Marketing & Promotions

Photograph, Post, Repeat

More and more salons are making use of step-and-repeat-style backgrounds when photographing their nail art for the web. Take a look at why these chic and simple advertising tools are catching on and how you can join the party.  

<p>KandiLand, Long Beach, Calif.&nbsp; (Instagram: @kandiyamz)</p>

A step-and-repeat is a graphic image mounted onto a board or printed onto a piece of thick paper. It usually consists of a salon’s logo repeated in a pattern, which becomes a branded backdrop for nail art photos. (Think of the branded backdrops celebrities stand in front of on the red carpet.) For the purpose of advertising, step-and-repeats are very helpful. They enhance the presence of a nail technician’s work online and let future customers know exactly where they can go to find it.

Rather than editing each and every photo with a watermark, salons can upload on the spot directly to their Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, or website. Step-and-repeats also eliminate the need to place business cards in the photo, which can sometimes detract from the overall look. If you haven’t already, try streamlining your marketing with this simple tool. And learn what to expect and what’s ideal when creating one.

<p>Blossom Beauty Lounge, Redondo Beach, Calif. (Instagram: @blossombeautylounge)</p>

How to Make Your Own


Qiana Aviles, owner of Nail Lounge in New York City, makes her own step-and-repeats for $2 or less a piece! Here’s how:

1. Create your step-and-repeat backdrop on either a design program like Photoshop or something as simple as Microsoft Word. Upload your salon logo and play with the layout — try putting it in different positions all over the page.

2. Once you’re satisfied with how it looks, save it, and then email it as an attachment to your local printing facility like Kinkos, UPS, or Office Depot. (Start your order online by following website directions. You can also go to the facility to print in person. For this method, make sure to save your file on a portable USB drive.)

3. Choose your paper. Anything smooth and non-transparent will work, but ideally you want to find something thick, hard, and non-pliable for your step-and-repeat. Printing facilities have many different options ranging from cardstock to mounted boards (pricing varies). Aviles suggests going in person the first time to feel the paper quality yourself.

4. Do not choose a glossy or laminate finish. The glare it produces in photographs takes away from the nail art.

5. Order in bulk because they tend to experience wear-and-tear in the salon. Aviles has about five to 10 step-and-repeats on hand at a time.



Chi Nail Bar in Beverly Hills, Calif., has a very unique step-and-repeat with a built-in light box for photographing their nail art. A light box provides even illumination similar to a photo studio. Chi Nail Bar’s contraption was assembled by one of the employee’s photographer boyfriend. It’s a portable box that snaps shut for travel and features a step-and-repeat-style backdrop that says “Chi” in clean print. There’s a small light on the roof of the box and two white side panels to reflect the light.

While these can be purchased online (we’ve seen some great prices on Amazon!), it can also be a fun DIY project to take on. Click here to find out how!



Cammy Nguyen of Blossom Beauty Lounge in Redondo Beach, Calif., was an early adapter of the nail art step-and-repeats. She gets near-daily inquiries on her social media platforms — mainly Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook — about them. They were purchased in bulk (about four or six at a time) from a local graphic artist/printing company, AW Print Works ( She’s had them for a year now, and with attention to hygiene, they’ve stayed completely intact.


> Be able to provide your printer with a PDF of your salon’s logo. (If you don’t have a logo, contact a local graphic artist, or ask your printer if they have graphic artists on staff to make one for you.)

> Some printing companies will charge more to turn your logo into the ­digital step-and-repeat template, and other companies build this fee into the overall price. Be sure to ask.

> Most nail art step-and-repeats are about 12”x 12” or 12”x 14”.

> Good quality step-and-repeats are printed on 1/8-in. PVC (a type of ­plastic). A thicker cardboard or foam material will also work. 

> Ask for a matte (non-glossy) finish to prevent light reflection in photographs.

> Special step-and-repeat manufacturers (who specialize in the ­traditional full-size step-and-repeats you stand in front of at branded parties/award shows) most likely also have experience with miniature ones that nail techs use. If not, they might be willing to work with you if you provide them detailed instructions (see Cammy’s Tips below).


> The step-and-repeat should not be too colorful — too much color or bling will detract from your nail design.

> White or off-white make great background shades.

> Make sure you or your graphic artist are spacing out your logos a bit. It shouldn’t look too cluttered.

> Don’t put your contact information on your step-and-repeat. Customers will figure out how to contact you if your information is online and clearly spelled out on your social media handles.

> It’s usually more affordable to buy these in bulk. If one gets dirty, you’ll have others on hand. Also, multiple techs can take photos of their work at once. 

> Wipe it down with alcohol to keep it clean.

> Preserve your board by having clients wash their hands before ­photographing on the step-and-repeat.

> Natural lighting is the most ideal. Try photographing near a window!


> We’ve seen pricing for professional step-and-repeats anywhere between $30 and $100.

> Some printers will offer a discount if you purchase step-and-repeats in bulk.


For more examples of step-and-repeat nail art photos click here.

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