The All-Important Before and After Shots: How to Photograph Your Work

The power of a good before and after photo is undeniable. These transformative snapshots have the ability to make or break a new client’s decision to book your services.

In order to present your work in the most authentic and flattering format, here’s what you need to know before you start snapping.

Get Your “Content Clients” on the Books

Your “content clients” are your number one models. These are the ones that you know love being featured on your social media and don’t mind the extra time to take photos. Give them a heads up before their appointment and leave an extra 10 minutes in the end for some content time.

When thinking of your content clients, keep diversity in mind. Potential clients will want to see people who look like them so be diligent about including different skin tones, age groups, or hair textures in your protocol to highlight your versatility.

Be Mindful of Client Comfort Levels

Even your content clients may get a bit shy if you’re asking for a close-up of their bikini wax or a tight shot of their acne scars.

First and foremost, always ask for permission – let them know where you plan to share the photos and be sure to ask if they are comfortable having their before and after photos displayed there. Some may live for the limelight of being featured on your social feeds and others may only agree to show their face in your personal portfolio.

Get Your Lighting Right

Good lighting is essential for high-quality B&As – this is Photography 101. Natural light is always best so try to take advantage of big windows or utilize outdoor space as much as possible. For many service providers though, that may not be possible, so do your best to ensure that any artificial lighting is as flattering as possible – it should be bright enough to show your work, but not too harsh.

Lighting should always come from the front (not the side) of clients so as not to create shadow. Never use overhead lighting – light should be equally distributed, preferably from a lighted mirror or ring light placed squarely in front of clients. It may also be worth it to invest in a ring light or inexpensive softbox lighting if you’re looking to create stellar portfolio photos with studio-esque quality.

General Before & After Photography Tips

With before and after photos, consistency is key. Your background, angles, lighting, and distance from which you shoot need to be exactly the same in the before and the after so prospective clients can really see what’s different between the two.

In addition, here are some easy-to-implement pro tips to ensure a picture-perfect portfolio. 

  • Clear out any clutter and make sure your background, if visible, is clean and free of distraction.
  • Clean your camera lens. This is an often-overlooked action that can result in blurry photos or dust and smudges interfering with your work.
  • Check your lighting. Look for shadows and make sure the lighting is not too harsh or clients will appear washed out.
  • Take before and after photos in the same place, with the same lighting and the same angles. Doing otherwise may appear to showcase inaccurate results and could have some clients wary of the authenticity of your work.
  • Experiment with different angles, but again, be sure to stay consistent having both the before and after snapped from the same point of view.
  • Avoid filters – it’s tempting, we know, but you want your work to speak for itself. Clients will be disappointed if they don’t see the same Photoshopped results in real life. 
  • Skip complicated collages when posting before and afters. A simple side-by-side or carousel before and after on Instagram is all you need to get attention on your talent.

Service-Specific Tips

In addition to the photography basics above, keep the following tips in mind for your specific sector of the beauty industry. Different services may require different angles, different degrees of zoom, or different strategies for maintaining client confidentiality – all of which can impact the effectiveness of your portfolio photos.


  • Take a minute before your after photos to make sure your work is perfectly styled. 
  • Take multiple angles as clients will want to see how the hair looked and now looks from the front, side, and back.

Makeup & skincare

  • Direct your client to make the same expression in the before and after as different expressions could alter the folds or shadows on the face. 
  • Try different expressions to highlight different aspects of your work. For detailed eyeshadow, you may want a shot with the eyes closed. To show off super dewy skin, a slightly tilted face or ¾ view may showcase your work better than a front-on photo.
  • For skincare clients, they may want their eyes covered for privacy.

Lashes & brows

  • Make the eyelash extensions the focus in your picture. A close-up of the eye area showing the brow or lashes and eyes only (open or closed) is always a great option.
  • Avoid making the eye area too bright. This can wash out the eyelash extensions or details of your brow work and make the hairs appear sparse.


  • Because waxing may involve some of the client’s more vulnerable body parts, privacy and comfort levels are of the utmost importance here.
  • Above all, make sure your client is comfortable with the angle and the amount of their body that may be shown in the photos.

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