Profile: Elena Guzman, Makeup Artist

Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Elena at work preparing a model for the Exalt New York Fashion Gala

Elena at work preparing a model for the Exalt New York Fashion Gala

If you ever want to achieve quality results as a photographer shooting portraiture or fashion, or as a model either developing your portfolio or for a professional shoot, you'll need to work with a good makeup artist. One who posseses a look and style you can appreciate while having an open mind for collaboration. A trusted professional is extremely important - someone you can go to in a pinch with a concept and can deliver on your idea. I've worked with Elena Guzman both on larger projects as well as more intimate photo sessions; the experience and results were equally impressive. I sat with Elena recently to get an understanding of her past, what's on the immediate horizon and where she's headed in the future.

She is a young, energetic and dynamic fashion professional who came to New York from Russia in 2010. Hired by Macy's in the Lancôme department, she understood makeup was her career path. Taking classes in one of New York's best schools, The Nina Mua Makeup Academy, she is a certified makeup artist. She cites Serdar Kambarov and Mario Dedivanovic as a pair of her influences. Elena's understanding of color concepts and design aesthetics run deep, and are the key to emphasizing the beauty of a woman.

As the fashion and makeup industries are extremely competitive spaces, she places a premium on her professionalism. I had firsthand experience into her focus and expertise, as we worked the Exalt New York Fashion Gala at the Plaza Hotel New York this past February. Shooting behind the scenes during the model's preparation, I took note of her precise attention to details and steady hand. There was never a doubt as to why Exalt had chosen Elena to prep the models who were showcasing Gerda Truubon's elegant designs. Her style perfectly fit the show's design, fashion and the model's appearance.

Her approach for success during a working engagement is to build a comfortable relationship with her clients, taking into consideration their needs, style and big picture for a look. Having witnessed her working with the models, it was easy to see it was a calm experience for everyone before a signature event. An important nuance, as the client needs to be at ease and relaxed while the artist is at work. It also carries forward during a shoot, as the model is relaxed, confident and eager to put her look on display to be captured for her audience.

In Elena's words, "As people say, “You have the talent.” Therefore, I have been invited and selected to attend New York Fashion Week. I just love what I am doing; It makes me feel so happy and proud of myself when I see these positive emotions on my clients faces once makeup done." She is satisfied with her career progression, and her dream is to ascend in the fashion industry. Her immediate goals are to continue on in future fashion shows and Fashion Week, as well as with Red Carpet shows that highlight this prestigious time of year for the industry. Her main career goals are to blossom with her own standalone business, along with a wedding salon and even her own makeup school.

Further evolution

As you take on more work and projects, you'll evolve and learn as a side benefit. Your networking will lead to inquiries, requests and beneficial conversations that are golden opportunities to get invaluable exposure. Taking on work that sits outside of your norm is fine; as at the end of the day Photography is Photography. It's always a positive experience to deliver a finished product when your customer is happy and you're proud of the end result. Bottom line, you can always take on projects to help build relationships, establish a presence and become a trusted resource and partner.

Take on personal projects when you're testing techniques, working on lighting, or filling in gaps of your portfolio. Recruit those closest to you - it's a way to connect, laugh and have some fun. A huge benefit is that you can document your growth as well as theirs (especially in the case of kids). I like to think of these opportunities as a chance for free marketing and expanding your word-of-mouth network.

The last month has been busy in winding down from New York Fashion Week, curating, sneaking in some outdoor portrait work in between the raindrops, addressing storage needs and something more tangible to you - re-branding this site. Thanks for your patience and thanks for stopping by. As with the hints above, we'll be seeing some business marketing work in the very near future, as local and urban networking will bear its fruit. Stay tuned!

Taking on the tasks

As I start to ramp up my schedule in arranging shoots, networking, contacting models and even landing a pair of credentials for New York Fashion Week, the need for planning is key in executing the game plan while building a process for the behind-the-scenes aspect of photography. As you would learn, the hardest part of getting yourself off the ground isn't the time spent behind the camera. It's when you're acting as your own business manager, secretary and communications coordinator. It goes far beyond camera bodies, lenses and memory cards!

The first step in filling the calendar with shoots and meetups, as well as other photography-related events, takes just that- a proper desk pad calendar. Sure, the calendar app on your phone, Google or other online calendars are essential as you're constantly on the go and need to sync your master schedule. But at the end of the day, it pays to go analog and pick up a desktop calendar to help flesh out your appointments. And don't forget to include your personal obligations, or you'll need to bump, move or worse cancel important engagements. The visual aid (photography, remember?), as well as the repetitive nature of physically jotting down your shoots and meetings feel a little more tangible and gratifying than solely keeping everything in cyberspace or on a phone dependent on a charge. This *major* addition to my arsenal ran me less than an iPhone Lightning Cable!

Now... onto what's on tap! The main highlights take place mid-month, as we're looking at a pair of events that will be a first for me, during New York Fashion Week. The first show, ASC Fashion Week takes place February 10th. The following Friday, I've been granted all-access to the New York Fashion Gala for Exalt Fashion on February 16th.

That said, there's a few model shoots thrown in for good measure- so be sure to check back here, Facebook and Instagram as always. And for some street photography, you can also see my personal IG project page as that is a passion of mine.

Get organized!

Get organized!