How To Take a Beautiful Picture

When I was in middle school, at that awkward age of thirteen, people teased me. I mostly wore dark blue clothes and didn’t speak up much. Although those aren’t reasons to tease someone, I was an easy target for being called “ugly” or “not-so-special.” This didn’t happen daily, but it left its marks. So these days, it feels good to add people from my past on Facebook… and show off my modeling pictures. Yes, I do that. I am human.

However! This is not my natural look.

I want to explain something about taking good pictures. I always see hurt looks or bad reactions from girls who think they obviously do not qualify for a job like this — but it honestly isn’t about looking pretty. That’s what the make-up artists, hair stylists, Photoshop, the styling of clothes, and the right angle do to you. The only thing I did was show up, learn how to move, and practice patience. Oh and, apparently, I have quite a symmetrical face.

How to Take a Beautiful Picture

Beautifying rituals

When I wake up to go somewhere far away, by train, I eat my breakfast and look like this. Photoshoots usually start early; I still have to be in hair and make-up for two to three hours. My hair is unusually full (cue: annoying talking about lush hair), and typically gets a happy reaction from the make-up artist at the start of the day, which slowly changes into horrified looks because my “lush” hair will only stay curly for about fifteen minutes. And those curls took about half the morning.

Then, three hours later, I’m in make-up, with Barbie hair.

Left: make-up. Right: Barbie hair

I go on set, move around, and do crazy things like swim in a cold pool full of flowers in a red puffy dress. Or I just sit and wait for hours, because there’s three other models whose hair has to look perfect.

While you’re taking a picture, the make-up artist and stylist will fiddle with you constantly to make sure you look absolutely perfect. It’s normal for the team to hurry towards you between every shot to put wild stray hairs and sweaty foundation back into place. Nothing will be neglected in the pursuit of a faultless image.

The pictures will probably look good unedited, because of the right make-up, hair, surroundings, and the professionalism of the photographer, but I usually still have pale blue legs, smudges of lipstick on my fingers, or other imperfections. Cue: Photoshop.

A few weeks ago I was about done at 19:00 and home at 21:00. I was so tired from waiting all day — weirdly, this is a thing — that I accidentally smeared nail polish remover on my eyes instead of eye make-up remover.

What a healthy glow!

What a healthy glow!

Enhanced looks

I don’t want to be one of those models who whines about shoots, because I know what I signed up for when I go to a particular job. I just want to explain that models are people. They look like puffy-eyed shy girls in the morning, and after hours of hair and make-up — depending on how stubborn the hair, or the skin — they will look like either amazingly glamorous women or drag queens. The latter result will, of course, be toned down in the finished photo by Photoshop. Creating an image is just what it sounds like: I am not the girl in the swimming pool picture. It is a product of a team, working together to create an appealing or artistic look.

Not everyone can model, but everyone can look beautiful with the help of a good make-up team and some Photoshop. So I would like to advise you not to compare yourself to created images in magazines or clothing ads. First, because comparing yourself to others doesn’t carry any significance. Second, because the girls you see in those photos are enhanced — greatly. However, if you want to wake up at 05:00 every morning to do your hair and make-up for a few hours, though, that’s your choice — of course!

Making faces to know it's still me underneath the fanciness

Making faces to know it’s still me underneath the fanciness

First photo by Melissa Houben

One thought on “How To Take a Beautiful Picture

  1. They should make a documentary with all natural models – no make-up and no Photoshop. I think this would become a beautiful project.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *