Photography is an ever-evolving field and with the advent of digital cameras and even more sophisticated smart phones, we are taking pictures in seconds with a quality that wasn’t conceivable only 10 years ago.
Before and after photos in the aesthetic and beauty industry can be found a dime a dozen, especially on social media. These photos show off the amazing effects of treatments that were performed on a specific person with a specific concern, be it skin or body related.
Unfortunately, with the advancements of technology we have readily available to us along with the need to exhibit the perfect image, too often apps and filters are used to distort the reality of a picture.
Products and treatment results are altered to attract attention and sales. The untrained eye of the consumer likes what promise it sees and falls into an unfortunate marketing trap.
It is not only the after photos that are distorted to give an impression of a drastic change. Before photos can also be taken in such a way to make a certain condition look worse than it actually is, giving the after photos that much more of a ‘wow’ effect.
To assist and educate our clients and the general public here are 5 points to look out for when looking at any before & after photos:
1. Make up
Make up enhances any features you want to draw attention to. It also draws the eye away from features you do not wish the viewer to notice.
Before and after photos should always be make up free!
2. Jewelry & accessories
Our eyes are naturally drawn to color and sparkles. Similar to make up, jewelry can draw the attention away from certain areas, and distract or enhance certain features of the face and neckline.
Before and after photos should ideally be free of any jewelry or accessories.
We all know that how we see ourselves in changing room mirrors in department stores. In stores where the lighting is mostly from above, our wrinkles and cellulite will look worse. This is due to the fact that light shone from above will cast shadows, making dimples look deeper and other features more pronounced.
Lighting from the bottom can let unsightly features look better than they are, and blends them away.
For Clinical photography the ideal light setting is:
· Lighting that is always consistent in both before and after photos
(A before and after photo that has different lighting should warn us to have a more skeptical assessment of the image!)
· Before and after photos should ideally be taken in a closed room with no windows, that has constant light settings
· No natural light source, as this varies during the day, with seasons, and different weather conditions
· Ring lights have gained popularity in the last few of years and are not favorable because they tend to overcast light. This can either enhance or blend specific features away.
4. Distance & Angle
The distance of the person in the two comparative photos should always be the same.
A zoomed in look can draw the focus to a specific problem or area, rather than exhibiting the full appearance.
The angle of the camera that is used to take the photo should always have a 90⁰ angle to the subject face and body.
Many ‘selfies’ are taken from a higher up angle to make the person look slimmer. Taking the photo from below will make an object appear larger than it is or emphasize features, like a double chin.
A ‘selfie’ image should never be used as a comparative photo at all!
Lastly, any before and after photos should be free of filters that may smooth out any flaws. The use of filters has unfortunately become extremely popular. For the occasional leisure photo using a filter is completely acceptable. However, in clinical photography and more importantly in comparative photos, a filter should never be used. More often than not filter overuse is clearly visible, and these before and after photos should be completely disregarded.