Are Makeup Artist and Stylists Important in Commercial Photography?

Product photography and lifestyle photography have levels of quality to them. There is the quality or grade of equipment used. There is the technical knowledge of the photographer. There is also post-production work done to the photos. Each of these adds layers of improvement that vary depending on how good they are. And, so do makeup artists (MUA) and stylists.

Most lifestyle and product photo shoots are a bit more complex than some vendors imagine them to be. It is important to understand, the examples used herein are but a few. But, generally speaking, the principles concepts are applicable to just about any other product or lifestyle shoot. They can include for modeled accessories like jewelry, shoes, or socks. Or, even non-clothing items like electronics, housewares, and so on. Like with using better gear, a better photographer, and better software, any photo shoot can benefit to be more successful with proper makeup, hair stylists, or general stylists on board.

using stylists and makeup in fashion photography
A Stylist, Whether for Makeup, Hair or Clothes, Can Help Make an Image Look More Polished

Models and Clothing for Fashion Shoots

The use of an experienced model can also make a big difference. They can appear very natural when interacting with your product. This makes a product stand apart infinitely more than just the product laying against a white background.

Having shots of just a product against a clean-white background usually has an important role. And, often this is a requirement of some ecommerce platforms, such as Amazon.com. To meet these requirements, a vendor could say they want their jeans photographed lying flat (flat lay) against an all-white background. It’s a style preference and not necessarily wrong. But, specifically with a fashion item, it cannot be ignored that it is lifeless and somewhat an inaccurate depiction of how a fashion item appears during real use.

For this reason, it is usually ideal to photograph fashion items with a model wearing them. This way, a buyer can more easily visualize how they may appear on their own body. Once you have introduced a model into the scenario, you must start considering stylists to elevate the imagery, for hair, makeup, and wardrobe.

Enter the Stylists

If you have ever read all the credits to a recent blockbuster movie, you will see there are a lot of really specialized people working on them. It practically takes a village to make one. With photo shoot, again generally speaking, the more specialized people you can put on one, the more the more polished the images will be.

Stylists matter because they are specialists at their craft, at making products look good or depicting them how they are intended to be used, and so on. How a model’s hair or make-up looks matters. They might be subtle improvements but subconsciously it might be the difference between someone feeling they should add your item to their cart rather than your competitor’s item.

Proper styling impacts the overall quality and perception of the image – and your brand. Subconsciously or not, a customer will find a properly styled image more pleasing than one that is not. Most big brands understand this and so they shoot with creative directors, MUA, hair stylists, wardrobe stylists, and so on.

Sometimes, vendors want to forego additional expenses and just have the photographer manage it all. This is understandable because budgets are budgets. But business managers should then understand that the photographer is not a makeup artist, hair stylist, and general stylist, nor is the model.

Also, expecting a jack-of-all trades scenario can de-focuses the photographer from their task of taking great pictures. There is a reason any great movie does not have the director also be the lead actor, and the lead writer, and the executive producer, and the supporting actor, and all at the same time. And, yes, it adds to the cost – often significantly.

Can You Afford It, Or Afford Not to?

Arriving at the decision to have specialized experts on shoots generally are based on being able to answer yes to both these questions. Does my budget allow for various specialists to be on the shoot? Do I want to consistently play alongside the big brands or am I fine not doing so? Sometimes you might want to answer yes but a no is forced upon you.

Stylists play important roles in photo shoots. While making sure their tasks are done to elevate the images and the brand, they help the photographer stay focused on the photography. This leads to overall better results from photo shoots. You might not always need every type of stylist on all shoots. But you should at least consider using a stylist for all commercial photo shoots.

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