Before & after photos are a big part of marketing hair extensions services. They show prospective clients what you’ve accomplished in the past, and give them some insight into what their hair could look like in the future. Needless to say, it’s important that your B&As look good! But if you’re sitting there thinking, “I’m a stylist, not a photographer--how am I going to take a professional-level photo?”--don’t you worry. Our photographer friend has shared some easy tips that will have you snapping Instagram-worthy shots in no time (no photo gadgets necessary).

Find the right light. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy. What we mean by the “right light” is a diffused light. Consider this: portraits taken outside turn out better when the weather is slightly overcast, as opposed to your standard beautiful sunny day. That’s because direct sunlight is too harsh, highlighting imperfections and leaving clear-cut, high-contrast shadows that are better suited to edgy editorial pieces. Overcast/diffused light is more gentle and forgiving. Achieve diffused light in your salon by investing in some sheer curtains to put over your windows, or white lampshades to put over your lights.

Set up a formation. Ever wonder why you look so much better in your bathroom mirror or in the mirror backstage at a show? Even though the lights are shining directly at you (no filter or diffuser other than the glass) the effect is still gentle and soft. That’s most likely due to the arrangement of the lights. One of the most flattering lighting tools used in photo shoots and videos is the ring light--a light that’s shaped like a ring. The ring light casts light evenly around all sides of the subject, producing an ethereal glow. You can recreate a ring light in your salon by adding LED lights around your salon mirrors (which will also give your clients an optimal reflection of themselves to look at while you’re working).

Position your subject. The area you want to photograph should be facing your lighting arrangement, not facing away from it. That means that, if your lighting arrangement is around your mirror, your client should sit with her back facing the mirror. If you’d like to feature the added length or texture produced by your work, opt for a back-shot. If you’d like to showcase your blending work, take a photo from the back but toward one side, so you get a glimpse of the face frame. You should also direct your client to look just slightly downward, so that their silhouette appears more natural (not elongated). When you’re taking the photo, try to keep the camera level with the base of your client’s head, so that this area becomes the center of the photograph.

Position Yourself. If your client is positioned with her back facing a light source that is attached to a wall (mirror lights or window), you won’t be able to get on the other side of the lights for the picture. Instead of standing in-between the client and the light source for the picture (which would cast shadows over her hair), utilize either a selfie-stick to get the camera behind the client’s head, or the mirror itself by standing in front of your client and taking a picture of her hair’s reflection. Try to position yourself outside of the camera frame in these situations.

Check your camera settings. Whether you’re taking the photo with a camera or a cell phone. You’ll want to check the settings to make sure they’re ideal to your shooting environment. Check your zoom, aperture and shutter speed (if relevant), color balance and/or filter settings, at minimum.

Take multiples. Sometimes it’s hard to tell how well a photo turned out just by looking at a viewfinder or smartphone screen. Once you transfer that photo to a computer, though, all the details get blown up, and you can see clearly whether the focus is off, the lighting is flared, or the composition isn’t centered on the back of the head. Taking multiple photos from the beginning will prevent you from having to make do with the one photo you did take.

Have you got all of that down? As with anything else in life, achieving the perfect B&A will take practice, but we know you can do it! So go ahead and send those B&A photos our way. Please and thank you!