How to photograph well: Makeup tips to ensure you look as spectacular in pictures as you do in-person

How to photograph well
Photography and makeup by Dallas Curow
How to photograph well
Photography and makeup by Dallas Curow

As a wedding photographer and makeup artist, Dallas Curow knows a thing or two about looking good in front of the camera—which is why we asked her to share her best beauty tips on how to photograph well. Be it a wedding you’re attending or other big event, you’ll want to use these tricks the next time you know you’ll be in the spotlight!

Wedding season is almost in full swing and even if you’re not heading down the aisle yourself, chances are high that many a camera will be pointed your way. Meaning: If there was ever a day want to know how to photograph well, someone’s wedding day is it. Aside from picking a flattering outfit and practicing your smile, the best way to ensure you’ll photograph well is through your makeup. But this doesn’t mean you need to turn to a professional makeup artist to get the job done. With just a few tricks and changes to your everyday beauty routine, you can ensure you look as spectacular in pictures as you do in-person. Follow the steps below and get ready to smile for the camera!

Great skin is the foundation of any look. The night before your big event, exfoliate with either a gently abrasive scrub (such as St. Ives Apricot Scrub) or a non-abrasive liquid (like Aveda Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant) and apply your favourite moisturizer generously. This will leave your skin looking plump and refreshed. On the day of your event, only apply moisturizer if your skin is dry to very dry. If your skin is a bit more oily, skip to the next step.

Be sure to begin with a primer to create a smooth starting point for the rest of your look. Two of the best ones on the market are Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer and Nars Pro-Prime Oil-Free Pore Refining Primer.

Refine Your Complexion
Choose a foundation that’s right for your skin type and made to be photographed. It’s best to avoid any varieties with built-in sunscreen, as they don’t play nice with flash photography and can look mask-like in photos. Two of the best camera friendly foundations are Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Coverage Foundation and Revlon PhotoReady Foundation (liquid, mousse or powder).

How to photograph well
Photography and makeup by Dallas Curow

Set Your Foundation
Secure your foundation by setting with a light powder. Choose one with a translucent finish (like Bareminerals Mineral Veil) if you prefer a matte look, or a luminous finish (M.A.C Mineralize Skinfinish is a winner) if you like to have a bit more of a glow.

Flash photography can wash away a lot of the structural definition from your face, so a little bit of shading with bronzer or contouring powder will help keep you looking well-defined and less like a moon in the night sky. It’s really important that you use something with a matte finish, since matte recedes and will add depth. Using a medium-sized brush (such as M.A.C 168 Large Angled Contour Brush) dust some of the bronzer under your cheekbones, along your temples and under the jawline. Three foolproof brands are Bareminerals Warmth All-Over Face Color, Benefit Hoola and M.A.C Sculpting Powder (available in a range of shades).

Once you’ve finished contouring, add some lightness by applying a highlighting cream on the top of your cheekbones and onto your cupid’s bow. Cover Girl Intense Shadowblast (in “Beige Bling” or “Brown Bling” for fair and dark skin, respectively) works really well as an affordable highlighter. Benefit’s Watt’s Up is a beautiful champagne-toned highlighter that blends like a dream.

Add A Flush
The final touch for your skin is a flush of colour on the cheeks. Apply it just on the apples of your cheeks so that it looks like a healthy glow and not like, well, blush on camera. For the most natural look, try to find the colour that you would flush naturally. Smashbox O-Glow Intuitive Cheek Color goes on as a clear gel and then adjusts to the shade of pink that suits you. L’Oréal True Match Blush is another great choice, as it comes in a wide range of natural-looking shades.

Pictured: Bareminerals Mineral Veil ($20,, Benefit Hoola ($28, and Cover Girl Intense Shadow Blast ($9,

How to photograph well
Photography and makeup by Dallas Curow

Create Soft, Smoky Eyes
Instead of defaulting to the ubiquitous black smoky eye, opt for softer tones like brown, grey, navy or eggplant, which are less harsh. After priming your lids with an eye primer (Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion is the best of the best), apply a long-lasting or waterproof liner such as Sonia Kashuk Dramatically Defining Long-Wear Gel Liner in “Cocoa” or M.A.C Fluidline in “Dipdown” along the upper lashline. Once it’s dry, find an eyeshadow in a similar tone and smudge it over the liner, and then along the lower lashline using a flat brush. This will set the liner and also create a smokier look. Then, using a slightly bigger brush, blend the shadow upwards onto the lid, and into the crease. Curl the lashes and add a few coats of a volumizing mascara such as L’Oréal Voluminous or Diorshow.

Side note: If you’re a cryer, choose a waterproof formula!

Add Some Lashes
Finish by applying a 3-4 individual lashes at the outer corner of each eye for a subtle but sexy cat-eye effect. Ardell Individual Duralash Flare Lashes in “Medium Black” applied with Ardell LashGrip Eyelash Adhesive in “Dark” work like a dream!

Products shown: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion ($20,, Sonia Kashuk Dramatically Defining Long Wear Gel Liner ($9, at Target)

How to photograph well
Photography and makeup by Dallas Curow

Choose A Lipstick That Lasts
When it comes to big events, choose your lipstick wisely. Nudes and pinks work well at weddings because they’ll match whatever you wear and won’t noticeably smudge throughout all the talking, drinking and kissing you’ll (hopefully) be doing. A matte or creamy finish will give you the best staying power and will require fewer touch-ups. Three go-to shades I like are Nars Pure Matte Lipstick in “Montego Bay,” Revlon Matte Lipstick in “Smoked Peach” and Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in “Rosy Nude.”

Lock It Down
This final step is perhaps the most important. After you’ve perfected your look, make it stay put with a makeup setting spray. Urban Decay All-Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray will keep you looking perfect throughout the revelry.

Products shown: Nars Pure Matte Lipstick in “Montego Bay” ($32, Revlon Matte Lipstick in “Smoked Peach” ($10, at drugstores)

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