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Steps on Editing a Professional Makeup Portfolio

by Milana

To create a stellar makeup portfolio, getting amazing images is just a start. The next step is learning how to put all those images together. You need to edit and showcase them in a way that makes sense and has a story that your client will comprehend. Besides, learning how to edit professional makeup portfolio is a creative exercise that will help you evaluate your skills and round up your aesthetic style.

In the business world, if you want to find a new job, you have a resume. In the makeup artistry world, instead of a resume, you approach clients with a portfolio. When you are starting, your first resume is short and general. And as you have more working experience, your resume gets more narrative and can be tailored for the specific job posting. So, let’s go through some of the main points on how you should put together your portfolio images.

How to know which images to choose?

It’s not about adding every good image you have and showcasing all that you can do. What you will need to do is set aside time to go through all of the images and essentially make a greatest hits collection. So how do you go about choosing what images are the best? For starters, every image in your portfolio must be professional in every aspect — not just the makeup. Your portfolio is only as strong as the weakest shot in your portfolio, and that’s what your future client is looking. They look for the weakest spot in your collection because this shows what you consider good enough.

When you are selecting images, you should be looking at them from a few different points of view. For example:

  • How would a photographer look at it? Is the light and composition on point? The photographer would be looking at the image as a whole, not just the makeup, of course. You should also consult with a photographer or a retoucher if retouching is needed.
  • What would your model say about it? Does the model find the pose flattering? Does her skin look beautiful and real, and the facial expression matches the mood of the shoot?
  • How does the hair stylist see the image? Does the hair match the makeup?
  • What would a stylist say about the clothes and accessories? Does it look good and matches the mood of the shoot?
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Showcase your best work

Every image should be on point. Even if you only have one or two strong contenders right now, it is better to have a small portfolio with a 100% ratio of beautiful images than to beef it up with work that is of lesser quality. If a client sees two beautiful images, they are more likely to consider taking a chance on you, than if you have a bigger portfolio with a lesser percentage of professional-level work.

If someone shows a weak image amongst strong ones, it tells potential clients several things. First, the artist doesn’t know how to gauge the quality of their work. And also that they do not always do professional-level work. Prevent doubt in your professional abilities by ensuring that only your best work is visible to potential clients.

Reach out for a feedback

Once you chose images that you like, you should reach out for feedback. You may be attached to some work that doesn’t fit the rest. Go outside of your friends and family circle for feedback on the portfolio. They can be biased as you, and can’t give you a professional opinion. Reach out to photographers, makeup artists or even designers to help you out.

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How many images should you have in your portfolio?

Try to have at least 7-8 images with different models included, and don’t go over 20 images.  Ten to twenty images should do it. You can stretch the higher number a bit more but bear in mind that it’s not quantity that sells, but quality. If it is an online portfolio, upload more if you wish, but in different categories, so it should be easy for the user to navigate the site. Put around a dozen of your best work in the main portfolio, and the rest you can put in other specific categories such as editorial, commercial, wedding, etc. Showing more work is not valuable if the work you are presenting is different from what the potential client would like to see.

Have a theme!

Make sure the whole book looks like it’s one person’s work. Once you have the final pieces selected, make sure they’re cohesive, that they form your “brand.” Your favorite images and what is going to sell you to a prospective client potentially can be two different things. Apply a theme to your images. Certainly, you might have a personal aesthetic, which should be communicated through the application of your images. They should all look like they go together. Where I find a good analogy is in fashion shows. If you watch, for example, the Chanel show, you will see that all the looks from first to the last go cohesively together and we understand them as a collection. But they all demonstrate different aspects; there is something unique about each of them. And at the same time, we can see they are all related.

If you want to add variety and you want to work with brides, for example, you should plan to have a variety of bridal looks including different skin tones, a wide range of natural, moderate, and more glamorous looks. To make your portfolio work best for you, you have to have a focus. This doesn’t mean you cannot work in more than one area. But if they are vastly different, you may wish you have two separate portfolios or weblinks for each one. If it is a big client, you can even customize your portfolio just for that one client. There is no shame in having multiple portfolios if you are looking for different kinds of works to do. Though, our advice for beginners: it is always best to hone in on one or two areas so you can corner the market and make a name for yourself. Once you have a solid reputation, it will be easy to build another portfolio and transition to a different area of makeup.

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Consider your audience

What you put in your portfolio for clients to view, you get in return. If you don’t want a certain type of work to do in the future, don’t show those makeup looks in your portfolio.

Take into account who are you going to showcase your portfolio. Maybe you are showing it to future brides, fashion magazines, or a beauty photographer. Whatever is the case, take into consideration when you select images – what would appeal to those audiences. Some of your super wild, out-of-the-box, frivolous and crazy stuff isn’t going to make sense to a bride to be. No matter how good your bridal work is, a vast contrast in genres would likely create questions in their minds. Clients will take you more seriously and they would think you are the right fit for them because all of your work showcases the type of makeup they need. It would be a waste of your client’s time to go through all the makeup they are not hiring you for.

A logical order to the images

Make the first and the last image stellar

People have short attention spans so put your best work first! The first image should be one that presents the message you want to send and how you would like to be seen as a makeup artist. Not to mention, it should be STELLAR! Put the most exciting, engaging, and communicative images first to capture the viewer’s attention and make them want to flip(or scroll) that page and see more. Along with the first, you should make the last image your strongest point as well. This is especially important with physical copies of your portfolio, where the client linearly goes through the book and the last image they see is probably going to stick with them. So start by choosing the first and the last image and then connect those two with others you have left.

Use authority to your advantage: If you did make up for a well-known person or a company – put it first.  Any recognizable artist, model, photographer, celebrity, or publication that people know about. People trust the decisions that authoritative figures make. If someone sees that you’ve worked with a big name agency or photographer, they’re going to assume you’re fantastic. It’s how things roll.

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Organize the portfolio by keeping similar images together. For example, open with headshots then show close-ups, etc. Keep black and white images at the end of the book. Do your research on and study a top artist’s work.

Keep it relevant!

Keep your portfolio current. All the images should be either classic looks or looks that are currently in demand. Even if you did an impressive job 10 years ago, the makeup might not still be in style. No matter how much it hurts your heart, you have to tuck that image away until the look is back on trend! Bear in mind that this will not be your final portfolio, which you will have forever. You will continue to grow your body of work and your skills. So, a few years from now, you will create a new portfolio or add more images to it that will accurately represent the kind of makeup artists that you are and the kind of work you are looking to book. Trends and techniques change quickly, so don’t include anything that’s more than three years old. You don’t want to look dated.

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Be ruthless in editing

Be ruthless, cut, remove, and take things out. Because, ultimately, what you want to end up with is a series of high-quality images. And those are the one that best represents your work and tells a story of who you are as a makeup artist. Or better said, a synopsis of that story. You need to be able to communicate through only a snapshot of your whole body of work what can you do for a prospective client.

The best portfolios do two things at once: they present your unique style, while also displaying your technical skills and techniques. Only when you know what kind of makeup artist you want to be, a portfolio serves to its full purpose. Spend some time thinking about what type of makeup you want to specialize in and direct your portfolio in that way. As with many things, there’s no “right” answer, and you’ll need to use your judgment.

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