Words by photographic genius Jason Malouin … Are before and after pictures really a true representation of real before and after results? Are they honest? Not always. There are a lot of tricks out there that people use when it comes to photography. And that’s why the results may vary.
Why is that? Well, maybe the product or process on offer doesn’t actually live up to its promises, or maybe it’s just a case of sloppy photo techniques, which inadvertently diminishes the impact of the staggering results achieved.
Take back the power of the before and after images and make them work for you instead of against you with these top 10 tips and tricks from a professional portrait photographer.
There’s no confusing jargon. No technical training needed. Just simple-to-use advice from a pro (me!).
- Make sure the lighting is exactly the 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 a specific texture like skin or muscle tone? If so, 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.
- Make sure you use the same camera for both images. The more you keep it uniform, the more credibility your images will 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 drastic; not to mention across brands.
- 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, prop it up on the back of the same chair/counter/etc every time.
- 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 same lens and the same zoom.
- Be careful with filters. If you’re using a phone or camera with built-in filters, make sure you at least use the same one every time. I recommend no filter. It gives the images more credibility because they look more raw and real.
- Background…You guessed it; use the same background for both images. Ideally, find a blank or clutter-free background with no distractions.
- To smile or not to smile? This one can be tricky. A smile evokes a certain feeling in the viewer. Showing the before image with no smile and the after image 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. They will if they are truly remarkable.
- Posing is the same. For example, slump and rounded shoulders in the before image and a powerful attitude in the after image can seem misleading.
- Cropping. This is another very strong factor that influences our perception. Keep it exactly the same for both and you won’t need to worry about losing credibility.
- 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 on to the big time.
Side-by-side comparison can actually be super challenging for our little monkey brains to see the subtle differences. But the way to overcome this is to use a GIF. It is a single frame that animates or “flips” from one image to the other and back again. For our purposes, showing before and after pictures over and over allows customers and clients to compare the difference without making their brains work for it.
Try something like http://makeagif.com or similar free services.
There you go! You’re now ready to go forth and dominate your industry with amazing before and after examples to showcase 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.
Jason Malouin takes exceptional headshots and portraits for professionals on the rise. He’s a photographic genius. Find him here at https://www.portraitstore.com.au/