A Guide to Nail Photography (How to Take Better Nail Photos)

When you just gets your nails done you wants to show them off to the world. Taking pictures of nails is common. Many people post their manicure photos online to show the world how good they look. If you take a poor quality picture it can ruin the looks and excitement. Within the guide to nail photography, you will find some tips that will help you take better pictures of your nails!

  • A tip from a pro is to take a baby wipe and wipe down the hands so they look fresh!

Guide to Nail Photography

Lighting Methods

While many photographers prefer to take pictures outside there are some things that they need to keep in mind. While sunlight is the best natural light for taking pictures there are some times when the rays of the sun can have a negative effect on the pictures. When taking pictures of something small and delicate such as nails you may want to avoid the direct sunlight. If the light from the sun is shining directly on the nails it can give the picture a blurry look. Some of the small details of the nails may be lost as well. When taking a picture outside sunlight can be a big help. You should avoid taking these pictures in the direct sunlight so the glare will not be a problem and ruin the picture.

Inside Lightbox

It is best to use natural light when taking a pictures of the nails, however, this may not always be possible. You may even want to take some pictures even if it is dark outside. When you turn the flash of the camera on, it can provide uneven light and many people are often not happy with the results. There are ways to get some light. The camera can be set on the setting of ISO or 12,800 if this setting is available. This will create an effect of low light. A shutter speed can also help a person take a great picture if there is a lack of natural light. Don't be discouraged from taking pictures just because it is cloudy outside or if it is night. This trick can help you take a picture any time of the day and regardless of the weather.

Many professionals also use a nail polish lightbox. Instead of going out and purchasing a lightbox, one can be made at home. All you needs to do is take a cardboard box and put a hole it in. The hand and the great nails go in the front of the box. The lens of the camera of the smartphone will go at the top of the box where the hole it. To create some natural lighting before the picture is taken, line the box with tin foil or with a white paper. This will allow natural light to be created when you are is using the flash from the camera.

There are some lights that will affect the color of the nail polish. A French manicure will not be as affected as the different colored lights as some other nail polish colors. Keep in mind that some of the bright lights can be rather harsh and they may change the look of the color when being photographed. It is important to make sure all pictures give an accurate portrayal of the colors especially when you are taking pictures to show off the specific color. Experiment with different lighting sources to try to get the light that will show the color as it looks in real life.

While a professional photographer is able to take great pictures, even the best pictures can be made better with Photoshop. This program can help remove the smallest imperfection from the nails and from the pictures. You may have the best picture of the nails but there may be something small in the background that can ruin this picture. I use Photoshop, however, there is a free alternative that you may use, and that is Krita.

Hand Posing for Nail Photography

While taking a picture of the nails it is important to pose the hand. Many people do not think that the hand needs to be in a certain position. Posing the hand is very important. If the hand is not in the correct position a person may not be able to see the nails. They may only get to look at the manicure from an angle and may miss out on seeing the complete artwork that are featured on the nails. While taking pictures different poses or positions of the hands should be used. The hand should be placed in a position that is comfortable yet will allow a person viewing the photo to get a look at the nails. The nails should be the main focus of the picture. It make take some time for a person to find a position that is both comfortable and will show off the beauty of the nails at the same time. The position of the hand is very important. If a person is not comfortable when they are taking the picture it will show.

Under Lamp Ottlite

There are some poses that are popular when taking a nail picture. A pose known as the claw is popular. To get into this position the fingers needed to be flexed so they look like they are folded in half. This position is easy for you since it does not require much skill and when you are taking a picture the nails, they will be the main focus. Do not hold the fingers too hard or it can have an opposite effect. You should flex their hands as if you were able to blow on the nail polish in order to get it to dry.

Another popular position to show off the nails is to hold the nail polish bottle. You will hold the bottle with the nails around it to show off the color that you have used to paint the nail. This will put the hand in a more natural position. The bottle is mainly a prop so the nails have something to be positioned against. The nails should be held flat so that you will be able to see the design and the color that was used on the nails.

The hand over hand is another popular position that is used when taking pictures of the nails. This position is great if the nails are painted different colors or if the nails have different designs on them. This position is rather feminine and delicate. One hand is placed gently over the other and all of the nails are placed flat. This way you can get a look at the different nail polish designs.

The high five position is a new position but it has been gaining popularity with bloggers and those that are taking professional photographs. This will allow you to take a simple picture yet it will show off the beauty of the nails as well as the paint job. You lay the hand flat with your nails out like you are about to give someone a high five. This is a classic position and will allow the beauty of the nails to come though. Do not spread out the fingers too much. This can have the opposite effect. Put them out just enough so that the nails are the center of the picture and the attention and be focused on them.


Whether you are using a camera or a smartphone to take a picture of your manicure, you have to make sure the device is in the best condition. You can have the most beautiful manicure and the best lighting but this will not matter if the device used to take the photo is no good. Be sure the camera in proper working order. Make sure the lens is clean and there is nothing on it they can ruin a shot of the nails. Use one of those special cloths to wipe the camera lens!

Cell phones are often used to make pictures of nails. Some that have enjoyed blogging success by photographing nails often recommended using a cell phone to take pictures. According to the experts the iPhone is a great device for taking pictures of the nails. You can use just about any model of iPhone. You do not need the newest and the latest phone to take pictures. Even the iPhone 4s takes good and clear pictures and will capture the details of the nails. When using the iPhone or any other cell phone for photography be sure to set it on the HDR setting. This will allow you to take a clear picture. Once the picture is taken it can then be cropped so the focus can really be on the nails and the art that is on them. The photos can also be cropped to give the picture a square look and allow the focus to be on the nails. The cropping can be done right with the cell phone or it can be cropped on the computer using a Photoshop program.

There are a number of settings on a camera that can be used to take a good picture of the hands. Many cameras and even smartphone have what is known as a macro setting. This setting is usually as flower icon on the camera. This will allow a person to get the fine details of the nail art in the picture. Make sure you use one of the best nail art brushes you can find. This mode will put up on glitters that are on the nails and all of the small details that a regular setting may not be able to capture. Even with a photo editing software program you may not be able to get the tiny details that are on the nails.

The great things about modern cameras is that you can take as many pictures as you want. You can store pictures on the device and later delete the ones you do not like or the ones that you do not need. This will allow you to take as many pictures as you want. Take hundreds of pictures and later delete the ones that you do not want to use. Then sort through the pictures and take your time doing so, you have quantity, now you're looking for quality. See which ones you like, which ones you do not like, and which pictures made the nails look the best. If you do not want to delete the pictures, save them in a cloud storage or put them on a UBS for use at a later time or a backup if something happens to your top choices.

Focus on the Nails!

When taking pictures of nails some people want to create a dramatic scene. They want a pretty background and there to be some color in the photo. While this is not a bad idea they may not realize they are taking the focus away from their nails and their manicure. You may be drawn to the other things happening in the picture rather than the nails. It is important to make the nails the focus of the picture. A quality camera is needed for close up shots. A plain a background will do. When having a solid color background the focus will always be on the nails. It is best to take an up close picture of the nails. Someone looking at the pictures does not want to see blurry shots of the nails taken from a distance.

Make your Nails Look Good!

When you are having your nails photo taken, it is important that the hands look smooth as well. You need to make sure to have those cuticles trimmed and well taken care of. You can have pretty nails but long and overgrown cuticles can take away from the look of the nails. Cuticle cream should be used before having the picture taken. Be sure to look for a cream that is not greasy. No one wants to see grease when they are looking at pictures of nails. Use one of the best gel nail polish brands to get some quality pictures!

When photographing the nails the cuticles are not the only place where hydration is going to be important. You must make sure your hands are well hydrated when taking a picture. The hands should be healthy and smooth looking. There are a number of products on the market that can be used to keep the hands smooth and soft. When being photographed, you should moisturize the hands several times during the day. This will keep them soft looking and will help the hands look their best. Healthy hands will not distract from the photograph and allow the nails to shine. Many experts recommended the hemp hand protector. It is effective at keeping the hands soft and as an extra bonus it is cruelty free.

Right before taking the picture you should pay careful attention to your hands. Wash the hands to remove any lint or dirt that may have gotten on the hands. Some experts even recommended that right before a photo shoot a person wear loose fitting gloves. This will keep the hands clean and will help protect the nails from any damage. Sounds a bit extensive too me, but I guess you really do go all out for a professional photo shoot.

Check the nails carefully before taking a picture. Make sure that the polish is perfect and there are no last minute chips or smudges. Check the nails to make sure that there is no dirt under them. No one wants to ruin a picture by seeing dirt under the nails. When possible the pictures should be taken as soon as the polish has finished drying. This will allow you to capture the look of the nails and you do not have to worry about any damage from the hands moving around or damaging the polish due to daily use.


There are some cases when a nail lightbox should be used. If you does not have a lot of money to spend for the purchase of the lightbox, look online and find one at an affordable rate. I got one for $25 and it works great. Just have to photoshop out the background because it is a little bit small for nail photography. However there are instructions online on how to make a lightbox or a shadowbox at home.

Nail Polish Lightbox

Another tip for capturing light and allowing the nails to look their best is to have two desk lamps. One of the desk lamps should have an LED bulb. The other desk lamp can have an Ottlite bulb. The different bulb combinations will allow you to capture the beauty and the true color of many different types of nail polishes and nail designs. To make a background that will not reflect light and will not distract for the picture of the nails a simple piece of white print paper can be used. While this may not be fancy it will allow you to focus on looking at the nails and will not distract from the picture. The white paper will not add glare to the photo which is something that is very important.

Final Thoughts

One simple thing that many people overlook is to remove any extra nail polish from around the nails. Sometimes when a person is painting their nails at home they get some nail polish around the skin. This does happen but many people forget that it is there. Be sure to remove the nail polish off the skin as well as the cuticles before taking a picture. A cotton swab may be used to get the areas around the nails without worrying about taking off the polish on the nail itself. I know I sometimes forget to do this. However, during my Mani Marker review, I left it on to show the process.

Outside in the Evening

When posting pictures of your nails to certain websites there are some customized features that can be used to enhance the beauty of the photos. When posting to social media sites there are some filters that can be used. These filters can make the edges of the picture appear a little darker and will allow the center of the picture where the nails are to be bright and clear. This will help focus the attention of the viewer on the nails. This will allow the nails to be the center of the attention. You can also arrange the pictures on these sites and allow viewers to click to see additional photos.

You do not have to be a professional in order to take great pictures of your nails and the nail polish you are using. Professionals are used to taking great pictures because they have the best equipment, the proper lighting, and access to a number of computer editing programs. Anyone at home can take professional pictures as well. If you follow these tips, you will be able to take excellent pictures of the nails. There are no expensive or fancy equipment that needs to be purchased in order to take great pictures.

These tips to photographing nails will allow you to have great looking nail photos and will allow the nail art to be shown to other nail lovers on the internet.

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