We asked one of our Scout photographers, Joe Charles, “What do you do to make everyone’s skin look so great in all of your photos?”



Typically, as I prepare for shoots, I do my research on various makeup artists that are strong in skin preparation.  As one can expect, having a great makeup artist on set is as important as having a great model or photographer.  I seek out those that are skilled in natural looking beauty and whose aesthetic is as far from the Kim Kardashian contour that is seen everywhere these days. Minimal foundation and as much natural shine in the skin as possible!



Then before any shoot, I craft a vision board to create alignment and communicate a clear understanding of the intended goal.  Like any photographer, I draw inspiration from others in the space.  Recently, I have been heavily inspired by French photographer Alexandra Nataf and Australian photographer Eddie New.



Next, is casting the right model. I always look for three things: good skin, unique features, and the ability to really connect with the camera. After I receive a package of models, I always do my own personal cyber stalking through Instagram and models.com to see if they follow this criteria. It’s not as easy as it looks. If digitals aren’t included, I request their most recent ones.



I prefer to shoot natural light with a large window as my key light source. This provides a soft even light that really flatters the skin and makes the eyes sparkle. This type of lighting also picks up all the natural sheen in the makeup which I love. I’ve also discovered some camera exposure settings I found to work well over the years. It depends on the natural lighting and the model and takes a lot of experimenting.  Shooting a little underexposed with a higher aperture (I usually do about F5) allows for more detail which is ideal for capturing clear beauty shots.



Is post production important? Yes! I organize all my shots with Photomechanic, an intuitive tool that makes culling and selecting images easy.  I edit the images with Adobe Photoshop. I like working in black and white and color.  Side by side, you can see examples of the subtle tweaks I make in post.


When editing an image I prefer to keep everything as natural as possible including the natural skin texture.  It takes hours of practice of retouching to make an image look like it wasn’t retouched.  It’s well worth the time. Clients lately have been asking for images that aren’t too touched up. After I finish processing the skin, I like to soften the image sightly while adding a little warmth and contrast.