Photographing salon nails

Photographing salon nails

Let me help you take the perfect snap!

Taking photos of salon nails can be a challenge, but it's an essential part of showcasing your skills and building your professional portfolio. Whether you're a hobby nail artist or a salon technician, capturing stunning photos of your work is a great way to attract new clients and build a loyal following on social media. In this blog post, we'll discuss some tips for taking great photos of salon nails.

Here is my guide on how to take a perfect salon picture. I‘ve included lots of information, probably way too much, but hopefully lots of tips and tricks to get your teeth into.

Scratch July cover 2022

So I might not have made it onto the cover of Scratch Magazine for nails (yet) but I’ve made it on there from behind the camera!

So proud ot have taken this photo for Nicola Sawyer and help her vision come to life!

We both knew we were saving this image for something special and what better than scratch!

Well done nic I’m so proud of you.

Where to start with lighting and angles

I don’t encourage filters on nail photos. What I do enjoy however, is seeing techs I work with have that ‘nail photo lightbulb moment’.  When I am coaching a tech to take a pretty snap, I take a little time to show them how a few tweaks with their choice of lighting, background, crop and angle can make or break a pic. Add into this the all important shadow and highlight and you can really show your work off to its true beauty.

Good lighting is essential for capturing great photos of salon nails. Avoid using direct sunlight, which can cause harsh shadows and overexposure. Instead, opt for natural light that's diffused or use a ring light to achieve even illumination. Be sure to position the light source in a way that eliminates any unwanted shadows or reflections.

The right lighting and a bit of drama from a white desk and a dark shadow can quickly transform a nice nail picture into a wow picture that looks great. This always gives confidence. It’s the best feeling! I always recommend the angled Tertial light from Ikea and a Phillips daylight bulb, this is my favourite combination for bright, clean lighting.

Remove any desk clutter. Clean up the background: The background of your photos should be clean and clutter-free, so the focus is on the nails. Use a simple backdrop, such as a white or neutral-colored sheet or paper, to create a polished and professional look. Make sure to remove any distractions, such as other products, tools, phones etc, from the frame.

Clean your lens. Try not to have too rigid hands. I was taught ‘if it bends bend it’, for a flattering nail shot. Use a daylight bulb and slightly direct the bulb toward yourself and away from the nails. It sounds odd, but it helps darken the background and puts the focus on the nails. Move the bulb round and snap, snap snap!

Don’t rely on just one picture, snap away and keep moving the light around. 

Consider angles and composition: Experiment with different angles and compositions to capture the best shots of your salon nails. Take close-up shots that highlight the intricate details and patterns, as well as wider shots that showcase the overall design and shape. Play with the framing and positioning of the nails to create a visually pleasing composition that tells a story.

Photo props

Here are the sleeves we sell, featured in the September 2022 issue of Scratch, notice how just a hint of it will remove that ‘too much hand’ look of your image! It firmly puts the focus on your lovely nails. Also notice the shadow and light, creating natural drama and focus. That is acheived simply from a plain background and moving the lamp to face you.

The background works best when natural or neutral to put the emphasis on your beautiful nails. Choose soft textures, colours and fabrics. You can of course use patterned or brighter backgrounds, when it suits the nails, so do try other things, however for quick salon snaps that you know will look good every time, use a plainer softer background. A white desk or white paper is perfect!

What do I need to have to hand for the perfect nail picture?

Spare time at the end of the clients appointment! Five to ten minutes is enough. Have available, your daylight bulb, balm, wipes and tissues or buffit cloth and a big sheet of white or neutral paper, or a white desk. Have fake sleeves or fur, or a cushion cover or fabric to hand, to help soften and compose the picture. 

I don’t feel too confident about taking nail photos, what steps can I take to help with this?

Ask questions. Most techs are happy to help and advise, so if you see someone’s beautifully clean pictures, ask them for tips.

Research. Find out how to compose a picture, by your tube videos or online tutorials.

Train. A good portion of your business is attracting clients through eye catching clean pictures. You spend hundreds if not thousands on nail training, system training, techniques and art. Why not spend a little money on a basic online photography class to learn about depth, composition, light and shadow. 

What is your unexpected top tip when taking photo’s of clients hands?

If it bends bend it! Flat rigid hands look wrinkly and unflattering, even if they aren’t. Soft natural poses work best. Take lots of pictures, don’t try and get the one perfect shot. If a client can’t pose easily, get them to give their hands a shake, it works wonders to loosen them up. Don’t feel you have to get both hands in. 

Why is the background of an image so important?

The background works best when natural or neutral to put the emphasis on your beautiful nails. Choose soft textures, colours and fabrics. You can of course use patterned or brighter backgrounds, when it suits the nails, so do try other things, however for quick salon snaps that you know will look good every time, use a plainer softer background. 

Props, yes, no or absolutely not a clue!

They stage your photo and showcase your nails perfectly. It’s like having a pretty outfit with no accessories, add a bag belt and jewellery and the outfit just pops! A perfectly placed woolly cuff or denim sleeve can stage the hand pose perfectly. 

What should be in the frame of a perfect salon nail snap? How can I tell when to crop or not?

I could talk about composition for days. The simplest and quickest way to crop is to set your phone settings to square or 1:1 to take the photo. This is then social media ready, without thinking about crops afterwards. This takes the guesss work out of knowing whether to crop or not, as it will already be social media ready and fit straight into an instagram post. The only other crops I would suggest is a closer crop to get rid of any unnecessary ‘hand’ and put the focus on the nails.

 All about the shine, how to finish the nails to perfection

My pet hate is heavily oiled nails. I now sell a balm alongside my collection of cuticle oils as I much prefer the finish of a balm for quick salon snaps. Finish your nails, let them cool from the lamp and gently oil or balm the skin. Let it soak a minute. Then take a baby wipe any throughly cleanse any leftover oil or balm on the nail. Then use my unique Buffit cloth or a soft tissue to really buff the high shine back in. 

Thanks for reading! 

Please let me know your thought or questions, I really hope you found this useful. If you did, please share the page so it can help other techs out.



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