Meet Hair & Makeup Artist Katie Pheneger!


Photo by Josh Pheneger

Katie is a professional hair and makeup artist based in the San Francisco Bay Area – and she is a highlight at our studio! Katie is fun and fabulous at what she does. She can rock any look you are hoping to achieve for your customized photo session.


We sat down with Katie to find out about her philosophy of makeup, and got a few tips along the way!


What do you love most about doing hair and makeup?

I love customizing a look to the individual woman. I fell in love with makeup at a young age, doing theatre. I loved how makeup adds the next level to character development. Individual or "everyday" makeup is no different to me. I use makeup and hair styling to bring out each individual's character and really help them shine.


What is your unique approach to makeup? I believe what sets me apart as a makeup artist is my subtlety. I want the skin to look like skin, I want the eyes to shine, I want the hair to look its best. I achieve those goals by being subtle. I use light layers, starting small and building, and assessing the individual in my chair –what they need to really shine and look like themselves on their best day.

Many of our clients feel they're "not good" at doing their hair and makeup. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to improve?

Anyone can be good at doing their own hair and makeup if they are willing to let go of perfection. You will never look like someone else. You will only ever look like you. And you are beautiful!

I got good at what I do by playing. If you don't enjoy doing your hair and makeup, I would ask why. What part don't you like about the process? Not just the end result, but the process. If it's a chore, find ways to make it fun. Pick one thing you want to improve on rather than trying to improve everything at once. Makeup and hairstyling are like putting on jewelry. Not a necessity, a special something that makes you feel good.


What are some skincare tips or makeup secrets to share with women over 50?

The over 50 woman should never feel like she can't do something she loves because of her age. If you want to wear shimmer, wear shimmer. If you want to wear your hair long, wear it long. If you want to rock a red lip, do it!


The only thing you need to take into consideration is changes to your skin and hair's texture and color. For instance, if you are now silver haired and you used to be raven haired you should change the undertone of your red lipstick to better match your new hair color. Skin care is super important at any age and as we age we really need to pay attention to what our skin needs. Make adjustments everyday to what your skin is asking for. Maybe you were out in the sun the day before and now your skin is a little parched. Give it the extra moisture it's asking for. What worked for you in your 30's and 40's may not be working anymore. Be honest with yourself and listen to what your body is telling you.


How is makeup for photography different from everyday makeup?

I use light and shadow to trick the camera into seeing what we see with our eyes. When your makeup is complete and you look in the mirror, there may be more blush than you are used to, or more definition and color around the eyes. This will not look as dramatic on camera as it does in real life. Studio lighting will wash you out, so I bring more color to your face to contour like real life. How do you feel about H&MU for portraits compared to weddings or other types of beauty sessions? I love doing hair and makeup for photography because photos tell a story. I love doing hair styling and makeup to help a client tell her story. It is my favorite medium to work in. I also do makeup for weddings, special events, theatre, and I teach makeup lessons. There are different techniques that are needed for each one, but the common thread in my love for doing makeup is showing a client's character to the world. Hair and makeup help us to tell your story in just a glance.


Do you have a story about any client that stood out for you? A touching moment or memory about creating portraits for women and what a special experience it is? (like seeing them feel good about themselves, etc.)

I had a client once that I was doing hair and makeup for for a portrait session. She was soooo nervous. She was doing a portrait as a gift to her parents, but she was not happy with alot of things about herself. She was carrying more weight than she wanted, her teeth were not in good shape, and her skin showed the signs of a mispent youth. She had the most gorgeous big eyes and thick hair, so we really played into that. She was feeling 100 times better after she got out of my chair and saw herself in the mirror, but was still nervous about being in front of the camera. Once she saw that first shot, through the back of the camera, and how gorgeous she looked, the rest of her tension just melted away and she had a great time. She told me afterward that she had never felt so good about herself and she would treasure the memory of that day every time she looked at the photos. It gives me such a warm feeling that I can do that for clients.


Do you have a motto? Beauty is for everyone and everyone has a story to tell.


You can find Katie on facebook, on her website, or book a session at the studio for a makeover and photo shoot!

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