There is no “I” in Team by John Tuckey

There is no “I” in Team

by John Tuckey

Team Efforts

I wouldn’t advise anyone to overload a shoot with unnecessary bodies. The fewer people cluttering your space, the better. The less people to organise the better. It’s an absolute if you’re trying to create a sense of intimacy or intrigue and a simple practicality when you’re working to a budget or a tight time scale as most of us are. But ‘one man and his lens’ is not always enough – indeed, modern professional work is hardly ever created so. It’s a creative collaboration between the photographer, an art director, a stylist, a make up artist, a hair stylist, a lighting technician and possibly a set dresser. That amazing image in magazine ‘X’ is usually the result of a tight team who have a good working dynamic – not ‘one man and his lens’.

If you’re thinking about crossing this river and working your shots with a team it can be daunting at first. My advice is to keep it simple and pick your team carefully, don’t waste your resources and know who you can and can’t live without. I get my moments, but I’m still no pro – so I won’t worry about an assistant until i try a complicated location set-up. And a stylist isn’t even on my list unless I get involved in a commercial fashion shoot and the client specifically requests one – and even then they will probably be chosen by the art director.

So I’d suggest that for an amateur or hobbyist, the bodies to make sure you have covered on a model orientated shoot are the make up artist and the hair stylist. Sometimes the model can cover this off herself, but indispensable doesn’t even come close to describing the best I’ve worked with. And without even thinking I can give you three very good reasons why they’re always worth stretching the budget for.


A skilled makeup artist can simply transform a face. Try these two of Emily, one with ‘normal’ self done makeup and the Next from a Make Up artist.



The Devil is in the Detail

Much of my work revolves around vintage themes. Having the right make up or a particular hair style makes the world of difference. In these portraits of Olivia, the lighting may well have achieved the look on its own, but the work of the hair stylist in those thirties style fingerwaves added the polish – making the vintage feel of the final image effortless and complete.




Tricks, Shortcuts and FX

These Lonsdale shots aren’t just about beauty and boxing, but also strength, character and control. The make up artist on this shoot pulled the FX off with ease: Jammy the model was engaged with the concept and we got some great shots as a result.




Saving Time in Post

Doesn’t digital mean make up artists are a waste of money? If you don’t think of the hours you’ll spend in post-production as money, then I’ll grant you that a hair or make up artist might not be your best use of budget. But I’d rather get it right for real on the day and trade that time in front of a screen for more time with a camera thanks – a good MUA allows that.

If you are interested in my images or my workshops you can follow me on facebook at http://www.facebook/jrtvintage, on twitter where I’m @jrtvintage, at my own site at or on my gallery page at Saatchi Art


Models: Emily, Olivia Harriett, and Jammy Lou

Emily and Jammys Make Up: James Minahan

Olivia’s Hair: Le Keux Salon
Best regards

John Tuckey


  1. You definitely raised some valid points which a lot of people probably wouldn’t think about. It’s like a film set: there are people dedicated to essential tasks, and they do their jobs with military efficiency (more or less).

    I remember when I was still in my teens learning that most shoots have a focus puller. I laughed at first – can you imagine someone just pulling focus? I was a beginner photographer at the time and naturally I didn’t appreciate how different film shoots are to photo shoots. But when I thought about it for a little bit, I realized that it was not a laughing matter!

    BTW I’m glad to see you don’t filter out the models’ skin texture. It’s so annoying seeing super-porcelain skin in ads and portraits. Fake as all get-out. Do these people have nothing better to do? In my mind, there is too much filter masturbation in photography. Give it a rest, I say.

    FWIW I think Emily looks nicer in the first shot. 🙂 I love the boxing shots, too, particularly the tight close-up.

    • I agree! She looks very natural and beautiful. I don’t like female contact sports so the boxer is a turn off for me. The work is very good though.

      • I like the first one best as well. The second with the ‘professional’ makeup resembles a mannequin. Nice images.

  2. Great work. My only (constructive) criticism would be to use less drips from the boxer’s mouth. It’s looking a little zombie-like with too much blood.

  3. Great photos makeup and hair here in Canada at shoots a makeup artist also does the hair to save money which is usually reflected in the shoot good makeup not so good hair success is allowing professionals of all trades to do their work and the results will be worth the extra cost as seen here thanks for sharing

  4. I love it when I can indulge with some great photography on this site. Not all inspiration posts are meant to be brilliant just nice photography the poster likes and wants to share which is fair enough.
    Your images are always special though -thanks.

  5. Nice interesting write up and quite enlightening too, especially to the uninitiated in the field.
    Lovely photos too, especially the boxer(ess?), very real and graphic.
    My only criticism would be that some in the first set of 5 need a bit of BW digi-darkroom work to make them look less drab and ‘grey’ and bring them out a bit.

  6. Interesting article and excellent photographs. If budget allows, one may want to add a retouch specialist to the team. In team projects, big deal is to ensure that every one shares the same mental model of the final product.

Comments are closed.