Been doing hair extension installations for a while now? Chances are you’ve taken a before & after photo or two. These puppies are a big part of marketing your hair extension services, since they make up your service portfolio (if you don’t have one, get cracking!). 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. So how do you get professional-level before & after photos without the photography schooling--or without an actual photographer on hand? We’ve talked to a photographer friend to find out their secrets, and here’s the photoshoot cheat sheet they gave us:

Find the right light. Don’t worry, we don’t mean professional lighting setups. What we mean by the “right light” is a diffused light. For the same reason that overcast weather is better than sunny skies for an outdoor portrait shoot, diffused light is better than direct light because it’s gentler and more 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 in sight) the effect is still gentle and soft. That’s probably because of the lighting arrangement. Bathroom and show lights often recreate the ring light effect--casting light evenly around all sides of the subject for an otherworldly glow. It’s that oh-so-flattering look that makes ring lights so popular in video and photography. You can recreate a ring light in your salon by adding LED lights around your salon mirrors (which will also give your clients an extra-nice 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. Direct your client to look just slightly downward, so that their silhouette appears more natural, and try to keep the camera level with the base of their head so that this area becomes the center of the photograph. 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.

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 (from a higher angle). 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 one less-than-spectacular shot.

And the final tip? Practice. Achieving the perfect B&A might take a few tries, even with all of these pro tips. But we know you can do it! So go ahead and send those B&A photos our way. We love to showcase your awesome work and Instagram-worthy pictures!