Make-up is one factor that goes hand in hand with photography that can make or break the way a bridal party looks in photos. Gamble here and there is a chance that no matter the skill of your photographer you will struggle to get great photos, to feel confident and enjoy your wedding day to the fullest.
There is so much more to good make-up that when asked, whatever the budget, I urge my brides to have a professional make-up artist on their wedding day. I have had to photograph weddings where brides have applied their own make-up or had a friend do it only to find that their skin looks like a reflective mirror in photos, the blending is noticeable and bad or it appears there is no make-up an hour into the day.
Sure, some of these issues can be addressed in photoshop but this can be very time consuming (and expensive) when you consider that you may have a couple of hundred photos with multiple people that all need retouching. The beauty of great make-up is that even an average photographer should be able to capture some nice closeups – in the hands of a good photographer you will look stunning.
I am constantly asked to refer make-up artists and while I do recommend a few on the Coast after having worked with many over the years my number one choice is Lee Hanly. I thought it’d be nice to catch up with Lee and ask her a few questions about bridal make-up, what to look out for, what to consider when commissioning someone and some questions you should ask as a bride booking a make-up artist. After all, it’s not something you do every day.
Having a mirror there, distracts them and doesn’t allow me to do what I do.
Andrew: How long have you been doing make-up and what’s involved in becoming a ‘qualified’ make-up artist?
Lee: I started 14 years ago in 1997 after completing my make-up course and went straight into weddings. After completing my make-up training I also studied beauty therapy and opened a salon that I had for six years. To become a professionally trained make-up artist takes two years of full time work.
Andrew: Do you only concentrate on weddings these days?
Lee: No, I love weddings and they are a major part of my business, but I also do plenty of TV commercials, photo shoots, corporate and music video work for the artists. That is part of the reason that I work from home now – most of my work is mobile and I am rarely in the same location two days in a row. That, plus I have two gorgeous boys and working from home allows me to be closer to them.
Andrew: So what about weddings, when do brides usually book you to do their make up?
Lee: My booking are anywhere from 6-12 months out from the wedding day and I like to do a trial about 3-4 months out from the wedding.
Andrew: What happens at the ‘trial’ that is different from the wedding day and what does the trial cost?
Lee: This is usually my first face to face meeting with the bride and the first half of the session is really going over ideas, listening, getting a feel for what my client is after and discussing the process. Once I have a good understanding, I go to work with the make-up. The complete trial is usually an hour to an hour and a half and this is the time that I get the full rundown on the day, the family, the proposal, likes and dislikes – it usually ends up like a couple of girlfriends chatting away about the excitement of the approaching wedding.
Once I’m finished and my client sees my work, there are smiles and hugs and more smiles (so true – I’ve witnessed this on many occasions at weddings – Andrew).
The trial session costs about $60
Andrew: Are the girls watching what you do as you go along and being critical every step of the way?
Lee: No, and this is a little secret of mine, but I have found over the years that the way I can do the best for my clients is to spend more time discussing what they are after before I start doing my work away from the mirror. This way my clients are more relaxed, they enjoy the session and they trust me to do what I do. Having a mirror there, distracts them and doesn’t allow me to do what I do.
Andrew: What if you finish the trial and your bride wants to adjust something, go a little darker here, try a different shade there?
Lee: No problem at all, once we are 90% of the way there I will fine tune the make up to whatever my client wants. My number one priority is that my girls are happy with their make-up and I do that by enhancing their good features with colour and tone while hiding the flaws. If I do that well, no one ever leaves unhappy.
Andrew: What about colours and tones? Who chooses – you or the bride?
Lee: This is where we discuss what she’s after before I start anything. We go over the look, the feel, dress colours, eye colour etc. If someone wants something that just won’t suit them I will tell them but honestly, anyone can wear any colour if it’s applied correctly with the right shading and tone.
There aren’t many professionally trained artists on the Coast, only a handful that I can think of
Andrew: With photography I often get asked to shoot ‘natural’ photos – do you get the same with make-up?
Lee: Yes, all the time! Almost every girl comes in asking for ‘natural’ looking make-up. Then they show me clippings of faces they like and they are all anything but natural. I totally understand that girls want to look like themselves but to get that magazine look of beautiful glowing skin, gorgeous lips and stunning eyes that pop in photos or on screen there has been more make-up applied that most people are aware.
Andrew: Ok, so how do you use more make-up but still keep it natural looking?
Lee: Great training, fourteen years of experience and thousands of make up assignments (she says smiling).
Andrew: Very funny – so you are saying that most girls will have more make-up applied than they may have first thought?
Lee: Yes, almost always. That’s not to say they won’t look natural or like themselves – they will. But to achieve what they are telling me they want, takes more make-up than they first think. Another reason to start the trial without a mirror.
Andrew: What about the dreaded spray tan – I always advise my brides against them, especially if they don’t usually have them done.
Lee: Spray tans can be a nightmare but if done correctly aren’t too bad. There are a couple of important things to consider when having a spray tan for a wedding. One, you must have your face sprayed in the same tone as your body or matching your make-up will be very, very tough. Two, match the tone of the tan to your skin type – fair skin, light tan, olive skin, a medium tan otherwise you will get that horrible yellowy orange skin.
Andrew: What about no spray tan?
Lee: Perfect! No tan is great for me and most girls that I see don’t need a spray tan, they just don’t realise how amazing they will look with a gorgeous hair style, beautiful make-up and a stunning gown.
Andrew: Tell me about the wedding day, how is that different from the trial, apart from all the excitement and commotion?
Lee: I loooove the wedding day, it’s so special. The difference for me is that I know exactly where I’m going with the make-up and I just make sure that everything is perfect. The make-up on the wedding day usually takes less time than the trial because of all the previous work. Most brides will pre order a lip gloss in their colour to take with them on the day and I give each of the girls a make up pad with their colour for any touch ups that may be needed.
Andrew: How much is the lip gloss and do the girls know how to apply the touch ups?
Lee: The lip gloss is $30 and I run through with the girls how to treat any blemishes or touch up if needed. The wedding day make-up is about $70 depending on numbers and locations. I’m based on the Central Coast but often work in Sydney, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. I can comfortably apply makeup for up to 10 women but if there are time constraints or larger numbers I’ll bring in another artist to help.
Andrew: How much is the wedding day make-up and how many weddings can you do in a day?
Lee: With number of weddings in a day, it depends again on the size of the bridal party and the location but it’s always who ever books first has the priority.
it’s extremely reflective and looks awful in photos giving the look of shiny, sweaty skin
Andrew: What if you are booked Lee, what should girls look out for when booking a make-up artist for their wedding?
Lee: There aren’t many professionally trained artists on the Coast, only a handful that I can think of so my first question would be about their training. A weekend course in make-up just won’t be enough for something as important as a wedding. Professionally trained artists have done a minimum of two 2 years full time.
I would also ask about the products they use, they need to be professional brands like Mac, Napolean and Evolve. Cheaper brands often have a lot of sunscreen which is ok for everyday use, I recommend a sunscreen based product for everyday wear but it’s extremely reflective and looks awful in photos giving the look of shiny, sweaty skin.
Mineral style make-ups are great and popular at the moment but again, girls must be careful about brands as some look terrible for photography.
Lastly, ask about experience and references. How many weddings have they done, can I contact a past client or two or can you show me a portfolio of your previous work?
Andrew: Do you ever have girls come to you after they have had a trial somewhere else?
Lee: Yes, that’s quite common and it’s usually because the other artist wasn’t prepared to listen to what the client actually wanted but instead told them what will be best for them. With less experienced artists it’s usually a case of they know how to apply a certain look a certain way and aren’t experienced enough to adapt to what suits the client.
Andrew: What about using a friend to do the make up?
Lee: I wouldn’t trust a friend to photograph my wedding and I would’t want to trust a friend to do my make-up for my wedding. This is usually the biggest day of a girls life – when else do you get the chance to dress and be treated like a princess for a day? I would rather my friends enjoy the day with me and not stress about getting the make-up right. If you have a friend that knows a little make-up or has done a small course, use them to do your make-up for a night out, the engagement party, the hens night, anything – not the wedding.
Make up artistry is a profession, not a hobby – not for me anyway.
Andrew: Thanks Lee, there are some great tips there and hopefully there will be something for any future bride that comes by the blog. I know you don’t have a website, so how can people find or book you for their wedding?
Lee: Thanks Andrew, it’s been fun. I know, I know I’ve been slack with no website and I will get around to it. It’s on my list of things to do in 2011.
The easiest way to contact me is on my mobile 0411 032 126, my home studio 4385 1332 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks again, see you in a couple of weeks at the next wedding we are working together. Bye.