Shooting a Beauty Story for Two Magazine

So much about shooting beauty is finding and then capturing the emotion in the model’s expression. If the model is unable to emote, it’s very difficult to shoot a beauty story that is interesting or dramatic. Obviously casting is key, as it normally is, but when I cast for a beauty shoot, I really look to see if the model can show emotion in her pictures instead of every shot in her book being a deadpan stare into the camera. If she has a good amount of pictures in her book that show her being able to emote different emotions then I know that I can work with her and direct her to give me what I want for the shoot.

The other thing that is equally important when shooting a beauty story is working with A + hair and makeup artists. Since you aren’t working with clothing, the star is that model’s face and the makeup or skincare you’ve been hired to show off.

Rachel Wood is a makeup artist I met several years ago on a chance trip to Capri, Italy. We had never worked together but we bonded on the tiny Italian island and promised each other we would make that happen. Our travel schedules kept us from fulfilling that promise for almost two years but last Spring we finally got the chance to make it happen. So in November, Rachel asked me if I’d like to do a shoot for Two Magazine, which she contributes to regularly. She also insisted we use Adam Maclay who she openly admits to loving the energy the two of them revel in whenever they work together. I had not worked with Adam before this shoot, but I trusted Rachel enough to immediately be fine with her choice. After all, it’s the mastery of these two that is going to create the looks of our story. We have no amazing clothing to help create that amazing-ness.

We chose Beatrice from Fusion Models because she had a wide variety of emotion in her book. We also wanted a brunette. Rachel and I never did send a mood board to each other, we texted each other. Rachel’s mid-morning text to me was something like this: “Cool winter tribal; Mad Max meets Game of Thrones meets frozen,” Adam Maclay walked in to the studio and said one word: “Braids”. There was no need for me to micro-manage this team. They’re way up on the trends, they know their shit and it is good to let creatives be creative to do their thing. And you know what? I can’t tell you how many times I saw braids during this NYFW.

I kept the white balance on the cool side because it’s a winter story. I shot with my Nikon D800 with my AF-S Nikkor 85mm 1.4 lens. I shot at just F 8 at 1/160th. I used a Profoto beauty dish with a grid. I stood on an apple box so I could be aligned with the model’s eyes, she at 5’11” and me at 5’10” we weren’t matchy matchy on the eye level. Adam held a blow dryer off set to add a little whirl to her hair.

Special thanks to Eli Dagostino who I met at one of my workshops. He assisted me on this shoot and also did the dope BTS you can watch above! If you have any questions, just leave them in the comment section. Check out this story in Two Magazine.

Melissa Rodwell