At the beginning of your career you are given advice on how to get your name out and gain experience. Advice coming from your Instructors and mentors who have been in the industry a long time is the best and one you should definitely follow. But today you will find advice on social media sites trying to sell you products claiming that these will “attract” clients. You will also find a lot of job posts asking you give your services away for free aka “trade for photos” and the popular “IMDb credit”. Both can be great ideas. You are starting off and need to build a portfolio to showcase your abilities and personal taste and if you want to work on films, the best way to gain experience is to be working on a set. If you live in Los Angeles you will have endless opportunities to do so [in fact you’ll find more work in both film and photography that won’t pay]. But, warning, the drawback to free work is the cost to you in purchasing the latest must have cosmetics that you will need to produce your best work.


Having an understanding of what you want out of your career is the first step. You have to ask yourself the classic question, where do you see yourself in 5 years? Setting goals helps you focused. Second is researching whom you’re working with. There are a lot of artists in the industry who tend to be jack-of-all-trades but master of none. There is nothing wrong with having creative hobbies; for example, this blog is my creative hobby. But if you’re working with someone who cannot pay you for your services, products, your time, gas, parking etc. you have to consider what the trade of is.

Trading for photos is great when building your portfolio. However, there are important questions you will need to ask. For example, will the photos be retouched? Some photographers do not know how to edit photos so it would be good to know if the photos will be ready to post when you receive them. In some cases, the photographer may ask for multiple makeup and wardrobe looks. In this case you need to ask if you will be receiving retouched photos for all looks. The last important question to ask is if you will be getting close up photos of your work. I’ve worked with several photographers who shoot full body and my work is barely visible. If it’s for trade you’ll need to ask if you can get close up shots of your work.


Here’s a beautiful editorial I worked on with Photographer Ella Dedegkaeva and a perfect example of how some lifestyle editorials take in the entire environment which can often show less of your work. Model Ksyusha Kiana B



Film is a whole other animal. Research, research, research; I can’t stress that enough. Everyone everywhere is a filmmaker, especially if you live in Los Angeles. You will encounter many people claiming that they don’t have a large enough budget to afford to pay a makeup artist, which is fine if you’ll be assisting the head of the makeup department but I don’t recommend taking on a position as the only artist on set without prior experience (and let’s face it, if you had prior experience you wouldn’t put yourself in that situation).

Many films are produced everyday around the globe and there are endless opportunities to volunteer your talents for trade. But you should employ certain rules when working for trade to help you reach your goals and not be taken advantage of. What some people in the film industry do not understand is that the right cosmetics, hair products and tools are very expensive especially for someone who’s starting out. Its impossible to have an entire kit available for every skin and hair type because obtaining the right products comes with lots of research, experience and money. The only kind of volunteer work that anyone who wants to work in the film industry should do is assisting a veteran hair and makeup artist. With their experience you can learn what kind of cosmetics work best for film, what hair products to use, and the most important, onset etiquette. There are only expensive mistakes to be learned when working on film sets without experience and proper guidance. So I would consider anyone asking for a makeup artist or hairstylist to trade services as a department head as inexperienced themselves. Besides there are no real connections to be made in when working with a skeleton crew (minimal workers). Most importantly, the reality is that no “named” celebrity will volunteer their name and talent. Every person has to eat and keep a roof over their heads so believe me when I say the information they are posting is false. Unfortunately, I encounter many job posts like this all the time.



Funny story; I had a person message me on FB about a film project he was doing and mentioned that one of our mutual friends had recommended me. I became immediately excited after receiving this because networking and building relationships is the most important thing in this industry so hearing that someone had recommended me made me really happy. After I messaged him back he said he’d preferred to talk on the phone so we traded numbers and I waited about 10 minutes for his call. Once we were on the phone I believe I said a total of four words before he lead on a thirty-minute dialogue. He mostly talked about how successful he was in the movie industry. He said he had many celebrity friends and that he had produced many films for these people and even got a couple nominations. He went as far to say that he had a project in mind for several years and that his “celebrity friends” believed in the project and encouraged him to finally create this film. He then discussed location (which was 4 hours away from me without traffic) and how the main cast was 12 actors (4 female, 8 male) and he would have background actors as well.

As he was explaining in further detail I was in the back of my mind thinking of whom I would contact to hire as assistants for this intense project. After twenty-five minutes he turned the conversation to complementing my portfolio and told me I was the missing piece to this project’s puzzle and that he was excited to bring me on board and finally make this movie a reality. I felt honored to be considered so heartily for this project and before I could ask any questions he continues to say that there is no budget for this film. Everyone involved is doing it for the passion. I was finally given the opportunity to speak but found myself speechless.

“I’m sorry, whose passion did you say it was?”

I honestly couldn’t believe what he was asking. How can anyone expect an artist to drive their personal car 4 hours out of their way without paying for gas and asking them to use their kit on 12 actors and who knows how many background people without even trying to provide a kit fee, and be there for twelve hours then drive another 4 hours back home for free? Well maybe not for free but for the passion? The only question I had for him at this point was “who did you say recommended me?” I politely said no thanks and advised him to start with the budget situation next time.


It is very unfortunate that there are people in the film industry who see Makeup Artistry and Hairstyling as a hobby and not professional. This is not be the first time you apply makeup or style hair even if you don’t have any on set experience you are still either certified or licensed. I highly recommend getting set experience by assisting a veteran in the Makeup or Hair department. That way you have guidance, gain experience on executing the particular style of the film and learn what cosmetics/products work best.




Don’t let a terrible experience discourage you from progressing in the industry of your choice. Everything has its challenges but with proper guidance and knowledge you will be able to handle the job and get paid what you’re worth.



Grooming is such an important part of our industry and has increased in demand by 50% in last 5 years. More companies and photographers know the value of hiring a groomer for their set but not all artists know what grooming consists of.

If you are self-taught or a certified makeup artist my recommendations may not apply to you depending of the Board of Regulations for sanitation in your state but for a licensed Cosmetologist, Grooming is all about the Hair, skin prep, makeup and hands too. The male actor, artist or model is the main focus and as a groomer, it is our job to keep him looking fresh with perfect hair, even skin and manicured hands for the shoot. On some sets a Hairstylist, a Makeup Artist and a Manicurist are hired to prep the client. On other sets you may be on your own. In this case I recommend taking care (as much as you can) of all three positions.

Here’s a shoot I worked on for American Crew where we had one person assigned for each department. Having a person on set for each position helped me focus and perfect my responsibility which was cutting and styling the hair.

Photography by David Raccuglia and Model Mason Cutler



Have you ever found yourself zooming in on all the things that should’ve been taken care of when watching a movie, video, or looking at photos?

Becoming aware is not the main problem, what’s worse is the distraction it causes and in my case I often find myself no longer able to focus on the rest of the film or photography. I wonder how many people react the same way I do?

If you look at any form of advertising hands play a huge role and add stylistic value. Sometimes the person you’re working on maintains himself personally groomed. But if our Model/Actor has an active outdoor life, his skin, hair and hands may not be camera ready and lets face it, if he’s not prepped you will lose the audience’s focus on what’s really important, the product. You may ask yourself “shouldn’t the production company hiring the crew already know this?” They may not know or they may think hands are not important for that particular project. In my personal and professional opinion it is always important to be groomed head to toe and for this reason I have made it a goal to prepare and have tools available for anything that need care in all three departments when on set.

Photographer Brett V. King and Model Chazz Nittolo



I keep the preparation simple. I am a hairstylist and makeup artist so I keep my tools and products clean and organized in separate cases. For manicuring I have added a 3 way buffer, nail oil and hand lotion to both of my kits. With such a simple and inexpensive addition to your kit you’ll be able to handle and add stylistic value to any project and gain some star points from the people who hired you.


The men’s grooming industry is expanding all across the globe and is estimated to bring in $21 billion in revenue in 2016.

It has become increasingly noticeable that companies who market products for men have given their ads the “Tom Ford” appeal. Whether its selling shoes, apparel, fitness or simple toiletries, men’s grooming has become top priority when hiring a crew. This is why it’s important to improve your grooming skills and perform the ultimate care. Attention to detail should be applied in photo shoots as well. They way actors and models appear in head shots and their portfolios allow them to market themselves to companies.

This was a fun lifestyle photo shoot I worked where I applied my skills in all three departments. Photographer Hilla Hirtinstein and Model Daniel Josef



I have had the pleasure to work on sets where there’s a person assigned for each service (hairstylist, makeup artist, manicurist, wardrobe) and on sets where it’s just a wardrobe stylist and me. Either type of setting is great. I enjoy collaborating with multiple people and going solo. But solo means more work and time, so if you’re hired to do multiple services make sure to let the photographer/director know how much time you will spend on the client. Communication is key and learning how to time yourself per service will help you stay on track.



If you’re a licensed Cosmetologist I recommend you pack a few extra things. If you are not licensed but are a perfectionist, like me, you can add a manicuring kit as well. The only thing I would not recommend is adding nail clippers, scissors (shears) as some state regulations are strict about using sharp tools without the proper training and license.


Here’s a behind the scenes photo from a Vevo Stylized interview with Artist G Eazy I worked on. I was hired just for skin prep and makeup application but once I noticed we did not have a manicurist on the team I stepped in and worked my magic on his hands as well.


Director Georgie Greville

Music Artist G Eazy

Production LegsMedia

Groomer Reba Vera



I’ve had several makeup interns ask me, “What is natural makeup?” If you look up the Instagram hash tag for natural makeup you will find a variety of makeup looks, including neutral smoky eye and bright lips. This hash tag alone can confuse anyone starting out in the industry.

So What Is Natural Makeup?

It all depends on whom you ask. An artist at a cosmetics counter who deals mainly with consumers may suggest a similar description natural makeup to that of Instagram but an artist working with agency models would best describe the look as minimal makeup. I recommend asking for a mood board if one is not provided and looking up the photographer’s previous work to see what their style of photography is. That will not always insure exactly what you’ll need to do but it will help you ask the right questions. Here’s a photo shoot I worked on where I was asked to apply minimal makeup.


Photographer Emma Holley and Model Katherine Neff


I’ve heard countless times from several photographers that they have explained what they’re looking for and still received over the top contoured faces with winged eyeliner. As a makeup artist is important when working with a photographer to create their vision for the shoot. The last thing you want to do, as an artist is waste product so communication and understanding is key on these types of shoots. In doing so you gain the photographer’s trust and build solid relationships that will help you get more work in the future. And remember, when you’re asked to do minimal makeup it still makeup and its the most widely used when working with agency models.


Here’s another minimal makeup look from a shoot with Photographer Emma Holley and Model Arianna Luckenbacher





Beauty makeup ranges from simple glam to special effects considering some of these current-contouring techniques now shown. There are a variety of specialties in Makeup Artistry and although it is very important to be a well-rounded professional, you do not have to master them all.


Here are some of the pro’s when working on minimal makeup shoots;

  • master matching skin tones
  • learn how to compliment eye color
  • enhance your eyebrow shaping
  • hone application of mascara


Here’s a minimal makeup shoot where studio and natural lighting were used with Photographer Brett V King and Model Abby Champion



Skin care is also a big part of minimal makeup. The skin must be in an almost flawless condition before you apply the makeup to get the best results on camera. The model’s skin must be gently cleansed, exfoliated and hydrated. During this procedure I use this time to analyze the model’s features. Face shape, eye color and decide what feature I want to accentuate. Not all models have piercing blue eyes or Angelina Jolie lips so it’s our job as a makeup artist to find their best feature and enhance them in minimal makeup photo shoots.


Here’s a photo shoot I worked on where I wanted to enhance the model’s gorgeous brown eyes. Photographer Brett V King and Model Isabella Sarnoff

Isabella by bvk 10



Words of wisdom from Calvin Klein:

“The best thing is to look natural, but it takes makeup to look natural.”


Modeling agencies know the potential of what makeup artists can do with vibrant colors and they know the potential their models have as well. But for models looking to book fashion designers like Calvin Klein they do not need elaborate hairstyles, makeup or clothes in their portfolios. Designers look for specific facial features (natural not contoured), height and size etc. when hiring models. Which is why it is very important to enhance their natural beauty so their features become the main focus. Also, when a photographer books you, [they ask for natural makeup] it is important to research their style of photography as well as their personal taste.




Photograph by Brett V King

Model Holly Horne

Agency Two Management

Makeup Reba Vera



The perfect scenario: you book a dream editorial with an amazing photographer whose work you know and love and get the creative freedom to do whatever you want and you quickly realize the pressure is on. Not only do you feel the pressure to produce your best work for the editorial but also to impress and build a long lasting relationship that’ll create future work.

So where do you begin to get inspiration?

When it comes to drawing inspiration for a hairstylist there are many popular media sites to help inspire you. Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Google Images are a great start, but overall the best guidance is paying close attention to the style of the editorial. This includes the roles of the entire creative team (model, wardrobe stylist, makeup artist, and photographer).

The most technical and creative person on the team is the photographer. All photographers have a specific image, or series of images, in their mind that they are trying to achieve, and while some are better than others at communicating what they want, it’s the job of the creative team to make it come to life. As a hairstylist it is important to know if the hairstyle will be in focus or if the main part of the hairstyling is just to smooth and tuck the hair away. Here is a photo shoot I worked on with Photographer Pierro Javechi and Model Miranda Assalley where the hair did not have a central focus and was smoothed and tucked away for the shoot.




Mood boards play an important role in bringing a creative team together. By providing examples of poses, wardrobe, hairstyles, and makeup, they allow the creative team to not only think about their respective roles, but also the role each team member will play in creating the desired “mood” of the shoot. Here is an example of a mood board created by Photographer Ella Dedegkaeva for our circus inspired editorial.




Another important thing to factor in is whether the shoot will be indoors or outdoors. Lighting plays an important role not only for photography and makeup but also for reflecting tones in the model’s hair. Textured hairstyles (wavy/curly, updos with overlapping designs, etc.) need to be able to reflect light and show dimension in order for the hairstyle to stand out. This is why I recommend having different colored hair wefts in your kit. The extra hair is not only great for fullness and adding length but dimension as well. Depending on the model’s hair color, whether dark or a single tone, you can add hair in small sections to highlight/lowlight and add dimension to your hairstyles. Here is an image shot by Ella Dedegkaeva for another editorial we worked on together. In this picture you can see that even in black and white, multiple tones in the hair plays a key role when bringing your hairstyle to life.


Promo_Magazine_Glamour_Issue_27-page-067 2



As much as you plan, prepare and even practice your elaborate hairstyles before the shoot, it is important to keep in mind that nothing ever goes 100% as planned. Maintaining a flexible attitude will not only help you be a better team player but also allow you to “roll with the punches”.

Coming back to our Circus inspired shoot, the first surprise was wardrobe. I was imagining a sleeker and more reveling style, like most of the examples in the mood board, but our selected wardrobe was more vibrant and elaborate with a vintage twist. The outfits were beautiful and immediately made me rethink my approach. The second surprise was when meeting the models. We had a couple of new faces due to last minute cancellations. This turned out to be a great surprise when the new models had longer hair. I always prefer working with natural hair versus adding hair for length. Both are fine but I like the consistency in texture you get when working with natural hair.




The last surprise came when discussing makeup options. I always enjoy talking to the other creative people on the team, discussing our individual ideas and their plan of execution so we’re all on the same page. Communication is key when combining efforts to bring an “inspired” photo shoot to life. Key information to get from your makeup artist is what colors and style of makeup application they’re using (beauty, face painting, etc.). Here is one of my favorite images from this collaboration.




One thing I love to do after I add product and create the desired texture to the hair, but before creating the style, is to look at what the makeup artist is doing. By stepping back for a moment and seeing how the makeup is turning out not only helps reassure me about the way I had planned to proceed with the style but also gives me time to change anything, if needed, based on where the style of the makeup is going. As I mentioned before, nothing goes 100% as planned and you should learn to be flexible and work with all key elements at play here to achieve a great collaboration. After paying close attention to the wardrobe and seeing the way the makeup was going I started to think about the personality this woman would have living in this circus environment. It sounds a bit silly, but the more I thought about her personality, there more my creative juices began to flow. This type of woman would not have perfect hair, I thought. One of my all time favorite movies, Moulin Rogue, popped into my head and I finally had a clear vision for this shoot.




I wanted to create messy Victorian hairstyles. Hair that not only gave the impression of natural texture but also looked like she styled it herself. Maybe she brushed it or maybe she didn’t. The results were amazing. I had an incredible time collaborating with this team. This is still one of my favorite shoots.


By giving myself that time in the beginning and by observing everyone else’s work I was able to rethink my approach and anticipate multiple hairstyles to mirror both the stylist’s and makeup artist’s work. This new mindset allowed me to change the model’s hairstyles very quickly which saves everyone time and helps a photographer like Ella to get all the images she wants while working with natural light.





Fashion magazines, hair/makeup tutorials, mentors and various media sites are only the beginning of what can inspire us as Hairstylists. Through a collaboration, inspiration comes from everyone involved and as a team, in order to succeed, being flexible and supportive of each other will ultimately produce your best work.




WHERE TIME STOOD STILL editorial published in Elegant Magazine

Photography by Ella Dedegkaeva

Model Rayna Rebrovic

Fashion Designer Tatiana Andrade

Makeup Artist Vanessa Talamantes

Hairstylist Reba Vera