I am a hobby photographer and get asked often to take shots of people.. Most of the times it works just fine but there are two categories of people that drive me nuts and I have no clue about what would be the proper way to work with them.

1) ugly: Some girls, are quite ugly and despite my effort I dont seem to be able to get nice shots of them. For sure it is due to my lack of experience but still I dont know how to work with them. They expect magazine like pictures but the result is far from that. How do you work with them?

2) makeup: some girls (mostly the younger ones) come with tons of makeup on to look older, but you know better than me that it looks horrible unnatural and fake on photo. I tell them to put very little to no make up on, but they are hardminded and still put a lot of makeup on and the result is bad.

what are your sugestions to these two points?


2 Answers 2


First question:

  • Use Photoshop. You can retouch ('beautify') them by using various tools - there are plenty of tutorials on the net for this. But be sure to not show the unprocessed photos.

  • Also you can use artistic filters to give a vintage, art mood. ...Or, see here.

  • Use Light & shadow. Use an artistic/mood light. Play with shadows. A harsh/'official'/shiny light doesn't make a service in such cases. Rather a dreamy/high-key or, on contrary, low-key ambient.

  • Use creative approaches to show their inner self - this can lead to miracles.

  • Black & white. Definitely black & white. 'Nuff said. And if it isn't enough, have a look for more.

Second question:

  • Show them some gorgeous photos from internet without makeup.
  • Lower the light. Then the makeup will not show too much.
  • Don't treat them as 'ugly' and 'hardminded'. Show them love. Compassion. Understanding. Try to work with them as they are. And then you can do with them what you want. With pressure you will not obtain anything.
  • And anyway, what's wrong with 'tons of makeup'? See for a "better" approach here.

...or if you're really a pro, show them these photos and work together to accomplish similar results.

See, I think that there's no ugliness. 'Ugly' can be only the way in which we see things. Most of the time we are the problem - not the others ...and THE PROOF IS HERE>

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Plus one million for "Don't treat them as 'ugly' and 'hardminded'. Show them love. Compassion. Understanding. Try to work with them as they are. And then you can do with them what you want. With pressure you will not obtain anything" and "Most of the time we are the problem - not the others" \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 14:30

Both really come down to the same problem, your lack of experience. Yes, both of the situations you described are harder to work with, but there are natural poses and angles that will accentuate the good aspects while minimizing the bad for just about anyone that doesn't have a horribly deformed face.

Focus on any areas of symmetry and trying to get the light and angles to focus on these while posing them and shooting from an angle to minimize the appearance of any fat. The entire set of tricks you can use is too broad to put here, but an easy and common one is to have them stick their head forward and chin slightly down which does a lot to smooth out the neck and cheeks.

As far as too much make up, heavy make up is actually generally a good thing in photography. If you saw people in real life after they come off a TV or movie set, you'd think they looked very artificial and overdone with the make up. The issue comes down almost entirely to your post production skills.

Makeup removes blemishes in real life, but it also alters color and tone to look fake. You have to compensate for this by using lighting that accentuates the shape of the face and then post production that color maps the image back to a normal, human looking image.

  • \$\begingroup\$ If you'd like some more practical, situational advice and critiques of some of your photos, feel free to jump in chat some time and post some photos. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson
    Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 16:02

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