Nail Art Competition Photographer Workshop | Hazel Dixon

Nail Competition Photography Workshop


The nail industry is one of the coolest, and most fun industries that I do photography for.  I do a lot of work with world renowned nail artist Hazel Dixon, and the results of working with her are always amazing.


In 2016 Hazel and I started talking about holding a workshop together.  You might be wondering why this would be something people would want to do.  Well, the nail industry is a unique industry that truly values photography and their competitions put a high emphasis on the photography.  What do I mean exactly?  Well, when someone creates nails for a competition, they submit their nails in the form of a photograph.   How they showcase their nails in the photograph that they submit is a huge factor in the scoring of the nails.  They ideally want the nails and the image to have a theme, and they want them to use props and backgrounds to emphasise the theme that they have chosen.


This was the basis of the workshop that Hazel and I did together.  Hazel covered the parts about creating amazing nails and coming up with a theme for the nails.  I covered the aspects about the finished image and everything in the image.  Choosing a model, props, composition, highlighting the nails etc.


One of the reasons that the competitions rate photography so highly is that a good photographer can not only show the nails in their best light, but their lighting can show how well crafted the nails are.  When I, as a photographer, use lighting the nails will get a catch light on them.  This catch light is an important aspect of the judging.  Any unevenness in the nails will be shown by the catchlight.  The same is also true for the nails being perfect.  If the nails are crafted perfectly and everything is even, the catchlight will be perfectly straight… and this is something the judges pay very close attention to as it’s extremely telling in the craftsmanship of the nails.


It’s important when you are using a photographer to enter nail art competitions that they are aware of how the competitions work.  I do NOT edit the nails one bit, not even touch them.  Having integrity here is key.  I won’t remove a scuff or blemish or flake… my job is to make the best possible photograph for the nails.  Also, some competitions have started added criteria on how much of a photograph can be edited as well.  This is something new for 2017 where some are putting restrictions stating that no more than 25% of the photograph can be edited…and, obviously, none of the nails.  What this means is that we need to ensure everything is as perfect as we can get it before I press the shutter.  Then I can use my 25% editing to remove skin blemishes on the models face and making the photo look better.  This also highlights the importance of model selection even more.  There have been times I have done a nails shoot where there was fake tan on the hands that was uneven or blotchy, and edited that is going to take away from other areas that I can edit to make the photo look good.  Choose your models wisely!


Anyways, the workshop was an absolutely blast.  Hazel had set the students with an Alice in Wonderland theme and it was fantastic to see how everyone interpreted the theme differently.  Everyone had travelled from different areas of the UK for the workshop with their model and over the course of three days created the nails you are about to see.  On the shooting day they all had their hair and makeup done and I took the photographs.  I had spoken with each student beforehand about what their theme was and what their vision of the finished photo was.  This helps me choose a background, lighting, and the posing of the nails for the photo.  The posing it incredibly important as we need to make sure that at least 5 nails are visible and I have to make sure they are posed in a way that shows the most important side of the nails.  Below is the finished image from each student.  Enjoy!


The Images:



Nail Artist – Kayleigh Green (Polished 2 Perfection)



Nail Artist – Jayne Knowles (Luna Nail Academy)



Nail Artist – Laura Wenn (Nails by Laura)



Nail Artist – Lisa Graves (Body Beautiful, Lincoln)



Nail Artist – Carol Hailstone (Glitz N Glam, Widnes)



Nail Artist – Sarah Thompson (Nails by Sarah)



Nail Artist – Kayley Cairns (The Nail Boutique Essex)




As you can see, they created truly amazing nails.  It was then my job to put them in the best possible photograph possible.  I brought with me a range of background colours for the shoot.  I had spoken with everyone beforehand and knew what background was going to go with each image.


If you are a nail artist and need amazing photography, be sure to get in touch.  I travel all over the UK as a photographer for nail art and nail art competitions.  So, no matter where you are, we can make awesomeness!