“YOUR FIRST 1,000 PHOTOGRAPHS ARE YOUR WORST.”
-- HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON, FRENCH PHOTOGRAPHER AND PIONEER OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY
Forget about perfection and self-judgement. The biggest barrier to a great nail shot is the inner voice whispering sweet not nice things in your ear. Every artist experiences challenges in both documenting and celebrating their work. The creative mind and the act of creating is a very personal thing. It is simple and complicated. So what do you really need to take impactful professional nail photos? The answer is less fear and a single piece of gear. Most nail pros already have the perfect set up to produce great content in their back pocket. Seriously. All you need is your smartphone camera. Good thing we’re already glued to it!
TIP #1 A POSITIVE LENS
It’s time to reframe things. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong in the shot; put into sharp focus all the things that are going right. Apply this positivity to all areas of your life. Give yourself a steady stream of affirmations. This is an important part of the ideal set up for creating nail content. It’s all a process and progress is made one small step at a time. The positive lens doesn’t mean you have to be inauthentic. Share it all, the good and the almost good. Release yourself from the perfect shot since it doesn't actually exist. Stay humble. Share your journey and what you are learning. Don’t overthink it. With this tactic, you’ll be on the road to auto-pilot with a gallery of images to upload for content marketing on social media. Turn it all into a habit of completed quick actions.
TIP #2 CAMERA SHY
Just go with it! When you’re rotating through your services, don’t forget to take the shot. Every set of nails no matter how simple or complicated is worthy of being posted. Plan for the photo op. Tell your client at the top of the service that you will photograph the finished set. No doubt, they’ll help you to remember! There is always time. In the space you are thinking there is no time; that’s when you could have taken the shot! You can edit later. Start out by shooting at your very own workstation. If you happen to have an empty station in the salon to dedicate for this purpose, that’s nice too. You can share the studio set up with the other nail pros. Go for it. At your table is the best, it’s familiar territory.
TIP #3 LIGHTS & LOCATION
If you want to kick things up a notch, you can buy an inexpensive ring light and a tripod for your smartphone camera. There’s something about the way a ring light eliminates shadows and brings up the highlights in a set of nails. It makes a basic set look breathtaking. In the salon, you can have one ring light shared among all the nail techs or you can have one mounted at your workstation. Ring lights on the work space for general lighting and photography actually look super cool. The bonus here is the nail tech doesn't even have to get up to capture the shot. All you have to remember to do is clean up and set a solid backdrop or table cover for the pose. You do not need any more pro photography gear than that!
TIP #4 PERSONAL STYLE EVOLUTION
Like the heart of street photography, you’re capturing a candid moment. The more you shoot, the more you will develop your own personal style. The only way to start cultivating your signature look is by experimenting. Embrace this process. In the beginning, you might borrow a hand shot format from a friend or a nail person you admire. Eventually you will find your stride. Build your gallery with your daily client list. At the end of the day, you’ll have about 5-8 new photo ops. It’s super easy to do if you don't over analyze. Shoot first. Edit later. Post every day on a regular schedule. It will feel like a fun improvisation of tweaks and mistakes like refining a delicious recipe. The best way of learning is by doing.
**This is an adaptation from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube, BIZ TALK: THE BEST SETUP FOR PRO NAIL PHOTOS.
***Follow our YN YouTube Channel and click here to watch the full discussion: