Production The Film Business

Lighting for Makeup

LIghting for photography


Lighting can be one of the most important tools for a Makeup Artist. It is always a good idea to know what type of lights are being applied as well as the kind of gels or filters that will be used in front of the lights or the camera lens. Makeup is often adjusted to meet those demands. Most often, if you have designed your makeup with the lighting in mind, your artistry will be enhanced by it. If you ignore the effects that lighting and color have on your makeup application, the mistakes will be obvious for all to see. It all works together and takes years to really learn, but you will get invaluable practical experience with each job. Eventually, you will recognize what colors work with the lighting situations you are in, and the more you know about lighting, filters, and gels, the better the outcome.

Before a shoot starts, ask questions of the director, the cinematographer (also known as the DP, director of photography), or the gaffer (lighting designer). If they are not available, sometimes the first AD (assistant director) canhelp. Of course in some jobs, you will not get the chance to ask any questions. Be observant, watch the lighting crew and camera, and ask questions when they are not busy. Most people are very happy to explain their job or situation to you. Is it a film, video, HDTV, or stage production? You should know whether you are filming indoors or outside, day or night, and what lights, filters, and gels are planned. There are so many factors, and the more you know, the better off you are. Remember, this is not a perfect world—there will be many, many times that information is not available. So know your stuff, and be ready to work out of your kit and think on your feet.

Joseph N. Tawil, president of GAMPRODUCTS, Inc., is an expert in light and color mixing. He suggests: “Often I recommend that lights be set up in the makeup room in which you can put colored gels to simulate the lighting on stage or for camera.”

This is a perfect working condition, but you cannot count on it. In some productions, this will be accommodated, but it depends on the project, prep time, and—very important—the money. Lighting packages can be expensive, and so are those light bulbs.

Excerpted from The Makeup Artist Handbook 2e by Gretchen Davis & Mindy Hall ©2012 Taylor and Francis, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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