I've been doing pre wedding shoots for the past six years in Paris. This cultural tradition has couples from all over Asia flocking to get the perfect snap in-front of the Eiffel Tower, just as the sun peeks its' sleepy head over the horizon. A lot of money and time goes into planning this special trip and it can be daunting in another country with another language and a whole scroll of rules... because the French have rules about everything... apart from road safety, you know, when you should have rules!
Without further ado, here are my top tips on things makeup-related and a few other subjects thrown in there to help you be aware of 'the Paris way' (I'm still trying to understand it all!).
So, I've got my coffee at the ready and the acoustic tunes going on Spotify, and you should do the same, unless you're more of an R&B kinda person, then do that! So let's start at the beginning:
Booking a makeup artist takes trust, especially when there's no face to face contact! Take a good look at their work before emailing them, do you like the style of their work? Do they have a few photos of makeup application that they've done on Asian clients? If so, that's a great start.
Don't expect them to have a full portfolio of Asian clients, as makeup artists need to have a wide array of photos to cater to every skin tone and texture. A few photos of great work should help you to feel comfortable enough in sending an enquiry. Clients will 90% of the time ask for a fresh and natural look that's traditional in style, or, a smokey eye and something a bit bolder for a night time shoot.
If you are looking for something creative and a bit more 'out of the box', be sure to send over some photos of your ideas in your first email to your chosen makeup artist. It's all about communication and I love seeing as many photos and ideas as possible so we can get the look right for you on the morning of your shoot.
The Asian makeup style is one of my favourite, not only is it simple, but you can really play up the eyes to help them stand out in photos. It's pretty and classic, the French love that!
There are generally two options for this. A lot of clients will hire a photographer who's already based in Paris (and there are some seriously good ones!), your photographer will be able to advise you on the best time to start your shoot to avoid the crowds and to catch the best light. Try to get your shoot time locked down with them and ask your makeup artist how long they take to get you ready.
You should really have an hour from finishing your makeup application to meeting your photographer. This way you'll have enough time to finish getting changed and take a taxi to the first location of your shoot. Having the photographer waiting around in the cold eats into the time of your shoot, and they'll probably throw a heavy camera lens at the makeup artist next time they see them... ouch.
Bringing your photographer with you? have them look up the time of the sunrise and sunset in Paris (you can normally just stick this in google). They'll probably be staying in the same hotel as you, so make sure you have enough space for hair and makeup and your photographer if you'd like to take any getting ready shots -- because Parisian hotel rooms are generally pretty cramped.
If you're doing an all day photo shoot, then it's generally best to hire a car for the day with a driver. Waiting for Ubers can waste a lot of time and be pretty costly too.
If your doing a sunrise shoot and your makeup artist needs to be with you for 5:00AM, then they're probably going to have to wake up at an hour when even Dracula needs a pint of coffee to get into the groove.
Paris can be pretty pricey, but the early morning price will generally be higher to cover the cost of taxis to your hotel, and also, no other businesses are open at that time of the morning, especially in France, they are not early risers.
Most couples tend to hire a few different outfits to change into. Many clients ask me where they can change and there are generally three options. Beware, they're not all comfortable!
If you're doing a makeup and hair change, then it's generally best to go back to your hotel so you can freshen up and change there. It's also a bit more comfortable for everybody and you won't have tins of hairspray and makeup brushes flying away in the wind. Try and choose a central location for your hotel in this case.
Sometimes, clients pop into a café to get changed in the bathroom. You might need to buy a coffee or something to keep the waiters happy, but beware, French waiters are not renowned for being overly understanding, so you might not receive the warmest welcome in the touristic areas.
In the hire-car is your last option, but if there's anything that requires lacing, then it's just not going to work. "Driver, to the hotel please!".
The hair and beauty entourage:
Do you need to bring the beauty team along with you on the shoot? I'm going to be honest with you here, not really.
If you choose to go for a long wear makeup look, then it should get you through to the second look (if you're doing one). Photographers will agree that it's best to have as few people on the shoot as possible. They're pretty strict when you're taking pictures near the landmarks and the police will think that you're doing a professional shoot or something for fashion, which you need to have a permit for.
Having a team can make it look more professional and they can stop you from taking photos in that location. The eye of reason is something they have not yet discovered...
If you're doing a photoshoot in the height of the summer when it can get pretty humid, it might be a good idea to take your makeup artist along with you, just to check that everything is holding up and you haven't turned into a beacon of light reflecting the sun into the lens.
Look after your belongings:
Paris is pretty, but it's full of interesting characters and not all of them are honest. They generally tend to target tourists in stealing personal belongings using distraction techniques, here are some of the most common cons to look out for.
1) Sign the petition, no, really don't:
If you have a bunch of youths skipping up to you with a clipboard and a chewed pen, waving it around like harry potter on the first day of school - just say no and keep on walking. One will ask you to give some money and sign the petition whilst another will go for your bag.
2) You dropped your ring:
You're enjoying a nice stroll along the Seine when - here we go, somebody comes up next to you, droppin' it like it's hot. They'll ask for your attention, revealing a plastic ring, asking if it's yours and to exchange it back for money. Nope, you've got your inbox pilling up with emails and this is your only time to relax, you need to keep on walking.
3) The Montmartre bracelet:
Now the guys are pretty friendly at the bottom of the Sacre Coeur, but they'll be putting those friendship bracelets on your wrist expecting money in return. A quick thank you and a brisk walk will do the job.
Have a great time:
Enjoy your time in Paris and have a lovely shoot! I'm sure you're having a big wedding back home, so enjoy the French food and explore what Paris has to offer. You'll find that you've never found people-watching so fun!
Feel free to ask any questions that you have below in the comments section or send me a little email with your questions. Thank you for reading and maybe see you in Paris!
Check out my pre wedding makeup services, here!