Basics of Stage Makeup for a Young Dancer

For myself and my clients I wanted to create a video on the basics of stage makeup for moms who might be new to the world of dance and performance. I found the perfect person. Sarah was a direct referral from a client whose daughter attends Kelly’s Dance studio in Summerville SC. Sarah Callahan Black is local to the Summerville area and co-owns Curiouser Entertainment with her mother Ellen Callahan.

Her characters are truly high quality. All the performers are professional actors and singers. Costumes are crafted from the highest quality materials and the difference really shows. The characters makeup, hair and costumes are so impressive compared to any of the characters I’ve ever seen at events and parties in the past. Who better than to come teach us the basics of stage makeup than the owner of this business!

Character Images by Jesse Black

I am so pleased to have teamed up with Sarah to share what you need to know about applying stage makeup for your young dancer. Enjoy!

What you’ll need:

Foundation. Beauty Blender. Blush. Blush Brush. Eyebrow Pencil. Lip Liner. Lipstick. Mascara.


You can take your young dancer to Ulta or Sephora where they can help you find shades to match for foundation, blush, eyebrow pencil, lip liner and lipstick.

Here is what we used on our model:

You should be able to find these products at places like Ulta, Target, CVS and other drug stores. If you are looking for the most chemical free brands check out Beauty Counter. I know a local rep if you need one.

Foundation - Total Control Drop Foundation - Brand: NYX - Colors: Porcelain TCDF03 and Vanilla TCDF06

Foundation - Total Control Drop Foundation - Brand: NYX - Colors: Porcelain TCDF03 and Vanilla TCDF06

Real Techniques by Sam & Nic - Base & Finish dual-ended expert sponge - Full Coverage Foundation + Contour

Real Techniques by Sam & Nic - Base & Finish dual-ended expert sponge - Full Coverage Foundation + Contour

Blush - Brand: e.l.f. - Color: Blushing - Number: 21643

Blush - Brand: e.l.f. - Color: Blushing - Number: 21643

Blush Brush - Brand: e.l.f. - Blush Brush - Number: 84011

Blush Brush - Brand: e.l.f. - Blush Brush - Number: 84011

Eyebrow Pencil - Brand: Covergirl - Color: 515 Honey Brown - Easy Breezy Brow Fill + Define

Eyebrow Pencil - Brand: Covergirl - Color: 515 Honey Brown - Easy Breezy Brow Fill + Define

Lip Liner & Lipstick - Brand: NYX - NYX Professional Makeup Suede Matte Lip Liner - Color: SMLL25 Whipped Caviar - NYX Matte Lipstick - Color: MLS09 Natural

Lip Liner & Lipstick - Brand: NYX - NYX Professional Makeup Suede Matte Lip Liner - Color: SMLL25 Whipped Caviar - NYX Matte Lipstick - Color: MLS09 Natural

Mascara - Brand: e.l.f. - Lash Extending - Color: Black

Mascara - Brand: e.l.f. - Lash Extending - Color: Black

As a dancer you are using your body to express yourself but you are also using your face to tell the story. The two most important parts of your face are your eyes and your lips so you want them to be able to pop on the stage under the bright lights.
— Sarah Callahan Black


The purpose of applying foundation for stage makeup is to add color to the face. We want to combat the strong lights of the stage which tend to wash us out. So the goal is not to fully cover the face in foundation but just to add color. Moisturizing the skin before hand can help you blend the foundation easier. Tap the sponge on the skin and use a bouncing technique to prevent the foundation from appearing streaky.

The techniques Sarah uses in applying NYX Total Drops can be used for all brands. She prefers this foundation because it is affordable and easy to blend shades to match the skin. A little foundation can go a long way.


Lightly fill in the young dancer’s natural eye brows. We are not drawing a new shape. You can also use an eyebrow brush to blend the color better.

If your young dancer is blonde choose an eyebrow color one or two shades darker than their hair. If your dancer has dark brown hair go with one or two shades lighter.”
— Sarah Callahan Black


Mascara is perfect for young dancers to open the eye for the stage. Giving your dancer somewhere to look while you apply makeup (like down at the collar of your shirt or up at the clock on the wall) will be helpful. Sometimes when someone is doing our makeup we don’t know where to look. It’s natural to blink while mascara is being applied and it can actually help curl the eyelash up. Depending on their age- if your dancer feels more comfortable trying to apply the mascara themselves, it might be a great time to let them. Since stage makeup will become part of their routine as a performer it’s great for them to get practice. Wiggling the brush a bit while applying will help coat all the lashes. Use a q-tip right after an accidental mascara smudge on the skin. It is easiest to remove the smudge right away before the mascara dries.


Apply blush with your blush brush. If you aren’t able to visit an Ulta or Sephora for help, choose a soft bright blush. Put the powder on the apples of the cheeks. This might not be where you normally apply blush for your everyday makeup but on the stage makeup is a little more over the top to add color and vibrance to the face under the bright lights. If the blush you choose has a translucent quality you can build on it. Once you put a powder on it’s recommended not to go back over it with a liquid.

Putting blush along the temples is a trick from Marilyn Monroe’s makeup artist. She always had blush along her temples. It was a trick she believed made her look young and flush.
— Sarah Callahan Black


Sarah prefers to start with lip liner at the corner of the mouth drawing along the line of the lip. We want to enhance seeing the dancer’s facial features on the stage. We don’t want to make the performer look overdone or older than they are. Fill in the lips with the liner. This will help keep the lipstick on between performances when the dancer takes a drink of water or snacks during intermission. Put the lipstick on over the lip liner you used to fill in.


Thank you Sarah of Curiouser Entertainment for coming in to share all this great information with me and our dance mom followers!

Thank you to our local dancer Addilyn for being our model for the day!

Thank you to our local dancer Addilyn for being our model for the day!

11 Surprising Reasons Professional Dance Portraits of Your Daughter Is a Great Investment The stats on #11 are incredible!

Ask any parent if they’d like the ability to watch their children grow up again, and you’ll likely hear a resounding ‘Yes!’ Capturing photos of your daughter in her element is the best way to relive those precious moments year after year, but many moms wonder if hiring a professional photographer is worth the investment.

Here are 11 reasons why it’ll be worth every penny.

1. Memories fade

This will come as no surprise, but memory can be a fickle thing. Lives are busy, and kids grow up fast. One season blurs into another, and before you know it your kids are taller and moving on to other interests. Taking the time while your daughter is excited and passionate about dance to capture that spirit in a timeless way is the best way to preserve that special time in her life.


2. A trained eye

You see your daughter every day, but a professional photographer is trained to look for that special angle to bring out her best. Everything from poses to angles to composition comes naturally to a pro with experience to bring to the table. They are trained to frame your daughter in a way that captures an amazing image.

3. Professional setting

Beyond simple skills and technology, having portraits done in a professional studio allows for a controlled environment for the best quality image. No worrying about weather, no fussing if it’s windy or the lighting is too low- everything is managed. Many photographers also have professional hair and makeup available, and will guide you if there is anything else necessary to bring to the photo shoot session.

4. Quality prints

Professionals have access to the best print labs to produce real quality prints that look remarkably better than your typical Walgreens or Shutterfly print. Higher resolution, quality paper and processing make your images pop in a way that consumer options just can’t measure up to, and they endure the test of time.

5. Technical skill

New iphones have decent cameras for capturing things on the go, but they don’t perform well in low light situations or with movement. Professional camera equipment can handle a variety of light situations, and both the photographer and camera are QUICK! They don’t miss a beat, which is important when you want to get that perfect shot of your daughter in motion.


6. No stress

You handle enough already, mom! Let a professional who knows how to work with kids, to make them feel comfortable and at ease, run a wonderful session. You can take a break and watch, without trying to keep a camera at the ready and missing out on being in the moment.

7. Capture the story

The best photos are the ones that capture the spirit, the story, the essence of a person or a moment. And telling that story on film is what a great photographer is trained to do. They know just how to capture the personality and true nature, in all their glory, or their subjects, for the kind of image that speaks volumes.

Screen Shot 2018-10-22 at 9.53.57 AM.png

8. Works of art

If you want to have a piece of wall art, not just a small 4x6 print of your loved one, then a professional photo session will produce both the image and the high resolution necessary to create large prints or even more creative options. Your memories can become works of art when done professionally.

9. Family heirlooms

Have you ever marveled at the photos of your parents or grandparents as kids, and been so grateful to have those moments captured and passed down? Imaging the joy of passing these images down through your family and the generations to come. These photos will become treasures for the next generations in a way that cell phone photos never will.


10. Feeling of security

The feeling of belonging a child has when they see photos that celebrate their individuality and accomplishment in their home is one of the simplest but most powerful ways to combat insecurity. It’s a silent declaration of your pride in them and a declaration that they belong to you, to the family and to this home.


11. Self-esteem

We all want our children to grow up with strong self-esteem, and a 1975 study by Tulane University proved that portraits of kids in their element can improve self esteem by 37% in just 5 weeks. Seeing themselves in different poses highlighting their individuality and being celebrated by their family can go a long way to improve confidence. Girls growing up today are bombarded with challenges to their self-esteem, so as parents we should do everything we can to bolster it.

Those are 11 great reasons to hire a professional photographer as your daughter is growing up.

Pictures of our loved ones are the most precious things we will ever own, and taking the time to invest in capturing those amazing images will pay off with immediate benefits as she continues to blossom, and her prints become heirlooms that will continue to be cherished for generations to come.

Check out our gallery of dance portraits to see how impactful professional photos can be!!

This Space

This is more of what I envisioned when we moved into this house 1 year and 4 months ago. There's still so much to come as I fill this space will all my love and energy. I can't wait to make video's for you to experience through my client's eyes what it feels like to experience a session here in my new space.


When we went looking for homes I had a keen eye out for space inside the home that I could temporarily use to serve clients and a garage worth converting. I found both of those things here in our home. Now we are in the beginnings of our second phase and I'm just so happy to create in this space!


Hair Stylist Krystal Yangco & Makeup Artist Liz Ricci


I so fully believe in serving women with portraits out of my own space. We spent a year looking for houses and recovering from 2 uprooted careers. We absolutely adore Downtown and Historic Summerville. Houses would pop on the market and be gone in one day. When everything lined up I found this house. In fact, my husband was out of town for work and after a face time walk-though we moved to make an offer. I feel so happy to be here in the little village of Summerville. 





A life well loved

A childhood friend's mother passed away two weeks ago. 

I left Charleston and drove home to Pennsylvania in hopes that somehow my presence might be a comfort and that I could be of some help. 

Pictures . . .

There was a celebration of life gathering and a slide show projecting the story of her family while we danced. I saw how all these beautiful images were illustrations of her joy, her love, her caring and her values. I moved from each collage to the next, loving the chance to see my close friend's childhood in these awesome pictures. 

I wondered since her mother in part planned the celebration of her life before she passed, had she hand picked each of these? Which were her very favorites? Which did she feel really represented who she was? What did each of them say to her about that time in her life and what did they say to her children?

The gathering is over but I still see her children sharing the beauty of who their mother was in images online.

Never, ever doubt the importance of photographs of you. 

You are seen and you are loved. One day a photograph of you will be the most precious thing the people who love you own.

Cheers to my friend's mother, a life well loved!


"Oh no, not me, just the kids!"

"Oh no, not me, just the kids!" is a statement I hear so often. While I can't strong arm you into having your photograph taken, I dare to ask, "One day your children will look for photographs of you. What will they find?"

Audrey Portraits .png

Mommas I know you barely have enough time to get the kids looking on point let alone think of taking the time to feel ready for photographs yourself. But I hold so near and dear to my heart how important this is. 

If you have little ones, imagine taking the morning off. Come into my space to have professional hair and makeup done. It will be some time just for you to look and feel gorgeous and pampered. We will rock a session together and I'll guide you through every pose.


Later, after we've made some gorgeous empowering portraits of you -have whoever has been watching the little ones come in with the kiddos towards the end. You look amazing so let's get those babes in the shot. 

pcad-40 copy.jpg

Face it!

Have you seen the new app Google Arts and Culture? Celebrities and TV personalities have been showing off their selfies next to famous museum paintings of their likeness. The app compares your selfie to thousands of museum paintings and comes up with your best matches. Here's mine: Yikes! This chick is clearly 'having a day.'

Google Arts and Culture

This also reminds me of Snap Chat. As of June 2016 150 million people use it everyday according to Bloomberg! There's also one of my favorites, Brushstroke. 





I was thinking about how fascinated we are with seeing ourselves in different ways. "What do you look like as a Gopher?" Snapchat offers you the answer on Groundhog Day. What will I look like if someone made a painting of my face? What do I look like if I try on a big red floppy hat? Will it be "so me" or will I not identify with that image of me at all.

I realized these are all micro transformative experiences, fun and playful. Transformative experiences is pretty much what I do as a portrait photographer. I'd like to think of it as a little more than micro though, sometimes seeing yourself in a way you never have before can be soul shifting. It's a process of, what would I look like in a photograph if I had my dream hairstyle, makeup and my dream outfit on? 

Sometimes that vision for women is wearing a tank top and jeans with their curly hair just a bit more polished than usual and minimal makeup. Sometimes that vision of 'what do I look like' comes in the form of a rental dream gown and big flowing hair.

What would you look like in your own Vanity Fair style portrait? What would you look like if someone caught that big beautiful smile with glowing backlight you just know you have but have yet to see in a photograph?

I'd like to think I have these answers up my sleeve for you. I know what beautiful looks like, I can see yours, and I can capture it. (It's not lost on me the hilarity of this statement with the above images, haha)

My Grandmom and her Best Friend


Sometimes I don't know what to say more to describe why I love what I do and then the universe drops it in my lap. The other day on facebook's time-hop this picture came up.

This is a picture of my Grandmom, Dot and her best friend my Aunt Carole the second time my Aunt Carole married the love of her life my Uncle Ed. My Uncle Ed kept this picture framed and called them "his girls." He looked at it everyday. My Aunt Carole and Uncle Ed have both passed which still boggles my mind today.

grandmom and aunt carole

This is one of the few photographs I have of my Grandmom and Aunt Carole together, not caught off guard by the camera. I love it more than anything because they look SO HAPPY. My Grandmom probably called out "Sex!" just before the photograph was taken. She thinks it's the funniest thing in the world to do, and I'll give it to her, it does get laughs even if everyone's uncomfortable. 

This is a wedding, but look - they are dressed up in clothes that make them feel beautiful. They have hair and makeup that they love and feel great wearing. It was a happy day to celebrate. They both looked and felt incredible and it all came together in this photograph that still sits in its frame in my house. It's priceless.


Why are mother and daughter sessions important?

Because one of the most precious gifts your daughter is going to ever receive is a photograph that encompasses the happiness and love you share. My favorite part about this shoot is that this little girl won't have to wish she had these pictures one day. She will have them. She'll remember the time her and Mommy went out when she was little. She watched her mom take time for herself to have ladies do her hair and makeup and she looked so happy and pretty. Mom brought special dresses for them to wear and she had her hair done along with mom's. Then she and her mom had precious images taken on a very special day that was all to celebrate them. Images that will be cherished for years to come to reinvigorate those beautiful memories.