How to take great nail photos in 10 easy steps

How to take great nail photos

Hi there! Ever wondered how those amazing nail artists take those great nail photos that look so pro? I surely did. And, damn, I had some quite bad picture posted on my IG in the old times… I’m not ashamed of them, but I see the incredible progress from then-to-now.

You can achieve better nail-pictures too! You just need to follow some important steps in preparing for your ideal nail-selfie for Instagram, Facebook or any other social media 🙂

Start your manicure in the right way

When you prepare to make a picture of your nails, you need to do your best to avoid mistakes from the very beginning. Basically, don’t flood your cuticles, especially, with a dark polish, or it might ruin your picture too early. It might be tough at first, you just need some practice.
Also remember, that if you put your nail polish too far away from the cuticle, it won’t look good either. You need to find a balance.

Finish your manicure in the right way

Yes, I’m again talking about the manicure, not the photography. But it’s important for the quality of your pictures.
When you finish your mani, you have to swipe the brush across the tip of your nail to make sure no white spots are left. Better, just turn your hand around an color those white spots, sort of say, on the spot. Because, if you don’t cover your nails fully, it will be seen on the photos, and might even make your nail tips looks or clumzy and uneven. Not good!

Save the cuticles

We’re almost done preparing for taking actual pictures. Just before that, make sure your cuticle looks nice and clean. It’s crucial. Sometimes, that’s how I differentiate a beginner nail artist from a pro. Take a clean-up brush, dip it in nail polish remover and make the nail polish line next to your cuticle nice and clean. Put a little bit of cream or cuticle oil (but not too much oil) to make your skin look fresh and lively.

Set your camera for great nail photos

You don’t have a camera? No worries, your phone will do. What’s important here, is actually making sure it is set up in one place and doesn’t move. You just need a tripod (even a homemade) or a stable area where your camera will be placed. You can’t take a good quality picture of one hand with another hand, because hands shake. No, not each other, they tremble a tiny little bit, unseen by the eye, but well seen by your camera, which means blurry pictures (yuk!). Always place your camera or phone on a stable surface or use a tripod. That way you can easier choose a natural hand pose and have crisp photos.

All the light in the world

Lightning in the area you take pictures is so important, I can’t stress it enough. I’d recommend a lightbox and 2 good daylight lamps. But if you don’t have this equipment, take picture during the day next to a window, or even go outside (if you’re lucky enough to have a garden).
I personally use 2 photography lamps and a lightbox, and honestly it didn’t cost me that much. It helped me improve my picture quality a lot!
Why lightbox, you say? It just helps reduce ugly reflections of your nails and make the light more natural.

Remove all the crap flying around

You have a cat? A dog? A parrot? Well, make sure you’ve cleaned absolutely everything from your nails, your camera, area where you take pictures, because you don’t want to spend 30 minutes taking the best photos ever and then discovering on closeup on your computer you had a white hair right in the middle of you nail the whole time. It happened to me so many times, it drives me crazy. Especially, if you put cuticle oil right before taking pictures. Do a sanity check (literally) and remove all dusk and hair from your nails.

Prepare the background of your great nail photo

I like to change background for my pictures – in my opinion, it make it more fun. But if you don’t want to, you don’t have to. The only thing you should definitely work on, is getting a nice and unified background. A simple sheet of white paper will work.

Choose a natural hand position

I often see photos of artists who do amazing designs on their nails. But each time their hand looks so tight, and the pose looks forced. It kind of ruins the whole picture composition. Depending on how you set up your photo space, try to find a pose that looks natural, then one that doesn’t hurt when you do it, and the one that a real lady would do. Nobody wants to see crooked witchy hands, even if the design is amazing.

Don’t stop taking photos

Always take several pictures, even better 20 pictures, to make sure you have a choice and don’t need to go back and re-do the shooting again. Remember, that you camera may not show the details your computer would show. So you might discover that some pictures turned our blurry, so take several and one of them will look the way your want to.

Prepare your great nail photos for posting

Last, but not least, your should always edit your photos, even with the simplest and free editing tools. I use 2 rounds of editing: on my computer with Gimp and then on my phone with VSCO Cam app. It’s really fast, but always yields great results. You may just want to increase brightness or saturation for better coloring of the photo, or sharpen it if it’s a bit blurry.
Just a little manipulation with your photo will make it look much better on both phone and big screen.

If you’re still not convinced by these quite simple steps, see how they helped me improve my manicure and particularly photo quality. Yes, on both pics are my nails.

Take great nail photos Before and After


If you’re looking for more tips&tricks, check out the post by Maria from @so_nailicious “How To Take Great Instagram Photos” – she gives great advice. What are your special tricks of making great photos of your nails?

P.S.: I’m actually working on a guidebook to improving your nails pictures. So subscribe to receive it when it’s done 😉

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