Setting Up New Shoots

It feels like an eternity since I have been out to shoot new work and now I am pulling together another shoot with two fantastic new agency models.  

Beach shoot

Starting out with the fantastic shoot at the weekend with Stef (an amazing Italian photographer), all based around the simple beauty of headshot work, to now working with the same two models to create something a little more editorial. 

Of course, I will be doing some brand integration, this time it will be jewellery from Gentlemen's Chuckaboo and more from EX1 cosmetics and my new favourite Lola Cosmetics.  

Set on the beach, at the request of the models who wanted something different, this will be a relaxed shoot with a twist of the tribal and editorial that both Anna and Steven wanted to add to their portfolio's. 

Something that will be heavily integrated into this will be makethemake brushes and as a trial run, I will add kitstars to the mix to see how they perform.  Insider tip, they are fantastic brushes so I am not worried.  

Building the Trust with Brands

Building trust with a brand is something I work hard on, creating a sense of support and mutual benefit is the key to this dynamic.  So how can this be done in a productive manner? 

Start by being realistic in your expectations.  If you are starting out and have no background or identifiable demographic (organically built and not bought) you need to treat this as a starting point. 

Planning and the business of working with a brand
  • Identify your target audience
  • Look at your style of work as a video blogger or writer and ensure that the content matches the audience that you are working toward grabbing. 
  • Grammarly and Squarespace are both excellent tools for this and can be used to showcase your talents well. 
  • Websites are a major bone of contention with me, I personally think that spending as little as £20 a month (less than the cost of that uber shiny brush you must have) will actually benefit you long term.  

Showcase your talents, if you are a makeup artist, show your best work and focus on the skill set you bring to the table and be upfront about what you offer.  Brands identify and support those who bring a sense of business to the table and can give as much as they receive.  For example: 

When I talk to a brand I am lucky I can provide a media pack from the magazine I work for and show previous articles, sometimes I do a general overview piece and then I contact the brand to discuss the possibility of doing a second more product-specific piece.  This can be advantageous and has provided me with support in the form of PR packages which I thin do the smart thing and add it to my shoots and do some product placement for the brand.

I always make sure that I maximise the potential of the work by sharing it across my social media and tagging with hashtags and of course notification to the brand.  

Its all about building a sense of trust and managing the placement of my work.  Smart long-term planning will give you a better working relationship with the brands you approach, its all about planning and business.  

Changing the dynamic

Something that you will notice is the change to the front cover of the site, taking it from just makeup artist to commercial makeup artist.  What this means is that I focus my energy and time on the TV and film sector with a sideline in advertorial and writing for magazines.  

take notes

The reasoning behind this is to come in line with the clients that I currently attract and want to maintain.  Its specific marketing and advertising targeting and changing the way we approach the business and work we do. 

What this means is the focus will be on advertising and more corporate based projects.  Already putting the necessary pieces in place to do this we are working on the background elements and changing the fundamental aspects such as search engine optimization and of course the site content to focus that energy into the areas I prefer working in. 

This is not to say that I will refuse clients from the private sector.  Far from it, I love working with private clients but keeping the demographic clear and the portfolio in line with the work is the target for the next few months. 

As I stated previously in my blog,  75% of my current clientele is overseas or outside of Scotland in places like London and I will be putting the time, energy and resources into that side of my marketing. 

With an evolving business sometimes that needs change and this is what is being done with the JamesC Commercial makeup artist title change.


Explaining the JamesC business

I saw a very interesting post by a Scottish makeup artist on Instagram breaking down the elements of her business and why she charges what she does and it rang a bell with me.  

JamesC redefining the work

When people look at my business they make the mistake in thinking its all about the glamour and the articles that go out or the social media side of the work I do. What you don't see is the massive amount of time I spend on the other elements of my work.  

For the moment I have just had to hold off on my plans to shoot new website content for the simple lack of time, around 75% of my work is on the consultation side and I provide a variety of different aspects to that including: 

  •  Artist representation and PR
  • Brand management services including PR and articles
  • Editorial and Advertorial services

This means I can be doing anything from providing makeup services to shooting the images as a part of the package.  A lot of my time is spent focusing on taking brands and writing for them.  Another aspect that is often overlooked or ignored is the promotion of indie brands such as makeup lines or film and TV projects.  My social media and SEO skills have had to improve drastically since I joined the Trend Prive Magazine team. 

What will be changing is how this is approached since the majority of my client base is in London and across South Asia I am giving serious consideration to moving to somewhere warmer that will be an easier commute or at least lower my cost of living.  

What will be changing over the next few months is how business is undertaken and moved forward and what services will be offered: 

PR and marketing will increase and shoots will be controlled and managed by myself and the team from the Lost project.  

Shoots will be built around my own skill set and makeup and photos WILL be a JamesC endeavor.

  • Assistants will be assistants and credited as such.  Consideration will go into taking on long-term team members.  
  • Contracts and release forms will be required for each new job. 
  • 75-80% of the shoots will be shot in London or outside of the UK.  Simply for the ease of work.  

This not to say I don't want to work in Scotland but I will not be pursuing it as heavily as in previous years.  Not because this is a bad place but because I am not interested in weddings and occasions makeup and want to focus on advertising, commercial and film/TV.  Simply because I can I will also do editorial and PAY for the placement of my work in good magazines or look at the prospect of creating my own alongside the Film and TV projects we as a team are planning.  

JamesC will also be looking at bringing in a brush line as well as doing more behind the scenes work to show how the brand works.  


Give Face Cosmetics

It's not often that I add a new brand to my website when I do you know that there is something special about it.  Give face cosmetics ticked all the boxes and more for me and I had to add them to the roster of trusted brands.

Aside from the fun aspect, who doesn't enjoy playing with makeup?  Johnny aka Dirty Denise the lovely owner and founder of the brand is just a wonderful human being is out to help and support with a charitable trust receiving a donation for each special edition glitter that is sold, plus a passion for makeup that is both affordable and professional.  

For those experimenting with looks, learning about makeup, working on a budget I give you the amazing vegan brand Give Face Cosmetic; affordable professional makeup with a conscious and a heart.   

I will be covering the range again soon for trend prive, this time focusing on the brushes, till then you can enjoy the piece on the fantastic makeup line:

For more information go check out the website (and if you're a pro you can apply for a discount too so its a big plus all round).

Restructuring the work

In line with the work of The Lost Project, I decided it was time for a long overdue restructuring of the business.  This will be a long process and focused on creating business alongside the team, rather than wait for it. 

restructuring the work

Something I have advocated for many years is independent TV and film which is the direction I plan to take the business.  Creating videos and content around the behind the scenes part of my work whilst creating something new, more about showcasing my own work and skill set.  We seem to have lost direction in certain areas of the makeup artist craft.  

While I appreciate that there are tiers to any business it can depend on your location how this affects and molds your business.  For me, its time to move on and find a new avenue that will allow my business to thrive in the field I prefer.  

Ultimately I want to step away from the current oversaturated market and denigrated service industry and showcase something more solid showcasing how I have worked for years and that my job is more than just social media looks and party time. 

The focus of the job will change and I will be working on the behind the scenes elements and bringing content to the table that will be solid rather than just about clicks, it's about the skills.  Brand support will be elemental to this but in a more solid way focused rather than the scattergun approach, this will be aimed at actual working practice rather than just a sales pitch from the highest bidder.  

My team will be small and focused on the creation of commercial projects in a set theme and continue forward with this under a new banner.   

Business Fundamentals

I have talked about this before, choosing a door and finding your niche.  There are variations to the structure of business some of which are general and can be taken across the board from bridal to film/TV, the rest you need to learn and that is where the fundamentals of business come into play and I am going to be really harsh here, but just because its makeup, it doesn't mean that you are ready to be in charge.  Like any job, there is a hierarchy.  

No one walks straight into a business after training for whatever length of time and becomes a manager or is on the board of directors.  

We need to start looking at this more as a business and not a hobby.  

I see it a lot, people love the idea of being a beauty editor or makeup artist till they are doing the job and suddenly they have gone from doing all these crazy makeup looks and its all about commercialism and simplistic looks. 

"Editorial style" is one that confounds me.  I have stopped doing shoots now unless I see some structure and a purpose, there are two types of editorials: 

An editorial which is about a concept and has a structured story.  Effectively a showcase of talent and often about having fun and creating.  

Stage door

Advertorial which is about selling a product through a story.   It can be focused on the clothes, the makeup or hair but its a commercial aimed at being a spread in a magazine. 

When it comes to film and TV I am a little more hard-line than I used to be; I want to see a plan, a structure, and a sales strategy.  THAT I can get onboard with when its speculative and I am expected to bring in brands etc but you cannot/will not show a structure, you are making it difficult for me to support it or for that matter my brands to get on board with it.  

We need to sit down and actually look at how we structure things, brand support from events to film and TV projects, requires a plan.  We call this a business but I rarely see that and people are falling into the trap of it all the time and it's not moving you forward.  

I appreciate its hard to learn and your impatient to make your mark but can we talk business? 

Kitstars makeup brushes

I am going to be doing some really interesting shoots, having done a Huge amount of research and planning for the next few months I am adding product placement into the videos and stills I shoot. 

One of the reasons I am planning for this is because I have been lucky with my work for the Trend prive and of course world fashion media and news team, this has allowed me to talk to a variety of brands and just last night I cleared out my makeup box, it was chock full of stock that was just gathering  dust alongside the new shiny products that I want to try out.  So I decided to clean house and have a fresh start of my makeup kit.  

One of the first of these brands to be covered will be Kitstars makeup brushes, a fantastically priced pro range of brushes that I personally think would make excellent additions to a working kit or for students starting out.  

Standouts (for me personally) are the base brush and the veil brush, of course, there are several others I fully intend to add but these are absolute standouts for me and the work I do. 

From there I will focus on a different brand for each shoot and do some non-exclusive brand placement simply because it is there to be done.   


Wedding shoot

Today I spent some time catching up on calls and doing some strategy work since I am not due to travel for a while (monsoon season delays), I thought it would be a good time to do some o the more promotional based work. 

lola liquid lipstick in lust

As some of you know I work with the wedding films Scotland team and this week we will be meeting up to arrange the final few details of a video/stills campaign that will be released through my magazine network. 

What we are going to do is focus on something a little different from the standard bridal look, yes the makeup will be set around that theme but we decided to forgo the usual pretty church or hotel and go straight into a derelict building and focus on the beauty of the moment. 

I will be integrating this in with some of the brands that have been in touch recently and very kindly given me PR packages as a thank you to these companies.  This will be a long-term strategy which I plan to work with to create something fresh to showcase not just myself but also the companies I value. 

The first of the brands I am focusing on will be the fantastic beauty makeup range from Lola makeup who do work with the bridal sector heavily so its a nice tie up for this particular shoot.  

New Wave Marketing

One of the things I advocate heavily is the use of online magazines and behind the scenes captures.  The reasoning behind this is simple: 

new wave marketing
  • With online magazines, the demographic reach is much larger than print (potentially) with the added bonus of longevity.  
  • Behind the scenes, both stills and video can be used as proof that the work is your own, which sadly is necessary.  It also has the benefit of being usable as a marketing tool.  

 In terms of new wave marketing both myself and my team are looking at ways of utilizing YouTube and online magazines as well as the other social media platforms to create a different form of advertising. 

Now I know some of you will be saying this has been the case for at least ten years, however, many people don't use this effectively and we are now looking at ways to integrate this into the business as a whole. 

A whole host of planning is being put in place to move forward the makeup side of the business and will be adding in elements of product placement and we are talking to brands about integration into the work we are doing.  In actual fact speaking to one of the brands it's a common practice but overused as many of the people asking for it don't have a plan or cannot show any structure that justifies the request for support.  

The next few months will be fun as we push in a different direction and work to showcase not only the JamesC brand but our work with a few select clients on PR and marketing. 

Lola Makeup News

I have to say I am really excited about this, I have been working with the Lola makeup team in London on articles and they have been really generous about supporting this offering up support for each piece and sharing the details across social media.

blusher lola

As an expansion on this, they are offering me a major support package and additional PR which I am really happy about, the plan is to support several shoots and video work I have planned whilst my travel arrangements have been reshuffled (again).  

What this means is that Lola has offered me access to the range and will be a part of the shoots as a sponsor which is an amazing offer and I am extremely thankful for the support.  

To be supported by a brand is an honour and of course something I am really proud of and I am happy to be able to put this in place for my clients and of course the brand.  

Lola has a fantastic reputation for their makeup and have supported such shows as Britain's next top model season 12 and is a huge brand partner for the wedding shows in London, so for them to come to the table and work with me is something I am taking on with great pride.  

Pretty soon I will be opening my pro account with the brand so I can offer more of the range to my clients.  

revamping my kit

With some date changes to my current schedule, frustrating but workable, I have decided to grab up some extras for my working kit and do something extra to make the work that little bit easier.  

As some of you will notice, I am working with a new product line that has really caught my attention and given me the ability to focus on the key elements of my work and the choices being made at the moment are about downsizing and making my kit workable in different situations. 

Pairing down the volume of my kit is always smart when you travel and if you can find multipurpose products its a bonus. 

However one thing I refuse to pair down and continue to add is brushes, Lola makeup and makethemake are both high on my list for the new and improved kit.  

Something I admit to being really excited about is that Lost Project management has started talks to buy the rights to thriller/horror TV series that they plan to produce which they have asked me to be the head of makeup for.  This is a huge goal of mine as it will also put me in as a producer and give me creative control over the project and means I am answerable to the Lost project team and as the creative director it allows me to be in from the inception.  

Development is underway to edit the script and look at the first six episodes for polishing before we sit and start working.  We are also looking at creating some more editorials and bringing new faces into the fold for print work.  

Lola makeup must haves

One of my most recent finds I have to admit I am really glad I did, Lola makeup (sponsor of Britain's next top model 12).  Looking at the range, its comprehensive and one of the most well-curated I have seen in a while, focusing on beautiful staples and evolving with the clients. 

lola universal powder

An absolute stand out for me is the universal powder.  This transparent powder is designed to be universal and usable on all skin tones which for me and my working kit is an absolute must-have especially when I am traveling, it allows me to have a smaller working kit for traveling and keep my clients happy. 

For those in the bridal sector, just grab up anything from the range and you are good to go.  It's a brand that does love its bridal teams and supports the major expos.  

Even The House of iKons is interested and the CEO herself is keen to learn more. That really tells me something.  As someone who is working with the products and will be taking them with me to Nepal, I can see huge potential for the brand and want more, in time I will be adding a huge amount more, especially the brushes.  The lip brush.......a must have. 

For more information on the brand visit their website Lola makeup or check out my article with Trend Prive magazine


Professional changes

In the last 6 to 8 months I have been completely redefining my business and working with my contacts, brands and of course, magazines to bring a whole new dimension to the work being put out. 

success is within your reach

One of the things that I have always maintained is that business is business and needs to be treated with reverence,  in terms of what is coming I am taking sidesteps and risks with reaching out to companies for articles and discussing PR. 

Now I appreciate every PR package that I get sent, I mean wow!  I have been lucky about the support and beautiful gifts that I have received in thanks for my articles.  It has also allowed me to give an extra dimension to my work on those projects that do come my way in terms of film and TV. 

And that is why I do it.  People value the work I do and what I offer, I treat the whole thing as a package deal and business transaction.  Which the brands love because of the legitimising of the deal.  

I spend time on calls and talking to brand managers, PR departments and building a relationship that will benefit us both.  That's what its all about: building a rapport.  Over time I will be completely changing the nature of my business and while I am proud of my skills as a makeup artist, I think I will be doing more production crew work and taking on projects that interest me or allow me to travel. 

With this in mind, I have started negotiations with a brand and will meet with them in July, to see if there is scope for me to work with them long term, this is what I do, this is a career for me and the direction has changed over the course of years, that's natural, but I am open to it and it ties in with my previous blog about intrinsic value. 

Mentoring will b something I give serious consideration to over the next few months and possibly in time more creative management with the Lost project.  The strength of my contacts, the ethos of my work and the sheer determination to get to the point I want to reach is helped and supported by my family and friends.  

Building on the past 20 years, the next 20 will be even bigger.  



Beach shoot

While the weather is good and I do have a small window of opportunity, I want to go out and do a beach shoot.  It is one of the major advantages to living where I do, I have easy access to a beach and can shoot new content for magazines. 

on the beach

This means I will be working with the team from Lost project to do the casting and finding maximum 2 new faces to work with.  I really want to create something different and finding new faces is a big part of that. 

I have been working on the designs and concepts but will keep the look reasonably fluid and flexible with a baseline concept. 

Once I get my next film project out of the way I will be back on track and the team will be taking the lead and working towards designing for our first book and film project. 

Stay tuned for news and updates.  

Making choices

When it comes to my business I am a really hard line person about what I will do and how I will work.  Sometimes that can be seen as arrogant but I am just being realistic and working to parameters that suit me. 

A prime example of this is a recent conversation with an event manager who wanted to recruit me (at a price to me of course) until I made it abundantly clear my position on pay to play work.  

stop and think

I do not pay to work, you want me, you pay me.  Simple.  

We all need to start working on our worth.  I am happy to negotiate but let's be really clear about this.  I have been a makeup artist for 20 years, I work across the UK, Europe, and South Asia.  Why?  Because I earned it and I get booked on my skills. 

Your event or film is not my priority the money is.  

Now I appreciate everyone has to start somewhere and that your art is important to you but so should your business be.  Don't undercut or undervalue yourself.  End of.  

for the film and event people here is my take on getting it for free: 

OK, first of all, you cannot guarantee the support that you are being offered on paper is what you will get.  

Verify and check references, just because they can tell you a good story about their skills, doesn't mean they can carry it on the day. 

When you do the background checks and pay for the skills you get the 100% backing of the artist or team you are hiring.  

Eat a small loss at the beginning and gain it back in profits later.  

If we all worked smart then we would thrive in business.  Don't compete with others, compete with yourself.  


MisMacK Glitter

I have avoided the glitter fads that people tend to fall into because I just never found a range that suited my needs until now, having found MisMack biodegradable glitter I am in love.  

Naturally, I have written about the range for trend prive, and I am really happy to say that Missy herself has been talking to me via email and Instagram from Canada, first of all, WOW she is an absolute gem of a woman and I so honoured to have spoken to her direct. 

pink perfect glitter

The best part of this is she was kind enough to send me samples of the full range, I am now in love with the blue shade and the pink.  Just beautiful colours that are going to be integrated into an editorial for the fun of playing with glitter. 

If you want to know more about the range (And I strongly suggest you check it out) then click through to her website to see the colours, not only are they Eco-friendly but they are beautiful.   

MisMacK glitter website.  

Actually I can

I was talking to a friend yesterday about work and discussing what plans are currently in place for one of my larger projects.  We dissected the whole smoke and mirror aspect of working in the creative arts as a writer or makeup artist.  Her comments and quote made me smile as we could both agree that we were hitting the right markers: 

actually I can

Watch the person who has finished the work and can show you the evidence and be wary of the one who talks and can't show the results.

Each of us has been working independently on our businesses with some crossover areas.  The fantastic part is we are now collaborating on some PR exercises and articles planned to do some promotion of my work and of course hers. 

In the next two months I will be released through various channels including world fashion media and news, Trend prive magazine, of course, my own blog and the Lost project team will be fully behind this. 

Something we are discussing is editorial pieces that will cover the full team and give me a huge PR boost, and I have to say that I am really excited about the prospect of what is to come which includes Nepal and further development of two projects with the Lost team that will see me taking the lead as head of makeup. 

For anyone that is putting themselves into the market and wonders if they can succeed, yes, yes you can.  You just need to be smart about it.  If you wait till things come to you, you're not going to move forward.  You need to be proactive.  

When someone says to me you can't do that, my response is "actually I can." 

transporting your kit

I have been working really hard to downsize my kit because I have spent time traveling and will be back on the road again very soon.  What I am aiming for is a condensed working kit that can be packed into a suitcase and just worked out of for a shoot.  

Since I am now booked more for the lead characters, so between one and three actors, so I can justify the downsize for the most part.  What I aim for is an overview of the shoot, I want to know the script in advance so I can plan the requirements with a few contingents thrown in.  

Cost plays a major factor in this process as well, if I need IPA palettes, I look to companies like Mr Dashbo who offer up cost-effective and professional grade makeup.  I do a huge amount of research and do not fall into the trap of "this is what a pro uses."  I do the research and find the products that suit me.  

Image courtesy of Amazon UK

In terms of cases, it really does vary by job and the needs of the shoot.  I have my train case, but I also have a briefcase style makeup kit bag that is small, the reasoning was it would be suitable for my London trips to do fashion.  What I will add is the second one in a larger size, in much the same way that I have different sizes of set bags, this will be worked to suit the practicalities of the jobs.  

Its all about smart packing.  For more details on the case, I use then check out this link for Amazon.  

Brushes though are something I refuse to scrimp on, I always buy quality brushes, I would rather have 6 really good sets of brushes than 300 cheap ones that I have to replace regularly.  

Heres 2 of my favourite brands: 


Brushwork cosmetics (promo code JamesC for 15% off that's how much faith I have in them). 

meetings and portfolio work

The end of the week will see me attending meetings and then we (the Lost project team), will be shooting new images for clients.  Everything is set up to do what I like to refer to as the creative consult work and PR.  

meetings and more

Working with the Lost Project team has completely changed my working patterns in a positive way.  What we have been doing is focusing on the quality of work rather than quantity of the images.  

In addition to this, we are also discussing the potential avenue of bringing the JamesC brand back in a more solid way.  More on this later.  

One of the meetings I have is with the team from Wedding films Scotland who are looking at the PR and marketing that will be put in place to augment the already established website and other elements.  Admittedly this has been a rather back-burner issue.  

Alongside this, there are plans to finally get new images of myself done to add to the website and I will be working with a longstanding and hugely entertaining artist friend; Stewart Nicol Soutar

All in all, May is proving to be a very busy month with a lot of travelling to be done toward the end of the month and will be bringing in some fantastic shots and videos from my travels. 

There is more to being a makeup artist than just brushes and shadows.