You may have noticed images out there in the world of fitness, health/ wellbeing, hair/ make up… Anything where there has been some sort of transformation.
They are the obligatory ‘Before and After’ images meant to make us cringe and then feel instant relief that our problems as a consumer can be solved through the techniques, potions and methods applied by the professionals.
You may have also noticed that these Before and After images are rarely an honest representation of the actual results which may vary*.
Why is that? Well maybe the product or process on offer doesn’t actually live up to it’s promises… But maybe it’s just a case of sloppy Before/ After photo techniques which inadvertently diminishes the impact of the staggering results your product or process provides.
Take back the power of the Before and After images and put them to work for you instead against you with these top 10 tips and tricks from a professional portrait photographer. No confusing jargon. No technical training needed. Just simple to use advice from a pro.
1. Make sure the lighting is the exact same for both images. This is probably the least understood and most critical factor.
The best light is always window light. But only when the sun isn’t shining directly in through the window. As long as a person isn’t standing in a beam of sunlight, find the absolute biggest window you can and position them as close to it as possible.
Exactly how you position them depends on a few things.
Are you trying to show specific texture like skin or muscle tone? You will want the light to come from the side so position the subject perpendicular to the window (or facing along the glass from one side to the other.
If you are trying to show more general qualities, it’s better to position the subject facing directly towards the window. This means the photographer will have their back to the window, so be careful not to block the beautiful window light and cast a shadow on the subject. This is generally the more flattering light for any age and gender.
2. Make sure you use the same camera for both images. The more you keep uniform, the more credibility your images have.
If you shoot one with a phone, do them all on the same phone. Even the difference between an iPhone 4 and 6 is drastically different; not to mention across brands…
3. Keep the camera at the exact same height. The relative position of the camera to the subject will accentuate or diminish certain features. We don’t need to go into the specifics here. Use something like a tripod and if you don’t have one, even propping it on the back of the same chair/ counter, etc… every time.
4. Use the same lens/ zoom (or no zoom) every time. This also has accentuating and diminishing effects on a subject. On a phone I recommend no zoom which gives you better quality. On an SLR, use the exact same lens and the exact same zoom.
5. Be careful with filters. If you’re using a phone or camera with built in filters, make sure you at least use the same on every time. I recommend no filter. It gives the images more credibility because they look more raw and real.
6. Background. You guessed it. Use the same background for both images. Ideally, you can find a blank or clutter free background with no distractions.
7. To smile or not to smile? This one can be tricky… A smile evokes a certain feeling in the viewer. Showing the Before with no smile and the After with a smile seems a bit manipulative. Again, I would recommend doing the same thing each time. And personally, I say no smile! Let your results speak for themselves if they are truly remarkable.
8. Posing is the same. For example… slumpy, rounded shoulders in the Before and powerful attitude in the After can seem misleading.
9. Cropping. This is another very strong factor that influences our perception. Keep it exactly the same for both and you don’t need to worry about losing credibility.
10. GIF. This is the single most powerful tool to use in your Before and After tool kit.
Since you have meticulously followed all of the above directions you are ready to move onto the big time.
Side by side comparison for our little monkey brains are super challenging to see any subtle differences. But the way to overcome this is to use a GIF. It is a single frame which animates or “flips” from one to the other and back again. For our purposes, showing Before and After, over and over, allows customers and clients to compare the difference without making them work for it.
Try something like http://makeagif.com or similar free services.
There you go! You’re ready to go forth and dominate your industry with amazing Before and After examples of the wonders your product or process delivers.
Just keep everything exactly the same for each and the results of your images will be beyond reproach, maintaining maximum credibility and giving you a powerful tool to advertise your work.