Made Up: Gary Heery

Legendary portraitist Gary Heery has turned a spotlight on talent behind the scenes. His latest series-in-progress, Made Up, is a creative collaboration with hair and make-up artists, looking at how they approach their art form in exploration of their own identity.

Make-up artist Nicole Thompson (@pinkiiieee) by Gary Heery

After decades at the top of his industry, Gary Heery keeps inspired by looking for creative challenges – both visually and within his process.

"I am always looking for another way of looking at things," he explains.

He became curious about documenting an area of the industry usually behind the scenes, and the choices that would be made when hair and make-up professionals turned their attention toward their own representation of self: Would a fantasy self emerge? And alter-ego? Or perhaps some artists would just want to be themselves?

The thought began a personal project aiming to help record moments in people's life that are memorable – moments often skipped if you are behind the camera instead of in front.

Heery doesn't ask what a sitter plans to attempt in the lead up to the shoot. The surprise element is part of what keeps him interested.

"I love my collaboration projects," he said.

"They mean more to me than a one-off portrait of someone - I'm a little bit bored by that. I thought my X Collaborative Portraits book was one of the best things I've done. The interaction with people was very rewarding and the photo shoot would go on a bit – there would be more, more, more. And I want more out of my portraiture."

He has worked on set with some of his portrait subjects. Others are strangers who have been referred or approached him with interest in the project.

Hair stylist Kyye (@kyye) by Gary Heery

"I'm not really casting per se, I'm asking," he explains. "There is a huge pool of talent here in hair and make-up. There are a lot of professionals and it's very competitive."

Some sitters love having their time in the limelight while others have struggled to step onto the other side of the camera.

"Chris Coonrod was straight onto it, and his message was around diversity. He went for the jugular. I got off to such a great start with him."

Currently 14 portraits in to what he sees as a 30 image project, Heery is encouraging other hair and make up artists to get in touch. He is also interested in reaching out into film and theatre practitioners.

Hair and Make-up artist Chris Coonrad (@coonstyle) by Gary Heery

"If you think about it, hair and make up has been part of my success. There are images of mine I can't take 100 per cent of responsibility for, like Madonna's hair and make-up was brilliant."

When asked if the people he is approaching are excited about the potential in representing themselves, he pauses.

"I don't know. But really I think it would be nice to get a photo by Gary Heery right? I've been around the block?"