Ask SoNailicious: 7 Nail Photography Tips

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best photogrpahy tips for nail artThis week we’ve received quite a few questions about the best nail photography tips and how to make nails look beautiful on photos. For instance:

Summer asks “I have a question about your photography. How do you get your hands to look so matte and even? It is a very beautiful effect. Is it a technique in photoshop?  I’ve spent many hours trying very hard to figure it out, experimenting with many different layers etc, but I can’t quite seem to get it. May I inquire as to how you do it?”

There is no simple answer to this kind of questions. How good your nail art photos look is dependent on many factors. However, we do have a few photography tips that will be helpful for any camera whether it’s an iPhone, point-and-shoot or an expensive DSLR.

Here our 7 best nail photography tips:

  1. Lighting. Make sure you have a good light. It’s crucial! Avoid direct sunlight because it will result in harsh shadows that highlight imperfections and wrinkles. It’s better to take photos in the shade where the light is more diffuse. Shoot undercover outside or in a light box. Position your hand so that the light goes on your nails not on your hand and focus your camera on nails. Rotate your hand in different directions to get the best light.
  2. Quality in quantity. Shoot as many photos as possible from different angles until you find the angle and light that works best for your hand/nails.
  3. Strike the pose. ‘The claw’ (but a nice, ‘gentle’ version of it) or ‘nail polish bottle grab’ looks are best. A straight hand will emphasise wrinkles and draw focus away from the nails.
  4. Edit. Edit. Edit.  Whether you take photos with an iPhone, compact digital or DSLR, editing can make your photos to look better. It doesn’t need to be some extensive manipulations, often all you need is to adjust exposure, brightness and saturation. If required, you can adjust colour balance to make the colours more accurate. Sometime desaturating Orange makes the skin tones look more even. For iPhone you can download a free Photoshop app to edit your photos on the go.
  5. Camera Raw Editor. If your camera can shoot CameraRaw instead of .jpeg, start using it. We shoot all images in RAW and then edit them in the Camera Raw Editor that comes free with Photoshop. It is much easier to use and quicker for a lot of photo adjustments than Photoshop. The good thing is that if you’re familiar with Photoshop, you’ll quickly learn how to use the Raw Editor. It also has some cool features that Photoshop doesn’t.
  6. Practice. Practice makes it perfect! Yes, this general rule applies to nail photography too. If you saw how our nail photos looked 2 years ago, you wouldn’t believe it’s the same person/hand. If you feel like a laugh, have a look at the first attempts here. See? Practice makes it perfect!
  7. Skill. You can take a photography course or just practice more and learn as you go. The quality of your photography isn’t solely dependent on what camera you’re using, skill and experience are very important to. There are many bloggers out there who take amazing photos with iPhone and other simple cameras. While DSLRs and expensive lenses can improve the quality of your photos, they will only be really beneficial when you’ve got the other basics in place. Photography is as much about skill, a good eye, creativity and the ability to work with what you’ve got than expensive equipment.

photography tips exampleI hope these photography tips help. What about you guys, what are your best photography tips and tricks for nails? How do you make your nails and hands look beautiful?

ps. Got a nail question? Email Maria at editor@sonailicious.com, tweet @so_nailicious with a tag #asksonailicious or message us on Facebook. We’ll do our best to answer!

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  • Thanks for this post. I feel many of my problems displaying my mani’s, whether they be nail art or simple swatch’s are let down by my camera skills. I use my iphone, as my camera is really crappy. I also have a lightbox, but I prefer natural light, sort of a filtered sunlight, otherwise my hands look about a hundred years old. It’s the one thing I struggle with in the development of my personal brand. Just got to keep practising.

    • Just find two-three poses that suits your nails/hands best and shoot that way all the time. Same thing with editing, decide on how you want your photos look like and shoot that way all the time. Ie. white background – clear, bright colours, dark background – muted, rich colours, etc,

  • I study photos that I like to see what I can learn from others that I admire. I actually practice my hand posing off and on throughout the day! Yup, nailnerd. ;-p. I made a bigger lightbox than what I was using and that made noticeable improvements. I also brightened my photos using my camera settings. Just constantly experimenting, really. I’m happier with my photos than I’ve ever been.

    • Oh yes, practicing hand posing is something we all are guilty of. I even do it in grocery shops! With different fruit. LOL

  • Nice post.
    I love to work on nail photos for my blog. But only one pose seems to be too boring for me. I want juicy and interesting photos. Not only show the new colors but make some mood in the pictures.
    Hmm, maybe it is just my style. :)

    • Absolutely! What I meant is that it’s better to find one pose that suits you (your nails) best and then work around it, build your ‘repertoire’. X

  • where do you usually take your photos from?? do u use a light box or just natural light? i just can’t seem to figure out how to get the sort of lighting you get haha. would love to unravel this mystery of mine :) awesome nail photos from you always :D

    • I always take all photos outside, on a balcony or right next to a window (if it’s too cold outside lol), but always in natural light. Personally I don’t like room light, it makes my hands look yellow-ish and distorts the real colours but some nail polishes (glitters) can look much prettier under lamps. Hope this helps! X

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