If you want to learn how to properly dodge and burn a portrait, one of the best people to ask isn’t necessarily another more experienced photographer. Instead, try asking a talented make up artist about “contouring” and “highlighting,” and start taking notes…

Credit where credit is due: this tip comes straight from extremely talented portrait photographer and 500pxer Dani Diamond, who shared it over a year ago on FStoppers.

To quote that article:

I always wondered where it was necessary to dodge and burn. I knew that there had to be some sort of guideline to follow.

This question led to a lot of googling, culminating to the rabbit hole of makeup tutorials on Youtube. The most important thing I learned was the concept of contouring. Out simply, contouring is the art of expertly highlighting and shadowing the correct spots on the face in order to accentuate and bring out the subjects best look. Once I understood this concept, not only did I become a better retoucher but my lighting skills improved significantly.

Brie - Ringlight by Dani Diamond on 500px.com

Understanding bone structure and how to give someone a more flattering, 3-dimensional look is a big part of a make up artist’s job—they simply do with make up what a photographer might do with dodge and burn (and their lighting set up).

Do yourself a favor and watch the video below… then fall down that same rabbit hole that Dani did way back when he first started exploring the world of makeup. You can see the difference it will make by checking out the before and after pictures that Dani posted in the original article.

And if you still doubt this advice, remember that it comes from the guy who brings you beautiful, dimensional portraits like these:

Amanda - Ringlight by Dani Diamond on 500px.com

Sara - Natural Light by Dani Diamond on 500px.com

Betsy - Natural Light by Dani Diamond on 500px.com

Riley - Ringlight by Dani Diamond on 500px.com

Rachel - Natural Light by Dani Diamond on 500px.com