Should I invest in professional hair and makeup for my headshot session?

I would personally recommend using a trusted makeup artist for any portrait photography session. A skilled makeup artist can create the illusion of flawless skin, define the eyes and enhance facial features. Professional makeup will also help to keep re-touching and post-production down to a minimum.

Great makeup can make or break a photo!

But, before we go any further.


Remember your style.

Stick to your signature look, as you want to portray your personality in your headshot. In my last post, I discussed dressing appropriately for your brand or role. The same rules apply to makeup. Do you usually wear red lipstick? Natural face? Stick with the style of makeup for which you are known. Leave the experimental makeup to the realms of conceptual fashion and beauty. We can shoot that another day.

Here are a few tips should you want to do your makeup yourself.

  • Keep it real.

Your makeup should be an accurate representation of you and your brand. We’re looking for a good balance of clear skin and realism.

  • Pores.

Use a thin coating of foundation which still allows for natural skin texture. If too many layers of makeup are used in an attempt to better accentuate facial features, it will cover the pores and skin texture, resulting in flat, un-realistic looking skin.

  • Matte is your friend.

Steer well clear of shimmer and glitter, resist that urge! For party makeup, shimmer can look great, but for photography, use a matte finish. Whether it be eye shadow, cheeks, or face, remember matte will always look best.

  • Natural Look, not “Light”

It is more important to aim for a natural look than “light makeup.” Studio lighting has a way of reducing the impact of makeup, so you can afford to go a little darker with lip colour, mascara and eye shadow.

  • Colour of foundation.

Match the colour of your foundation to the natural colour of your skin in your neck and chest area. Resist the temptation to choose a shade which is darker than your skin tone. Oil-free matte will yield the best results in headshots but it can be difficult to apply correctly.

  • Oily Skin.

The best way to control oily skin is to use a blotter sheet. Mattifying gel (cream) is another option. It’s easy to apply and works well with the skin of all types and colours.

So, consider whether you should invest in professional makeup for your headshot session. Your headshots are an investment in yourself and your brand so spending a little more to achieve better results seems like a no-brainer to me.

If you do choose the professional option, be sure to confirm that your make-up artist is proficient in make-up specifically for photography. There is a big difference in ‘night-out’ makeup and photo-shoot makeup.



















I’m a portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, and personal branding for actors, athletes and business professionals.

Book a session today.

Find the content useful? Consider buying me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

Easy to follow tutorial for a painterly style skin effect in Photoshop.

Hello everyone.

Quick and easy to follow video tutorial to share today on my YouTube channel highlighting a process I use on the majority of my images.

This two-minute retouching step gives that waxy, painterly look to skin which really fits well with my style and works perfectly with fine art portrait images in general.

There’s an added bonus here too, as it also has a skin smoothing effect.

Use it at the end of the skin retouching/frequency separation stage of your workflow to get the best results.

Have fun with the technique and be sure to let me know how you get on with it.

Stay safe.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

Easy to follow tutorial to make eyes POP in Photoshop (Including YouTube video)

Little editing tip to share with you today, and this is a fabulous and easy tutorial to really make your subject’s eyes POP in Photoshop.

Giving those eyes that extra punch can really elevate your portrait post production work and make it stand out.

I use this technique on the majority of my images, and I’m sure when you see how easy and effective it is, you will start to incorporate it into your workflow too.

This is one of the final steps in my own image retouching process. I do this just before I do my final sharpening in Photoshop.

Let’s start with this portrait of Tegan. We’re going to use this as our example image.

Let’s go ahead and zoom in on the eyes.

One more valuable tip here before we go any further.

When you are photographing a subject in a studio with lights/flash there is a pretty good chance that you might have controlled conditions where most of the ambient light has been dimmed. This is of course good practice, but the darker the room is, then the bigger the pupils of your subject’s eyes will become…………and we don’t want that in a portrait. We want to see more of the iris. You will have heard the much used photography mantra ‘The eyes are the window to the soul’……….Well then, lets give them the chance to shine in our photographs and if possible face your subject towards the studio window. I know, it might create a challenge with your lighting setup but it will allow the iris to be much more prominent in the image.

Okay, so on with the retouch.

We’re going to make a duplicate of the background layer Cmd+J or Ctrl+J and then we’re going to enter Quick Mask Mode. There’s an arrow pointing to the Quick Mask Mode icon on he left side of the screenshot.

You will also now see that our duplicate layer is highlighted in red, on the right hand side of the screen. This means we’re in Quick Mask mode and we’re good to go.

Next we’re going to select a black brush with Opacity and Flow both set to 100 percent and we’re going to paint over all the visible areas of the iris. It will look something like this………

If you wish, you can apply a little Gaussian Blur at this stage just to blend the selection, but use a low value, say 0.5-1.0.

When you’ve finished painting, exit Quick mask by clicking the Quick Mask icon again to reveal your selection.

Now we’re going to open a Selective Color layer and set the Colours tab to ‘neutrals’………you can adjust the blacks slider in the ‘neutrals’ tab if you wish to have a play around with the contrast. I don’t always do this, but the choice is there for you.

Notice how our selective colour layer has a black mask with just the eyes (our selection) visible in white.

Things are going to look a little crazy now as we’re going to change the blend mode of our Selective Color layer to Linear Dodge Add.

It looks pretty bad at this stage………unless you’re doing some far out fantasy, superhero edits! So we’re going to lower the opacity of the Selective Color layer. I usually drop it to about 40 percent opacity as a good starting point, but be aware that the value for each individual image will be different.

I have reduced the opacity to 40 in the image above and opened a new blank layer above the Selective Color layer. This is going to be our sharpening layer and to do the sharpening we’re going to use *drumroll*

…………The Sharpen tool

You may or may not be familiar with this tool? I only actually use it as part of this workflow.

So to sharpen, we’re going to use the Sharpen Tool to paint on our blank layer and build up the sharpening effect on the iris. I’ve got it set to 45. Be gentle here and build it up gradually. Pressing on and painting somewhere between 2 and 4 strokes of the entire iris seems to work best in my opinion.

Once that step is complete, I like to group (Cmd+G) the Sharpen and Selective Color layers together. I do this so I can zoom in and out and also toggle the effect on and off, so I can see whether I’ve taken it too far. Lower the opacity of the group to the sweet spot which you are happy with. I’ve settled on 30 percent opacity.

That’s it……….easy.

Have a play with this technique and I guarantee you’ll find it second nature after trying it a few times. It works equally well with both colour and black and white images. Have fun and be sure to let me know how you get on with it in the comments below.

Stay safe guys.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.


Sharing some personal branding images from an older set here today. High key set, edited in black and white for an extra contrasty punch.

We photographed these against a painted white wall, with the large beauty dish (socked to soften the light a little) directly over the camera lens.

I actually used the Canon 17-40 lens for these! I know……I know, not your traditional portrait lens but I honestly don’t mind giving the ‘rules’ of photography the old English longbowman’s salute from time to time. That’s a two fingered salute for any of you that aren’t up to date with your Medieval archery terms!

Just FYI……………that’s not the two fingered salute I’m talking about!

I’m sure you’ll agree that these guys are absolutely fabulous subjects. Very cool people.

Their music is fantastic too.

Check them out here……………

Republica is available to shoot band promos, musician and actor portraits. Please do get in touch for your bespoke personal branding session.

Stay safe.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

Crimson Tide | Published in Femme Rebelle Magazine.

Happy to report a little good news story today in a world seemingly devoid of positives. A new feature in the fantastic alternative fashion publication Femme Rebelle Magazine.

I’d recently purchased a crimson paper backdrop from Manfrotto, which I was keen to test out.

Jessie answered my casting on Instagram, and we got to work on bringing this concept to life.

I opted for a three edge (Joel Grimes style) lighting set. The 22 inch socked beauty dish boomed overhead, front and centre. Gridded strip boxes aimed back at the model from behind, for some edge highlights. See the diagram below.

This is one of my favourite lighting setups. It works great for both male and female subjects.

We added a suitable prop…………….

I LOVE to use props…………..

……………..until the prop has served it’s purpose

……………….and you kick a field goal with it!

3 points (and no cuddly toys harmed during the making of this!)

Thanks for viewing guys.

Stay safe.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

The top five inexpensive pieces of gear that made the biggest impact on my photography………..

…………………and I’m not talking about the latest camera bodies or the fastest most expensive glass. We’re not even in the same ballpark actually………nowhere near.

Let’s break it down. Cameras and glass aside I’m sure we’ve all had those Eureka moments on our respective photographic journeys where we’ve come to realise ‘how did I ever manage before without this piece of kit?’ Call it an epiphany if you will, but each of these individual items I’m going to list below have had a huge impact on my creative process and really enabled me to grow as an artist.

None of this stuff is going to break the bank……….

First up and probably the single most simple but ultimately effective item on the list……..The tethering cable.

Tethering to the computer during a shoot has literally transformed the way I work. I WILL NEVER LOOK BACK. Forgive the caps but I can’t emphasise enough the value of shooting this way. Working in real time and being able to see the images on the big screen will allow you (and your creative team) to make live adjustments to hair, makeup, posing, lighting and anything else that may go unnoticed on the small LCD display on the back of the camera. My subjects have always appreciated being able to see the images as they are being shot and have the opportunity to see what is working for them and what isn’t, and adjust accordingly.

Type A to Mini-B USB 2.0 Cable is the specification for my Canon Cameras. I have a couple of cheap cables I purchased from Amazon for as little as £6 which do the job perfectly, but if you wanted to buy the industry standard then Tether Tools is the place for you.

So yeah……just in case you missed it……..the tethering cable is my number one most useful piece of kit. ‘Try it…….you’ll like it’ (as my mum used to say!)

Next up…………

The C Stand and Boom Arm.

Now light (as I’m sure you already know) works best either from above (it works for the sun) or from the side in a painterly Rembrandt style. I love to light from overhead, either with the beauty dish or an octabox and this beautiful, ugly bit of metal allows me to do just that……probably the best 90 quid I’ve ever spent on grip. I can boom my 22 inch metal beauty dish front and centre of my subject without fear of it dropping down and denting the floor (or my model!) It’s truly a great bit of kit and the boom arm itself also allows for better placement and manoeuvrability of other larger modifiers in the Rembrandt position too. All in all much better choice than a regular light stand, and a LOT more sturdy.

Third on my list…….Sheets of coloured cellophane.


These cost me £3.50 for a multicoloured selection. Use them to gel your flashes. Cheap as chips as they say here in England, and very effective.

If you have some coloured gels for your flashes then why not go a step further and add some smoke?

The humble fog machine ranks next as one of my most useful pieces of kit.

Instantly add atmosphere to your studio shots with one of these. Remember to backlight the smoke and have fun!

One tip when using the smoke machine though would be to use it near the end of the shoot……the room can get a little clogged up after a few blasts and you’ll find it increasingly hard to focus until the smoke dissipates, so use sparingly.

Finally, last but not least is my wonderful painterly style cloth backdrop from KateBackdrop.

It features in many of my images for good reason, as I absolutely love it.

I do love to shoot against a storm grey backdrop and blend textures in Photoshop as this gives me a lot of creative scope in post production, but this fantastic and cheap bit of cloth really allows me to get a finished look to my pictures that I really love. I’m sure I will purchase others from the range going forward but for now I’m very happy indeed with this one.

Here’s the link to it on Amazon.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my insights in this article and I’d absolutely love to hear about your own ‘go to’ pieces of kit that you simply can’t do without.

Thanks for reading and please do drop by and connect with me on social media.

Stay safe.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

The Ring Mistress | Portrait Photoshoot Featuring Tegan Including Speed Edit YouTube Video

In today’s instalment I’m going to offer you an insight into this themed photoshoot featuring Tegan, which I’m delighted to say has been both well received and also published.

My approach to such a session is usually one of careful advance planning. Now for me, I have to have a structured shoot plan made and agreed upon in advance of the shoot. Your model or subject will be able to hit the ground running on shoot day if you are both on the same page in terms of styling, make-up and even posing. I go so far as to even discuss lighting setups and planned backdrops with my subject in advance of the shoot. What’s the best way to do this I hear you ask? Well for me it’s a no-brainer………Pinterest!

Sharing a Pinterest board with your subject/client/model and adding them as a collaborator is also a great way of embracing and incorporating their input into the session. It works… me!

My usual shoot process on a project like this would be to take three themed ideas. We would discuss and develop those ideas in advance and decide on an order of priority. The most basic idea usually forms the warm-up set for me. I use it to tweak lighting and get a feel for which backdrop I might use. In this case I’m using a very inexpensive cloth backdrop by KateBackdrop which has been worth it’s weight in gold to me. I love the painterly feel of it. Check out their range here…………

It just seems to complement the styling and theme so well so I was very happy with my choice here.

Incidentally my previous post deals with adding texture and colour to grey paper studio backgrounds. This might prove to be extremely useful for matching and complementing a background to your subject/model’s styling via the means of post production.

Please find the article and tutorial here………..

The two strongest themes I usually reserve for the main body of the shoot. The strongest of which I usually like to submit for a magazine publication.

So Tegan styled the Ring Mistress beautifully in my opinion. The addition of the whip made for a nice prop and we borrowed a pair of my Wife’s gloves to finish it off. I’m sure you’ll agree she looks fantastic.

Maybe you’d be surprised to hear that this shoot was completed in an extremely small room at my home with my shooting position being located across the hall in another room and shooting through two doorways back towards Tegan?! The smaller the space you have, the more creative you’re going to have to be……..thrive on the challenge though and it will help you to hone your craft at a vast rate of knots.

Hopefully this article has given you some food for thought and some inspiring photoshoot ideas, but before I sign off I’ll leave you with this speed-edit video from this set.

If you are interested in any of the steps I’ve taken to achieve this look then please do reach out and connect with me on social media.

Thanks for reading.

Stay safe.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

kHz ft Arabella

Apologies for my lack of blogging lately.

No excuses.

I have been shooting quite a lot however and scored some fantastic publications recently. This set in particular featuring the incredibly versatile and well known model Arabella has given me an appetite to shoot more with coloured gels and to push my creative boundaries.

Watch this space.

‘kHz’ ft Arabella

Studio Session-1369-Edit-2

Femme Rebelle Magazine



Please do check out Arabella on Instagram.



Breaking the rules.


Pretty ironic title for me as my wife will tell you that I’m a stickler for the rules. To be fair though I don’t mind breaking a few in photography. It’s my art…… rules. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do this or that as it doesn’t follow the rules of photography. How would they know your artistic vision? I’ve seen a lot of squabbling online over various technicalities over the years. I stay out of it, and I do……….exactly what makes me happy.

So what photography crime have I committed I hear you ask?

Don’t worry it’s nothing too bad……….perish the thought.

I sometimes shoot beauty images with the Canon 17-40L.

I know…………………serious rule breaker.

Why would you choose this wide lens for portraiture?

Why not?



Okay well let me tell you WHY instead.

I light images like this with the large beauty dish. The dish is boomed directly out in front of the subject’s face and tilted down at a fairly shallow angle. I use the sock on it for extra diffusion (I absolutely love the light when modified like this) and I place some white foam core at chest height to fill the shadows. The dish is placed extremely close to the subject at approximately the same distance as the diameter of the modifier itself. So the 22 inch beauty dish is placed at a distance of roughly 22 inches. This is a pretty tight working space as I’m sure you’ll agree. The wide lens comes into it’s own here allowing me to shoot from directly under the beauty dish (with the lens hood literally touching the bottom edge of the dish) now I know this might not be for everyone but it certainly works for me.

A couple of things to note here though in case you were thinking of trying this technique would be to be very careful with keeping the plane of the lens level or flat to the subject………wide lenses can cause a lot of distortion if angled incorrectly and we don’t really want that…..well……unless it’s intentional of course.

The last tip is regarding the lighting. By booming the beauty dish out directly in front in this manner you can adjust the height of the light up and down which in turn will give you deeper or shallower shadows under the nose, lip and chin. Adjust to your own personal taste. It’s easy and effective. This image of Ava was shot against a painted white wall at home.

I hope you like the image and the technique.

I’m getting back to my rule following reality now.

Until next time.