How To Get A Free MUA For Your Boudoir Shoot

If you’re someone who’s starting out shooting boudoir and you’re looking to save some money, here’s a great way for a makeup artist to be a part of your shoot without having to shell out some cold hard cash. 

Now, this isn’t exactly free, you will be giving them something of value, but it’ll be in the form of a promotional video that you’re going to shoot for them. 

So, how do you get a free MUA for your boudoir shoot? Make a list of makeup artists you’ve either worked with in the past or new ones you want to try out. Ask them if they’d like to do makeup for a boudoir client you’ll be shooting but instead of their usual payment, offer to shoot a promotional video for them instead, which they can use to market themselves with. 

I actually stumbled upon this by accident when I uprooted my photography business from Los Angeles and moved to Hampton Roads, Virginia. I knew absolutely no one and I wanted to meet and try out some makeup artists to see which of them I wanted to continue working with in the future. 

I was starting to get into video more and I wanted to get better at it and also editing and one day it just popped into my head as a way to trade services (instead of paying cash) with a makeup artist. 

It’s a great opportunity for them too because hiring someone to make a video would likely cost at least a couple hundred bucks, and they’re getting it for anywhere between $50 and $150 or whatever their usual fee is. 

Now, I’m no video expert by any stretch of the imagination. Where I’m at with my video ability at the moment is quite basic. I don’t have an expensive video camera. I just use the video setting on my current DSLR, the one I use to shoot boudoir images with. 

This can be a crop sensor camera or full frame. I have both and have shot video with both. Just use what you have that’s available to you. If you’re getting into boudoir chances are you have some type of DSLR already so just use that. 

You could also use your phone and either download the footage to your computer, or edit it right in your phone with an editing app (probably a lot more difficult, but still do-able).

If you have to brush up on your video settings you can either refer back to your manual, or if you don’t have the manual, you can look it up online. You can also Google “video settings” for your make and model, or see if there are any videos on YouTube on it. Chances are there will be… plenty.

Practice Switching Modes

If shooting video is new to you then practice with your camera. Practice switching from stills mode to video mode, and write down the steps you need to take in case you forget on the day you’re set to shoot your first makeup artist promo video.

Practice Focusing

A lot of the newer mirrorless cameras and some of the more expensive DSLRs have some amazing auto-focus tracking systems you can use when shooting video. 

If your camera is a little older, then you have two choices — auto-focus or manual focus. 

I suggest you use manual focus, for two reasons. 

1.) I don’t know about your camera but on mine the auto-focus is loud, clumsy, and it often doesn’t know what you want it to focus one so it keeps whirling and whizzing trying to find focus. 

2.) If you use manual focus you can get some really great cinematic shots where you pull focus. Pulling focus is when you’re focused on something in the background, then you pull that focus to something in the foreground… or vice versa. 

You can also start out blurry, then focus onto your subject or whatever it is you’re shooting (or vice versa). This is effective when shooting a makeup artist’s display of makeup on the table where they’ve set everything up. Again, it adds a cinematic touch to the video and just makes it look more professional.

Practice Reviewing What You Just Shot

You’ll also need to become familiar with how to playback what you shot. Many times the steps will be displayed right on the LCD screen on the back of your camera. If not, then you need to know how to do that to make sure you’re actually recording something, and to check your focus. 

Practice Focusing

If you’ve been relying on auto-focus for most (or all) of your photography life then you’ll definitely want to spend some time practicing manually focusing. This is where those larger LCD screens come in handy on the back of your camera because you won’t be looking through your optical viewfinder. In fact, you can’t because the mirror inside will be flipped up on DSLRs to accommodate video mode. 

Shoot Short Takes

I’ve found the best length for promo videos for makeup artists is around 45-55 seconds… yes, seconds. That’s it. With lots of quick edits, like a slick commercial. People’s attention spans are shorter these days and they get bored quickly. You’ve got to keep them interested with lots of edits, so, because of this you’ll want to shoot in bursts of two to five seconds.

You’ll find that a lot of those will even be too long when you get down to editing it all together. 

Avoid long takes. You won’t need ‘em, unless you’re more experienced and you know exactly what you’ll be using it for. 

How To Make Your Video Look Cinematic

Pull Focus

Pulling focus, as mentioned before, is one such technique. Focus on something in the foreground, then pull focus (or re-focus) to something in the background. You’ll see this all the time in movies and will make your shots look more interesting. 


A simple pan from a wall to someone in a room shooting through an open doorway is another technique I use a lot. I also do the reverse — shooting a person through a doorway and then panning away from them to the wall outside the door.

Blinded By the Light

Start off by shooting into a bright light or window, then pan onto your subject, or start on your subject and then pan into a light or and open window. Also, if your makeup artist’s head is blocking a light or window light and then moves, this is also a neat effect.

Obstructed View

Obstructed view shots are shots where there’s something in the foreground out of focus that is partially blocking part of the frame. I also call these peek-a-boo shots because it’s as if you’re a voyeur taking a peek at your subject.

Detail Shots

Detail shots are close-ups of anything you want to highlight, like a brush applying eye-shadow to an eyelid, lipstick on the lips, or anything close up and intimate. Detail shots add a nice variety to your edit and should be used to mix things up. 

The Star

Do not forget who the star of the video is and it’s your makeup artist. Be sure to get plenty of shots from all different angles of them working on your boudoir client. Get wide establishing shots, medium shots, close-ups — and look for unique angles, like from low shooting up. Don’t just stay at one level, mix it up.  (By the way, this is one of the promotional videos I made.)

What To Shoot and When

Okay, this is actually pretty easy and I discovered this fairly quickly with just a couple of shoots.  

Makeup artists have a sequence they go through when they work — foundation, eyes, lips, etc. Whatever that sequence is you want to shoot a little from each. Then when you’re editing, just edit in that same sequence. 

Edit In Sequence

Start with a few shots from their first sequence, then add some shots from their second sequence, and then their third, and so on and so forth — all the way to the end with the grand finale being your client camera-ready! 

Adding Music

When editing your video you’ll want to start with the music first. Lay down the music track first in whatever editing program you’re using. This is so you can edit to the beat. Video cuts will have greater impact if you sync them to the beat. 

You don’t have to do this with every edit, but probably the most important is the first downbeat that opens your video. I usually reserve this for introducing the makeup artist first and foremost. I do this right after the opening title card ends which creates a really strong impression along with the music.


Don’t use copyrighted music, like that Bon Jovi song you lip sync to every time it comes on the radio. You can’t do that, it goes against copyright law and they will find you and make you remove it… or worse, sue you for copyright infringement. 

You have to use cleared music or if you’re so inclined, create some tracks of your own using GarageBand or Logic. 

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

There are several subscription based music websites you can join to get your music from and yeah, it’s another monthly paid subscription, but if you can’t create it on your own you really have no other choice. 

The good news is that once you start making these videos and you get proficient at them, you can start making them of your clients during their boudoir sessions and offer them as something they can purchase.

That’s were switching from video mode to stills mode comes in handy. You can shoot some stills, then shoot some video just by switching modes, then back to stills again and capture everything on the same memory card with the same camera.

Editing Programs

Editing used to intimidate me… because I didn’t know how. It was one of those many obstacles that can stop our forward progress and kill our momentum.

“Oh great, yet more software I have to learn.”

That’s the thought that kept running through my head, but I got started using iMovie on the Mac and it’s really quite easy. Yes, there is some learning involved but once you get the hang of it, it really is very simple. Just dive in and do it. Watch some YouTube videos on how to do it. If you have a Mac, iMovie comes with it… for free. 

Learning iMovie has already saved me money making a few promotional videos for some makeup artists — money that would have come out of the session fee.

I know it’s a pain in the butt to keep learning new software but that’s the world we live in. You have to either adapt and grow or be left behind and die… okay, maybe not that drastic. You can always hire someone but then that’s more money you’re spending and this article is about saving and making you money! 


Since I first wrote this article, I have graduated to using Davinci Resolve. Davinci Resolve is an amazing editing program that allows you to do a whole lot more than iMovie is capable of.

The best part is that it’s free… yes, FREE! They have a paid version you can upgrade to if you like but the basic free version is phenomenal — no joke. So, check it out if you want to do more with your editing… if not, then stick with iMovie.

Okay, now where were we? Oh, right…

One Trick Pony

Now, you can only make this offer (the promotional video) one time per makeup artist. After that, they’ll expect their usual fee and rightly so, but for the MUA’s I’ve offered this to, every one of them has taken me up on it. 

And rightly so because it’s a great deal for them and goes along with my credo of giving people more value than they expect. 

The makeup artists get a great marketing tool they can post to their website and social, and it provides me with valuable experience shooting and editing. 

Everybody wins!


If shooting video is something you want to do more, either for MUA promo videos or as something to offer your boudoir clients, you may eventually want to purchase a gimbal. 

A gimbal is nothing more than a stabilizer for your DSLR camera. It allows you to get smooth movements with your camera whether you’re panning, tracking, or just moving around shooting with your camera. You want your footage to look smooth and not all bumpy and jittery. 

If you’re shooting a boudoir video for your client while also shooting stills of her, a gimbal will not be practical. Attaching a DSLR to a gimbal and creating the proper balance is not a quick process. You just won’t have time to be attaching and detaching your camera every time you switch from stills to video so either utilize two cameras, one for video and one for stills, or shoot the video after the stills portion is done.

Solving Bumpy Video In Post

There is software in most editing programs that can smooth out bumpy footage. The one in iMovie is not so great though. I’m sure in programs such as Final Cut, Adobe Premiere, and Davinci Resolve it’s much better.

In any event, make sure you hold your camera steady and just be as smooth as you can and you’ll be fine.

“Don’t let perfection get in the way of your success.”

That’s a quote from John Truby, a screenwriting guru, that I’ve never forgotten. 

Let’s Wrap This Puppy Up

So, there it is. My method, strategy, whatever you want to call it, for getting a makeup artist for free for your boudoir shoot. This works. I’ve done it and will continue to do it when appropriate. You’ll learn how to shoot, edit, and be able to offer another product to your boudoir clients to boot. Not a bad deal, all in all. 

Related Video

Here’s another promotional video I made.

If you’ve found this article helpful, forward it to someone else who may also find it useful.

Thanks for your time!

Charles Mitri

Founder / Lounge Boudoir

Bella Mitri Boudoir

Charles Mitri

Charles Mitri is an award-winning boudoir photographer and also founder and writer of, an educational blog and resource website for boudoir photographers worldwide. He lives in Yorktown, Virginia.

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