Amateur photographer Guy Erceg prefers to use a black seat cushion for backgrounds when photographing nails because it doesn't detract from the design.

Amateur photographer Guy Erceg prefers to use a black seat cushion for backgrounds when photographing nails because it doesn't detract from the design. 

You may be a magician with a nail brush, but a dunce when it comes to a camera. A perfect photo of your flawless nail art is an essential sales tool — it shows your talent to clients and lets them see the variety of designs you offer. You should also capture the image on film to promote yourself to the press, such as trade magazines and local newspapers.

After wasting rolls and rolls of film, nail artist Lisa Pye Lowry of Lisa’s Nail Salon in Hulmeville, Pa., called on an expert to photograph her artwork. To the rescue was Allen Leichter, owner of Allen’s Cameralin Levittown. Pa who has some recommendations for photographing nail art (on nails).

“A 35mm SLR (single lens reflex) camera with a 50mm macro lens works best,” says Leichter, who also recommends 100 ASA color print film. If you’re using 100 speed film, which requires a slower shutter speed, he also suggests buying a tripod with a cable release attachment so your hands aren’t on the camera, which can cause a blurred image if you move. If the camera has adjustable F stops, shoot at a lens opening no larger than 5.6 to maximize the depth of field and to keep the nails in focus, he adds.

Another sound investment if you’re taking lots of pictures, says Leichter, is a photographic copy stand, with adjustable lights attached, which costs less than $200. You can purchase one at a camera store or at an art supply store. “The stand holds the camera perfectly level and perpendicular to the shot,” he says. The copy stand Leichter uses has a pure white board, which serves as the background. The board can be covered with a piece of colored fabric for a different look.

Amateur photographer Guy Erceg, business manager of Notorious Nail Salon in Green Brook, N. J. usually uses a black seat cushion or a desk blotter as a background to contrast the color of the nails he is shooting. Erceg”s sister, Sue Ellen Schultes, who owns the salon, relies on him to take well-focused photos of her artwork.

Erceg has the client place her hands against a white wall in the salon or has her press her hands up against a background For French manicured or light-colored nails he’ll use a dark back­ground so the nails won’t blend into the white wall. Erceg has tried using material for the background but since the shot is so close, the dust and lint shows up, so he recommends using a dean, solid surface. “Don’t choose a flashy or wild background because it detracts from the design,” he adds.

The most important element of a picture-perfect photo, Erceg says, is keeping the hands perfectly still and holding the camera perfectly still. (He doesn’t use a tripod because of the time it takes to set it up, which would keep clients waiting.) “Since the shot is so close, the slightest movement will take it out of focus.” Using the fastest shutter speed your flash will allow will help reduce movement. For hand placement in the photo, Erceg recommends one hand on top of the other with the fingers interlaced. “This seems to be the best position to display the artwork,” he says.

For magazine-quality photographs, Tom McCarthy, owner of Freelance photo journalism International in Westboro, Mass., recommends a good-quality 35mm SLR camera with a close-up lens with fester (200 or 400 ASA) film because it allows you greater selection of shutter speed and F stops.

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