Taking a good pic for social is not exactly easy – most of us really don’t wake up like this, and getting the most Instagram worthy image can be trial and error, or my general keep-delete ratio of 1:20. Truth be told, even if you’re in the same salon, the lighting can totally change up how your pics come out. To find out what makes a great picture – so we can start getting more likes – we turned to the pros.
The Importance of Lighting
“Let’s talk lighting,” stylist Mujagic Alen wrote in a divisive IG post. Though they may look like night and day, both of these pictures were taken on the same model, neither used a filter, and both were shot using an iPhone X – there was also no ring light used. The right photo was “taken close to entrance doors, so we had outside and inside lights together,” he explained. The left photo was taken inside the salon but in a dark area. The photo closer to the right was actually the one that appeared closer to the IRL color, as the stylist created “super tiny sections to get to that cold blonde result.”
Instead of taking a “fast photo” that doesn’t reflect the quality of the work spent styling (and especially coloring) your photos should be indicative of that time – that means, according to Mujagic, don’t spend 4-5 hours of your time on a process and then only 3 seconds to take a photo – because that photo is going to be what people remember. “No one cares about effort we put to create perfect job if we didn’t take most perfect photo (it takes 5 min sometimes),” he wrote, adding that if you can’t get a good true to life pic of your work, “it’s better not to use Instagram at all.”
To see how we can turn this idea into something positive and create better-lit Insta pics, we reached out to Min Kim, Master Color Specialist at the Butterfly Studio Salon and International Artist for L`Oreal Professionnel. To make sure your photos are well lit, Min recommends going outside. “Best case scenario, look for the sun,” she says, whether that’s “indirect natural light inside or outdoors – or when that’s not possible a ring light will do,” she says.
How to Light a Photo
“Whenever possible try to find natural lighting on your subject,” says Min. Natural lighting is less likely to cause weird and unflattering shadows, but to prevent this, be mindful of where the light is coming from in all situations. “Check that there isn’t lighting shining directly onto hair from above,” she says, as this can illuminates color making it look “hot’ at the roots” and also creates a shine line. To get a pic your proud of, make sure that “lighting from other angles isn’t casting shadows on the hair, face or silhouette,” she shares.
The easiest way to ensure you’re getting a good picture is with a good camera. Min recommends a “clean lens and either a professional camera or the newest version of a phone” for no-brainer better quality photos. She also suggests shooting in portrait mode if you have an iPhone or “live focus” mode in Android.
It really does make a difference when a picture is well lit instead of taken in poor light. “A poorly lit photo will not show the detail or correctly read how the color is in life,” says Min. “Lighting can make or break an amazing color result because it isn’t properly showcased.”
Getting great images isn’t exactly an overnight process – remembering going to school for photography is very much a thing. However, the more you practice the better you should become, especially if you know what to look for. “Take as many photos as possible and use a clean background free of clutter,” suggests Min. “Move around the salon to find the best lighting and know where and what time of day that spot is. Also, schedule your models or try to grab shots around the best times for lighting when natural light is possible, or else set up multiple ring and box lights to mimic the lighting that will showcase as true to life as possible.” Now get snapping!