Tip of the Day: Dodge & Burn like a Makeup Artist

San Diego Fashion Photographer Rodney AlanMaking Faces by Kevyn Aucion

I have this thirst for knowledge that I need to quench.  Reading books happens to be one of my sources of knowledge.  If you’re anything like me reading can be fun.  Actually it really isn’t.  Personally I could never get into novels.  Maybe it has something to do with my short attention span.  So before this goes off tangent lets get back on topic.  Books.

In a series of blog posts, I’ll share a few books that I’ve found helpful as a fashion & beauty photographer.  One of the books I highly recommend is a makeup book.  You’re probably wondering what does a book on makeup have to do with being a photographer.  Bare with me, it has more to do than one would actually think.

As a photographer you’ve probably skimmed some photography books, watched a bunch of  YouTube Photoshop tutorials and even listened to a few photography podcastsCheck out the podcasts that LUCIMA and I did 😉

You’ve probably came across the topic of dodging & burning as well.  This concept came about in the days of developing film in the darkroom.  The premise of dodging & burning is to brighten and darken areas of the print respectively.  I’m not going to get into the how to do that, I’ll assume you already know that.  If you don’t, there’s a lot of good resources out there.

In order to make your picture pop, dodge & burn is quite the necessity.  You can turn a flat picture into something with dimension and depth.  When it comes to retouching that beauty shot or in fact any portrait you should be aware of the right areas to dodge and burn.  Otherwise you are just negating the work that your makeup artist just did.  And that’s where the makeup book comes in handy.

San Diego Fashion Photographer Rodney AlanDodging & Burning like a Makeup Artist

Just about any makeup book should help, but the one that I like is “Making Faces” by Kevyn Aucoin.  My makeup artists friends swear by this book.  I’ve found it to be a well written book and easy to understand to the uninitiated like myself.  There are 2 awesome takeaways from reading this book.  First, knowing where to dodge & burn aka highlighting and shading in the makeup world.  Second, knowing the lingo and terminology of makeup artistry in order to communicate the look I’m aiming for.

Shading and highlighting is the equivalent to dodging & burning in the darkroom.  By dodging & burning the same areas that the makeup artists has highlighted/shaded you can accentuate their work.  Knowing how to speak “makeup artistry” will get you the look right away.  In the past I would assume the makeup artist understood what I wanted by only showing a mood board.  To only find out their interpretation of that mood board was something coming from left field.  Its almost as if the makeup artist had their own agenda in mind!  Don’t even get me started on this.  But I digress.

Hope this little tidbit helps with your retouching and maybe learning a bit about makeup artistry as well.  There are many topics out there that relate to photography.  Its just a matter of understanding what photography is about and finding the correlation between the two.  Stay tuned for my next Tip of the Day.

-Rodney Alan

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