Makeup Artist Masterclass

Are You STUCK in “Testing” Mode?

I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon over the last year or two with newer makeup artists, stylists, models and photographers. Back in the day free test shoots had a main purpose… to build your book and to refresh it with new and creative work periodically when needed.

Once upon a time, paid testing through modeling agencies was a viable way to make regular cash for artists. Now, with the influx of digital photography and so many photographers vying to increase their books, paid testing has become few and far between.

nicole miller montage

It seems that now an epidemic of sorts has begun wherewith models, makeup artists, stylists and photographers seem to be shooting just to shoot.

Though the goal remains to get paid work, (after all this is a career right?) the “rush” of shooting seems to have become the end rather than the means…

Case and point yesterday while shooting with a photographer, he made mention that there always seems to be a “model of the month” that everyone wants to shoot with and even if you do a great shoot with her then next thing you know… all of your peers are shooting with her. It seems the instant gratification and star power of splashing your images on social media is just too hard to resist. The “high” of it all seems to be equal to actually building a career and getting paid work.


I can think of at least a dozen models off the top of my head that bypass their agencies and connect with almost every photographer who contacts them to shoot. This is something that was unheard of just a few years ago because most models understood the role and importance of their agents to maintain and positively control their professional image. And makeup artists, photographers understood that creating work with standards and purpose is more important than just creating random work.

Now, the thrill of getting new photos and “likes” on Facebook or more followers on Instagram is more powerful and important than actually garnering quality portfolio worthy photos that will further your career, and that’s not a good hamster wheel to be stuck on.


Sadly the idea of controlling your professional brand has almost been dissolved by this “culture of popularity” And the downside for makeup artists is that saying yes to so many freebies often means saying no to the jobs that keep your calendar and bank account full.

Though I don’t advocate saying no to opportunity, I do advocate choosing wisely and setting the boundaries and standards that keep you in line with your goals while earning a living from what you love to do.

Know that you don’t have to say yes to every free gig. And if you decide to turn something down you can always help another artist by passing a gig on to them.

Photos: H&M, Nicole Miller, Diane Aiello

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