Nail Art

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Just Like You Picture It - Tips from Techs on Photographing Nails

For many techs, taking pictures of your work allows you to create portfolios for your clients, advertise themselves on Internet sites like MySpace, or share your work with peers on forums and websites. Here are some tips from techs who have made a habit of photographing nails.


Remember that once you have taken your photo, you can always touch it up with editing software. There are a number of different programs on the market, and they range from very expensive professional programs to inexpensive ones designed more for family photo editing.

Adobe Photoshop is the premier photo editing software on the market, but it is rather costly and really intended for professional photography use. But there are a number of programs that offer more basic features and come at a fraction of the cost.

Adobe Photoshop Elements, Paintshop Pro, Microsoft, Picture It, and iphoto (which comes already installed in newer Macs) are just a sampling of the scaled-down editing programs. You can read up on all of them on the Internet to help you decide which one works best for you. Visit for reviews and descriptions on 10 of the most popular programs.

But if you already have a photo editing program, don’t be afraid to start clicking away and seeing what happens. There’s no harm in trying, and don’t let a complicated interface intimidate you from experimenting. Nice results can be easily achieved through some simple commands, just remember to save a copy of the original in case your changes get out of hand.


Teresa Shackleton, owner of Tee’s Nails in Kitchener, Ont., Canada, held a contest for her clients to take their own pictures of her work.

Offering free manicures, pedicures, and gift certificates to the top five winners, Shackleton has found a clever way to create a unique portfolio without ever taking a photo.

 “My goal is to make a coffee table book for my clients to browse through while waiting for their appointments,” Shackleton says. And the contest has already started to pay off.


❏ Use the macro setting (flower symbol) and station the camera about six to eight inches away from the hands. Use the zoom to get a tighter shot, and watch for back focusing.

• Make sure the lighting is adequate so the picture is not dark or blurry, and avoid having the light shine directly onto the nails as it might cause too much glare.

• Use a tripod or make sure to hold very still when taking shots. Using the camera’s timer is a good way to keep from jostling the camera while you press the shutter.

• If you decide to use the flash, experiment with it. Try it from different angles and in different light conditions to compare how it looks.

• Think about props for your photos and let your imagination direct how you would like your nails to appear.

• Research different photo editing software and talk to your peers for recommendations. Even if you don’t know much about it, there is inevitably a friend or family member who knows more. Ask them to walk you through some of the functions and see how you can improve your photos.

• Finally, continue to experiment until you get the images you like. The beauty of a digital camera is you can see your shots right away, so take full advantage of this and change your shots until you find the right settings.

Read up on more photography tips from techs in Photographing Nail Art (NAILS Magazine, July, 2012).

Click here to see Digits, Digitized (NAILS Magazine, March, 2008) for suggestions on using a digital frame to showcase your nails portfolio.


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