How to Charge for Makeup on Photo Shoots

By Sarka-Jonae Miller

Prices for photo shoot makeup can vary depending on the specifics of makeup needs, the number of people to be made up and the time spent on location. Makeup artists who specialize, win awards for their work or have particular levels of education or expertise can charge higher amounts than those who don't. Commercial photo shoot makeup artists also typically earn more than generalists.

Portrait of young woman having make up applied by trowel
credit: altrendo images/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Work with photographers and hairstylists to set package rates.

By the Day

Set rates for an eight-hour day and a four-hour day and provide an estimate for how much work that typically entails. For example, an engagement photo shoot might include making up both the prospective bride and groom and touch-up applications as they travel from one shoot location to another. Fees typically range from $40 to $150 per hour. When making an estimate, include travel time to cover the distance between locations and time for clothing changes and hairstyling.

By the Person

Per-person rates allow you to set flat fees that may be appealing to customers who want a one-shot application. This approach lets you offer "package" deals where you make up many people in the same location without having to travel or spend a long day on individual touch-ups. Examples include a family or class reunion photo shoot or office-based executive photo shoot for new head shots. Per-person shoots for commercial purposes -- such as creating print advertising campaigns -- can be higher.

By the Hour

An hourly rate can be desirable when you have a single-subject photo shoot, such as portfolio shots for models. A model will likely want to change her makeup, clothes and hairstyle in between shots, requiring multiple makeup applications. In this instance, consider a higher rate that takes into consideration the amount of makeup you'll be using and the time required to work with the photographer to adjust makeup based on lighting and location needs.

By the Event

Charging by the event can be a good marketing tool, as it lets event planners and organizers work within specified budgets. For example, a single event can be makeup for a wedding party of up to 10 people throughout the day, from pre-wedding preparation candid shots through the reception and formal posed shots. Spell out the specifics of what you'll be expected to do when consulting with event planners so there are no surprises.

As a Full-Time Job

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, in 2012, cosmetologists made nearly $11 an hour. Full-time positions in photo shoot makeup application may be found at photography studios, through independent photographers and advertising agencies. Post-secondary educational training is typically required for this line of work. (ref 3)