Here Comes the Bride...Looking Her Best with Your Help

COPYRIGHT ANDREW HOUSERBefore becoming a professional photographer, Tess Johnson spent years as a professional makeup artist. She worked with a wide range of commercial and private clients, including many brides on their wedding days. Even today, though she's a full-time photographer, Tess does much of the makeup for portrait sessions at her Tess J Photography studio in Portland, Maine, as well as for some of her wedding photography clients. With this type of experience, we couldn't think of anyone better to offer a few wedding day beauty tips that photographers can use to help brides look their absolute best.


A relaxed bride is a beautiful bride. The most important thing a photographer can do to help a bride look her best on her wedding day is to create a calming atmosphere. This starts with getting the bride used to your presence and to being photographed. "I like to arrive during the bride's makeup session because makeup can make for really beautiful detail shots, and this time provides a great opportunity for your bride to get used to the click of the shutter," Tess explains.

Communicate with the hair and makeup artists & stay out of their way. Let them do their job. If you do, they will make your job easier. Plus, the bride can sense when her beauty staff is annoyed. Nothing stresses out a bride more than a makeup artist rushing through her face!

Style a bride within her comfort zone. The most photogenic styles are always the most polished and COPYRIGHT TESS JOHNSONnatural. When it comes to hair, the best styles are those that last throughout the day without falling or looking worn. Above all, the style a bride chooses should be her choice and within her comfort zone. Often times a stylist will push what she thinks looks best on a woman, and while it may be true, the bride's confidence is most important. If a bride feels silly or not like herself, it will show in the photos.


Encourage the bride to go pro. Always recommend professional hair and makeup artists to your brides. It makes your photos look better and reduces stress for your client. Build a database of pros you trust and can recommend confidently.

Be ready for damage control. Whether the bride uses a professional makeup artist or not, keep an eye out for these image-ruining makeup mistakes:

  • Shine. If a bride's face starts to look sweaty or shiny right off the bat, you know you're going to be in trouble later. Bring a translucent powder with you so that you can brush away any shine. Glow is one thing and can look great in photos when it's on the high cheekbones and temples, but less is more for a long day. Blotting papers are great to have on hand on a hot day as well.
  • Dry lips. Tess always carries a backup clear (or soft pink) lip gloss for touch ups because dry lips are hard to repair in Photoshop. Besides, who wants to Photoshop lips in 800 photographs?
  • Falling eyelashes. "I wish I could count how many times false lashes have come apart at weddings!" says Tess. "I carry eyelash glue at all times. Seems weird, I know, but trust me on this one. It's a quick fix for a lot of other things as well; it's like a milder form of super glue!"
  • Running mascara. Make sure your bride is wearing waterproof mascara. Nothing ruins an emotive portrait like a black river of sad running down a bride's cheek.
  • An eroding foundation. Bring some concealer in case the bride's foundation starts to wear away from that unexpected day-of-the-wedding blemish. It also may come in handy for under the eyes after tears are shed.
  • An updo that falls down. Updo hair styles always fall in one spot or another, so Tess carries bobby pins and a little can of hairspray just in case.

COPYRIGHT TESS JOHNSONMost importantly, Tess says to prepare for a nervous bride. Be a calming force on her big day, and let nothing be a big deal. "Oh, your lashes are falling off right before you walk down the aisle? No biggie, we got this." Project that confidence and relaxation, and your bride will thank you for it with beautiful images (and likely beautiful sales).


Tess Johnson owns Tess J Photography in Maine.



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