HAIR Do’s & Dont’s

What every photographer should know about wedding-day hair and makeup


Ten years or so after the wedding, guests will forget if lechon was served at the reception or if stargazers were used for the bridal bouquet, or even what the bride wore. Only the photos can immortalize that magical day—good or bad makeup included. as the person in charge of capturing these moments, the photographer is the bride’s last defense against looking like a giant espasol forever. One of your duties is to make sure the bride (and groom and the rest of the wedding party) look their best.

One of the most frustrating things to realize is when you know if something is wrong with the picture, but you just can’t quite put a finger to it. here’s a checklist of common makeup mistakes that can probably contribute to bad photos:

The face appears lighter than the rest of the body. Nothing ruins a good wedding photo than a bride’s face looking whiter than her gown. some makeup has light-reflecting properties, which can make the bride look radiant in person but like a kabuki in photos. Sometimes to look especially stunning, some brides-to-be undergo bleaching or whitening which can make the face slightly lighter than the rest of the body. Politely suggest that the makeup artist put a darker loose powder on the bride’s face, or use lighter foundation for the rest of the bride’s body.

Too much contouring. In an effort to look their absolute best on their wedding day—they want a smaller face, nicer nose, plumper lips—the bride may end up with mask-like features for a face. If adjusting the camera’s white balance doesn’t do the trick, blending the makeup a bit more may be needed.

makeup 1

Shining, shimmering…awful. if the bride decides on a garden or beach wedding, she probably wants fresh and dewy makeup to go with it. the problem with shimmers is besides making the bride look radiant they also tend to make the bride’s face look oily in photos. depending on the type of shimmers used by the makeup artist, removing the shimmers might not be as simple as putting loose powder over it. in some instances, wedding photographer John Ong suggests not using direct flash.

Over-glossed lips. Truth. glosses can make the bride’s lips look younger and fuller. the problem with glosses though is they simply do not last very long; and the bride’s Angelina Jolie pucker may disappear before the wedding ends. Cream and matte lipsticks are the essentials for kiss-ready lips.

Gothic Bride. unless the bride has picked a zombie theme for her wedding, waterproof mascaras and eyeliners are a must for the inevitable tear-jerking moments. double-check with the makeup artist on this.

No touch up supplies. you can suggest to the bride to request a package from the makeup artist which includes retouch before the reception. Otherwise, advise the bride to bring her own blotting paper, powder, blush, and lipstick. because no matter what brand the makeup artist uses, the excitement of the day’s event will cause the oil glands to go crazy— making the face overly shiny and not-too-attractive. better yet, stock up on your own blotting paper to offer the bride (and any other shiny person in your photos).

Clone bridesmaid. It might look really cute when the entourage is wearing the same gowns, but it’s too much if they even have to wear the same hair and makeup. If at all possible, gently remind the makeup artist to flatter each entourage member with makeup that suits the individual.

Wannabe celebrity-look-a-like. Women have their own icons or celebrities they look up to, but the wedding day is not the best time to try things such as J.Lo’s or Jessica Alba’s smoky eyes and glossy lips, especially in a garden wedding on a bride who usually doesn’t wear makeup at all. so as you get to know your client (ideally, a few months before the wedding), drop subtle hints that the bride’s own beauty should shine through.

 makeup 3

No trial makeup. The bride might end up paying dearly for scrimping on a few thousand for a trial makeup session and simply getting her friend’s makeup artist. What worked on the friend might not necessarily work on her. Trial makeup sessions are important not only to test the skills of the makeup artist but also to know if the bride has any skin sensitivity on the makeup used. You can suggest a makeup artist you have worked with or ideally, be present on the trial day so that you can do test photos and everyone can discuss areas for improvement. This would also be a good time to do your pre-nup shoot, if any.

Hair raising. As with the makeup, hair can make or break a bride’s look. If the hairstyle is out of this world, tactfully suggest a toning down of the style or a slight variation. Again, gentleness and tact is of the essence here.

How to deal with the makeup artist

As artists, we feel pride in what we do. a suggestion might easily be misinterpreted as criticism especially if it comes from someone whom we feel doesn’t really understand our craft much.
Wedding makeup artist cherry pacheco-uy suggests that if you find something wrong with the makeup, tell the makeup artist in private. never scold or point out the artist mistake in front of the bridal party, especially the bride. it might only make the makeup artist defensive and defiant. showing
The makeup artist the photo in the camera would be most helpful, and try to express yourself in a way that asks for the artist’s opinion. (“the bride looks a bit pale, don’t you think? how do you think we can fix this?” instead of “What poorly applied makeup!”)
make sure you listen; let the makeup artist explain her side, sometimes it was probably the bride or the bride’s family’s request that she wear that dark lipstick. in that case, you can tactfully suggest options to the bride (show her the photos as well). We, the makeup artists, can only do so much and at the end of the day it’s the bride who has the final say.
in the end, it’s a good idea to be friends with the makeup artist. they can help make your life so much easier and your photos so much prettier.


Sure, most brides would want a souvenir shot of their transformation from giddy girl into beautiful bride. but according to John Ong, you wouldn’t want to immortalize these moments:

  • When foundation is just being applied. Foundation serves as the artist’s canvas hence it will just look flat and unflattering in photos.
  • When eyeliner and rollers are being put on. awkward and unflattering!

Instead, you may ask the bride and makeup artist to reenact putting on lipstick or brushing on blush—when the bride is fully made up and beautiful.

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