This month’s cover tech, Ashley Gregory, has a way of grabbing our attention here at NAILS. She landed her first NAILS cover in July 2013 when we ran her winning image from that year’s Stars Photo Competition. Gregory was just a student when she entered the contest and had just had her license a few months when her photo ran on our cover. Since then, she has done film, TV, fashion, and print work and has built a celebrity clientele that includes Paul McCartney and Carly Rae Jepsen.
Our “editors’ pick,” the image on this month’s cover was selected from all the entries we received for our 2016 Cover Tech Contest. For the photo, Gregory and her team used colorful gels to create an ethereal and otherworldly look.
We asked her to tell us a little about the image and her remarkable career.
How did you do the nails on the cover? I understand the image came out of a lengthy photo shoot.
Gregory: Yes, we shot five completely separate nail looks that day, so I had to work quickly. I also didn’t want to put anything on the model that she couldn’t safely remove herself at home. I used Dashing Diva Virtual Nails in the clear almond shape, and their Fast Bond glue. I used Dermelect Makeover base coat to camouflage the model’s natural nails under the clear full-cover nail. I then cut and attached gold foil to fit from her cuticle to the nail line, and painted a thin red line of OPI “Over and Over A-Gwen.”
How many people did it take to get the finished shot?
Gregory: We all pitched in to hold the gels around the model, Marta Petryshkevich. The photographer, Carissa Lancaster, is incredibly talented, and along with the art director, Le Wang, they form Kliq Studio. Andrea Samuels did the makeup — her makeup vision always inspires me to push my limits. And the model has an amazing ability to create beautiful poses with her hands.
Speaking of that, can you offer any advice on what makes good hand placement for photos?
Gregory: Hand placement is very tricky and it’s usually up to the model to make a successful image. When you’re doing beauty photography, you want to ensure that the fingers are evenly spaced and make an interesting shape. The hands should look natural and relaxed, without a lot of tension in the fingers.
You sound like an old hand, but you haven’t been doing this all that long. What was your path from the student who won the Stars Photo Competition to your current career?
Gregory: On a whim at ABS in 2013, I went to the NAILS booth to introduce myself, and I met Hannah Lee, who was the editor at the time. Hannah contacted me a few weeks later and told me that NAILS liked my winning image enough to put it on the cover. I felt like I had just won the lottery! I had passed my state license exam in April, and filled with either confidence or delusion, I contacted an artist agency to offer my services as a manicurist assistant. Four minutes after I sent the email, they wrote back and asked me to come in for a meeting. I walked out of that meeting with a contract, and started working on shoots two weeks later.
Do you have any advice for nail techs who want to break into editorial work?
Gregory: My advice is to do your homework. Look at fashion magazines and editorials to really home in on what “good” looks like. Search out ads and editorial images and look at the hair, makeup, and clothes and think about the nails you would create for that image. Follow session manicurists on social media to see how they pack their kits, and what their set-up looks like behind the scenes. Notice what products they use and what they don’t. Practice your polish application and work to make it perfect while you’re standing and the person you’re practicing on isn’t paying attention. I then suggest that nail techs contact local photographers to offer their services for photoshoots in exchange for building their portfolio of images.
You can find step-by-step instructions for Gregory’s crocodile-skin-textured July 2013 cover image at www.nailsmag.com/july13cover.