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?