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

Daniel session-1.jpg

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 9-15-7



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

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