How To Take & Edit The Perfect Nail Photo (In Detail)

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I would actually say that “How do you take such good photos?” is my most frequently asked question. Studying photography at university did me well I suppose. It definitely is one of my skills, and I am so happy to finally be able to share in detail how I take them and how I edit them too. 

There are MANY different elements to taking the perfect photo. You want them to be about the nails, you want to draw people in, they need to be bright, clear and aesthetically pleasing. 

PREPAIR
☞Before taking any photos, always make sure that your clients hands are cuticle oiled and moisturised. This will prevent the sight of stubborn dry skin and will reduce flaky dryness around the cuticles. 

☞ Purchase or use something as a light background. I always see fancy props and overwhelming backgrounds. The BEST thing to use is something light (preferably white) to not only make the photo look pretty, but to make the nails the sole focus of the image. If on a budget, white printer paper will suffice! If there’s too much going on with a crazy or colourful background then people won’t pay attention to the nails.
☞If you’re taking photos on yourself and you have nobody to take photos for you (or maybe they’re just too clued up on how snap up a decent one) purchase a cheap selfie-stick. I got gifted one a couple of years back and it’s the only reason I use it haha. Balance it between your legs and photograph both hands while on timer mode. 

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Kiara Sky Nourishing oil – https://www.nailsbyannabel.co.uk/product/kiara-sky-dip-essentials-nourish-oil-15ml/ Skin Truth Moisturiser – http://www.salon-services.com/nails-best-sellers/skintruth-manicure-nourishing-hand-lotion-500ml/127560.html

LIGHTING
This is THEE most important thing when taking photos. You either need natural daylight, or a light that has a daylight bulb or setting. I have just received my new lamp that has 5 different temperature settings. It has a neutral setting, 3 warm settings, and a cold one (this should be around 6500k). Below is an example of light settings and what to look for. 

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Sourced from – https://www.lightbulbs-direct.com/article/colour-temperature/

I got my lamp from http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/VonHaus-Folding-Touch-Sensor-LED-Desk-Lamp-Reading-Light-with-USB-Port-Timer-/272105994891?var=&epid=1254494455&hash=item3f5ac7fa8b:m:myIF0WNqtXPTbB8buwRVs1A

Both lighting options (natural daylight and artificial daylight light) are the best options as they will show the colours as true as they would appear in person. This is especially great if you promote a brand or products.

WHAT ARE THE PHOTOS FOR?
This one is something to think about too. Are you wanting just a pretty photo? A close-up? Do you want to include the products you’ve used? Sometimes I take quite a few. I always start out by taking a photo with BOTH of my hands. This is not only because I normally do mix’n’match sets with something different on each nail, but because it just looks better. I always try to then get a good close-up especially if you feel that your skill (application/shaping/design) has improved. Here are some different shots for this set of nails.
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POSITIONING
I see photo after photo of nails on social media that are either too close or too far away from the camera. Being too close makes the photos blurry, and being too far away isn’t focused enough, nor is it easy enough to see the nails.

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ANGLES
This is also a very important step. You need to make sure that once you have chosen the best hand pose for your specific client (everyone is different… some suit certain ones more than others), make sure that the nails aren’t turning away from the camera. This is unflattering and will make the nails look wonky . It is also essential to ensure that the nails are at the same hight, and the camera is parallel to them. In this image, you can see that one hand is closer to the camera than the other, and that one hand is also at a different angle. Making sure that there is the same distance from hands to camera is key otherwise the lens will only focus on one hand leaving the other out of focus.
WRONG ANGLE .jpg

Once you have a good image, your nails should all be facing forwards, not too close or far away from the lens, in a flattering hand pose suited to your client, with all of the nails lined up the best that they can be. This is where the editing comes in. I will be showing my edit process for the image below.

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EDITING
I use an app called MOLDIV from the apple store to finish off my images.
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SHARPENING – I always start off by sharpening my chosen photo by roughly a third of the toggle bar. You don’t want to go any higher than this or it can make your image look grainy.
SHARPENING.jpg
WHITE BALANCE – White balance is the balance between warm and cold tones. In the left image below you can see that it is quite warm toned… Warm tones are greens and reds. I VERY slightly neutralise this by adding blue and pink tones. This will make everything look true to colour, clean and professional/studio like). 
WHITE BALANCE.jpg
FILTER OPTIONS – Filters are a bit taboo. I personally LOVE them – in moderation. Below are previews of the options of the free filters that MOLDIV provide. 
filter options.jpg
As you can see, they are far too strong. They look fake, overpowering and obvious. You want to choose a filter that actually does your photo justice, and then reduce the amount of filter. The ones above are at full opacity just to show what they are like. Below are the two that I layer at the quarter of the opacity. 
FILTER I USE.jpg
I use ‘HAPPY’ at 25% to brighten the image whilst not over exposing it, and ‘VIVID’ at 25% to saturate the colours slightly. This is because the ‘HAPPY’ filter can dull the colours. These are my preference that I have found work for my style of images but there are loads to choose from. 

FINISHES
The second to last thing I do on the image besides adding my logo (I will cover this in a separate blog post) is adding my name as a watermark. Not only does this help to discourage image theft, but if your work gets shared on social media, the credit is given and recognised by you. 
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Last but not least… Border. I always add a border. You don’t want anything boisterous or tacky. Just something thin and simple. It’s not compulsory… well, none of it is haha… but it’s something that I’ve always done – plus it’s great for your Instagram layout too!
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And then…. You’re done!! I promise this takes me all of 5 minutes when I’m not trying to explain it down to every little detail. Let me know in the comments if this has helped you! Here’s the final image…
FINAL .jpg
Just a couple extra pointers
☞I use an iPhone 7 plus for my camera
☞When taking photos whether it be outside in natural daylight, or under a daylight light, make sure not to cast a shadow over the image. Let the light have a clear path to the nails.
☞If you’ve just applied cuticle oil… Only apply a tiny amount otherwise the cuticle area will look flooded (one of my pet-peeves lol), and get your client to ‘polish’ her nails on her top to reshine the nails. Cuticle oil can dull the shine of the topcoat.
☞Always check to see that the nails have no fabric hairs, or dust as this will pick up on camera.
☞Before taking any photos, take your top and gentry rub over the lense to make sure there are no fingerprints or dust. This can be frustrating to notice once your client has left.
☞If you want a super close-up image, rather than bringing the camera closer, come fairly close and zoom for the rest of the distance. This prevents blurriness and shadowing.

Love to you all xox

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12 thoughts on “How To Take & Edit The Perfect Nail Photo (In Detail)

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your photographic skills. I had admired your work for a while now and you are amazing. I wish I had half you creativity and talent with Acrylics.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Beth i always struggle with taking photos and I’m the girl with the busy backgrounds 😫😫😂 I will deffo be coming back to this blog Post and trying out some of these techniques xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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