent an afternoon making the head piece which was very tricksy actually! I don't always make things for shoots, but if it's applicable I like to add that extra level of my creativity and it often impresses the team as well. Other things I might make include nails and other head pieces, like this and this.


Here I am sewing hair donuts together to get the size and height I want. Hair donuts can be very expensive in some places so I bought el cheapo ones from Primark and made with the scissors!


Halfway there…


And finished! Sewing real leaves together is a pain in the butt! It’s not the most fabulous thing in the world but trust me, it looked great in the photos.

The day before the shoot, I spend up to two hours cleaning my brushes and packing and re-cleaning my kit. It doesn’t always take that long, but if I’ve left it till the last minute and have no clean brushes left, which I do all too often, it can take a while! I’ll double check everything before I leave for the shoot at least twice as I have a huge, huge fear of leaving my brushed behind! I could substitute many things for something else in my kit but no brushes = disaster!

My first model, Donna, was at 9.30pm and we shot with her until 1pm. She had a pretty simple, soft look with oranges and pinks. Her hair and makeup took perhaps an hour and a half, maybe a little longer. This sounds like a long time considering the look but it's important to get it right. Her headdress was made on the day as we were using fresh flowers. Here's a timelapse video and some BTS shots of getting ready and starting to shoot:



Beauty Shoot with Donna Time Lapse from Yat Tang on Vimeo.




As you can see, Jade isn’t dressed up at all! If you’re only shooting headshots, quite often a model will just wear what they came in or something on the top half. Lots of beauty shoots are just shot in a strapless bra.

I hope this illustrates that behind the scenes things aren't always as glamorous as people image them to be! Lots of studios in London are in unromantic places such as business parks, hidden behind car parks, on industrial estates, etc. When I first started going to studios I wondered if what I’d gotten myself into was dodgy due to the locations!

Finally, here are some of the images:





It seems like a lot of work and it is, but seeing a beautiful image you helped create is so amazing. There's nothing like it! After a shoot, there’s not much work for me and the model – obviously I have to clean a lot of brushes and my kit, but you soon get used to doing this all the time and have a little routine so it doesn’t take too long. Small things like packing dirty brushes separately from ones that haven’t been used helps a lot.

Hope this was interesting to some of you - please check out Yat, Donna and Jade's pages, and if you're in the London area, Dock House Studio.


  1. This was really interesting! Thanks for the insight. x

    1. Thanks Leah, I do wonder if I bore people!

  2. Having shot with Robyn, I know how meticulous she is in prepping for shoots. One thing she has not mentioned here is how much effort she puts into communication with everyone on the team so she's able to create what's needed for the shoot. As a photographer, this is key for me, especially when there's a concept with very specific ideas behind them.

    Really interesting to see a little more of what is behind the magic of Stay Beautiful makeup :)

  3. YES, the real leaves DO look awesome in the photo!! You are very dedicated to your work to take things to that level of detail! (I also loved the paper/origami head pieces) My fingers are crossed for you as well, I hope you could make a full time job out of this! I definitely think you have the talent.


Thanks for reading! Got a question? Catch me on Instagram @staybeautifulmakeup or on Twitter @robynheartsslap