I can't really explain what drew me to beauty photography. I know I had been following Julia Kuzmenko for a long time and I can't even remember when I first saw one of her images or where I saw it for that matter. What I do know is that I was blown away. You could see the model's skin, the intricacy of the makeup artist's work. It's like this little rabbit hole that you start going down; I started to google and study the work of other photographers who shot beauty. Courtney Dailey, Jenn Collins, Felix Rachor, Daniela Gulunz... I'm always blown away by the work that they're out there creating. Then I started following their makeup artists and that's where I really fell in love with beauty photography.
I think I chose beauty photography because it is a challenging genre. I'm not going to lie - my work wasn't that good a year and a half ago. It takes constant practice and constant studying. There's no simple way around it. My first workshop was with Courtney Dailey. She gave me an opportunity to come to Las Vegas at the 11th hour and I jumped a plane and went to learn the very basics and beginnings of beauty photography. After a few practice sessions and an investment in a 7' parabolic umbrella, I really began to study the work of the photographers I followed. The one that stood out to me the most was Julia Kuzmenko because she was interactive with her followers; answering their retouching questions and because she was also an educator in beauty. I followed Retouching Academy and then her page on Instagram. That's when I saw she had taken on a student photographer and she retouched some of the work they shot together. I immediately reached out to her via her website and asked how I could get on her schedule for a workshop. She only taught one-on-one sessions and she was incredibly selective. I had to show her some of my work to get in the door! She was selective because she wanted to teach those who had the determination and drive to perfect their craft and had creative vision. Julia has zero filter and is very upfront about her evaluations of an individual's work. Rightfully so, if you're going to ask her opinion, you should be prepared to hear it in full.
Another reason I like beauty photography is because beauty is a team effort. You can get away without having a hair stylist if you want to focus on the makeup artistry and the beauty of the model. You can pull a model's hair into a bun or back away from her face and neck. But it still takes a team to do the work. These are very specific team members who are striving to perfect technique and have a creative vision. You can go from portrait scale to macro level work. You can highlight the overall beauty of the model and artist's work, and then you can deep dive into the very details. The creativity lies within the team and that's why being selective in your team members is important. The model is equally as important. She's (or he) is the canvas that you can create from but there still has to be something within the eyes. There has to be depth and soul in the eyes. That's why I'm starting to prefer actresses or those models that have command of their emotions and expressions. This is a graduation in level that has required me to seek out more skilled creatives. The team is important and cannot be understated in beauty photography.
My last reason for shooting beauty primarily is because I'm not always in love with the latest fashion trends. Fashion cycles through it's stages and is definitely experimental. But sometimes I feel like I'm seeing the same thing over and over. The same poses, the same looks on the models. While it is all necessary and it is an expression of art, sometimes I find myself with no interest in retouching my own fashion work. I actually outsource some of it to retouchers because I would rather spend the time and have creative control over an entire beauty shoot. That's not to say I won't shoot fashion and honestly, I need to incorporate more of it into my portfolio so I will definitely try to find my own small corner in the fashion world in 2018.
But I think I've found my niche. Now it's figuring out how to leverage my own talents to fulfill my own dreams and desires. I want to make this my life's work so I never have to "work" another day of my life. I think it's something we're all looking for in life.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section. I would truly love to hear what you have to say.