Taking Pictures of Your Natural Hair


Taking pictures of your hair is a wonderful way to track progress and stay motivated. One thing I’ve noticed, however, is that many of us don’t know how to take good pictures of our hair.

Unlike taking normal pictures, it’s not quite as simple as point-and-shoot. So here are a few guidelines to help you showcase your hair in all of its fabulous glory.


1. Clean yo nasty room!

Lawdhammercy! I can’t tell you how many pictures I’ve seen with inappropriate, personal and just downright nasty things in the background.

No one cares to see your filthy tub, your underwear all over the bed, or the various piles of mess all over your floor. Please take two minutes to straighten up beforehand. Objects in the background distract from the focal point, your lovely hair.


2. Use a real camera

Webcam vs. Digital

Compare the two pics above. I know some of you don’t have digital cameras, so you guys get a pass. But for those of you who do own one or have access to one, please use it.

Pictures on a typical camera phone or webcam just can’t compete with those from even a low-end digital camera.


3. Use proper lighting

Good lighting is the main reason why many choose to snap pics in the bathroom. It’s small and bright. Natural light works well also. If you’re indoors, using the flash is often better.


4. Cut out the extra body parts

Compare the two pictures above. Technically, they both show the side of my hair. But notice how much clearer and focused the bottom one is.

Unless your hair is actually waist-length, there’s no reason to show your waist. Taking closer pictures shows more detail and progress. In other words, keep the shot as tight and focused as possible.


5. Use the macro mode!

Most digital cameras have a setting called “macro mode.” The one on my camera is a little flower, similar to this one (on the right):

The macro mode is specifically for shooting close-up shots. Take a look at these two pictures:



The first one was taken without macro, and the second with, both from the same distance. Notice how the first one looks fuzzy near the front, while the second shows each detailed nap and even additional colors.


6. Master the back of the head shot


Actually, this technique is useful for any angle, but particularly for the hard-to-photo back of the head.

The mirror is your friend. Use it. I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure this out. Trying the one-hand-hold-while twisting-around or the both-hands-holding-the-camera-behind-the-head contortionist shot only results in super blurry pics or something like the one above where half your head is missing.

In order to accurately track your progress you need to have all of your hair hanging straight and from a head-on angle.

There are two ways to accomplish this. If you have a self-timer on your camera and a tripod, that can be used. But you have to make sure you’re positioned just right. Too much hassle.

The second option is to use your mirror. Get as close to the mirror as possible (I actually sit on my counter) and turn your back to it. Point the camera at the mirror (no flash, of course) and snap away.

I alternate between two positions, on top of my head and on/right above my shoulder.


And there you have it. My six steps to picture perfection.

Do you have any tips of your own to share?

48 Weigh in!:
Veronica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Veronica said...

yes yes and YEEEEEEEES! to #1...I can't STAND to see people in vids and pics with a nasty trifling room. Once I notice it, it's all I can focus on!

Why would I want to take any type of advice from a person that doesn't know how to keep their own room/bathroom clean? LMAO

great tip about Macro mode.

www.pretty-girl-rock.com

Anonymous said...

rude much?

Kimmy said...

I use the timer on my camera. I set it for 10 seconds, sit it on my book self and a decent high, and take a pic from the front, back, right, and left sides. Thanks for the tip on macro. I will use that!!

Lynnieluve said...

Great post!!! I didnt know what macro mode was for on my camera but I know now and will be using it!!

Anonymous said...

This entire post was so extra and unnecessary.

Danni said...

I am so sad. I have an overly expensive digital SLR camera and had yet to figure out what macro mode was, lol. This just goes to show how much I still have to learn.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon, I don't find it rude at all, especially if you're talking about #1. It should be a given that if you want to show off your hair or anything else to clean your damn room. Seriously. Like Veronica said, who wants to take advice from someone who can't even clean up after themselves?! It is very distracting and takes away from whatever it is the person wants to show, unless they are trying to show the nasty room. lol

This is a great post. I have a digital and didn't know what that flower was for. Good to know.

Anonymous said...

I like this post. I hope someone does one for youtube videos.

iri9109 said...

this was informative and funny.

[email protected] # 1...i be thinking the same thing! like taking pictures of yout hair is of a higher priority than cleaning your room/nathroom? and these are pics you intend to distribute on the internet? the 1st thing that catches my eye is the garbage in the background, or mess on the floor...i dont care how pretty your hair is.

& never knew what the flower was for either.

Sheena LaShay said...

I saw this post on another website too and for someone who takes all kind of pictures and creates videos I found it extremely helpful. Thanks!

Marci said...

My pet peeve is seeing the camera in the shot!! I think it is NOT a GOOD LOOK!!

Afia said...

good info..did not know what that little flower was for on the camera..now I do..lol

Anonymous said...

The point is to learn great tips from other people in a safe environment where people won't be judged.

Sweetdrk1 said...

Great post!

SweetThang said...

I've been to this blog before. :LOL @ #1. Clean yo nasty room!

However, I do need to change the settings on my camera because my pics do come out blurry.

BrownEmber said...

Lol I think the Anons crying foul might be *personally* offended. I thought this was funny and informative! I had no CLUE what that little flower meant! lol

ms.mishua said...

Thank you! Thank you for being so extra (in a good way) and very necessary!!!!

Jamila Reddy said...

That room...is...unacceptable! Yeah, that's definitely not a good look.

http://collegecurlies.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

lol SOO funny... i agree marci i hate seeing the camara too its so annoying

naturallyblessed said...

Finally somebody said it! I have been waiting for someone to tell people to clean their rooms! At least the side that you are taking the picture on!

Anonymous said...

i think this is a great post. It can be difficult to take pictures of natural hair and your own self. So thanks. I learned a couple of things.

I personally would die if i took a picture of myself, post it, then notice my undies are hanging midair and house looking a mess.

Barbara Naturally Speaking said...

This is a great article. I will definitely look for the macro button on my camera. I didn't know what that button was for. This article might give me the courage to pull out my digital camera instead of taking a quick snap with my camera phone the next time I'm in a store and trying to get a good shot of some product or item (LOL). My tip is let someone else take the picture if possible. Sometimes my hubby or children will help with a back of the head photos. Again, Thanks for the tips.

Barbara of www.barbaranaturallyspeaking.com

Anonymous said...

i agree this post was not necessary...and the name of that website nappyheadedblackgirl is ridiculous...do people not realize that the term "nappy" was used to hurt us not uplift us...i completely understand trying to take the power out of the word but some things just shouldn't be embraced if anything your hair is coiled, kinky, or curly not nappy...(just my opinion)

Jeannette said...

Kay started this article off funny!!! It's true, I can't stand to see someone's home looking tore up. In the end, her techniques are great! Thank You!

Veronica said...

Anon..so true but if you look up the definition of a "nap" it's not negative at all. now, this is just my opinion but I don't think "nappy" should be thrown as the same catergory as "nigger".

Nap - a hairy or downy surface (as on a fabric)


@Ember..yeah I think those offended probably just steppover that week-old McDonald's cup and a pile of dirty clothes just to sit down at their computer. POSSIBLY...but i'm not one to speculate...

LaShelle said...

Lovef the post! #1 had to be said! Reminds me of that pic of this chick trying to be cute in her bathing suit in her bathroom and in the background there's a huge turd in the toilet!! Epic Fail!

CurlySha said...

Great post & great information! Thank you for the tips! Will be using the macro option on my camera now!

Stephanie said...

This post was very informative. A lot of people (including myself) were informed about the macro button. I honestly did not know what that button was for (who reads the manual that comes with their camera?). LOL

I was just talking to a friend about how my hair pics come out. We are both guilty of using the camera on our phones because we like to snap a pic and send the pic via text really quick. We both vowed to start using out digital cameras more often to get better quality pics. I will definitely start using these tips right away.

People need to lighten up and stop taking offense to everything. It's okay to disagree with someone but there is no need to disrespect a person becasue she spoke her mind.

b. said...

I was literally gasping with my mouth open at that room pic!!! Whoa.

I feel kinda good b/c I *did* know what the flower button was for! For once, I knew...

A tip about the mirror: I realized that it helped me to allow the display to face the mirror itself and use the mirror's reflection of the DISPLAY to help guide my photos.

Shones said...

Good article. PLEASE do a how-to for YouTubers.

Anonymous said...

I think the "clean your room" issue points to a larger issue than taking good photos. It's about priorities. I have seen people doing hair video in filthy homes, with children trying to get their children, spouses trying to talk to them etc. and I'm thinking "put down the camera and go live your life." All of this hair stuff can become an obsessive behavior and detract from more important priorities like work, school, family, home etc. Talking hair is fun and can be a innocent distraction, but people need to make sure they are using their time wisely and taking care of and enjoying life away from the camera/computer.

kitka82 said...

Very useful information indeed! A little Photog 101 never hurt anybody.

Another hint: if my surroundings don't set up a great photo, I will go into Photoshop and blur out the background so you can't see all the details. That's just me... sometimes I take it that far LOL.

@Marci, unless you are Stretch Armstrong, it can be difficult to maneuver a rear head shot without using a mirror. After a lot of practice, I have gotten the occasional mirror-shot with no camera or flash in sight. Tricky but possible.

I once took a cute close-up pic and damn if it didn't have camera-strap all over it. I never did get the angle right again LOL.

CURLYNIKKI said...

I always use the flower setting, but never knew why... hubby just told me it was the 'point and click' setting... the it's so easy, even Nikki could do it setting, lol. Thanks Kay!

CupOf*T said...

That was a great post, I needed to to hear that because I have the hardest time taking those back of the head shots, LOL! Thanks!

LaToya said...

This was a great post! Thanks for the tips. Anonymous @ 11:44, ITA with you!!

Click said...

Sidebar:
As a digital and multimedia specialist I wish people would realize that what we upload has a way of telling on us!
Forget the condition of the room. Uploading pictures where private information is potentially present is dangerous. You could be giving away information you didn’t intend. Digital technology is so advanced that private information can be ripped from blurry photos and videos without much effort.
I see a picture like that and my inner geek wants to tool the photo to see if I can read the expirations date on the candy bar wrappers or read prices on the receipts left on the floor. You would be surprised how telling pictures like that can be in the wrong hands! PROTECT YOURSELF PEOPLE!

Jordan said...

I died at #1!!!! Great post.

CurlyChronicles said...

As a photographer I can't agree more..I look at some photos I see and shake my head. I think putting your best photo face forward is important on the web.

I see ya'll been sleeping on the macro button, tsk tsk.. :-p hahaha kiddin! :) It's a flower because it's used for taking really close shots of insects and details on flowers. You can capture pollen and even the tiniest of critters perched on flowers. Great floral-esque nature shots come from the macro button :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post

Anonymous said...

One more tip: If your camera has a self-timer, invest in a tripod!
It takes practice and lots of trial and error but with time you can get better shots. You can finally eliminate the "camera-in-photo" problem. Also read the camera manual, you could learn a lot.
For those who think this is rude, it's not. The first point is common sense IMO. When you put your pictures on the web, you are inviting people into your home and your life. Like Click said, your pictures in the wrong hands could lead to a lot of damage!

He's Faithful said...

That has to be the reason my hair looks great to the naked eye but horrible on film sometimes. Will be using the little flower setting now for sure. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

@ CLICK.... That is SCAREY!!!!!!!!!

I just read that you can learn the exact location of a person when they take a photo from their camera phone and upload it to the computer. It has to do with the GPS system that is within most smartphones...

Ness said...

Oh, please. The only "extra" part of this post is the first "Clean Your Room" part and even that needed to be said, lol. If you're offended, you might need to...clean your room maybe?


Very informative post!

Keisha said...

to add to Anon's 1:41pm post... Using a tripod is real easy. Put your camera on the tripod and stick a post it note on the wall directly in front of the camera and use that as your guide to where you will stand in front of the camera. Adjust your camera to focus on where the post note is positioned, stand in front of the post it note and you'll get a great pic of the back of your hair.

Roxanne said...

These are great tips!! Some I already knew about and use but I will definitely incorporate what I learned (like the 'macro' feature on my camera).

I also appreciate you addressing the background situation, I too have seen some atrocious rooms and things lingering in the background. I don't know how people could miss seeing them in the pictures and post them up anyway but I guess when you know better you do better lol.

Anonymous said...

Me thinks this was a good post also. For those who don't like to see the camera in your pics and don't have Photoshop, Google has freeware called Picasa that you can install on your computer. Then you can make adjustments to your photos, like cropping out the camera, or any other unmentionables you don't want to be seen, and many other things.

CessCurls said...

Thanks for posting this. I was steering clear of using my digital cam because I could never get it to take close ups like I wanted. The shot was either too blurry or too far.

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