Work created by photographer Ricardo Gomez of Ricardo Gomez photography.

For the longest time, I didn’t know what that meant. I mean, it’s just a highlight on makeup and hair. Yes, that’s it! It’s sort of funny when industries want to make something sound so much more epic than it really is.

Beauty photography, for the longest time, was something I wanted to avoid. I’ve changed that for one reason: bad beauty photography.

As I mentioned, beauty photography is about really great makeup and/or hair. But the problem I had with beauty photography is that the type I saw much too often I felt was over-processed. Skin looked very plastic-like. Eyes eerily whitened. Creepy. I mean, nobody looks like that and I hated that. I’ve even saw it in professional, big-name advertisements. Unfortunately, not all photographers at that level have good taste. Or don’t care that these women look so artificial.

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But in recent years, I’ve seen a sort of backlash to this photoshopped perfection. So I’m much more comfortable with the trend these days with keeping things more natural looking. I mean, there are models out there with really great skin. So a makeup artist can take the model that last 5% to perfection! I don’t have a problem with that. As long as the model is over 18. It just sickens me when I used to see 14-year old girls being used for beauty commercial ads.

That being said, the only thing I can think that I haven’t done that is typically done with beauty photography is: using a macro lens for the photography.

That’s it. Macro lenses just allow you to get a little more detail on the headshot. Otherwise, I’ve worked with absolutely fantastic makeup artist. Finding one that can do an equally great job with hair styling is almost impossible. They really do require very different skills. But the photography I’ve done where I can consider it ‘beauty’, I’ve been very happy with and I think can do just fine with the big pros. No problem.

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I think the use of a macro lens is a bit overrated. In my opinion, have a good and sharp ‘regular’ lens, do a nudge of sharpening in post. Boom. Done. Just as long as it’s done right and tastefully which is not as easy as it may sound. And with less emphasis on artificial perfection, that ultimate sharpness is not a necessity. A great retoucher can make it look natural and perfect.

One of the especially nice things about beauty photography: you don’t need much space to do the photography. I mean, 5 feet of squared space, a table with lighting and mirror to prep the model. I mean, you can do this in even the smallest apartments. Rooms. Heck, you can probably do the photography in a small bathroom!

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Ricardo Gomez Photography

Originally from San Francisco, Ricardo is now a New York-based photographer specializing in editorial and commercial photography.
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