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.


Taking good pictures of nails doesn’t require expensive and complicated equipment. Many techs take great shots with only their personal, point-and-shoot pocket digital cameras. But there are a few basic requirements.

A digital view screen - This is an essential feature for photographers just starting out because it immediately shows you what your shot looks like. You can make any necessary adjustments without wasting a single shot.

6-8 megapixels - This is the minimum resolution that you should shoot at. Cameras shooting at lower than 6-8 megapixels will not produce photos that will look good on the web or on paper. Make sure that the camera is set to the highest resolution.

Macro setting - The macro setting is usually denoted with a flower symbol and it automatically adjusts your camera to take better shots of things close up.

Tripod compatability - For close-up shots on the macro setting, “camera shake” becomes a problem and you’ll want to be able to attach a tripod if necessary for stability.

Flash - You want to have the option of a flash for your shots. Even though you might not use it every time, it is important to always have the option.

Some basic, introductory cameras that fill these requirements are the Nikon s7c, the Canon Powershot sd1000, and the Sony Cybershot DSCW55. But you can also research cameras on the web. Digital Photography Review, at, is a good website that offers reviews on all of the latest digital cameras.


Tripods are not essential for close-up nail shots, but they do help, especially if you are using a smaller pocket digital camera. The reason why tripods are useful is because when the camera is set to macro, the slightest jiggle of the hand can blur your photo.

Preato and Gibson use small tripods to steady their cameras for their shots, and there is also an interesting new tripod on the market that lends itself to nail pictures.

The Joby Gorillapod has three bendable legs to achieve a number of different angles, and the lightweight and small design make it easy to carry around.


The most important thing to remember in taking photos of nails is to use the camera’s macro setting. The macro setting is usually shown as a symbol of a flower, and when activated it automatically sets the camera up to take high-quality close-up shots.

Watch out for back focusing when shooting on the macro setting though. Sometimes cameras will focus on the background instead of the nails in the center. Read up on your camera settings and if you are having continuous problems with back focusing, manually set your camera to focus on center images.


Once the macro setting has been activated, the next thing to worry about is the lighting. Lighting can be tricky because different lights have different color qualities that your naked eye might not notice, but your camera will pick up.

The flash - The flash is a personal preference for nail shots. Some techs never use it, while others use it depending on the lighting situation. But when the light is dim, a flash can be helpful in making shots come out clear, depending on the situation.

Some flashes are too strong and can blow out the shot. Flashes can also add unnecessary shadows and glare. A good rule of thumb when taking pictures is to experiment. Take the same shot using different settings; with the flash on and off, with the camera at different distances, and with different lighting. Then compare the shots and keep track of which settings produce the pictures you like the best.


Once you have a good understanding of your equipment and are getting shots you are pleased with, the next thing to think about is the concept behind the image.

You don’t have to be limited by traditional hand poses, many techs use simple props and backgrounds to add an extra visual appeal to their shots.


In some circumstances, when techs want to really make a statement with their work and possibly enter the photo into a contest or put the image on a business card or brochure, they will enlist the help of a professional.

Professional photographers can vary on price and expertise, so it’s important to make sure you call different photographers and talk to them about what you would like to do. You can search the phone books and the Internet to find local photographers, or talk to other local businesses owners who may have used a professional photographer in the past to see if they have any recommendations.

Once you find a photographer, check their prices and see if they have experience in the type of shots you are interested in. You’ll want to see their portfolio and samples of their work before hiring them.

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