Updated: Apr 4
A Beauty portrait is a close-up portrait, usually a crop from the bust up or closer. It can range from little to no makeup all the way to dramatic creative makeup with lots of fu-fu surrounding the model.
One of my favourite things to shoot is Beauty. Just the other day I received an email from a young photographer who has been following my work and she asked me if I could explain what makes a photo a Beauty Portrait.
My first reaction was that’s easy and as I started to type my response I realized that its NOT so simple.
Beauty portraits can be very different depending on the context that they are used in.
Webster’s dictionary defines beauty as the quality of being physically attractive. Giving pleasure to the senses…a Beautiful woman.
Beauty portraits can be artistic or commercial in nature. As the definition would imply – the woman in the photo generally looks beautiful regardless of the intention.
The Beauty images that you see in my portfolio and on my website are simply artistic images. They are the result of a great collaboration between a makeup artist, a model and myself. By the way… the important word in that last sentence was “collaboration” it takes all three people to be successful.
So the beauty images that I shoot… are just fun images, generally they are NOT in the models portfolio and if they are – they appear as the last photo in her book. None of these models will be hired to pose for this type of image. It’s obviously not because they aren’t attractive enough – they are all beautiful… it is simply because if you look around – you will notice that you don’t see these kinds of images in advertising. Remember – models are hired to help advertise a product.
Now that brings us to the Beauty portraits that have a commercial nature and do appear in advertising and modeling portfolios.
This is an example of a commercial beauty portrait like those that you might see in a magazine ad…
and this is another commercial beauty portrait… that you would frequently see in a models portfolio
As you can see… commercial beauty has much less makeup and fu-fu. The looks are clean and the eyes are the focus of the shot.
It is important to note if you are planning to try these kinds of shots… don’t kid yourself by thinking that you can do it without a makeup artist. These images require collaboration between all parties involved and to be clear I am not afraid to admit that in quite a few cases, the makeup artist deserves much more credit for the outcome of the beauty portrait than I do.
So there you have it. . . depending on the intended use… a Beauty portrait can be two very different things.
Regardless of the use… remember that Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You won’t be able to please everyone with your beauty portraits– so shoot for yourself and your subject – pay attention to the details and you will be surprised at how much people will like your results.