How to shoot a hair tutorial – Go behind the scenes with Hair Romance

How to shoot hair tutorials - go behind the scenes with @HairRomance

Hello and welcome behind the scenes of my hairstyles tutorials! 

You may not know that I shoot all of my Hair Romance hair tutorials myself and have done since the beginning. I’ve learnt a lot since I began and I’m often asked about my photography so it’s about time I take you behind the camera to see how I work.

My first photography setup

About two years ago I shared a glimpse of me shooting a hair tutorial behind the scenes. This was my original setup which I’ve tweaked a little since then.


Yes, that’s the door I used to shoot in front of! Buying an internal door from the hardware store is an inexpensive way to make your own backdrop that you can move to find the best light. Doors are always flat and have a matte finish, so they’re perfect for shooting.

The only problem is how narrow it was. I only bought a cupboard door, and I would have to position myself exactly so that I didn’t see the door edges in the frame of my photo. It would have to be millimetre perfect and I had to stand right up against the door when I needed my arms in the tutorial. Buy a full width door instead!

As a side note, doors like this also make great craft tables. All you need are some trestle table legs. My friend gave me this idea as she uses them for cutting out fabric patterns and screen printing.

While I’ve added a few extras to how I shoot, this proves you don’t need a lot to start shooting tutorials. The most important things are good lighting and posing well. I’ve shot some funny before-and-afters for that section below.

My current photography setup

How I shoot my tutorials - Hair Romance

So here’s how it looks behind the scenes at my hair tutorial shoots. I had my husband take these shots on my iPhone so you can see my camera set up.

We live in an apartment so this is a mini photo studio we set up for shoot days that easily packs away. The rest of the time this is our bar and sun lounge area.

Background: Portable projection screen. I purchased this from Officeworks and this is a similar model. You can use fabric, but this screen never creases like fabric can and is easier for me to adjust on the frame.

Reflector: 5-in-1 Portable reflector. This reflector helps balance the light coming from the windowsI behind me. I like the gold/silver mix side as it’s a slightly warmer colour.

Lighting: Natural window light. I’m lucky to have huge windows in my apartment so I always shoot with natural light. If I had to shoot with lights I would use a softbox over my lighting.

Camera & Lens: Nikon D90 & DX f1.8 35mm. I love photography and my very first camera was a 35mm film Nikon so when I upgraded to digital I bought the Nikon D90 as it fit all my lenses. I really like this camera and I’ve travelled around the world with it. It’s not a full frame camera but one advantage is that the lenses are good value. The DX f1.8 35mm is equivalent to a shooting a 50mm lens on a full frame camera and is great.

Tripod: Manfrotto. I love this tripod. It can seem like a place to save money but this tripod is really worth it for me. I have a Manfrotto 190XPOROB with a 496RC2 head. It’s so sturdy and easy to reposition.

Camera Remote: Nikon MC-DC2. Whenever you can’t see my hands, you know I’m shooting with this corded remote control. Nikon also has a cordless remote (which I have too) but on my camera this has to be right in front to trigger the shot. This corded remote is more reliable.

Computer: MacBook & Sofortbild Remote Capture. Shooting with my camera tethered to my computer allows me to see what I’m doing. Sofortbild is a free download for Mac that works with Nikon. It also has a timer function that shoots multiple frames, which is how I shoot my tutorials.

I rest my computer on a bar stool on one side and on the other stool I keep all the hair tools I need for the tutorial. Get everything ready before you start to shoot so you know it’s all within easy reach.

I also have to add a thank-you to my husband Jim, who does help press the trigger on some shoots when the autofocus plays up. It usually happens when I’m in the middle of a braid so he saves the day so I don’t have to start the style again.

If you’re looking for any of the equipment mentioned, I’ve included links where possible, or try Amazon or B&H Photo and Video, who are fantastic.

How to light a hair tutorial

How I light my photos - Hair Romance

Lighting is the most important thing with photography. It doesn’t really matter what camera you have if you can work your lighting.

Good natural light is even with soft shadows. You want to be out of direct sunlight that casts strong shadows.

Watch the light in your home and find the best time of day to shoot. This is where a portable background is really helpful as you can place yourself in the best position.

If you’re shooting outside, go early or later in the day. Overhead shadows at midday are harsh and unflattering. They will also wash out all the colour in your images.

Use a reflector to balance the light in your photo. Reflectors act as a mirror to bounce more light onto your subject. They can help fill in shadows and give a more even light. Move them until you get the light you like.

LIGHTING SETUP TIP: Finding your perfect setup takes time. Once you find a good place to take your photos, take a snap of your setup with your phone. Alternatively, draw a diagram of where you placed your tripod, reflector etc. This will make it so much easier for your next shoot as you’ll know where exactly how to replicate that lighting.

Remember dark hair is harder to photograph than blonde hair so you may need additional lighting.

Where to position your camera

Where to position your camera - Hair Romance photo tutorial

This is another reason I love my tripod. You need to have a tripod that’s almost as tall as you are for shooting hair tutorials. Or you could sit down 😉

The above photo shows my camera pointing down at me, level with me and then level with my elbow pointing up. The most flattering angles are level or just a little higher.

Always keep in mind that the camera distorts you as it makes you into a 2D image. You can work these distortions to your favour using the right poses.

How to pose in photos for a hair tutorial

It’s a simple fact that objects closer to the camera appear larger than they really are. You can play with the distortion of the camera by changing your angles to the lens.

How to post for photos for hair tutorials - @HairRomance

Always keep in mind that you have to clearly show the tutorial steps. Often I turn a different angle to the camera and move my hands out of the way so you can see the steps of the hairstyle.

How to pose for photos for hair tutorials - Hair Romance

Think about the positioning of your body for photos. Both these images show a side profile, but my body is turned away from the camera, with my head turned back to a profile position. This allows you to see more of my hair, which is why I’m shooting a tutorial after all.

Doesn’t hurt to add a little smile either 😉

How to comb your hair in photos - Hair Romance

You may know what you’re doing but is it clear in the photo? If using combs or brushes, angle them so it’s obvious to see. By moving the comb to my other hand, it opens up the photo and you can see the teeth of the comb. I also removed my giant hand fist from the middle of the image.

How to pose with hair styling tools - Hair Romance

When posing with hair styling tools, make sure your hands are out of the way. It’s not clear how to wrap your hair in the first image, but the second makes it obvious.

Please be safe when using heat styling tools. For these photos I didn’t turn on my curling iron, that’s why I’m not wearing a glove. If you’re not sure how to take the photo, it’s best to practise with the styler turned off. You can then take the photos you need without having to restyle the same section of hair over and over.

How to pose when shooting beauty tutorials - Hair Romance

I pause while I’m doing the hairstyle to take shots like the one above. This way I can clearly photograph the steps and produce an accurate tutorial that is easy to follow. It’s actually kind of uncomfortable as my chin is right up and I’m leaning back towards the camera but that’s the best way to shoot styles that are of the back of your head. It only takes a second and you can go back to a more comfortable position.

How to pin your hair in hairstyle tutorials - Hair Romance

It doesn’t have to be all action shots. When you want to show where to pin, pose with the pin in your hand at the angle you are going to place it in your hair.

It also helps to have the right area of the photo in focus, and again lose the giant hand in the middle of the shot.

No more giant hands - posing trick

Instead of showing the largest part of your hands to the camera, turn your hands side on and you instantly have long, slim hands. I learnt this trick from watching Britain’s Next Top Model with Elle McPherson. That show is a goldmine for posing tips.

I was laughing with a girlfriend about this trick on the weekend as I think I have enormous hands. Her hands are actually bigger than mine but she’s about the only one! To minimise my big hands I try to keep them out of the front of the shot, or show them with this side angle.

How to pose for hairstyle tutorials - Hair Romance

Good posture counts. Don’t slump and lean forward. Instead, angle your body back slightly and towards the camera. Think about your jaw line and creating an angle towards the camera.

Remember how the camera distorts? You need to adjust your angles and lean back a little to look like you’re standing straight.

How to pose when shooting hair tutorials - Hair Romance

When shooting the finished hairstyle, take shots from all different angles. It’s usually the most flattering angle to stand at a 3/4 angle to the camera and lean slightly back towards the camera lens. By the way, you can find this braided bun tutorial here.

Take lots of photos. For a hairstyle tutorial I take anywhere from 50-150 photos and only end up using only 10-20 photos in my post. Some have the wrong focus point, others are at the wrong angle. Taking more photos will give you more choice when editing for your post.

More tips on posing

Watch this incredible video by headshot photographer Peter Hurley on how to pose in photos. This will change how you look in photos. Once you’ve nailed the jaw, watch his video on The Squinch.

Start practising. The more photos you take and review, the more you learn about how to find your best angles. It may seem silly, but TV shows like Next Top Model are also great for learning how to pose.

How to create your hair tutorial images

I use Photoshop to create my photo collages but check out PicMonkey and Canva for free design software options.

I had previously used Photoshop at work and so I know my way around the program but anytime I’m not sure how to do something I head straight to YouTube and search for a tutorial. Works every time.

Any other questions? I know this is a bit different to my normal hair content but I have a new tutorial coming up tomorrow. Hopefully if you’re a blogger too, this has helped, and let me know if you have any questions or want to know more about behind the scenes at Hair Romance.

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  1. says

    This is an amazing tutorial type thing. Thank you for sharing it. One of my goals for this year is to do more tutorials as opposed to just posting FOTD’s, and although this is hair-focussed, there’s a lot of information here I can adapt to my own photography, so thank you.

    • Hair Romance says

      Thanks lovely! I should do some more face lighting and angles posts, but really the best thing to do is take lots of photos and see what looks best on your computer xx

  2. Elizabeth says

    Thanks so much for this post! I’m not a blogger, but I do enjoy taking photos of my hair for my own reference, so this is helpful.

    Learning to pose for selfies (whether with a webcam or phone camera or more professional setup) has been so good for my self-esteem! I learned that I’m not necessarily less photogenic than my friends, but it’s all about learning how to pose so that you can get a lovely line in your photos. Your hands tips are stellar! Thanks. :)

    • Hair Romance says

      Thanks so much Elizabeth! I used to hate having my picture taken until I realised all these posing tricks. All of a sudden you feel more comfortable in front of a camera, so take better pictures anyway xx

  3. says

    Chrissy, well done – this is great! Love the pics and practical examples. These tips translate well for video too, if anyone’s ever tried to shoot their own video blogs.

  4. L. Grosz says

    I found you through the B-School group and just want to let you know how truly informative this blog post wast. The links were amazing too. Wished I’d watched the Peter Hurley videos before I’d gotten my photos done last week! Anyway, I’ll never be camera shy again thanks to the great information. Love your sight and can’t wait to watch more of your hair tutorials!

  5. says

    for all those horrible clients creative people sometimes deal wiht …and this is what a photographer gets paid for!! It’s not just about point and shoot :-)
    Thanks for showing people what really goes on behind the scenes, really, really hard work and hours of learning the trade. You have done a great job!

    …now if only I could get my 2 left hands to work together and do hair magic! :-)

    • Hair Romance says

      Thanks JJ! That’s why I stand next to Jim, his hands a huge so mine look normal in comparison 😉

  6. says

    This was a great tutorial, very informative. I am actually thinking of doing tutorials, but am more inclined to hire someone, because it looks like you have a lot of equipment to set up. I hav a question? Do you also work outside the home, and how often do you set up for a tutorial?

    I would appreciate any feedback on hiring an intern or someone trying to make their mark with credit given to do my videography? Is it a good idea, or not worth the trouble?

    Christine Frank

    • Hair Romance says

      Thanks Christine. Yes I do sometimes shoot outside or at other locations as my “studio” is portable. I shoot tutorials probably once a week. Or once I’ve had my hair coloured I might shoot for 2 or 3 days in a row so I can get a bank of content together. Hiring an intern can be a great way to get started though I’ve found video content producers harder to find and a lot more expensive. It’s definitely worth asking around local colleges and schools for help. I recommend also having clear guidelines in place as to what you expect to receive at the end with timelines, who owns copyright and what benefits the intern can receive as well. Good luck x

  7. says

    Nice post! How do you see what you’re doing when you’re shooting. Do you use a mirror, your computer or the display of your camara. Tnx!

    • Hair Romance says

      I check the photos as I shoot Delia. I should probably get a mirror but my studio is pretty small! I sometimes use my laptop camera to check as I”m going too x

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