How To Take Really Good Hair & Nail Photos

The difference between decent and great client photos comes down to successful execution. A great client photo isn’t a coincidence – it’s created with careful planning. Let’s go over some easy tips and tricks and learn how to take really good hair and nail photos for your salon marketing efforts on Instagram and beyond. How To Take Really Good Hair & Nail Photos

Find Your Light

Lighting is the most important factor when creating a gorgeous client photo – it can make or break you. Nothing translates high quality and skill like a gorgeous photo of your work. A light, airy, open feeling in your photo will make your salon seem more inviting, and literally show your work in the best light. If it looks like you took the photo in your basement, your salon brand can seem a bit like a dungeon, and your results amateurish.

Natural lighting is the best for accurate color, uniformity, and best of all, it’s free! Salon lighting can have a cool or warm temperature that can skew  your color results, or not be enough lighting to fully illuminate your subject for a photo. Getting your client outside or near a window is usually the best option for consistent results and the best that Mother Nature has to offer. How To Take Really Good Hair & Nail Photos

You can always supplement natural light with additional lighting options. Ring lights are very popular for a reason – they mimic the way that natural light surrounds your subject, and the ring shape ensures no distracting shadows are cast on your beautiful result. There are many versions of ring lights available, but I recommend this one for its versatility and size.

Multiple sources of light will make a more interesting photo. Position your lighting near the top and bottom or slightly to either side of your client. (See the figure below.) Move the lights around to get the best possible outcome before snapping your photo.  No matter how you light your subject, make sure the brightest light is in front of your client, not behind them. When the brightest light is behind your client, all you’ll see is a silhouette.


How To Take Really Good Hair & Nail Photos
Base photo courtesy of
Strike a Pose

Body language tells a story, and you want to tell a compelling one. Photos with faces outperform photos without, so present your client with the option of a new profile photo when they visit. It’s more inviting when clients can imagine the positive results on themselves, instead of yet another pic of the back of a head.

Clients tend to freeze up when you point a camera in their direction, so get ready to coach your clients into position. Tell them a quick joke or have them take a deep breath in order to ease the tension of being photographed. Take more than one snap, so you have a few to choose from and your client can help pick the one where they look their best.

When it comes to nail and lash photos, avoid poses where the client has to hold a position, as the tension will translate to the final image. These specialized images should focus on your beautiful service, so don’t be afraid to crop out any distractions in the background. How To Take Really Good Hair & Nail Photos

Have your client move into a few different poses and really play up the photo shoot vibe – your clients love to be the star, and want to help you share their lovely hair, nails, and lashes with the world.

Edit It for the Love of God!

Every image we are bombarded with in all media is edited. In order to compete, you must edit your photos. As advanced as smart phone cameras are, they can’t always capture the magic of what we see with the naked eye. As long as the finished photo matches real life, you aren’t misleading anyone.

I like apps like Snapseed, VSCO, and Lightroom to get the absolute best out of an image. As mentioned above, lighting, pose angles, shadows, or even the weather can affect how your image looks in camera. Using high quality editing apps will allow you to toggle the tone, brightness, and composition of an image, ensuring that you’re putting your best foot forward with every post. Avoid the temptation to over-edit! There is no need to overly blur the background, smooth your client’s skin, or change the tone so much it’s unrecognizable. Keep your photo grounded in reality, and you’ll be fine.

Crop your photo for the platform where you plan to upload – square for Instagram, etc, and add your small, tasteful watermark.  Editing should be part of your routine and it will make you a better photographer in the process.

Use these tips to up your photo game and take great photos of your work. It will be a learning process, but as you work these tips into your routine, you’ll get better and better – and so will your photos.

How To Take Really Good Hair & Nail Photos

Instagram Tune Up Challenge

Want to take your Instagram from "How?" to "WOW!"?

Join the Free 5-Day Instagram Tune-Up Challenge and learn how to make your Instagram a client generating machine!

Alright! You're In! Check your inbox for more info