Before & After Photo Strategies
It all started when...
Before and After photos are often used by designers to demonstrate the transforming effect thoughtful design brings to a room. Commonly seen on social media, designer websites, and in publications, “B&A’s” are often a very convincing way to “tell the story.”
Publications use B&A’s frequently. The Star-Ledger’s, ‘Jersey Home Makeover’ feature always combines B&A’s with a story about the transition. Both designers and photographers love the publicity, and it’s free. Can you beat that?
If you’d like to have your project published, it’s helpful to know that you may be asked for your Before shots. Your Before’s will need to be ready for print, which means photos without obvious photographic problems. (See my free offer below). They’ll also need to provide a meaningful comparison with your After photos to be of value.
Cultivating Homeowner Acceptance
From speaking with designers, I’ve learned the trick is to diplomatically help your homeowner come to accept that having their room design in print is wonderful, and that the Before shots will not be embarrassing. Some designers broach the subject first with their contract, (see Sample Contract Language), which describes your professional practice of taking before and after photos routinely. If your homeowner expresses any concern about awful looking Before photos being seen by anyone, try explaining that:
- Before photos are always taken after “decluttering” is complete.
- Typically, all personal items are removed, as is most original furniture. (In other words, there will be nothing to be embarrassed about).
- No names or addresses are ever associated with your Before or After photos.
After the project is complete and your beautiful After photos are at hand, continue your diplomacy, suggesting, “We should really try to get these published.” Luckily, you have Before’s that are fully acceptable to all concerned. Remind them again that owner’s names and addresses are unnecessary, and never used without permission. Also, if a project is published, it can help boost home resale value at time of sale.
Taking Before Photos with Publications in Mind:
For your own use, and certainly for a publication to have interest, your Before photos need to offer telling visuals. Dark, ill composed photos of cluttered spaces are of questionable value, even online. My best tips are:
1. Timing Counts: Even if you take some Before’s of the space as you got it, consider taking them again when anything your homeowner might be uncomfortable with has been removed. These are the ones a publication would want anyway.
2. Compose Carefully: Shoot from the most likely perspectives the After photos will be taken from. As in the example below, it’s tough to even see what a designer has done if the angle of the Before shot is not similar to the After.
Finally, imagine yourself in the position of a publication or online viewer of your B&A’s. Can a clear comparison be easily seen? If so, you have a strong statement of what you can do, and become much more attractive to publications.