Of all the different aspects of my work, being a photographer is one of my favorites—but it’s also one of the most exhausting. I’ve had to find techniques to adapt to it, whether it’s my lifestyle, my personal style, or my beauty routine.
I think about this often, because here on the blog, we try to talk about real fashion. Heels, clothes that are extremely delicate or uncomfortable, high maintenance hair styles—all of that might be beautiful, but how many of us can wear those things in our everyday lives?
Today, I wanted to ask girls in very different professions how they’ve adapted their approach to style and beauty to fit their daily lives. Meet Sophie Haig, makeup artist, and Melia Marden, chef of a restaurant that I love, The Smile.
And since it was a real learning experience for me to figure out how to feel good during photoshoots, I’ve included myself in today’s post! Ok, I didn’t interview myself, but here are a few words on how I’ve learned to adapt to my job…
I started photography when I started my blog. I learned it on the job, pretty much right before your eyes, at the same time as I was discovering fashion weeks. It was right when fashion weeks got huge…and so did heels. I was so excited about all of these new things that nothing could scare me. I’d walk around with my super heavy camera on my shoulder, or in my bag wherever I went. And a lot of the time, I was wearing really high heels.
It was out of the question for me to change my style to fit my job.
Then I started shooting fashion series for magazines and ad campaigns, and a lot of them were shot in the sun, in the tropics. Like a lot of photographers, that’s my favorite light. The only problem? The long hours spent in the sunlight. Since I grew up in Corsica, I was already used to putting plenty of extra strength sunscreen on my skin, but I quickly realized that wasn’t enough. Tiny sunspots began to appear on my arms…
As for my bright red lipstick, which was one of my signatures, it couldn’t stand up to the job either. Wearing red when you have a camera against your face all day is a guarantee you’re gonna end up looking like a loser. You end up with red on your cheeks, on your hands, on your clothes, and even on other people…
I finally realized, mostly thanks to Tatyana, the makeup artist I work with a lot, that when it comes to makeup, for me, less is more. One layer of sunblock, a little bronzing powder, eye shadow and mascara, and that’s enough.
Little by little, I began to adapt my outfits to these shoots. Big hat, big sunglasses, and most of all, I started a collection of big white blouses, fresh and flowy, with long sleeves to protect my arms (don’t forget to wear sunblock, even under your clothes). One or two pockets for carrying around a few necessities, and of course, flat shoes so I would be able to shoot on any kind of terrain.
Little by little, my “photo pro” outfits started to influence my city clothes. I have to say, as the years went by, lugging my camera around everywhere got more and more unbearable and it was really making my back hurt. I said goodbye to shooting in heels, by the way. Super dangerous! And bags that are impossible to carry, and clutches and other things that you have to carry around in your hand.
My style started to adapt to my profession. And it’s really lovely, when you think about it. Instead of rejecting who you are and what you do, find ways to make your work clothes both pretty and suited to your lifestyle—after all, it just shows that you’re comfortable in your own skin.
Today, the way I work has changed. I shoot a lot less in the street, and very little at fashion weeks (for a lot of reasons that I’ve explained to you many times in my editor’s letters!)
Having my camera with me all the time has become almost impossible. A lot of photographers I know have messed up their backs, and I’m really afraid of that happening to me.
So when I’m in photo mode, I never forget the magic formula that works every time.
Flat shoes + big white blouse + hat + tiny bag (I recently acquired a fanny pack! It’s on the photo and it’s a Loeffler Randall – I have to say, it’s pretty great, even though my boyfriend did make a funny face for a second, he was the first to admit it was actually pretty cute) + sunblock and light makeup.
Ok, so it’s not Vogue Collections, but I’m doing my job, and nothing can stop me.
Translated by Andrea Perdue
Freelance Makeup Artist, New York
What led you to where you are now, working as a freelance makeup artist in NY?
My mum is a fine artist and a makeup artist, so I was really fortunate to have grown up in a creative house hold that was full of art, colour and lots of makeup. It led me to follow in my mom’s foot steps and ultimately to NYC – the mecca of the makeup world and a lot of other creative industries, too.
Your work revolves around beauty. Do you ever feel a real pressure to look a certain way for a job?
As a makeup artist there is a pressure to look a certain way as you are ultimately your own brand. You want to represent your self in the best way possible, so being clean and well polished is important. Wearing a lot of makeup can be intimidating to a client, so less is best (as my mom would say!).
What is your regular beauty routine when you’re getting ready to go to work?
I cleanse and moisturize with oils and/or oil balms. I love aromatic, hydrating face tonics for both myself and my clients. I spritz rose water or Caudalie beauty elixir before applying my makeup. I love clean, dewy skin. So I use a luminizer on my cheek bones and concealer under my eyes. Cream blush for my cheeks, lips and eyes to give a rosy healthy glow and I finish off with a coat of mascara.
Since your work schedule is sporadic, how do you maintain a certain beauty and workout schedule?
My mother even in her late 50s has the most flawless skin, so I do my best to follow her advice of cleansing and moisturizing every night no matter how tired I am from a day of work! It’s hard to have a regular fitness routine with my work schedule so I focus more on my diet. I drink plenty of water, eat as organic as possible, and take my lunches to set.
Your work puts you on the front line of beauty trends. Do you feel compelled to try them all personally?
It’s really exciting and I am lucky that my job allows me to be at the forefront of trends, but I don’t test them all out on myself. I don’t change up my look too frequently, a trend that I tested out and have kept is to bleach out my eyebrows. My husband thinks it’s a little freaky, but I quite like it!
You have a few go-to products, the heroes in your makeup bag and bathroom closet. What are they?
My favorite go-to products for myself and my kit would be the living luminizer by RMS beauty and One Love Organic’s skin saviour. Rose-Marie Smith, an amazing makeup artist and dear friend has created the organic/raw makeup and skin care line RMS beauty. I love all of her products and use them for myself daily and in my kit.
You used to have long hair but you more recently cut it into a very distinctive, sharp bob. What inspired this decision, and do you feel like you’ve had to adapt at work?
Having had long hair for many years, the decision for lopping it all off came part from craving drastic change and part from laziness. I wanted a hair style that I could just spritz a little salt spray and be done with it. With long hair, I always had to scoop it back whilst working but with the cut I have now I just tuck it behind my ears, it’s very carefree.
What’s it like to be on your feet all day, do you feel like that effort has taken a toll on your body? Do you have certain tricks to lessen the strain?
Being on your feet all day at work can be quite exhausting. It can take a toll on your back and legs, specially if you don’t wear comfortable shoes. I do my best to wear sneakers or shoes with some support. I also stretch and put my feet up of an evening time.
Does your line of work ever affect the way you feel about yourself and the way you look?
It’s my job to help my client feel like a more beautiful version of him or her self. Along with the artistry and skills, I think looking the part plays a role in helping the client feel like they are in the right hands. I also need to be comfortable with how I feel about myself and how I look, as I don’t want anything to distract me.
And if you weren’t a makeup artist, how do you think your approach to beauty might be different?
If I wasn’t a makeup artist, I think that my approach to beauty would still be of the philosophy that “less is best”.
Fortunately having a makeup artist as a mum, I developed an understanding pretty early on of what would and wouldn’t work for someone of my colouring and face shape. Perhaps if I wasn’t a makeup artist I wouldn’t have had idea or courage to bleach my brows!!
Chef at The Smile, NYC
What was your road like to becoming a chef?
I studied Art History in college but when I graduated I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I wanted to do something hands-on and ended up going to cooking school. I was a private chef for a family, did freelance catering, and worked for a food writer before I opened the Smile.
It’s traditionally a male-dominated industry, how do you retain your femininity on the job?
I think I’m pretty neutral in the way that I dress at work. I still feel a bit strange when I run into one of my cooks on the street and I’m wearing a floral dress and mascara. I’m hoping that as more women have leadership positions in kitchens the dynamic will shift and it won’t be an issue.
What’s your beauty routine like before you go to work?
I have a very simple beauty routine – I wash my face and use Aveeno Baby moisturizer and Neutrogena 85 SPF sunblock. Then Laura Mercier foundation, concealer and a cheek stain. I don’t think anyone would guess that I’m wearing any makeup.
Do you feel like there’s less involved with your beauty routine since you became a chef?
Absolutely. I never wear any eye makeup or lipstick at work just because I’m sweaty in a hot kitchen and no one expects me to look done up. If anyone I work with sees me in even the simplest mascara and eye shadow they think I look over the top fancy.
And you had a baby boy last year! How has being a working mom affected your beauty approach?
It doesn’t take me very long to put on makeup and my husband watches the baby when I get ready in the morning, so that hasn’t changed much. If anything I think I would put on makeup more often when my son was first born to make myself feel pulled together.
Do you feel the effect, physically, of long days lifting heavy pots and standing over heated stoves?
Absolutely – I definitely feel it more now that I’m older and don’t have the option of sleeping late in the morning. But I do think it can be a satisfying feeling to be exhausted from a day of work.
Chefs always have scars from the work they do — what are the most notable ones you have?
I have a scar on the top of my left foot from accidentally pouring a pot of boiling water on myself. The skin just melted off – it was the most painful experience I’ve ever had, much worse than giving birth.
Do you ever feel like you’ve had to compromise how much effort you put into getting ready for the sake of your job?
I do wish that I could dress up more on a daily basis. My work outfits are almost completely functional so that leaves very little time that I get to play around with style. I have a closet stuffed full of vintage dresses that I never get to wear.
The Smile is a downtown NY institution, and known for catering to a very cool clientele. Do you ever feel pressure to maintain a certain image for the sake of your company?
Not really I think – and hope – my off duty style is Smile-appropriate.
And, lastly, if you weren’t a chef, how do you think your approach to beauty might be different?
I actually care so much about clothing and personal style that it’s still a bit of a surprise to me that I ended up in a job where it’s a non-issue. If I weren’t a chef I would spend much more time thinking about how I look and how I present myself to the world.