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The Whole Picture—A Professional Beauty Photo Shoot

By: Jesse Hill and Aniko Hill
Posted: August 3, 2010, from the August 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.
The Kitchen Collaborative

Photographer: Jesse Hill; Art Director: Aniko Hill; Model: Amanda Riley/Ford Models; Makeup and Hair: Hilla Peer; Photo Assistant: Stephanie Cottle

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Although good photography is highly nuanced, hard to measure objectively and has no fixed rules, understanding the basics of the process is the first step to achieving success with the end image—and ultimately with the desired emotional connection to the consumer.


Before any brand development work takes place, the most important phase is research. Research is often overlooked, but is actually the essential blueprint for your brand and can actually save you a lot of time and money down the road. Research serves as a reference point and source of inspiration as your brand’s image evolves. It is critical to analyze what your competition is doing and saying to define and maintain your competitive edge and to fully understand your customers before you can begin communicating your brand message to them.

If thorough research is done in advance, this information will be invaluable when casting the appropriate representative for your brand in beauty photography. In addition to identifying a brand’s target consumer, good research can help you understand the mindset of consumers and develop images that will appeal to their sensibilities. Models that embody this mindset can then be cast to best express the brand personality and appeal directly to your target audience.


When it comes to beauty images, the face is everything—especially in advertising. It should quickly communicate the mood of the brand’s message and embody the target market’s mindset before the viewer has a chance to read the copy. Since the model is the visual ambassador for the brand, choosing the correct face is crucial.

A professional casting session with an art director and photographer team present is the most reliable method of selecting talent. In addition to selecting the right face for your brand from a strategic point of view, an experienced team can see how models will perform on the shoot day based on how they interact with the camera. Since the models will show up in street clothes and with unstyled hair and no makeup, an experienced photographer and art director can spot difficult or unreliable faces and accurately envision the final result. Casting from model cards alone can be unpredictable. In its work with clients, The Kitchen Collaborative has had models come to castings that have dramatically changed their hair, weight or overall appearance so much that it makes them unrecognizable in comparison to their model cards. If not caught early, an unexpected appearance can sabotage a carefully planned photo shoot, and the model is often impossible to replace at short notice.