Updated: Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Want to know a secret? You don’t have to be a professional to create good photos. This also applies to salon photography.

There are several steps you can take in order to make the most out of your time and equipment for the perfect hair salon photos. Your before and after hair transformations can become the next trendsetters.

Should you consider investing time in learning how to take the perfect before and after photos? The answer is YES.

But why?

  • One is to keep track of your progress and build a portfolio. A great way to stand out in the big pool of hair salon professionals is to emphasise on your hair visuals. People associate good quality images with professionalism, devotion and creativity.

  • Most salon searches happen online or through friend recommendations. Whenever a potential client is considering you, he/she will most likely look you up online first. You want to make sure that your visuals live up to your talent. For one, the client will be able to see the dramatic and positive changes you can make. Thus, you can give them realistic expectations as to what can be done in your salon. This way, they base their expectations on your previous work rather than bringing unrealistic cutouts from salon magazines or filtered Instagram photos.

  • The photos you create can then be uploaded to your website or any social media platform that you use. Whether it is Facebook or Instagram, it might be worth spending extra time in building a profile that reflects you and your style. Click here for a complete Instagram guide.

The Must-Haves of Before and After Photos

Photo Equipment

Think about what equipment you have at your disposal. Thankfully, mobile phones and their cameras are getting better each year and can now deliver visuals close to regular camera quality.

In case you are using your phone, you don’t need to worry much about settings. Instead, focus is key!

Remember to press on the part of the screen where you need the focus to be. By doing so, you will be able to use the basic functions of the camera settings.

And remember, depending on the part of the photo you choose to be the focus, the camera will adjust the light in the picture accordingly. You can try around with this a couple of times until you get it right.

You may even have a family camera you bought several years ago for vacation photos and never got to use it. Bring it to the salon and start creating!

Depending on the camera, you can usually use the automated settings as a start and, with time, incorporate more manual settings.

If you feel devoted to photo taking, you can opt for a simple camera purchase. A lot of the conventional camera brands have simple, hobby photography solution that is enough for your needs, without it feeling like a huge investment.

Photo equipment


Good lighting is the base of virtually any good before and after picture as it gives you the possibility to create clear and visible images.

You want to make sure that you always have a go-to spot with good lighting, whether it is artificial light or natural light.

It is important that your model doesn’t stand with their back towards the source of light while you are taking the photo. This will result in darkened photos and not give you realistic images of how the hair actually looks.

Natural Light

If you have the option, always go for any type of natural sunlight. It can be a beautiful yard, the front of the salon, or a spot next to the window. Even if it is a gloomy day, clouds act as beautiful defusers of light and will ensure that the light will fall softly on your client’s hair.

Natural light

 Example: An after photo in natural light by @oshunsalon

Artificial Light

Artificial lighting is always a good backup option if you are not satisfied with the natural sunlight or your camera settings. If the light in the salon is already very bright, you might not have the need to use an extra source of light.

However, if you have a good background in your salon with lower light, you might want to use a supplementary lamp.

The first option is to use a regular lamp and place it next to your model so it shines at the hair from an upper side or front angle without getting into the picture.

The second option is to buy a ring light. There are inexpensive ring lights available out there if you don’t want to make a big investment and chances are you might even be lucky enough to find one second hand.

If you want to create soft light images, opting for an inexpensive softbox lighting can also be a solution.

Artificial light
Artificial light
Artificial light

Example: An artificial light photo by @beautiquebendigo

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    The more simple the background, the more your transformation stands out. Locate a certain wall in the salon or outside that is bear, simple and has a beautiful colour or make one yourself.

    Example of messy background for a before and after pictureExample for a nice background for a before and after picture

    Example: An after photo on plain background by @elsewherehair_

    If your salon interior is something you like, you can use it as a background.

    Just make sure that it is a bit out of focus as you don’t want the background to distract from the beautiful work you created.

    Example of salon interior as a background to before and after picturesExample ofsalon interior as a background to before and after pictures

    Example: Interior as background by @hair__by__bec

    With time, you will see which background works best for you.

    Pro-tip: try and leave distance between your background and the object. This will give your photo a sense of space and depth, whilst aiding you in blurring out the background a bit which makes your transformation stand out even more.

    Example of consistency in before and after hair salon picturesExample of consistency in before and after hair salon pictures

    Example: Consistency of before and after photos by James Webb


    Consistency is key when it comes to the composition of your photos.

    It makes the ‘wow effect’ bigger when the visual focus is on the clients and their hair.

    You can emphasise this by keeping the background consistent, highlighting the one main difference in the two pictures – the hair’s transformation.

    example of consistency of before and after photos at the hair salonexample of consistency of before and after photos at the hair salon

    Example: Consistency of before and after photos by @organics.by.filip.gregor

    A good hair salon picture captures the entirety of the hair and leaves some space on the sides, positioning the head in the middle of the picture regardless of the angles.

    It is not only aesthetically pleasing but also easily perceived by the eye (include a good and a bad example as photos).

    It is possible that your collection of before and after photos will become a fixed part of your online presence, so consider how they will fit in with your profile across various online platforms.

    The More Material, the Merrier

    A rushed picture often results in unsatisfying photos with blurred focus, overpowering light or unflattering angles.

    To avoid this, give yourself some time with your client at the beginning and end of the appointment.

    Take a few extra photos from different angles or camera settings so you can sit down and see which ones are better later.

    If your client is up for a little photo session, it will give you a chance to get some nice portraits of their smiling faces.

    Try to make them feel as comfortable as possible by turning capturing a before and after picture into a fun little photoshoot.

    multiple before and after hair pictures of blonde girl

    Styling and Final Touches

    Refined and perfectly executed hairstyles attract the eye. So, before taking that after photo, take a minute to make sure the hair sits as you want it.

    Don’t be afraid to take out the comb, curler, straightener or whatever is needed to fix up the hair for a picture-perfect moment.

    The opposite goes for the before picture. The idea is to show what exactly you started with, so make sure the hair is untied, well-brushed through and realistically captured.

    Styling hairStyling hair



    Filters can be a very tempting editing tool. After all, they bring a mood to the picture and make it more vivid or catchy.

    However, it is your integrity and trustworthiness that is important here.

    Try and stay away from photo filters of your hair transformations, as it will give the wrong impression of what hair colour you made.

    Out of Focus Images

    As mentioned, blurred photos happen more often than you think. In the hurry, don’t pay attention that the focus is off.

    Double-checking the first taken pictures and fixing what is wrong on the spot might save you a lot of disappointment later.

    Complicated Collages

    Can’t decide which of the photos are better, so you just opt for a collage to include them all?

    Too many visuals put into one photo might actually have the opposite effect as it can confuse the potential clients viewing the picture and takes away focus from the actual transformation.

    If you are still into collages, one option is to position your before photo next to the after picture of the colour, cutting or styling you did on your client’s hair.

    The perfect before and after photos take time and practice. Besides paying attention to all these tips, remember to have fun and enjoy capturing your work. Finally, don’t forget to share your pictures on social media!

    Your salon should be showcasing the work that it is most proud of, so start putting your new knowledge into practice!

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