How to photograph and edit close-up pictures of your eye looks | Step-by-step guide!

Hey everyone! Today I would like to share my secrets on how I take and edit up-close photos of my eye makeup. Being able to do this is really everything if you are wanting to showcase looks that you are proud of, and perhaps what certain eyeshadow palettes can do if you are in the process of creating a review. If you are at all familiar with my blog, you will know that I really rely on close-up pictures. In fact my series’ Eye Look of the Week and Palette Roulette specifically feature them!

Eyeshadow is my favourite part of makeup and is such an outlet for creativity, and I want to be able to share that with you! However, to be able to do this, you need the right technique. It’s simple, I semi-promise.

What I am going to provide you with are four steps to get amazing images of your eyeshadow. The programs or methods that you use to complete these steps don’t really matter, so long as you do them (or don’t, it’s your life!). You will see that I use multiple programs to complete these steps, when the actions that I take could probably all be done with one program. But ultimately I am a creature of habit, and what I do works for me! So feel free to simplify things within the steps, and use programs that you are comfortable with if you have some! I’m just sharing my personal methods.

4 Steps to photograph and edit close-up pictures of your eye looks

  1. Taking the picture

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I’m going to give it to you straight: I take all of my pictures with my phone. The cameras in phones these days are really very competitive in quality with stand-alone cameras, and I see no need to use a separate camera. I currently have the iPhone 7, but most iPhones and Androids have amazing cameras these days.

The trick for taking up-close and detailed photos: use the back camera, not the selfie camera. Often in phone models, the camera in the back of the phone is better quality than the selfie camera. This leads to a problem though: you need to be able to see what you are taking a picture of, now that your phone is turned the other way! I recommend taking pictures in front of a mirror, so you can see exactly what is happening on your phone.

Before you start taking pictures though, let’s talk about lighting. I take all of my pictures in my bathroom where I have a mirror easily accessible. However, the lighting in my bathroom is very warm. Now, you can modulate the temperature of light with different lightbulbs, but I have found the best way to get a pretty good colour of light, and enough light in general, is by using a selfie ring light on my phone. Yes, that’s right, one of those mini clip-on ring lights that you can attach to your phone. I bought mine from amazon, and I have been very happy with it. It is rechargeable, and has three different brightness levels. The one that I purchased is shown below, and you can buy it here. But there are a ton to choose from out there, so take your pick!

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Once you have appropriate lighting that isn’t too warm and isn’t too cool (too cool light can really suck the colour out of images), you can take your photo. I like to use the selfie light on the first brightness setting. This leaves me with images that lean just on the warm side. I will tell you now, that slightly warmer images are easier to edit that images that are too warm or too cool (and it’s impossible to get just right, for me at least, Goldilocks). But you will learn through practice. I did!

Make sure that when your phone is pointed at your face that you tap on the screen where your eye is so that it focuses on your eye specifically. You can be very pointed with this if you want. I find that if I tap roughly on top of where my eyelashes are, it will focus on my lashes. However, if you tap on your brow, or on your lid when that eye is lowered or closed, it will focus on your brow or your eyeshadow. Experiment with this, but be sure to tell your camera where to focus.

Another important factor is the distance of the phone from your face. If you have your phone too close to your eye, it will not be able to focus properly. So make sure that you hold your phone far away enough, so that it is capable of focusing. To give you an idea of how far away this should be, this picture below is a good example. Notice how my nose and my lips are included in the photo. That is how far away your phone should be (at least for the iPhone 7; the cameras on different phones will vary). Notice that my eye appears to be in focus.

Sorry for this horrible photo, but it was necessary to show you how far away your phone should be!

Another tip is to take a ton of photos. The worst thing would be to put all sorts of work into an eye look, and then realize after the fact that you didn’t capture it properly! I always take pictures looking in various directions. My personal go-to’s are looking straight ahead, and looking down towards my nose. But play with it and figure out what you like!

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I often take 20-50 photos per eye look. Probably more than I need, but I’d rather be safe than sorry!

In order to decide which picture is the best, I first crop all of them and then select the ones that have the best focus. Use the method that works best for you!

2. Retouching

After I have selected the best photo(s), I like to retouch out the uglies. The uglies include stray eyebrow hairs and any other imperfections that just do not belong! It’s funny how those stray eyebrow hairs don’t actually appear until you’re looking at a photo!

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The program that I use to retouch is Picasa, which was created by Google. This program has since been discontinued, but you can still download it from some random websites (the one I got it from is here). I use this program because it allows you to directly retouch by replacing one spot with a sample from another area, instead of averaging out the colour, which a lot of programs do. I haven’t yet been able to find another program that allows you to do spot retouching in this way.

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As you can see below, you can change the size of the area that you want to retouch, and you can zoom in to reach really tiny spots.

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After retouching, this is the result. I also threw on my tag. Protect your works of art!

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3. Smoothing texture (surrounding the area of interest)

I don’t know about you, but I have texture to my skin. The whole point of taking photos of your eyeshadow is to showcase your look, and I wouldn’t want the texture of the surrounding area to distract from it. So I use the mobile app facetune to smooth the skin in the surrounding area. However, you can use whatever editing program or app that works for you.

To smooth with facetune, I transfer the photo from my computer onto my phone, and open the photo in facetune. You can then click on “Retouch” and then the “Smooth” tool. All you have to do at that point is draw with your finger back and forth on the places that you want to smooth. You can change the level of smoothing by the sliding blue bar at the bottom of the screen (I usually use the highest level for eye pics, but for selfies I’ll reduce it to 70 or 80% so things don’t look so fake). I usually smooth on all of the surfaces except for my eyebrow and eyelid etc. I will smooth directly under my brow though, but not any lower on the lid. Even if your lid is textured (like mine) still don’t smooth it. It will change the dimension and colour of the eyeshadow. You can also zoom in to get into detailed areas, like between your lower lashes.

Here is the result after smoothing.


4. Editing the colour

After smoothing, I send the image back to my computer so I can do some minor colour editing if it is necessary. Looking at the above image, it looks like the skin around my eye look is coming off too warm and red-toned. To fix this I use the photo editor PhotoScape X. This is a free photo editor that actually has quite a bit of editing power, and you do have the option to purchase a subscription if you want to use more of the functions. I don’t find that that is necessary.

To edit the colour of an image, you click on the colour tab.

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Once you are in there, you can actually select specific areas of the photo to edit if you don’t want to change the whole photo. This is the most amazing feature of PhotoScape! I love being able to selectively change a colour or sharpen an area! Anyways, to select a specific area of the photo that you want to edit click the plus sign beside “Mask (Local Adjustments)”. Then click the paintbrush button, the paintbrush with a plus sign, and check the invert mask button. This all allows you to specifically select the area that you want to edit by drawing with your mouse. The area that you select will show up as highlighted red when you are clicking on the photo.

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Red= the area that I have drawn on with my mouse to edit. Because the area around my eyeshadow and eyebrow looks redder than I would like, I’m only going to edit that area. The shade of the eyeshadow looks mostly representative of what it looked like in real life so I’ll leave that part.

The best way to counteract red in a photo is both with the “temperature” and “tint” options in this program. Temperature is a spectrum from orange (warm) to blue (cool) while tint is a spectrum from purple to green. Temperature starts at 6500, whereas tint starts at 0. Play with changes in levels until you are happy. As you can see with this photo, I increased temperature to 6900, and tint to 11. To see what the difference is in your editing compared to the original state, press the “compare” button.

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I also decided to brighten the same selected area after the fact.

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You can also select only the eyeshadow area if you think that needs a bit of tweaking too. The whole point of taking photos of your eyeshadow is to make them representative of what it looked like in real life, and cameras don’t always capture that.

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I’m not entirely sure what all the different options in the colour tab do, but I decided to brighten, deepen and increase the vibrance.

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Once you have applied all of your changes, save your file, and you have your finished photo!

The final product


Overall, you can see that the editing didn’t change a huge amount in the photo, but it did fine-tune it. Therefore, the main thing is to take good, in-focus pictures. That’s the first, and most important step.

Final Tips

Overall, I can recognize that I use three different programs to achieve the goal of producing an edited eye photo. While this may seem over-complicated, none of the steps take too long, and I am just used to these programs. However, most or all of this can probably be achieved with PhotoScape X, so give that a try if you don’t already have a good photo editing program. I also can’t recommend Picasa a ton, because I find it quite glitchy, but I just haven’t found another editing program (that is free) that allows you to retouch the way it does. So it is valuable for that purpose. If you have Photoshop, I’m sure it can do everything that I have mentioned here handily. But I don’t want to pay those dollar dollar bills yall.

Haha, ok. I hope this little “how-to” helped! If there are any confusing parts, definitely don’t be afraid to ask and comment below! I’m here to help!

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link

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36 thoughts on “How to photograph and edit close-up pictures of your eye looks | Step-by-step guide!

  1. Awesome tips! I couldn’t agree more about taking the picture with the back camera. I ordered a ring light a couple days ago and I have really high hopes that it will help!

  2. Great post! I remember asking you how you take your eye photos a long time ago. I could never get the lighting right in my bathroom so I take my photos in front of a window now. Luckily my camera has a viewing screen so I don’t need to use a mirror anymore, but I still end up taking twenty pics at a time and only using one xD
    Thanks for the editing program tips!

    1. Oh yeah that’s perfect! I wish I had a setup that could use natural light! Although I also find natural light can sometimes wash out a look sometimes. The struggle!! I hope I helped!

  3. These are such good tips, I learned so much! I also take eye close ups with the back camera of my phone, but I’ve never thought to use a selfie ring light! That’s brilliant. I always take my photos in front of a window during the day, and sometimes that creates issues with the phone creating a shadow over my face. A ring light would totally help with this issue, plus I’m not limited to taking eye photos during the day!

    I have so many problems of my photos coming out blurry, and I realized I’m not taking them from far enough away. Another struggle I have is that I wear glasses day-to-day and I’m blind without them, but I also don’t want to waste a pair of contacts just for photos. I can’t see what the heck I’m doing or if the photo is focused on the right place, lol.

    You see so many stray hairs/imperfections in mine and they take so much dang time to edit out that I don’t even care to get rid of them anymore lol. I might try a few of the editing programs you use to see if they work better/easier!

    Thank you so much for sharing, Nova! It was so insightful!

    1. Good, I am so glad! Yes I hate the phone shadow! I love to take selfies outside at sunset and the phone shadow over the face is so hard to avoid lol. I hope the ring light does solve your problem! That is hard with the glasses thing! Maybe your husband can help you? I think over time you’ll just get used to holding your phone a certain distance away though.

      Overall, I’m so glad I could help and thanks for suggesting this!

      1. I definitely need more practice with eye photos!

        Oh god, as much as my husband supports my blogging, he would never agree to helping me take photos! Not only that, but his hands are shaky so the pictures would turn out even worse than if I were to do it myself.

  4. This is such a detailed thorough post. I use different apps but capture my eye looks in a same way as yours. While reading this I have a feeling that I write this post😁😁. I also take my eye look photos in bathroom. I have a white light in my bathroom so that i do not need ring light.

    1. It certainly is long, so I appreciate anyone who took the time to read it! That’s great that you can relate to it so much!

    1. Haha thanks so much! Believe me, my photos did not always look like this! I cringe when I look at some of my first posts where I included eye looks. And I thought they looked so good at the time! It’s all about trial and error.

  5. Hey Nova this is such a great and helpful post. I have book marked it for reference. I will definitely be trying it step by step to see what I can do. But my mobile is Samsung will see how it works. You work so hard no wonder the pictures of your eye looks are so perfect and beautiful. You are super talented girl. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    Via |

  6. Thank you so much for helping me understand how I can keep beautiful moments of my makeup looks. I do great makeup but never able to take good quality pictures. This has helped

  7. I really needed these tips and I’m so grateful that you decided to share your secrets with us! I’ve been wanting to capture my looks more often but I never get them to look good. I’m pretty sure your tips are going to help me immensely! Thank you so much for sharing.

    xoxo Simone |

  8. Why can’t other guides be as clear cut and to the point as this one?
    I know I’m commenting on an old post, but thank you for this!

    1. Thanks so much! This post still gets a ton of views, and I still do everything the same so it’s not really that old ☺️ Glad I could help!

  9. Amazing post. I love eye makeup and taking pics to upload them in my beauty blog. But I failed so many times to take the perfect pics of my own. I have small eyelashes, so I use vegan eyelashes. After using that also the pics I took are not perfect. The tips sheared are going to help me to upload the beautiful eyes pic in my blog. Thanks.

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