Beauty Photography Pitfalls

Beauty photography

Things people don’t really tell you about beauty photography

All the photographers you look up to started from somewhere. They did not just master beauty photography. Actually, the same theory goes for any artist or business person you admire. Practice, hard work and dedication, that is why they are up there. I am not quite up there myself but here are my two cents about.

1. “I can’t do it by myself”

This is probably the biggest mistake a new photographer can make. And it’s really just an excuse that helps you stay inside your comfort zone. You don’t know any beautiful models, neither do you have an experienced creative team, a portrait studio or expensive equipment? Well, very few of us have that when we’re starting out.

In this day and age building your team is easier than ever. Social media, online groups, communities, etc. Yes, you will bump into a few people you will completely avoid in the future, but you’ll just have to keep looking to find your reliable and creative partners!

No one in your team has enough experience? Big deal; shoot often, get together and analyze each other’s work and grow together.

You don’t have access to a studio? Well, you might find it interesting that a big part of work in my portfolio was shot in the most random of places. Thankfully, we usually need very little space for beauty photography. You can, quite literally, shoot anywhere. So practice shooting everywhere.

You don’t have expensive lights, professional cameras and lenses? Shoot with what you have. Your skills and the ability to ‘see’ light, compose your images beautifully and direct your models have nothing to do with popular brands and expensive equipment. But a lot of practice does. And the good thing is, beauty photography is mainly artistic, so hopefully you’ve got your creative angle covered as well.



2. Using the Wrong Lenses

Lenses between 70 and 135mm are perfect for beauty photography. Anything outside this focal length distorts facial features and proportions in ways that aren’t particularly flattering.

If you are going for a very tight closeup of the face, you will need a Macro lens.


Sigma’s 85mm f/1.4 Lens and Canon’s 100mm f/2.8 L Macro Lens


3. Using the Wrong Light Modifiers

Always remember that the less ‘flawless’ your subject’s skin is the softer light you should use. Large light source, diffused light, filled in shadows – these are the things that will make it easier to retouch skin in your post-production and make the portrait more flattering.

Lighting from the side will emphasize uneven skin texture, which is what we generally want to avoid, so make sure your light isn’t just soft, but it is also placed correctly.

7Hard Light vs. Soft Light


4. “I’ll Fix It In Photoshop”

Being alert and observant during your shoot is the best thing you can do for post-production. Even if you are a Photoshop guru and can do wonders with your retouching skills, you will save yourself a lot of time by fixing the model’s crumpled wardrobe, smudged makeup, twisted straps and tangled hair before you release the shutter. It is called beauty photography for a reason.


5. Bad Communication

You should talk to your model as you shoot. It helps her to feel comfortable, which in turn helps you to get better expressions out of her.

If you are trying to compose your shot better and not releasing the shutter for too long, keep talking with your model. Help her to get in beautiful poses with your direction, encourage her and tell her nice things to make her feel good about herself.

Great beauty photography is created when there’s a good connection and understanding between you and your model, which can be achieved with good communication.

And lastly, and most importantly: do not touch your model. If you need to fix her hair, or her accessories, direct her to do so, or have your make up artist correct as necessary. Be courteous and professional.


Image source:

‘Beauty Photography Pitfalls’ by P. K. Opoku for the Thrive blog. Our guest writer for today loves photography and specialises in portrait and landscape photography. To see more, check out Instagram (@pkopoku)