Choosing Your Resident HMUA

April 13, 2021

Are you at the point in your photography business where you have decided that you need to include hair and makeup into your session fees? There are so many pros to having a resident makeup artist! If you’re lost as to where to begin, the steps are easy, but finding the right fit may be hard.

Lauren Gray

Wild Fyre Co. | Kansas City, MO

Model: Stevie Watkins


No one wants to dread working with someone, especially when you have the choice on who to hire. If you don’t have a makeup artist in mind, you can check social media to network and find locals. Be sure to set up a trial where the makeup artist does your make up and hair so you can get a good feel of the experience your clients will be getting. How do you feel having conversation with during the trial? Do you have similarities? What do you have in common? Is the conversation easy? These are some of the questions you should ask yourself and give an honest review to yourself on each of your candidates. Don’t just settle on your resident because you need one! Find someone that you’re happy to have as part of your team and can interact with your clients on the level that you do.


If a makeup artist shows up for your trial and their product kit is suspect, it may be a giant red flag. A true make up artist should have professional grade products that provide ranges for all skin tones and textures. Many drugstore brand and off brand products may be OK for everyday use, but tend to wear off and photograph oddly. What is the artist using to prepare your skin with? A professional makeup artist should have a range of skin care to prep the clients skin before applying face make up, and be knowledgeable on how the products interact with each other and different skin types. Does everything in the kit look clean? Have you witnessed any sanitation or conversed about any sanitation methods? You do not want an artist who throws everything into a dirty bag or doesn’t clean items after each use, and trust me, there are quite a few of those. Does the artist carry a range of colors for different types of eyeshadows, blushes, contours, and lipsticks? You will feel more confident having your resident work on clients if you know they carry a range of products to fit any type of look. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!


What days and times do your sessions usually run? You may find the most amazing makeup artist and would love to have them, but their schedule may not line up with yours. Ask your candidate about other obligations they have and what their schedule looks like. Having someone who’s schedule matches up with yours is wonderful because you don’t have to worry about having a back up makeup artist constantly.


Do you know anyone who has worked with any of your make up artist candidates? Ask for an honest review from others who have worked with the artist. Sometimes a makeup artist may look good online, but when it comes to technical skills and the amount of editing a photographer may have to do to fix the colors in post is more than it’s worth. Your makeup artist should have knowledge of studio lighting and angles in order to apply cosmetics that translate beautifully on camera. 

How did you find your resident makeup artist if you have one? If you haven’t found one yet, best of luck!