Have you ever thought about getting your portraits professionally done with your horse but decided it wasn’t worth the effort since your horse would look great but you would be a hot mess? To help with that, I asked Kira McCarty of Onsite Muse to chat with me a bit about makeup tips for equestrian portrait sessions.

I met Kira a few years ago when she was doing makeup for an equestrian workshop I was attending.

Over the years, I have gotten to know her and her team. They are an amazingly talented group of ladies.

If you are interested in reading more about Kira and her team, check out my recent blog post, “Why Hair and Makeup Artists should Work with Equestrian Photographers“.

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favorite tips for those who can’t afford to have their makeup professionally done



There are some easy things that budget-conscious clients can do to make themselves look better in pictures.

They should take a moment before their shoot to cleanse and hydrate their skin. Even if you do a quick wipe ala baby wipe and apply moisturizer, your skin will thank you!

Apply a little concealer under the eyes, around nostrils, and under the brow to give a refreshed look. Mascara is a wonderful tool and if it’s humid out, go for the waterproof one.

Blush can go a long way in bright light, don’t skip it. Definitely fill in your eyebrows with a powder or a similar shade of brow liner, the photo magic of a nicely defined brow should not be skipped!

A tinted lip balm looks and feels great. Lightly powder your nose and forehead. Last, make sure you comb your eyebrow hairs into place, this detail can make or break your look.


suggestions for reducing acne or blemishes


It’s not only high school equestrians who deal with acne. Older equestrians do as well.

I prep every client by first cleansing their skin and applying the appropriate hydrator.

Acne is hereditary and often is accompanied by sensitivity and redness. Prepping the skin with a primer designed to calm redness and hydrate will provide immediate results and a protective barrier between the skin and the elements.

I then will spot treat any discoloration with a non-comedogenic concealer.

Clients can prep by drinking plenty of water.

Acne can be triggered by an imbalance of sweat/oil on our skin’s surface. If someone isn’t hydrated, the oil slick will be more prominent. This causes shiny skin and an imbalanced p.h. which is conducive to bacteria growth.

Pro tip: Blackheads can be reduced through regular, gentle exfoliation. Whiteheads or “undergrounders” can go away overnight by dabbing a benzoyl peroxide-based treatment on them.


Kira McCarty of Onsite Muse sitting on her Truck in Florida

can professional makeup help you look better without looking “made up”



Natural-looking or a no-makeup look is the majority goal of my clientele.

I am a strong proponent of creating a custom look for each client, based on their specific needs.

Some guests have gorgeous skin and just need a little moisturizer, shading, or brightening to be camera-ready.

Others may need a full coverage foundation and eyebrows filled in.

Knowing the difference, I think, this a key difference between makeup artists who have been trained to work with photographers and lighting versus ones who are still learning.

Makeup artists who have had a lot of range in their career, working with all ages of female and male clients on camera have a wonderful eye for adding just enough to take away a few years and make someone look refreshed.



what about allergies or skin sensitivities?



I start every consultation asking my client if they have ANY sensitivities or allergies to products or ingredients.

I maintain a kit that has sensitivities in mind. From the brushless airbrush application to avoiding certain ingredients or brands known to trigger reactions.

I want guests to feel confident and relaxed, and I take great measures to maintain a clean kit with professional, conscientious products.



Kira McCarty of Onsite Muse with her signature cowboy boots

tips for working with professional hair and makeup artists


pro tip 1:


Photos are worth 1000 words! 

Always bring a few photos of makeup styles you love.


pro tip 2:


If you are a makeup guru and have a signature look, lip color, or winged liner, bring a photo of yourself done up.

This allows the hair and makeup artist to capture your personal style and incorporates it into the final style.


pro tip 3:


Be honest with your artist. 

After all, we are here to make your day better. We want you to feel beautiful!

If you need something altered before showtime, let them know, but also be open to their expert opinion.

shout out to Kira


I’d like to wrap up this post by first giving a huge thank you to Kira for her time and tips on makeup for equestrian portrait sessions.

Kira also was my go-to on my earlier blog post: Why Hair and Makeup Artists should work with Equestrian Photographers.

If you would like to get follow along with Kira and her team’s adventures, you can follow them on Instagram and Facebook.


Betsy Bird of Ride the Sky Equine Photography spends her days doing insane things to make horses look at her. Clearly, she’s desperate for attention. Outside of acting like a total weirdo, she invests time and energy into growing her business, hanging with her favorite dog, Nitro, dealing with her teenagers’ angst, and planning her next big wheels-up adventure. Betsy is a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) with the organization Professional Photographers of America (PPA). The CPP designation is held by fewer than 2,500 photographers nationwide and is a hallmark of consistency, technical skill, artistry, and professionalism. Betsy specializes in creating storytelling magicial photography for horse girls of all ages. In other words, she enjoys working with fun-spirited clients who need horse portrait photography, equestrian senior photography, and equestrian brand photography. She even throws in some dogs for variety because what true horse girl doesn’t love a great pup too. Based in Chattanooga, TN, Ride the Sky Equine Photography works on location in Tennessee, North Georgia, and beyond.

These photos are copyrighted by their respective owners. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited.