It’s one thing to be great at making hair look good, it’s quite another to take photos of hair that look good. No matter how fantastic your work looks in real life, there are a few things to consider when translating it into a photo. In an industry where looks are everything, taking good quality photos of your work can mean a big increase in business. Whether you are looking to attract new clients looking for services, or maybe enter your work into a contest, having professional-looking photos can make all the difference. Despite what most people think, the most important part of taking a good photo has nothing to do with your equipment. In fact, what you use to take the photo doesn’t matter as much as how you set it up. By paying close attention to your lighting and composition you can take professional looking photos of your work using any camera available to you—even your phone!
1. How to Use Light in your Hair PhotosThe most important part of taking a great photo is the lighting. From showing texture and color to highlighting your clients’ specific features, you need good lighting to make it happen. When it comes to photographing hair, natural light can’t be beat. Having a window or outdoor space available to you to take photos is ideal, since natural light shows color in its purest form. This means good things for showing off your latest balayage. Natural, diffused light also has a softer quality in photos than artificial light, which can impact the overall feel of your photo. No matter what your lighting situation currently is, there is a way to take a beautiful photo.
Tips for using natural light in hair photos:
- Bright, direct sunlight can wash out colors and detail in photos. You can diffuse direct sunlight with a sheer white curtain (or white issue paper taped to the window if you don’t have curtains handy).
- Your subject should usually be facing your light source. This produces the most even, flattering lighting. If your main goal is to show off your work, then you want to have the section of hair that you are photographing facing the window to ensure that it is evenly lit.
- If you can’t have your subject facing your light source directly (or you just want a little extra “oomph” on an evenly lit photo) you can use a reflector to bounce light where you need it. A piece of white poster board, or even cardboard wrapped in aluminum foil will work in a pinch—just position your reflector in such a way that the light will travel from the light source, hit the reflector and bounce back to the area of the hair that you are photographing.
2. How to Set Up your Hair PhotosWhen it comes taking great photos, composition is key. This includes the background, color, pattern/texture, proportion and perspective (or angle) of your photo. Before you decide how you want your photo to look, you’ll need to think carefully about what the goal of the photo is. If you are trying to attract more clients, you need to show your work in a clear, professional way. Therefore, your composition should be simple and straight forward. If you are looking to enter your work into a creative competition, however, the composition of your photos can (and should!) have a little more flair. Playing with your photo composition can add a unique stamp to photos of your work. In fact, this is the easiest way to develop a photography “style” that could even help with your overall branding. It is important to master the basics first, though, to be sure the focus stays on presenting your work in its best possible light.
Tips for composing your hair photos
- The first rule of photo composition is the rule of thirds and it’s all about balance and proportion. If you imagine your photo as a nine-grid (with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines running though it to create nine equally sized squares) you want to position your subject where the lines intersect. This is not only where the eye naturally travels, but it also creates a more interesting photo.
- Photos taken from above make the subject look smaller and photos taken from below make it look bigger, generally speaking. You’ll want to keep this rule in mind if you are planning to include your client’s body in the photo.
- Be sure to check your background. All too often, a beautifully lit, perfectly composed photo is ruined by clutter in the background. Be sure you do a check for used cups or cans, or even a crumpled up towel or awkwardly positioned coworker.
- Watch your patterns, textures, and lines. This is a common mistake that a lot of beginner photographers make. If you want to focus to be on the quality of your work, then you need to keep all of the background “noise” to a minimum. This means paying special attention to the amount of colors, patterns and textures you have going on in the frame. This may mean covering up a bright or patterned shirt or moving to a different background.