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soona   we create the best content for commerce   soona   we create the best content for commerce

soona   we create the best content for commerce   soona   we create the best content for commerce

13 Beauty Photography Tips to Make Products Stand Out

Capture the perfect product shot with these essential tips for beauty photography. Learn how to highlight textures, colors, and finishes.

soona crew
soona crew
written by
soona crew
written by
September 15, 2023
-
1
min

Makeup and Beauty Photography Tips: How to Make Your Products Stand Out

Capture the perfect product shot with these essential tips for beauty photography. Learn how to highlight textures, colors, and finishes.

Beauty photography goes beyond just taking pictures of your products—it’s about telling a story, evoking emotions, and making your potential customers feel a connection with your brand. In the beauty industry, where aesthetics and image are paramount, high-quality beauty photography can make all the difference.

Imagine you have a customer who sees your Instagram post featuring a gorgeous shade of lipstick in the tube. They click through to your website and see photos of it on a model—or even multiple models with various skin tones—and a GIF of that flawless glide when being applied. Product photos that check all of these boxes will result in adding to cart—and maybe another shade or two while they’re at it.

Below, check out our top beauty photography tips to make sure your products steal the show—and the sale.

{{studio-ad="/external-components"}}

Plan your shoot

Careful planning makes shoot day go more smoothly. Part of planning includes creating a shot list and a mood board so you and your creative team—including any hired professional makeup artists—stay aligned on the end goal of your beauty shoot. 

Start with a shot list

Whether you’re working with a team or solo, creating a shot list will keep your photography focused and cohesive. The shot list is essentially a comprehensive list of every beauty photo you want to capture on shoot day. It acts as a survival guide of sorts for prepping and executing your shoot—even if you’re hiring a beauty photographer to help you out.

In your shot list, include which products and props are included, angles you want to shoot from, and your creative vision for the backdrops, color scheme, and mood. Your shot list helps you stay organized in planning and executing your shoot. You can always get creative and capture beauty shots not from your shot list in addition to the ones you’ve identified.

Looking for more guidance when it comes to writing your shot list? We’ve put together some materials to help you out: 

Use a mood board

Create a mood board for reference to ensure you’re delivering your brand’s message. The mood board will be more of a visual representation of what you’re going for, whereas the shot list is more logistical and administrative in nature. Your mood board will help ensure your creative direction for color, feeling, demographic, and timeline is all in harmony. 

To create your mood board, save images you like, especially of other beauty products. Refresh your mood board as you develop new ideas and products. 

Get backup products

You may need to use multiple products to get the shots you want. It’s not uncommon to use up an entire product for each photo. When it comes to makeup photography, for example, you often need to demolish the palette to show it off. 

Plan to keep one untouched for macro shots and use the other to play around with for swatching, smearing, and modeling, and the other to keep pristine for those macro shots. 

Gather your shooting equipment

Whether you’re renting or going with what you’ve got on hand, it’s important to have the right equipment to capture the beauty photographs your business needs. It’s also helpful to keep all your materials in one place so you can shoot when the lighting is right (more on that later). 

If you’re working with a pro beauty photographer, you don’t need to worry about getting the right gear so much. Instead, make sure you gather any special props you’re providing for the beauty shoot—you’ll know exactly what to get based on that fabulous shot list you made! This is also the time to source and hire any models you may be using.

Consider your camera 

If you’re taking the DIY route for your beauty shoot instead of outsourcing your needs, make sure your camera is up to the task. For high-quality shots, we recommend using a DSLR camera with manual exposure and aperture camera settings. soona photographers use Canon Mark IV. But you don’t have to purchase a camera, especially if it’s a one-time beauty shoot. If you want, you can rent equipment from local camera shops. 

If, for some reason, you can’t use a DSLR camera, you can try a smartphone in a pinch. Use portrait mode to optimize detail and then get creative in an editing software to make it e-commerce-ready.

Get the best camera lenses for beauty photos

Arguably more important than your camera is the lens. If you want to really invest in sharp photos for your makeup or cosmetics, invest in a macro lens. Canon recommends EF-S 60mm f/2.8 macro. This is a great option for getting shots of your palette or product in the packaging. a macro lens will pick up on the texture and fine details the best. 

For photos of your product on a model or swatched on skin, use a 50mm or 85mm lens. 50mm lenses will capture more of your background surroundings while 85mm lenses will focus the face of your model more closely.

Clean and prep product packaging

Your macro lens will pick up every little speck—potential distractions that will take away from your beauty products and distract potential buyers. Right before or on shoot day, prepare your products. Make sure packaging is clean and scuff-free and that you have unopened boxes on hand. This will save a lot of time and money in the editing stage. Remember to check out your beauty product containers as well. 

Style with pretty props

Your props should accentuate your beauty products and your beauty images to help tell your brand story. Here are some examples of minimal and affordable props you can style with to make your cosmetic and beauty photos pop:

  • Colored blocks
  • Fresh fruit
  • Flowers
  • Water
  • Mirrors
  • Applicators and brushes
  • Towels

Use the right lighting setups

When considering your lighting setup, natural window light is usually the best way to go. It creates a soft light that mitigates hard shadows and makes for gorgeous beauty product photos—and it’s free. 

You can capture shimmery tones or creamy textures in natural light with some planning. Get familiar with your beauty shoot space:

  • Which window makes the best main light source? 
  • What time of day has the best light? 
  • What angles do you need to capture the right lighting setup? 

If you’re DIYing it, take some test shots to determine what works best. If you plan to work with professional beauty photographers, make sure to add your lighting preferences to your shot list (more on that later).

No natural light in your shoot space? You can try different lighting approaches with studio lighting, though this can get technical. Your artificial lighting setup should include a main light source, side lighting, and light modifiers to help you achieve the right look. 

Related: 7 Tips and Tricks for Eliminating Shadows from Product Photos in 2023

A note on beauty dishes

A beauty dish is a specialized light modifier used in photography, primarily for portrait and beauty product photography. A beauty dish is designed to produce a unique, evenly diffused, and soft light that minimizes harsh shadows and creates a flattering, high-contrast look. Beauty dishes come in various sizes, typically ranging from 16 to 30 inches in diameter, and are constructed with a shallow, bowl-like shape.

Choose a backdrop that works

You know the importance of color as a cosmetic brand, and it’s just as important to consider when selecting a backdrop or background color.

Here are some ideas for backgrounds to use in your next shoot:

  • Use a white or light blue background to convey a fresh and clean feeling—especially good for skincare product photography of items like soaps or cleansers
  • Use desert sage and warm sandy tones for brands associated with the outdoors—perhaps a waterproof sunscreen or makeup made of materials from the earth
  • Go with millennial pink to convey a youthful, fun, and playful brand
  • Pick a shadowy mirror backdrop if your brand and products are edgy and bold
  • Set up a linen background and sliced citrus pops to create a summer scene 
  • Sprinkle in sequins or dark silk textures to set up winter scenes

If you’re looking for another way to make your content pop, consider using a textured background to help show off your brand personality. We love using unique textures like cellophane or silk to bring depth to a shot!

Be consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to any type of product photography. Your customers want to click from product to product and see similar quality images. Deliver consistent images by ensuring your brand identity is cohesive—if you have hard shadows and neon backdrops on one product but natural surroundings on the next, you may be confusing your target audience. 

Being consistent with your content also means being consistent across all your channels. Your entire customer journey should feel like one extended experience. Think about how you’re representing your brand and products on your website, emails, and social media platforms. All your channels should have a similar vibe that captures your brand personality.

Enlist diverse models

Diversifying your models is extremely important in ecomm. Be cognizant not to use the same skin tone in every swatch or model shot. Doing so can feel alienating to your customer if they see all makeup colors or products on the same type of skin—especially if you want to show off color matching or color transfer. It’s worth the investment to hire experienced models to ensure each customer can picture your product fitting seamlessly into their lives. Additionally, when using full body models, consider hiring a professional makeup artist who has experience in working with diverse models.

Highlight the details

What makes your beauty product unique? Maybe you’re proud of your minimalist packaging or maybe it’s the unique color palette. Whatever it is, show off the important details and differentiators in a way that does your product justice. Your customers should feel like they know exactly what to expect when purchasing. It’ll set you apart while building their purchasing confidence.

Capture action shots

We've all been to the makeup store and smeared lipstick shades on the back of our hands to see how well they glide. Your ecomm customers want to see the product in action. And since online shoppers aren’t able to test your product the way they would in a typical IRL shopping trip, it’s up to your content to do the testing for them. 

Your beauty photo shoots and videos should clearly show the texture of your product, what it looks like being applied, and how long it takes to absorb or dry. Give your customers the context they need to imagine the product as part of their lives.

Explore GIFs

Animated GIFs are game changers. Quality GIFs are more affordable to produce than product videos, and they can still make customers feel confident in knowing how the product will apply when they purchase it. 

GIFs take your product photos from static to dynamic. Create an immersive experience from afar by showing a makeup brush dip into a powder, a shimmer tapped across a cheekbone, or a spoolie fluffed into a brow. 

Shoot your beauty shots

Now that you’re equipped with tips for top-notch skincare and beauty photography, it’s time to create! Refer back to your shotlist to make sure you have the amount of photos you need for each product, including color, model, angle, demo, etc. You certainly don’t want to have to do a reshoot at a later date. 

Snap every possible photo you think you might want before moving on to the next product, even if it’s not on your shot list. You’ll have a blast going through your final images and deciding which photos hit the content jackpot!

Let’s shoot your beauty photos

If you're feeling intimidated by the cost of time & materials to DIY your shoot, it may make more sense to hire a local photographer or photography service company. At soona, we love helping beauty brands tell their story through compelling product photos—it’s what we do best! Learn more about our professional beauty product photography services.

Makeup and Beauty Photography Tips: How to Make Your Products Stand Out

Capture the perfect product shot with these essential tips for beauty photography. Learn how to highlight textures, colors, and finishes.

Beauty photography goes beyond just taking pictures of your products—it’s about telling a story, evoking emotions, and making your potential customers feel a connection with your brand. In the beauty industry, where aesthetics and image are paramount, high-quality beauty photography can make all the difference.

Imagine you have a customer who sees your Instagram post featuring a gorgeous shade of lipstick in the tube. They click through to your website and see photos of it on a model—or even multiple models with various skin tones—and a GIF of that flawless glide when being applied. Product photos that check all of these boxes will result in adding to cart—and maybe another shade or two while they’re at it.

Below, check out our top beauty photography tips to make sure your products steal the show—and the sale.

{{studio-ad="/external-components"}}

Plan your shoot

Careful planning makes shoot day go more smoothly. Part of planning includes creating a shot list and a mood board so you and your creative team—including any hired professional makeup artists—stay aligned on the end goal of your beauty shoot. 

Start with a shot list

Whether you’re working with a team or solo, creating a shot list will keep your photography focused and cohesive. The shot list is essentially a comprehensive list of every beauty photo you want to capture on shoot day. It acts as a survival guide of sorts for prepping and executing your shoot—even if you’re hiring a beauty photographer to help you out.

In your shot list, include which products and props are included, angles you want to shoot from, and your creative vision for the backdrops, color scheme, and mood. Your shot list helps you stay organized in planning and executing your shoot. You can always get creative and capture beauty shots not from your shot list in addition to the ones you’ve identified.

Looking for more guidance when it comes to writing your shot list? We’ve put together some materials to help you out: 

Use a mood board

Create a mood board for reference to ensure you’re delivering your brand’s message. The mood board will be more of a visual representation of what you’re going for, whereas the shot list is more logistical and administrative in nature. Your mood board will help ensure your creative direction for color, feeling, demographic, and timeline is all in harmony. 

To create your mood board, save images you like, especially of other beauty products. Refresh your mood board as you develop new ideas and products. 

Get backup products

You may need to use multiple products to get the shots you want. It’s not uncommon to use up an entire product for each photo. When it comes to makeup photography, for example, you often need to demolish the palette to show it off. 

Plan to keep one untouched for macro shots and use the other to play around with for swatching, smearing, and modeling, and the other to keep pristine for those macro shots. 

Gather your shooting equipment

Whether you’re renting or going with what you’ve got on hand, it’s important to have the right equipment to capture the beauty photographs your business needs. It’s also helpful to keep all your materials in one place so you can shoot when the lighting is right (more on that later). 

If you’re working with a pro beauty photographer, you don’t need to worry about getting the right gear so much. Instead, make sure you gather any special props you’re providing for the beauty shoot—you’ll know exactly what to get based on that fabulous shot list you made! This is also the time to source and hire any models you may be using.

Consider your camera 

If you’re taking the DIY route for your beauty shoot instead of outsourcing your needs, make sure your camera is up to the task. For high-quality shots, we recommend using a DSLR camera with manual exposure and aperture camera settings. soona photographers use Canon Mark IV. But you don’t have to purchase a camera, especially if it’s a one-time beauty shoot. If you want, you can rent equipment from local camera shops. 

If, for some reason, you can’t use a DSLR camera, you can try a smartphone in a pinch. Use portrait mode to optimize detail and then get creative in an editing software to make it e-commerce-ready.

Get the best camera lenses for beauty photos

Arguably more important than your camera is the lens. If you want to really invest in sharp photos for your makeup or cosmetics, invest in a macro lens. Canon recommends EF-S 60mm f/2.8 macro. This is a great option for getting shots of your palette or product in the packaging. a macro lens will pick up on the texture and fine details the best. 

For photos of your product on a model or swatched on skin, use a 50mm or 85mm lens. 50mm lenses will capture more of your background surroundings while 85mm lenses will focus the face of your model more closely.

Clean and prep product packaging

Your macro lens will pick up every little speck—potential distractions that will take away from your beauty products and distract potential buyers. Right before or on shoot day, prepare your products. Make sure packaging is clean and scuff-free and that you have unopened boxes on hand. This will save a lot of time and money in the editing stage. Remember to check out your beauty product containers as well. 

Style with pretty props

Your props should accentuate your beauty products and your beauty images to help tell your brand story. Here are some examples of minimal and affordable props you can style with to make your cosmetic and beauty photos pop:

  • Colored blocks
  • Fresh fruit
  • Flowers
  • Water
  • Mirrors
  • Applicators and brushes
  • Towels

Use the right lighting setups

When considering your lighting setup, natural window light is usually the best way to go. It creates a soft light that mitigates hard shadows and makes for gorgeous beauty product photos—and it’s free. 

You can capture shimmery tones or creamy textures in natural light with some planning. Get familiar with your beauty shoot space:

  • Which window makes the best main light source? 
  • What time of day has the best light? 
  • What angles do you need to capture the right lighting setup? 

If you’re DIYing it, take some test shots to determine what works best. If you plan to work with professional beauty photographers, make sure to add your lighting preferences to your shot list (more on that later).

No natural light in your shoot space? You can try different lighting approaches with studio lighting, though this can get technical. Your artificial lighting setup should include a main light source, side lighting, and light modifiers to help you achieve the right look. 

Related: 7 Tips and Tricks for Eliminating Shadows from Product Photos in 2023

A note on beauty dishes

A beauty dish is a specialized light modifier used in photography, primarily for portrait and beauty product photography. A beauty dish is designed to produce a unique, evenly diffused, and soft light that minimizes harsh shadows and creates a flattering, high-contrast look. Beauty dishes come in various sizes, typically ranging from 16 to 30 inches in diameter, and are constructed with a shallow, bowl-like shape.

Choose a backdrop that works

You know the importance of color as a cosmetic brand, and it’s just as important to consider when selecting a backdrop or background color.

Here are some ideas for backgrounds to use in your next shoot:

  • Use a white or light blue background to convey a fresh and clean feeling—especially good for skincare product photography of items like soaps or cleansers
  • Use desert sage and warm sandy tones for brands associated with the outdoors—perhaps a waterproof sunscreen or makeup made of materials from the earth
  • Go with millennial pink to convey a youthful, fun, and playful brand
  • Pick a shadowy mirror backdrop if your brand and products are edgy and bold
  • Set up a linen background and sliced citrus pops to create a summer scene 
  • Sprinkle in sequins or dark silk textures to set up winter scenes

If you’re looking for another way to make your content pop, consider using a textured background to help show off your brand personality. We love using unique textures like cellophane or silk to bring depth to a shot!

Be consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to any type of product photography. Your customers want to click from product to product and see similar quality images. Deliver consistent images by ensuring your brand identity is cohesive—if you have hard shadows and neon backdrops on one product but natural surroundings on the next, you may be confusing your target audience. 

Being consistent with your content also means being consistent across all your channels. Your entire customer journey should feel like one extended experience. Think about how you’re representing your brand and products on your website, emails, and social media platforms. All your channels should have a similar vibe that captures your brand personality.

Enlist diverse models

Diversifying your models is extremely important in ecomm. Be cognizant not to use the same skin tone in every swatch or model shot. Doing so can feel alienating to your customer if they see all makeup colors or products on the same type of skin—especially if you want to show off color matching or color transfer. It’s worth the investment to hire experienced models to ensure each customer can picture your product fitting seamlessly into their lives. Additionally, when using full body models, consider hiring a professional makeup artist who has experience in working with diverse models.

Highlight the details

What makes your beauty product unique? Maybe you’re proud of your minimalist packaging or maybe it’s the unique color palette. Whatever it is, show off the important details and differentiators in a way that does your product justice. Your customers should feel like they know exactly what to expect when purchasing. It’ll set you apart while building their purchasing confidence.

Capture action shots

We've all been to the makeup store and smeared lipstick shades on the back of our hands to see how well they glide. Your ecomm customers want to see the product in action. And since online shoppers aren’t able to test your product the way they would in a typical IRL shopping trip, it’s up to your content to do the testing for them. 

Your beauty photo shoots and videos should clearly show the texture of your product, what it looks like being applied, and how long it takes to absorb or dry. Give your customers the context they need to imagine the product as part of their lives.

Explore GIFs

Animated GIFs are game changers. Quality GIFs are more affordable to produce than product videos, and they can still make customers feel confident in knowing how the product will apply when they purchase it. 

GIFs take your product photos from static to dynamic. Create an immersive experience from afar by showing a makeup brush dip into a powder, a shimmer tapped across a cheekbone, or a spoolie fluffed into a brow. 

Shoot your beauty shots

Now that you’re equipped with tips for top-notch skincare and beauty photography, it’s time to create! Refer back to your shotlist to make sure you have the amount of photos you need for each product, including color, model, angle, demo, etc. You certainly don’t want to have to do a reshoot at a later date. 

Snap every possible photo you think you might want before moving on to the next product, even if it’s not on your shot list. You’ll have a blast going through your final images and deciding which photos hit the content jackpot!

Let’s shoot your beauty photos

If you're feeling intimidated by the cost of time & materials to DIY your shoot, it may make more sense to hire a local photographer or photography service company. At soona, we love helping beauty brands tell their story through compelling product photos—it’s what we do best! Learn more about our professional beauty product photography services.

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