The Business

Top 10 Before & After Tips

This article was originally written for and published by Liz Campbell over at Makeup Media Marketing. - Master Wordsmith, Editor, and Author of the book 'WOW:  Words on the Web'...  Enjoy!

Top Ten Tips for Maximum Credibility and Impact with Before and After Photos.

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.


LIGHTS

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.


CAMERA

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.


ACTION

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.


BONUS TRACKS

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.

Falling Up...

For years, I have ravenously devoured knowledge and ceaselessly practised to get better at my craft from every conceivable angle.  I can honestly describe myself as one of the finest professionals in my industry; consistently creating inspired excellence when I'm holding the camera.

I am a professional.

But I remember what it felt like a bunch of years ago - before I really was a professional at what I do.  It was lots of 'fake it to make it'... going out into the world and telling people who I am and what I do until I actually believed it because my results could back it up.

But I've recently discovered something quite shocking.   Something that I don't identify with considering how far I have come and what I've been able to achieve in so many ways.

I've been 'safely' sticking to what I know...  I'm in the Comfort Zone!  

To anyone who knows me well the 'comfort zone' has been - ironically - not really a place I've felt comfortable.  But I've been hiding.

Only in the last few months has this realisation been dragged out into the stark contrast of brightest midday sun...  What I've been hiding from is being a professional business owner - and all the skills and challenges that make one a true professional.

Mainly, it has come from an epic journey through an amazing program called Key Person of Influence... and the people with whom I have surrounded myself throughout these 40 weeks.  And more specifically through a gruelling two day session with outstanding business coach, David Dugan.  

I've always jumped into everything with both feet.  Blind faith and an inconceivable certainty that I will prevail has taken me far.  The ultimate quote that informs most of my choices is a simple one.

Leap and the net will appear

I don't have to try to believe it.  It's just a fundamental truth beyond question.  But lately, as I've learned a myriad new skills I have pushed myself well beyond the invisible confines of my 'zone of comfort'... Into a terrifyingly foreign realm of organising & planning and measuring & counting.

I have certainly leapt.  But the net hasn't come up to meet me.  I feel like I've been falling.  ...waiting for the net.  And getting nervous that I've been mistaken.  Or maybe somehow this time I got it wrong.

But today it all became so clear.  I am falling.  But I'm falling up.  It's strange to be out in unfamiliar space for so long.  But I have mistaken this sensation of falling from a gravity-restricted reality.

Sometimes it's hard to see when you're so close to the situation... It's hard to get perspective.  But I've seen such profound changes and growth in my business over the past few months I'm not worried anymore that the net will appear.  It always does.  But now that I know I'm falling up it seems to me that the farther I go... well, the farther I go.

And that's pretty awesome.

...Not Good at Everything...

Just a quickie...

I got a very cool write up in a blog post...

http://chrisrichter.com.au/ok-im-good-everything/

Chris helps develop the early careers of singer/ songwriters and this one is about not trying to do everything yourself.  Sticking to what you're best at doing and finding others to bring their best to the party...

It's a great reminder to anyone out there creating something for themselves... and a crucial realisation for the people out there trying to create something exceptional by themselves.

New Fun with Outcast Performing Arts

It's been a while, so I figured I'd take a chance to share some of the fun stuff I've been working on...

This was a great project I shot a couple of months ago for Outcast Performing Arts.

I was given a handful of insanely talented dancers, singers and musicians...  A half day in the QUT film studio... and complete creative freedom.

Since there were no expectations for the outcome I decided to make something a little different for them.

Normally, the Outcast 'look' is very dark and menacing.   But with the Creative Director's blessing I went in the complete opposite direction.  I wanted ghostly and ethereal.  So I decided to try something I've never attempted.

1.jpg
2.jpg

Crazy, fast motion is normally something you try to freeze and capture in all its detailed glory.  But these are 2 second exposures!  Pretty cool, huh?  The combination of ambient, shutter speed, motion and flash gave me all the sweet details as well as all the blur in the same shot.

It's always a blast working with this crew which I've written about here.

The top composite is my own interpretation of what we captured, but the pieces they used were made a bit darker for the website which you can see here.

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 2.30.45 PM.jpg

I think the most important point to make is that this didn't spring from my mind when I showed up for the shoot.  Yes, it was an untested experiment (which is a bit crazy) but 2 things worked in my favor.

1. Outcast is super experimental, always trying to push the boundaries of what we expect from live performance – so it fit their ethos.

2. I had spent hours considering the concept and technical details.

Of course, I had a back up plan ready to go if the hybrid didn’t work out.  But good planning and conceptualizing is the real reason this worked.

Super Inspiring for Self-Employed Folks...

Wow! Spencer Lum dropped some serious wisdom a few months back that has really reaffirmed this process of 'making it happen'.   And not just for creative types, either...

He's called it the "Rockstar Economy" and it's the kind of plain and simple truth that cuts through the noise and reaches straight to the core.  It's the message we all need to keep going.

I'm still going to strive for Rockstar-dom (of course!) but after a few well placed words, I'm reminded that it's far from the point.

Enjoy!

http://www.thephotolife.org/2012/05/13/spencer-lum-blog-post/

Do NOT Work for Free! Unless, of course, you should...

This is freaking hilarious and ANYONE  in a creative industry needs to see this.  A truer word could not be spoken about working for free vs. getting paid.

For the love of all things holy!  Please take 3 1/2 minutes to watch this video...  Writer, Harlan Ellison speaks the truth... Brilliant and hilarious!

After that, you'll think I may be crazy... But working for free has been one of the best experiences of my career (in certain situations...)

Ok, I don't have Warner Bros. calling me with such insane requests; but I have had certain magazines requesting the same thing... And they are the ones I stay away from..

In my travels I have found organization that I truly believe in and want to support.   As you know, I've been doing work for Oxfam this past year (that's my photo on their homepage for Close the Gap) and I love that I can offer my skills to support such a worthy cause.  You can see some other work on this previous post... here.

I have also recently gotten on board with Rotary Club and will be creating some images for them to help them grow a new rehab facility here in Brisbane.

For these organizations I don't even think twice.  But when I get requests from magazines offering "exposure" I get pretty twisted up.

Mr. Ellison couldn't have expressed my feelings clearer.  But for the organizations that deserve a free shoot... Well, I couldn't be happier supplying them with images.

Video: Fun New Skills to Keep Clients Wanting More...

Video is something I've been doing for some clients as a little add-on bonus whenever it's appropriate.  It's nice to value add when you've been hired for a photography gig and there is something there you can put to video. Below is a link to a little video I shot during an event I was photographing for Ashurst's celebration at GOMA a few days ago.

Nobody asked me to do it, but I saw the opportunity and now there's a little slice of the evening's event that's captured in motion.  It only took a few minutes to put together and the client sees you go the extra mile to deliver an exceptional product.  How cool is that?!

Ok, this particular product is far from exceptional.  I just used the on camera mic and the venue was super dark so I desperately jacked the ISO through the roof in order to capture it...  But like I said...  It's just a little bonus.

Click below to watch all 1min. 23 sec. of captivating footage!

Ashurst Rebranding Celebration - GOMA - Brisbane

And here's a few images for the stills fans!