Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Difference of Design: Makeup for Color Photography vs. Black & White Photography

You've heard the old adage:  you have to do the makeup heavier for pictures!  It's a cliche because it's true.  When doing makeup for live events vs. photography vs. black & white photography, there is much to consider.

In general, the camera has a tendency to flatten 3-D forms (like the face) just a bit and it will also show a makeup palette and finish as being lighter and sheerer than it is in person.  As a makeup artist, that means needing to work with an overall contour on the face to make it slightly more spherical.  In studio art terms, a circle becomes a sphere when you add a light source to have light and shadow, thus contour.  Well, we need to do that to the face in a delicate way with bronzer to assist in keeping the face's form on camera.

Additionally, you have to decide as an artist how heavy to go on foundation and how saturated to go with colors to make sure they photograph well, but still look good in person.  When it comes to makeup that works well for clients attending live events at which they will be photographed, you have to pick a happy medium of coverage and color.  This will be true for bridal and event clients.

Here is a picture of a makeup and hair design done for a client prior to a black tie event.  She wanted to look vintage, but not theatrical.  So, we did a medium coverage base/foundation and gave structure to the brows, eyes, cheeks, and lips without over-doing it.  The main details of the look were the slightly winged liner and red lips (to get that vintage look, darling).  

When you see this design photographed between color, black & white, and sepia, you can see that the most striking picture is the one in color.  This design approach to color and coverage gets lost when you move the image to grayscale.  To successfully design makeup for black & white photography, you have to change the way you look at color and form.  

The piece that you have to consider is tint and shade.  Tint and shade refer to the lightness or darkness of a color, or hue.  When you are designing a look that is specifically going to be photographed in black & white, you need to adjust your coverage and color palette accordingly.  If it's only going to be in a shoot, then it can be heavier in coverage.  If it's going to be in grayscale, then I need to worry about tints and shades (lightness and darkness) of the colors used.

It's very difficult to see beyond the hue.  It's easier to work in either cool tones or warm tones in order to do so.  But, when you do some research on the history of makeup, you'll find that the old black & white movies were styled with cooler-toned makeup.  The face was built with shades of blush, essentially.  So, break out your pinks, purples, and blues!

Here is the same client, still styled with a vintage look, but more appropriate for the period and more appropriate for the purpose of the design:  to be photographed in black & white photography.  

You can see that in color photography, this look is much more over-the-top.  In person, it's downright garish.  But, in black & white photography, it shines.  The base work was much heavier, with deliberate contours built up in creams before moving to powders.  The lips, cheeks, and eyes were colored in and contoured further with a cool-toned palette.  Note that the lip is not red for this design.  A true red lip will photograph closer to black than to gray in black & white photography (as you can see above).  Also, the lines in the brows and eyes had to be exaggerated to not get lost.  

 Photo by:  Serendipity Photography

  Photo by:  Serendipity Photography
As you can see, the difference of the two designs directly impacts the success of the look.  Tint, shade, form, line, and color are just a few of the tools an artist will use to wield their art in the world of makeup and hair design.  No design is left to chance.  Every choice the artist makes is deliberate.


Makeup and hair by:  Brett Dorrian

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