The One with the Northerner (HMUA that is)

August 29, 2018

To HMUA or Not To HMUA?

In frame: Stunning model Eloise Rose with HMUA Georgia Paxton

Ok this is not a North/South divide question, although most Londoners seem to break out into cold sweats as soon as we leave the north side of Zone 6 and the Oyster Card stops working. This is a blog post about the merits of having a hair stylist/make up artist (from now abbreviated to HMUA) – bear with me and the inspiration for the blog title will be apparent I promise!

So for a long time, especially as I was learning the ropes, I have been reliant on the models I book to sort out their own hair and make up. I mean it was a cost thing where I was looking to maximise the time I could book with the money I had. Also, it has to be said, that a lot of models are exceptional at their own make up!

Over the last few years I have been slowly booking HMUAs on a regular basis for the majority of my shoots. Oh wow! It really has made so much of a difference! Most recently I have been working with such a talented HMUA called Georgia Paxton (link in “friends” section) who hails from up north (even has the adorable accent to boot!).

So this blog is about how much of a difference having a HMUA can make and answer (or at least give my view) on whether it is worth the extra costs in booking one.

The Impact?

For me there are three key areas a trained skilled HMUA has a huge impact:

  1. Understanding of the shoot and how to get the best results. What I have come to realise is not all make up is the same. The type of make up that is great for natural light may not show up as well under the hot strobe lights I have in the studio. In a more extreme example, I am planning an underwater shoot and the make up needs to be fine tuned with the distortion and saturation effects of the water. A great HMUA will ensure I can get those great shots right
  2. Elevating the quality of the shot. Having a great HMUA really makes the end image so much more polished without intensive post production. Yes there is a strong argument that through post production a lot of issues and blemishes can be sorted out but I really do think having the hair and make up at an editorial level before it even leaves your camera shows up in the final image. Also it means that you have far less work on photoshop later!
  3. Touch ups, changes and a 2nd pair of eyes. I have found this invaluable as HMUA, and Georgia in particular, has a great eye for the shot. Can see the annoying strands of hair, or smudges in make up and can fix them before I even notice! Also when I am looking for more extreme looks, anything from wet hair to full on body painting, having a HMUA makes all the difference

So is it worth having a HMUA on set?

Needless to say after reading my verbal unloading you would think that I would say an unequivocal “yes”. However the answer is “maybe”. It depends for me on 2 things.

  1. Is it really required for the purpose of the shoot you are doing? If it is a test shoot or something that is more of a personal project rather than a paid gig or a published piece of work there is an argument that you can save your money. However it depends on how “polished” you want you shot to be, I am rather pedantic about my shots so if a HMUA can make it better I would tend to book one
  2. Is the HMUA trained and experienced? It is like photography where anyone can pick up a camera can charge money. Anyone can buy brushes and make up but are they trained? Makes a huge difference with ability to handle skin tones, understanding allergies, colour blending etc.

Anyway that is my piece on HMUA and the end of today’s blog entry! Hope you enjoyed it! Please head over to my “friends” section where I have recommended already 2 very awesome HMUA who are simply amazing!