With the explosion of nail art, techs are expanding their creativity into the field of photography. Here are tips on how to capture the best shot.
Which Setting Is Best for Taking Pictures to Get That Crisp, Zoomed-In Shot?
Photo by Olga Palylyk
> Start with the macro setting — the little icon of the flower. This setting works best for up-close photography, and the camera will automatically blur the background. Also, try increasing the exposure (the +/- button) to 1/3 and see if you like the result. By default, it’s at 0. If you turn it up to 1/3+, it makes a huge difference in brightness. Try setting the white balance at “tungsten.” — Payne
> Use the “auto” setting and allow the camera to focus on a nail before you shoot. Typically this happens by holding the shutter button down halfway to focus, then pressing all the way to shoot. — Hoel
> With a DSLR, play with the aperture to see which f-stop gives you the desired result.
Point-and-Shoot vs. DSLRs
With a DSLR, you have the choice of multiple lenses to give you different looks. If I’m shooting a set of nails and want the background blurred out nicely, having a lens with the ability to properly control the depth of field is very helpful and is what gives a picture a more professional look. Different lenses also gather different light. I may find that shooting a picture with one lens will turn out nicer than the same frame of picture using a different lens.
Point and shoots are great for pictures that are simply straight on without any background, like staggered hands or gripping a jar. — Hoel
Nails by Jessica Hoel
Most Common Mistake: Blurry Pictures
Number-One Fix: Use the Macro Function.
Nails by Sam Biddle
Nails by Sam Biddle
First, try using the macro setting. In this setting, you’ll need to get very close to the nail for the camera to focus. If your camera doesn’t have a good macro lens and the picture is blurry, then stand farther away and use a normal setting. With today’s cameras, you have VERY large pictures to work with. So stand back two to three feet from the nails and get a good, focused picture. On your computer you can crop in closer to the nails. — Hoel
Props vs. No Props
Photo by Olga Palylyk
> I take a minimalist approach because I want the focus to be on the nails. Having one well-placed prop is enough. I use simple, generic poses and props for the pictures I put in my photo gallery. I use these to show clients the options they have for their nails. It’s easier for clients to choose art if the models have consistent poses. I typically pose models with overlapped hands, which I feel looks most elegant and is flattering to the nails. The walls of my salon have posed pictures of models and more dominant props, like you would see in a magazine. In the posters, the complete picture is seen as art. — Hoel
Nails by Susan Moskal
> I love taking pictures on white backgrounds because it puts the attention on the art. If I do use props, I choose them based on the nail design. For simple and sophisticated designs, I like to use art-deco jewelry, provided it doesn’t distract from the design. If it’s a nail design with lots of bling, I like to raise the photographic bar by adding rings and bracelets that give the shot some extra pizzazz. Imagination is the key to taking shots of nail designs to a new, more creative and professional level. — Cofer
How to Choose a Photographer
Ana Isabel says photographers will charge either by the hour or by the product. If you find one who charges by the product, expect to pay a low “sitting” fee, but a higher price per print. Here the photographer makes her money with the sale of the pictures.
When a photographer charges by the hour, the expense might seem steep ($200 or more per hour), but you’ll own the digital images, which means you can use them anywhere you want, print them, and blow them up to the size you want, as often as you need them. Remember, you’re paying for more than just the time it takes to snap the picture. Your finished product will have gone through an editing phase to produce the eye-catching, professional results you need.
Before you decide which photographer to use, ask to see a portfolio so you’re sure you like the “eye” of the artist you choose. Choose a photographer who has examples of close-up shots, then work with her to discuss the look and feel you want to see in your final product. She will have some good ideas, too, so ask for her opinion. If you find a photographer you absolutely love, but whose prices seem out of your range, consider bartering for an exchange of services. Even if she doesn’t want nail services, she may be interested in working in exchange for gift certificates, which she could hand out to her customers as a “free gift” for contracting with her.
Next page: The pros and cons of common hand positions