January 2021 // The Beauty Edition

R I S E A B O V E 2 0 2 0

Happy New Year.


JANUARY 2021 | ISSUE 100

1 6

How to Get Your First Client with Vanessa Joy


Product Spotlight with the Jai Mayhew line by Intuition


The Business of Beauty with Sal Cincotta


Product Spotlight with N-Vu Dual-Vu & Live-Vu


5 Tips for Better Boudoir Photos with Michael Anthony

Hair & Makeup Tips & Tricks to Elevate Your Beauty Portraits with David Beckham & Ericka Reid 66


5 Tips for Creating Fine Art Portraits with Barbara MacFerrin

102 1 1 8 130 146 158 188 196 208

Maternity Posing with Donatella Nicolini

Boudoir Photography and the Art of Storytelling with Shannon K Dougherty

Creativity with Light with Irina Jomir

In-Studio Posing with Laura Shortt

Inspirations from Our Readers

The Best Video Delivery Platforms with Rob Adams

5 Tips for Efficient Editing in Lightroom Classic V10 with Dustin Lucas

Final Inspiration with Sal Cincotta
















P U B L I S H E R S a l C i n c o t t a

E D I T O R - I N - C H I E F A l i s s a C i n c o t t a

D E S I G N E R E l l i e P l o t k i n

Shutter Magazine ’s focus is on photography education. Our goal is to provide current insightful and in-depth educational content for today’s professional wedding and portrait photographer. Shutter uses the latest technologies to deliver information in a way that is relevant to our audience. Our experienced contributors help us create a sense of community and have established the magazine as one of the leading photography publications in the world.

C O P Y E D I T O R A l l i s o n B r u b a k e r


C O N T R I B U T I N G W R I T E R S B a r b a r a M a c F e r r i n D a v i d B e c k h a m D o n a t e l l a N i c o l i n i D u s t i n L u c a s I r i n a J o m i r L a u r a S h o r t t M i c h a e l A n t h o n y R o b Ad a m s S a l C i n c o t t a S h a n n o n K D o u g h e r t y Va n e s s a J o y


Shutter Magazine: By photographers, for photographers.

Are you a boudoir photographer? Or a beauty photographer? Think there is no difference? Your potential clients might not agree . This month, we dive into building your beauty/glamour/boudoir photography skills and business by showing you how to focus on the things that matter to your clients. - Sal Cincotta



PHOTOGRAPHER: sal cincotta, @salcincotta CAMERA: canon eos r LENS: rf50mm f1.2 l usm EXPOSURE: f/1.2 @ 1/100 iso 400 LIGHTING: profoto b10 with westcott rapid box switch octa-m WEBSITE: salcincotta.com MODEL: rachel anne moore, @rachelannemooreofficial

ABOUT THE IMAGE: This image was taken at Ruby Bird Studio in Brooklyn, NY in February 2020. Alissa and I had spent some time in the city in December and saw Phantom of the Opera on Broadway one night. When the actress who plays Carlotta walked out on stage, Alissa and I immediately looked at each other in absolute awe of her classic beauty and captivating features. I found her on Instagram and sent her a private message while we were still in the audience, telling her we wanted to set up a photo shoot. We weren’t expecting a response, but to our surprise, she messaged back instantly and we set this shoot up from there.

How to Get Your First Client | Vanessa Joy

with Vanessa Joy

How to Get Your First Client | Vanessa Joy

So, you've just graduated with a photography degree, or maybe took some online courses and are loaded down with expensive equipment and newbie knowledge. Congratulations! You're well on your way to establishing an exciting career in a competitive industry. But just because you know how to take pretty pictures, have fancy gear, and have a decent portfolio under your belt doesn't necessarily mean that clients are going to fall into your lap—especially your first client. You have to work for it. This is where taking the right networking steps and building a stellar reputation is critical. Here's how to do just that.


When it comes to building up a clientele from the ground up, there's one goal in mind: get your name out there. Don't be afraid to message people directly on social media, meet them for coffee to answer their questions, whatever it takes to get outside your bubble and connect with the public. Talk to anyone and everyone about photography and your new business. Most importantly, always strive to:

· Be convenient. · Answer quickly. · Be relatable.

Your prospective clients may not know the difference between good and great photography, but they definitely know the difference between good and great customer service. They'll notice if you've followed up with them quickly or not and whether you were down to earth or a total jerk. When you do have the chance to answer their questions or follow up with them, don't miss the opportunity to connect with them. Talk about their business, children, or hobbies, whatever you can to let them know that you're interested in who they are as a person.

How to Get Your First Client | Vanessa Joy


Sometimes you have to spend money to make it. While it might sting to fork over a chunk of change to get your name in front of the right prospective clients, remember that doing so is an investment that will ideally bring in much more income than you must initially part with. Here are a few practical steps to attract a new client: · Offer a promo on Groupon. · Purchase Facebook or Instagram ads. · Run a contest on your social media sites; the winner can get a discounted photo session or another type of incentive. · Provide a few discounted or complimentary sessions where clients have the opportunity to buy their photos later.


Your primary sources of work as a professional photographer will trickle in from people that you already know. This means that you should always be presenting what you do to family, friends and colleagues. Even if you don't know them well or communicate regularly, if your friends and family see you actively promoting your business, they're more likely to use you when they need a photographer rather than a stranger. After you've built up a solid reputation for providing quality work and great customer service with the clients you know, the hard part is over. Those satisfied clients will do the leg work of referring their peers who need a photographer to you. However, always have a contract in place, even when shooting for friends and family. It’ll help set expectations and protect you if anything goes sour.

How to Get Your First Client | Vanessa Joy


Having someone agree to hire you is only the first step to securing their business. You can guarantee that every person you work for will be observing how easy you are to work with as well as your willingness to meet their expectations. With this in mind, you should always be striving to provide the best experience possible to even the most demanding clients. Don't forget, everyone is eager to tell their friends: · How you do your job. · How well you do your job. · How you interact with others. No one wants to work with someone who's a bad listener, unprofessional, or a pain in the rear end, so don't be those things. Be the person you would want to work with.


If you think that the only person you have to please with your work ethic, service and products is the one who's writing your check, think again. Your goal should be to impress all the people around your client as well. If you're professional, friendly and accommodating, others are sure to notice and will be interested in doing business with you, too. Likewise, if you're unprofessional, rude or demanding, word will travel fast from your client's inner circle and beyond.

How to Get Your First Client | Vanessa Joy


Breaking into the photography industry and building credibility in your community may seem like an impossible challenge, but it doesn't have to be. How do you become a respected, experienced photographer? Work with one. The best way to build a name for yourself is by finding a photographer whose work you admire and work for or with them. This may require you to take a position that you feel you're overqualified for, such as an assistant, but it's a small price to pay for gaining invaluable experience that can only benefit you in the long run. Humility goes a long way when you're first starting out. Before you know it, that photographer may be offering you gigs that they aren't available for, giving you the opportunity to make your own connections. Even better, you'll be able to see firsthand what works for them and what doesn't in terms of running a successful photography business. From initial consultations to editing photos, you'll have a front-row seat to learn techniques that you can carry with you into your own business.


When you're interacting with clients for the first time, it can be tempting to overanalyze every decision you make. Instead of wasting valuable time and energy second-guessing yourself, trust your gut. The more you work to make everything absolutely perfect, the more mistakes you'll inevitably make. People know a confident individual when they see one. If you don't trust yourself, your client certainly won't either. Self-assurance is the key to building a good reputation with your customers. Don't get hung up on delivering the impossible simply because you're charging a certain amount. Often times, it's when you price your services competitively that clients never think twice about the decisions you make. When you charge a more substantial rate, clients will assume that you know exactly what you're doing and trust your professional opinion.

How to Get Your First Client | Vanessa Joy


Whether you're searching for your first client or have been booked solid for years, remember that you're always on an interview in the photography industry. Never take a stream of steady work for granted. What's here today could be gone tomorrow if you get lazy and stop delivering quality service. Even if you know a particular client or have worked with them in the past, you should always be aiming to impress them not just with beautiful photographs, but with outstanding customer service as well. By continually promoting your business, networking with the folks you know and those on social media, and trusting your instincts along the way, you'll have your first client (and many more) in no time!

LEARN MORE . youtube.com/btsShutterMagazine Click here or check us out at

Vanessa Joy has been a professional wedding photographer in New Jersey since 2002, and an influencer in the photographic community for years. Since starting VanessaJoy.com in 2008, she has taught photographers around the globe at almost every major platform in the industry (LearnPhotoVideo.com). Vanessa has been recognized for her talent and business sense at the renowned industry events CreativeLIVE, Clickin’ Moms, WPPI and ShutterFest. Her peers love her informative, open-book style of teaching. website: vanessajoy.com instagram: @vanessajoy



After a shoot Jai always enjoys a celebratory dirty martini. This subtle and elegant olive toned drop is an ode to her beloved color palette as well as her signature cocktail. This green is lacking in strong yellow tones, leaving it a neutral, green-gray shade perfect for you to build color with.

b i t . l y / 36UaUkB ENTER NOW!

Product Spotlight | Jai Mayhew line by Intuition




French Blu




product spotlight


French Blu Cappuccino

Sea Salt





Why the Jai Mayhew line by Intuition?


Not all backdrops are created equally. Color, texture and materials all make a huge difference in the way a backdrop photographs. The Jai Mayhew luxe line is a collaboration between fashion & portrait photographer Jai Mayhew and the creative talent behind Intuition Backgrounds, Becky Myers. If you love the look of hand-painted backgrounds you are going to obsess over this luxe backdrop line that mimics the elegance and texture of hand-painted backdrops at a fraction of the cost.

Check out the new Jai Mayhew Signature Collection.

LEARN MORE . youtube.com/btsShutterMagazine Click here or check us out at

For more information, visit bit.ly/34craMf


32 50 66 86

| The Business of Beauty with Sal Cincotta | 5 Tips for Better Boudoir Photos with Michael Anthony | Hair & Makeup Tips & Tricks to Elevate Your Beauty Portraits with David Beckham | 5 Tips for Creating Fine Art Portraits with Barbara MacFerrin | Maternity Posing with Donatella Nicolini | Boudoir Photography and the Art of Storytelling with Shannon K Dougherty

102 118 130 146 158

| Creativity With Light with Irina Jomir | In-Studio Posing with Laura Shortt | Inspirations from Our Readers

The Business of Beauty | Sal Cincotta

with Sal Cincotta

with Sal Cincotta

The Business of Beauty | Sal Cincotta

Beauty photography is not new. Some see it as soft porn, while others see it as a celebration of the female form. Regardless of your personal opinion, it is a genre that can be extremely profitable if pursued correctly. In this article, I break down some of the things you should consider if you want to take your beauty business to the next level—and by next level, I mean profitability.


This is not a rhetorical question. It's something to consider. There is more to beauty photography than just wanting to take pretty pictures of pretty girls. What I truly love about this genre is the celebration of the female form. Our job is to see and find that beauty in every subject that gets in front of our camera. Why am I highlighting this? Because if you think "beauty" is just about taking pictures of size 0 models with fake tits… you might want to rethink your efforts here. If you didn’t already know this, I'm here to tell you, that is not the real world. You will be working with real people of all shapes and sizes. Again, our job is to find and showcase their beauty. It's not as easy as you might think.

The Business of Beauty | Sal Cincotta


First, I will tell you, I hate the word boudoir. Like… with a passion. What comes to mind when I hear the word boudoir? Lingerie. Hotel rooms. Cheesy poses. And a very limited audience. Try this exercise. Post on your Facebook page or ask a few friends: What are some adjectives that come to mind when you think boudoir photography? Document the answers you get. I think you will find they are not always positive in their descriptions. This is why I like beauty or glamour as an adjective. It doesn’t bring with it the negative connotations. Now, you might think this is some small or trivial point I am making, but in reality it is a very important distinction. See, when it's all said and done, this is about making money. And to make money, you need an audience. I'm making the argument that the market for beauty is significantly larger than it is for boudoir.

If I were to ask my mother if she would do a "boudoir" shoot if I gifted that to her, she would laugh at me. However, if I were to offer her a "beauty" or "glamour" session, she would 100% consider it. I know, because I posed this very question to her. And the reason why? The perception of what boudoir is. Beauty, to me, can be anything. It can be sexy lingerie for a 24-year-old bride-to-be or it can be something you gift to your 70-year-old grandmother who just wants to look beautiful and enjoy a hair and makeup session and some portraits. If you are trying to build a business, you want to open your client pool to be as large as possible. Consider a name change and it might help you attract more clients.

The Business of Beauty | Sal Cincotta


This is so important. I talk about this all the time regardless of genre. We must stand out if we want to make money. This is not a photography thing, it’s a business thing. Different sells. Sameness is boring and readily available. It is in your best interest to find a way to stand out. As creatives, we have so many different options at our disposal to stand out from other photographers.

Lighting It’s the simplest way to stand out and allows your work to really look different from your competitors. Light and airy. Dark and dramatic. Whatever your choice, master it and make it part of your brand. Editing The way you edit, tone and stylize your images is sure to make your clients take a second look at you. And if you get a consistent style going, your work will be quickly recognizable to others. When this happens, you will know you are heading in the right direction. Posing I have seen more bad photographs tied to bad posing than anything else. As a photographer, you can single- handedly make your client look heavier on camera than they do in real life. And I have never met a client that wanted to look heavier. Educate yourself and practice posing to get better and better at this. You clients will thank you.

The Business of Beauty | Sal Cincotta


Who are you going after? Who is your client? I alluded to this a little earlier. Boudoir, glamour and beauty all have a place in the world, but you have to target the right person.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are some ideas.

Brides-to-be They are a perfect audience for this. They are in the best shape of their lives and need that perfect gift for the groom. Mid-lifers These are women who have dedicated their lives to their families and now have a kid that just went off to college. It's time for them to celebrate this time in their lives. You see it in the people around you. New hair styles, tanning, getting in shape. This is your client. They may not want lingerie, but they want to feel and look sexy and want to celebrate this moment in their lives. Elders This could be the perfect gift for someone. They have never done anything for themselves, but now it’s the perfect gift from a daughter to a mother. Instead of a day at the spa, it’s a day of hair, makeup, playing dress-up and some beautiful portraits. V-day This is the no-brainer. That female who wants to give her loved one a more private and sexy gift. This is open to anyone really, but you need to get out ahead of this if you want to deliver in time for the holiday—this is a very seasonal and timely set of shoots. Again, these are just a few ideas I'm dropping on you here. Use your imagination and start coming up with inventive ways to target your demographic.

The Business of Beauty | Sal Cincotta


I have heard it time and again from photographers around the world: "All my clients want are digital files." No, that’s just not accurate. You just don’t know how to shoot and sell in a way that lends to a printed product. Sure, if every image is them looking at camera half naked, sure, no one is going to want that on their walls for friends and family to stare at during the next Christmas dinner. However, if you shoot something that is more fine-art in nature, you will see clients will gladly showcase these images on their walls.

So, what products sell?

Albums This is the easiest item to sell to your clients. It's private and something that can easily be hidden in a drawer, so this is appealing to even the most modest of clients. Fine Art Print Box We offer these to our clients and they love them. They are fine art prints matted and placed in a nice wooden or metal box. We offer this as a complete solution for our clients. It allows them to display single images on an easel or just store them on a nightstand in a luxury style box. Canvas. Metals. Acrylics. If you want to sell your clients on wall prints you must change the way you shoot and edit. No one wants "raw” or “natural" images on their walls. I hate to break it to you. If a client is going to display a revealing image like this, it needs to be polished and a bit more abstract in nature. This will allow them to have it in their home as more of an art piece and it becomes a much easier sell.

The Business of Beauty | Sal Cincotta

I hope this has helped you and you consider incorporating some of the ideas I mention in this article. We should always be looking for new ways to grow our businesses.

Sal Cincotta is an international award-winning photographer, educator, author, Canon Explorer Of Light and the publisher of Shutter Magazine. Sal’s success is directly tied to the education he received in business school. He graduated from Binghamton University, a Top 20 business school, and has worked for Fortune 500 companies like Procter & Gamble and Microsoft. After spending 10 years in corporate America, Sal left to pursue a career in photography and has never looked back. website: salcincotta.com instagram: @salcincotta










Product Spotlight | N-Vu Dual-Vu & Live-Vu


product spotlight

Why N-Vu Dual-Vu & Live-Vu?

In-Person Sales with a Twist

We live in a Covid world, but you still have to be able to sell your images if you are going to stay in business. In-Person Sales doesn’t just go away, it must evolve. N-Vu is the answer with its Dual-Vu and Live-Vu Technology. Dual-Vu allows you to work with your clients from any remote location and control the entire sales session from your local machine. Live-Vu allows you to use built-in video functionality to truly personalize your IPS session.

Learn more about Dual-Vu and how N-Vu can help you amp up your remote in-person sales game.

LEARN MORE . youtube.com/btsShutterMagazine Click here or check us out at

For more information, visit bit.ly/2Wm0cy5

5 Tips for Better Boudoir Photos | Michael Anthony

with Michael Anthony

5 Tips for Better Boudoir Photos | Michael Anthony

Boudoir photography is something that every wedding photographer should be thinking about offering. There are more than a few reasons why. First, the number one question that photographers ask has to do with finding new clients. As a wedding photographer, you already have clients that you could not only market to, but are likely in need of that service. It was back in 2015 when I had a triple-header weekend. At all three of the weddings, I photographed the groom opening a boudoir album created by some other photographer. When I saw this, I immediately knew that there was a need in the market for this new type of service. To my surprise, once I started offering it to my wedding clients, we instantly filled our calendar. To date, 62% of our wedding clients do a boudoir session with us, and our boudoir sessions average between $1,500-$1,700 in sales. When you look at 130 weddings per year, that is about $135,000 in additional income—without spending a single additional dollar on ad spend. So if that doesn’t convince you that you need to start offering this service to your clients, I will seriously question if you like making money or not. But that being said, getting into boudoir photography did not come without its challenges. Boudoir is the most complicated form of photography to shoot in my opinion. Your subjects don’t typically have clothing to cover themselves with, they are usually not professional models, and on top of all of that, they will often feel uncomfortable being half-naked in front of a near stranger. This is why photographing boudoir has to be done in a delicate manner. It has taken years for me to learn exactly how to photograph boudoir, and in the process I picked up a few tips that I think can help you if you are looking to get better at the craft. So here are my five tips for taking better boudoir photos.


I mentioned above that your subjects will not have clothing to cover up anything that they may or may not be insecure about. Before every shoot we send our clients a questionnaire that asks them to list any area of their body that they want us to draw less attention to. When we get that form back, it allows us to craft the shoot according to their requests.

Now, this doesn’t mean we completely hide a body in shadow, we just have to draw less attention to it.

Many of you reading this have heard me teach posing, and one of the first tips that I give is to shoot on the short side of your subjects. This technique just involves turning the body away from the light source, and doing such will allow a smaller part of the body to be illuminated. This will draw the attention of the viewer to the light parts, and will hide the parts that you don’t want to show off in shadow.

In other words, when people tell you to “make them look skinny,” this is the secret sauce for making that happen. Now I want to stress that the number one reason your clients will opt to do boudoir with you is to build their confidence, so it’s your job to learn about the things your clients want to de-emphasize before your shoot with them. So now that you know how to use shadow, let’s go over how to increase or reduce the light intensity. One of my favorite ways to do this is to utilize reflectors. Reflectors will allow you to add light, or a negative reflector (black side) will allow you to reduce light. A V-Flat when shooting in the studio is essentially just a big reflector. I recommend the ones from V-Flat World as they fold into fours.


I don’t usually like talking about lighting ratios in articles, however I think for boudoir photography, it’s incredibly important to understand exactly how to use light ratios properly. To simplify this as much as possible, imagine using two lights. Your main light, often referred to as your key light, will be responsible for creating the highlight to shadow transition on your subject, which in turn gives them three-dimensionality. Now let’s assume you are shooting in total darkness. Wherever that key light does not touch, your subject will fade into clipped shadows. This is where your fill light comes in. Your fill light will allow you to reduce the contrast on your subject, which has a variety of benefits. First, it will allow you to reduce the appearance of texture on their skin. Second, it allows you to see more of your subject and background. Third, it will make post- production a lot easier. There is no perfect formula, but a good place to start is a fill light that is two stops darker than your key light. This is known as a 1:3 ratio and is generally where I start when producing my light source. You can get a lot more advanced with this as well by adding clamshell fill, background lights, kicker lights, etc., but start off with working with just ambient light as your fill and a key light that is artificial. You will get the hang of it in no time.

5 Tips for Better Boudoir Photos | Michael Anthony


Cliche? Maybe. We talk about this all the time here at Shutter Magazine … But the honest truth is that if you are not thinking about this, it’s a lot easier to forget. Here is how I know. We had a client recently that needed a quick turnaround on their album. Rather than send this to design and forget about it like I usually do, I had to make the album in house. The client had a 30-page album, but I realized that 90% of the images I shot were in the horizontal format. Being that boudoir is a lot more specialized, we typically show a lot less imagery, and as a result it was extra hard to fill the book with a good, solid set of images. So now I follow what I call the S X 3 Method. I use this not only for boudoir shoots, but for location portraits as well. This is how it goes…

Standard, Story, Signature(s) times 3 looks (or locations)

We will photograph a series of tight, middle and wide standard shots (think looking at the camera, looking away, looking at the shoulder for boudoir).

We will photograph this sequence in horizontal and vertical formats.

Then we move to the story shots… These typically involve motion. For location-based shoots you might have your subject walking to camera, for boudoir you may have them undressing as you shoot through the sequence. The story format gives you the ability to fill a full album spread with just those images.

5 Tips for Better Boudoir Photos | Michael Anthony

Lastly you have your signature shots. These are the statement images that will take up a full spread in the album. When shooting boudoir, this may be similar to your standard shot but with a powerful pose; when shooting on location, this is where you get your off-camera flash and line up your best composition and you fire away both horizontal and vertical.

After that sequence you would change the look, whether it be location or outfit, or both.

This sequence has allowed me and my entire team to produce consistent results and have enough imagery to fill an entire album or image box.


It goes without saying that hair and makeup will significantly help your subject look and feel their best. The problem is that many clients are hesitant about either having somebody else do their hair and makeup, or about spending the extra money to get it done.

We have found a direct link between higher sales and clients that opt for hair and makeup in our studio, and while it’s just anecdotal to assume that link is because the client looks and feels better, we know there is a direct link, so we try to encourage this in a variety of ways. First, feature transformations on your website. You can do this with professional models if you don’t want to use your clients, but show the transformation from before to after. This alone is the most powerful thing you can do. Next, offer bundled services. We offer hair and makeup with a partner salon in our middle and top session fees for boudoir clients. This will encourage a higher entry point which undoubtedly leads to higher overall revenues. Lastly, make sure the salon you are offering is talented and punctual. Once your studio gets busy, that second part will be incredibly important for making sure that you are successful long term.

5 Tips for Better Boudoir Photos | Michael Anthony


This is the most important thing for generating high sales. Boudoir averages are the highest in our studio, and the reason for that is because we have targeted our product line to that specific genre. You should not be offering wallet images or custom coffee mugs to your boudoir clients. While that seems like a gross oversimplification, the point I am trying to make is that you should have specific products that people will consistently buy.

Now, I have done the work for you, so let me share some of my favorites…

H&H Color Lab Edge Image Box - This is one of our favorite products to offer clients.

H&H Color Lab Acrylics - You think people don’t want boudoir wall art? Think again. I would love if Jen got a huge acrylic of her to put on our bedroom wall… and that being said, my clients do too, because these are some of our best pull through items. The Salvatore Cincotta Collection albums fromH&H Color Lab - Yeah, you probably guessed this, but let me be a bit more specific. These books combined with the image boxes are the best selling boudoir items we have. As a bonus marketing tip, the next time you are photographing a boudoir gift opening, USE THOSE IMAGES TO PITCH BOUDOIR to your next clients in the emails you send out! So there you have it, these are my top five tips for boudoir photography heading into the new year. At the time of this article, I am going to assume that we are not completely behind the pandemic (although hopefully I am wrong), but if that is the case there has never been a better time to work on new portrait offerings in your business. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that diversification is KEY to success!

LEARN MORE . youtube.com/btsShutterMagazine Click here or check us out at

Michael Anthony is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Los Angeles, California. Michael is a monthly contributor to Shutter Magazine, and has spoken at international conventions including WPPI, Imaging USA, Photoplus Expo, and ShutterFest. Michael is an educator and founder of Elevate Photography Education, a company created to help photographer entrepreneurs achieve their goals and dreams in the photography industry. website: michaelanthonyphotography.com instagram: @michaelanthonyphotography

Hair & Makeup Tips & Tricks to Elevate Your Beauty Portraits | David Beckham & Ericka Reid

with David Beckham & Ericka Reid

Hair & Makeup Tips & Tricks to Elevate Your Beauty Portraits | David Beckham & Ericka Reid

Six years ago, 80% of my senior girls used my makeup artist. This year, it’s about 30%. They all follow their favorite YouTube influencers and think they can do it themselves or have “a friend with a really nice palette” do it for them. The fact is, most of them cannot. Which means more editing for us. When I talk to them further, they are afraid they will not like what they will get. They had a bad experience at a Sephora counter once and cannot risk that for senior photos. The typical senior client that does choose my MUA, Ericka Reid, wants something “natural,” “neutral,” and maybe a “smokey eye” with lashes… We are going to do a little more than that this time! We have five different looks on five different faces and are incorporating outfits to go with the beauty makeovers they are receiving. Lauren, Emma, Emily, Rachel and Kensley are on my model team and were eager to be part of this project. After the release of this issue in January, I will be featuring each one of the model’s makeup process on my IGTV. (@DavidBeckhamPhotography) You will want to check that out. Ericka will also be commenting in this article with what she did with each model and why. I’ll fill you in with the techs on posing, lighting, equipment and settings and maybe spill a little tea.


Lauren’s slate blue eyes and emotionless look are perfect for beauty photography, but her high cheekbones and blank expression also hide the realities of life. Her father passed away 18 months ago. Now it’s just her and her mother doing their best to help each other through the challenges of each day without him. Lauren puts on a face like everything is alright, even when everything isn’t. Lauren loved the escape of this shoot and her mom loves the photos and thinks about how proud her dad would have been. I typically ask all the girls to come with wavy curls in their hair because it photographs so much better. That’s what Lauren did for her session. She brought this beautiful white gown and it worked perfectly with the flower wall and my gloss white laminate flooring.

MAKEUP ARTIST NOTE: Before starting on her makeup, David discussed with me his vision for this beauty shoot. Lauren brought with her a white flowing chiffon dress with a slight train. The bodice of the dress had beautiful blue beading and cutout flowering details. Loving Lauren’s silver highlighted blonde hair color, I knew I would use a soft silver shimmer eyeshadow on her eyelids. I loved the beading on her dress, and I used that same beading color in her outer eye crease. I used varying light blue eyeshadows for an ombre effect. I wanted to make the eye look a bit more dramatic so I put a small amount of navy blue to smoke out the eye look. The blue colors I used on her eyeshadow mimicked the colors from the flower wall. She has such stunning big blue eyes, so to open them more and finish the dramatic effect, I placed very full Ardell lashes on her. After I saw how the lashes looked on, I decided to add those lighter blue eyeshadow colors and ran it around the lower lash line and blended it out to the edge of her eye to complete the smokey effect. She walked in with groomed eyebrows so my job was easy there.

I just filled in any areas that needed a little color with an eyebrow pencil by IT Cosmetics. For her face, I used a heavier coverage foundation just to blend everything nicely. For photography, MAC Studio Finish foundation is a dream and has been a staple foundation in my kit for over 12 years. I used a touch of concealer and brightener under her eyes. I didn’t do much cream contouring as her face has amazing bone structure. I used a rosy toned blusher on her cheeks and blended it out to the edges of her face. I used just a touch of bronzer to the cheekbones and temple areas. To keep the look romantic, I used a light pink gloss on her lips. I finished the look with a dusting of powder. For this look, a highlight on the top of her cheekbones would be stunning in real life, but with photography it tends to flash back so we skip this step.

Hair & Makeup Tips & Tricks to Elevate Your Beauty Portraits | David Beckham & Ericka Reid

We used a three-LED continuous light setup for her close-ups, a Godox SL200 with a Glow 23” beauty dish on the main and two SL150s for the hair light/kickers. I used two Paul Buff 12” x 36” strip boxes. I love the quality of the Buff boxes and they all collapse easily so I can travel with them when I teach. Savage makes a low-profile Bowens ring that fits Buff’s modifiers so the elements and bulbs of the Godox lighting I use extend into the modifiers. The flashes fill the modifiers so they can modify the light correctly. For perfect soft fill reflections and brighter eyes, I have a Wescott Eyelighter. I use the white panel instead of the silver one. It tends to brighten their eyes rather than create a reflection. The best light comes from above, so I set the lights slightly above them to come down on their face. I am always looking for a drop shadow under their nose. When shooting with long lashes it may be a little like shooting under a wide-brim hat. We need to pay closer attention to how the light hits their eyes so that we still see the catchlights. These LED lights are a perfect 5600K and work great in this flower wall setup. The SL200 was at 50% power and the kickers were at 75%. They aren’t as bright as a flash so we need to work at different settings than you would flash. This was shot with a Sony A7III and a Sony G series 85mm, f/1.4 lens. The settings were ISO 100, f/1.4, 1/250th. This gives us the soft bokeh on the flowers and crystal-clear focus on her eyes.

The next image shows more of her body, the gown and a twist in her pose. We removed the Eyelighter for this one. The beauty dish allows a soft drop-off of light.

In the third photo of Lauren we get back to beauty. We pulled a layer of her dress up under her head and added the petals from one of the flowers to the image. Lighting and posing are critical to this image. The key to a pose like this is to keep her neck and spine in a straight line. When talking them into the pose they tend to bend their neck sideways and it can look more like they fell off a building than a dramatic fashion pose. See the pullback for a diagram. The next step is to bend their knees, especially if their legs will not be in the shot. This thins their waist as it puts a natural arch in their back and flexes their abs. If you are putting an arm above their head, put it on the far side—no armpits, ever. I like to have them touch their collarbone with their close hand so it does not leave the back of their hand facing the light source. The lighting is also critical. The best light comes from above, but that is a little more difficult when they are on the floor. Set the light so you get a drop shadow below their nose and the catchlights between their pupil and eyelid. I used a kicker with a grid to set some subtle rim lighting 180 degrees from the main.

Hair & Makeup Tips & Tricks to Elevate Your Beauty Portraits | David Beckham & Ericka Reid


The first time I focused my lens on Emily’s face I noticed her scars. I always ask seniors how they got them. She told me that when she was a toddler her dog bit her face and left two scars on her nose and another on her lip. I asked her if I should Photoshop them out. She said, “Nah, I forget they are even there!” I loved her answer. I love when they do not let their flaws define them. Since we have not removed the scars on any of her previous shots, we did not in this beauty set either. Oh, and Emily still loves dogs.

MAKEUPARTIST NOTE: For Emily’s shoot, knowing that she would be wearing two dresses—a stunning gold beaded one for the first half of the shoot and a maroon silk for the second half—I had to pick something that would suit both looks. I chose to do gold shimmer eyeshadow tones on the inner to middle lid to open and brighten. I really wanted to smoke this eye out and add extra glam so I used a dark golden brown color and concentrated that color in the outer v crease and just blended it out to follow the natural angle of her eye. I brought that color down around the bottom of the lower lash line as well. To finish the eye look, I added thick, long false lashes to add definition and volume. I wanted her cheeks to have a natural flush look to them so I added a touch of pink blush to the apples of her cheeks and bronzer to the outer edges of her face and blended to give her a bit of warmth. The lips were a bit trickier as I had to ensure the lip color would complement both dress colors. I chose a lipstick stain that was closest to her maroon dress but also looked striking with her gold dress. It took a little gold glitter to finish the look!

We used two Godox AD400Pros, both with 12” x 36” strip boxes, the main without a grid, the kicker with one. I love using directional light and grids are key. The AD400 fills the modifier so well that without the grid it can light her whole body.

Wait, is that a new couch that she’s sitting on? Why yes, it is. I retired my two-time GIA Finalist one-time GIA Winner futon recently. I think it’s in someone’s basement now! The new one is similar and actually white. More importantly, Emily looks stunning on it! Three-light setup and a pose that shows off the gown and her strength and beauty.

The last shots of Emily use one light with a strip box and no grid. Mixing edgy fashion poses into my senior photography has been part of my brand since I went full-time 11 years ago. There is always a line for what is too sexy for seniors. Sexy pose, sexy outfit, sexy expression—choose one, occasionally two, NEVER three. And that line is still subjective. I have heard moms and dads (and other photographers) say things like “Not my daughter!” when they see a photo I’ve taken. And I completely agree with them—if the parents don’t agree I wouldn’t shoot them that way. But others love the moment captured of their daughter’s body in a graceful pose that expresses their beauty as they grow into the woman they will soon be. Moms often wish they had something like this of themselves in their own memory books too. Emily is wearing the prom dress she didn’t get to wear at her junior prom and probably will not get to show off at her senior prom either due to the Covid dilemma.


The leopard print dress Emma is wearing is also from [Be] Social. It’s long and flowy without a slit. Sometimes the outfit conceals. Emma is an athlete. Her legs are adorned with the battle scars of multiple surgeries from injuries she endured playing soccer. With each injury comes the struggle and challenge of rehab and a chance to get back on the field. Emma was thrilled to play her favorite sport, soccer, her senior year! She is skipping basketball this year but considering track again. Her mom told me a story of how Emma was learning to high jump with a knee brace on! MAKEUP ARTIST NOTE: When wearing leopard print attire, I always tend to do a neutral smokey eye. I chose creamy tones for the inner to middle of her eyelid. I then went in with a brown and taupe eyeshadow to the outer v crease area and blended to extend the natural shape of her eye. I put on thick, full Ardell lashes and lined her top lash line with a black kohl eyeliner and blended it out to enhance that smokey effect. Since Emma has porcelain skin, I wanted to put some blush on without making her look overdone. And we opted against the red lips that tend to be a common choice when doing a smokey eye. I chose to keep it more subdued and used a color that was closer to her natural lip color.

Hair & Makeup Tips & Tricks to Elevate Your Beauty Portraits | David Beckham & Ericka Reid

We are using two lights again for the close-ups. The angles of the lights cast shadows that create depth. I’m using the three poses I teach about at every senior workshop I do. “Drop your chin and look down. Look at me. Smile.” This runs the gamut from beauty to serious to fun and is perfect for girls this age.

The next image pushes the limits a little more. Seniors and moms love this shot. The key to making it work is the angle of the light coming from the strip box. The light needs to be close to the floor and pointing at her so the spill does not hit the floor in front of her. That will kill the cool reflection and leave a bright white spot underneath her. The camera needs to be sitting on the ground as well (advantage of Sony Eye-Focus). The rest is camera settings: ISO 100, f/16, 1/160 with the flash at ½ power. This turns the white dark. Emma’s black homecoming dress is the one set we did that is not white/bright-based. It is a three-light setup; two with strip boxes, the main using the one without the grid. The third light has a 7” cone on it with a 20-degree grid. It is positioned to shine on the back wall to create a slight vignette.


Rachel is as carefree as she looks. Her smile is intoxicating and shows her happy spirit. We did an alter ego type shoot with her and she had a great time. The wig, makeup and the Photoshop magic on her eyes and additional purple accents made for a high-fashion vogue beauty look.

MAKEUPARTIST NOTE: Purple is one of my favorite colors to use on clients (and myself!). So, when David told me Rachel was going to wear a purple wig and crop top, I knew this was going to be fun! Instantly, in my head I am running through all the purple eyeshadows, glitters and lipsticks in my kit, meaning more than plenty of options. As Rachel sat down in the makeup chair, all three of us discussed what this shoot was going to look like. I noticed how youthful and glowing her skin looked. She voiced a little concern on a patch of dry skin on her forehead. Being a makeup artist, I’ve seen it all… breakouts, birthmarks, scars, scratches, rosacea and all types of skin irritations. I wasn’t in the least bit worried. Since the rest of her skin was flawless and I wanted to keep the luminosity and youth, I used the L’Oreal 24HR Pro-Glow foundation on her face. I then went in and used a green corrector on the dry patch to cancel out the redness. After I went over with a concealer that matched her skin tone, it was gone! If there is ever texture from a blemish of any sort, Photoshop can help remedy that issue. For the eyes, I settled on a purple eyeshadow pigment that was closest to her wig color and had a high shimmer effect. I used big, full Ardell lashes to dramatize the look. To make the look even more vibrant, I used a light purple toned lipstick. For the cheekbones, I used a dark bronze contour to make her face look a bit more chiseled and high- end. For the finishing touch, we used Urban Decay’s eyeshadow glitter on the high points of her collarbone and shoulders to give that extra touch of shine and glam.

All the white pants shots were shot at ISO 200, f/22, 1/250. Yes, f/22. Every dust spot shows on the images at that aperture. The modifier was a parabolic with no scrim or diffuser. This gave us a hard light with hard shadows. The light was set up 12 feet away. The posing was extreme and dynamic. I used the wide-angle lens and low point of view to exaggerate her length and add energy to her session.

The purple pants shots were done at f/5.6; the standing one with two lights, the sitting one with three.


Kensley is the youngest of the models. The whole set is white on white and the goal with makeup was to make her look older, like a fashion model. Kensley spent the 21 days prior to this shoot in quarantine. Covid started with her dad and then to her mom and two sisters. Kensley never tested positive. Although her dad never went into the hospital, he was sick enough for her to be worried. They are all fine now and Kensley looks great in white.

MAKEUP ARTIST NOTE: With this makeup look I had to find the balance between keeping it natural but also making it stand out. With a white shoot, I couldn’t have makeup that was too light or she would look washed out, but with her having gorgeous blue eyes, I didn’t want too dark of tones as it would close her eye. I placed a neutral taupe color all over her eyelid as a base color. I then went in with two darker eyeshadow colors and layered them, almost like an ombre effect. I knew I needed to add something to make this look pop and be different from the others, so in the lash line I used the eyeshadow as a wing and took it out past the eye without going too far. I lined the bottom lash line with the taupe eyeshadow and added a strip of full volume lashes. I added a touch of peach blush to complement her skin tone and the eyeshadow. I decided to keep her lips plump-looking by adding a bit of pink lipstick and gloss in the middle to catch the light.

The first shots are just ambient window light. Her makeup is strong and smokey and the light contours her face. Kensley is posing without smiling to attain that beauty vibe. She is wearing a simple tank and leaning against the north-facing windows so the light can do magic.

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84 Page 85 Page 86 Page 87 Page 88 Page 89 Page 90 Page 91 Page 92 Page 93 Page 94 Page 95 Page 96 Page 97 Page 98 Page 99 Page 100 Page 101 Page 102 Page 103 Page 104 Page 105 Page 106 Page 107 Page 108 Page 109 Page 110 Page 111 Page 112 Page 113 Page 114 Page 115 Page 116 Page 117 Page 118 Page 119 Page 120 Page 121 Page 122 Page 123 Page 124 Page 125 Page 126 Page 127 Page 128 Page 129 Page 130 Page 131 Page 132 Page 133 Page 134 Page 135 Page 136 Page 137 Page 138 Page 139 Page 140 Page 141 Page 142 Page 143 Page 144 Page 145 Page 146 Page 147 Page 148 Page 149 Page 150 Page 151 Page 152 Page 153 Page 154 Page 155 Page 156 Page 157 Page 158 Page 159 Page 160 Page 161 Page 162 Page 163 Page 164 Page 165 Page 166 Page 167 Page 168 Page 169 Page 170 Page 171 Page 172 Page 173 Page 174 Page 175 Page 176 Page 177 Page 178 Page 179 Page 180 Page 181 Page 182 Page 183 Page 184 Page 185 Page 186 Page 187 Page 188 Page 189 Page 190 Page 191 Page 192 Page 193 Page 194 Page 195 Page 196 Page 197 Page 198 Page 199 Page 200

Powered by