Shooting Zohra and Stephanie - Mena's MUA Project

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Zohra in shoot for Mena's Make-up Artistry web site at

Mena Malipaard is a make-up artist.  She does make-up for those super-critical days when everything should be perfect, when glamour or a statement are really important.  In the modelling business, she is an MUA (MakeUp Artist).

Over two days recently, I worked with Mena and two models, Zohra Sheikh and Stephanie Grondin, to get shots for Mena's web site at

Every woman does her own makeup daily, so one would think an MUA to be an unnecessary extravagance.  It was quite an eye-opener, however, to see the reaction of the models to professional makeup.

I had worked with Zohra before.  She is incrediblhy positive and really pitches in; suggesting things when the ideas (to her) don't seem to be flowing fast.  She is quick to suggest poses and approaches.

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Zohra, in Mena's hands, in shoot for Mena's Make-up Artistry web site at

With Zohra, we did nine different makeup styles.  The second style was built on the first.  The third style was an extension of the second, and so on.  I had to pay attention, because I'm not really on top of the nuances of makeup.

But, for me, it was actually a bit of a holiday.  All of the shots were headshots (to focus on the makeup, of course); so there was no issue of balancing lighting to properly expose the full length of the body, and no decisions about what to do with arms or legs or feet.

Additionally, most of the shots were against a simple black background.  This made it a real holiday!  If you shoot against a white (high-key) background, you have to light the whole set, but when you shoot against black, you only have to worry about lighting the subject.

Through the day, the makeup became more and more pronounced, moving from simple beauty to very strong artistic statement.

And that's when I gained an insight!  At the end of the day, with the least conservative hair styling and makeup in place, Zohra left.  She wanted to get to her friend's place to show it off; she wouldn't hear about having it removed.  Girls LIKE makeup.

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The second day of shooting, with Stephanie, was similar.  Mena did six styles of makeup, again working from simple beauty through to strong artistic statement.

Stephanie, like Zohra, was actively involved in the creative process.  She is a photographer, but she likes to be on the other side of the lens.  I really like her photographs and I also think she makes a really attractive, creative model.

Unlike Zohra, Stephanie had to have her makeup removed at the end of the shoot.  She was on her way to work and the radical makeup would have not worked well in her professional environment.

There is a third model in the makeup series.  She was sort of an accident, and I'm saving her story for another posting.

Posted January 12, 2011 at 10:38 pm.