Nail Photography | Scratch Magazine Cover August 2015

Nail Photography for Scratch Magazine


One of the areas of photography that I do a lot,  but no one really knows about, is nail photography.  I am not sure why, but it’s one of those industries that I do a lot of photography for but I don’t think I’ve really blogged any of the shoots before.  I think that needs to change, especially after this beautiful image that I shot wound up being the cover of Scratch Magazine.  Scratch Magazine is the leading nail industry magazine for nail professionals and to have one of my nail photography images grace the cover was awesome.


Nail Photography?

Yeah, nail photography!  It’s probably not what you would expect from a photographer that primarily photographs bands and musicians, but it’s an industry that I do a lot of work in and is an industry that I absolutely love shooting for.


It all started with the absolutely amazing Hazel Dixon.  Hazel Dixon is a multi award winning nail professional and teacher with her teaching academy.  Working with Hazel is an absolutely joy!  We have very detailed meetings a few weeks before our shoots and bounce ideas off of each other and to ensure that everything is planned so that shoot day goes smoothly.  With nail photography, it’s imperative that we plan excessively ahead of time.  How is this different to other types of shoots?  Other types of shoots don’t involved custom, intricate, and amazing nail art!  Hazel typically has to do the nails of the models in the week(s) leading up to the shoot.  This means that the nail designs need to be planned out in advance, along with the images.  When Hazel and I meet to talk about the shoots, we plan shots based around a theme for each nail design.  Typically a shoot will involve 5 or 6 different designs for the shoot.


Scratch Magazine Cover:

When Hazel and I did out last shoot together back in May (blog post coming soon, I promise), we planned in a shot for Scratch Magazine.  The shot we planned was the one I was most excited to shoot on the day.  Not taking anything away from the other images from that day, but the second Hazel and I discussed the nail and the “look” of the image we were going to create, I knew we had something special.


Nail photography is all about the nails, as you would expect.  However, images of just nails aren’t all that exciting.  Yeah, the nail designs can be amazing, but they lack the impact that a proper advertising / beauty image can give them.  When we plan our shots, I am always focused on how we can best pose the hand in a different way whilst highlighting the nails themselves.  With the butterfly nails that you see in the finished image, the obvious angle for the nails was from the side.  This lead us to posing the hand around the eye as that is a natural position for the hand that would leave the nails with their sides facing the camera.  We then dressed the scene with flowers that match the colour palette of the nails and I used a soft yellow background to give the whole image a spring like feel… and viola!


The Cover:


Below is the actual cover as it appeared on Scratch Magazine August 2016.




The Original Image(s):





There isn’t a lot of difference between the original image and the cover version…just a crop to fit the aspect ratio of the magazine.  But, you can see when I shot it I had planned on it being for a cover with my composition.  I left spaces at the top and bottom of the image for text and copy and I ensured that the nails would fall in the centre of the magazine cover.  Even with all the other colours in the images, the nails remain the key focus of the image…and this, after all, is what nail photography is all about!


Here are a couple of other shots of the same nails.  These other images were not shot with the cover in mind.  One was shot with it being used as a website banner or poster in the shop, and the other was shot as a more detailed shot of the nails.








There will be a blog post or two (or three) coming with more of my nail photography.  As I said earlier, for some reason it’s one of those industries that I just haven’t blogged anything from and I am going to rectify that.  In the meantime, enjoy this image… and you can see a lot more of my images over at Hazel Dixon’s academy website.




This was the last shoot I did where I used my Nikon D800e…since then, as you might know, I have switched to the Fuji X-T2.  I used my 24-70 2.8 lens as well as two Elinchrom Quadra Rangers.  Something I used here as well that I don’t very often was a silver reflector.  This was to give me a clamshell lighting pattern for the face.