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
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.
How to light a hair tutorial
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
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.
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.
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 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.