Good before-and-after (B&A) photos are essential to building your skin treatment practice. Most cosmetic practitioners will tell you that their B&A photos get the most website activity, second only to their homepage. And although prospective patients are heavily influenced by recommendations from friends, social media, and their dermatologists, almost all prospects want to see your results before they schedule a skin-resurfacing treatment.
Do attractive patients attract more patients?
Yes, attractive patients attract more patients. And if your after-treatment patients look good, so do you. But in today’s image-overloaded world, cosmetic patients know the truth. They’re quick to spot photoshopping. They know the power of makeup, jewelry, lighting, cropping, and angles. And they’re not fooled by a pretty model with flawless skin who didn’t need any treatment to begin with. More important than the attractive after-treatment images are the B&A photos that clearly and honestly demonstrate the positive effects of your treatment.
How to take before-and-after photos that sell your practice
Based on the input of professional photographers and successful skin-care practitioners, we identified 5 key strategies for taking effective B&A photos of your skin-resurfacing patients.
Invest in a high-resolution camera or imaging system. You’re going to want a dependable, high-quality camera that you can dedicate to your B&A studio. Both Nikon and Canon offer high-quality digital cameras (DSLRs) at affordable prices. For B&A photos showing skin conditions, an 85mm or 100mm lens will provide the ideal focus and detail without distorting the face.
An even better solution is to invest in a complete imaging system. Most of the top dermatology practices, especially those that have HALO, recommend the VISIA® Skin Analysis System. These systems simplify and automate the lighting, focus, and positioning and make it easy to capture high-quality standardized images. With an imaging system, you can skip steps 3 and 4 of this guide.
Prep your patient. First, you will need your patient to sign a consent form, allowing you to use their images in your literature and on your website. If your patient is reluctant to share their images, you can agree to crop their images to conceal their identity but still show the treatment effect. The patient must also agree to participate in both the before and after photo sessions. The before photo is easy, as the patient will be in your office for the treatment. The after photo will require a follow-up visit, typically 1 or 2 months after the treatment.
The before photo: For the best results, take the before photo right before the procedure. This way, you can make sure that the patient’s face is clear of any makeup or creams, and that their clothing or patient gown isn’t concealing any treatment area. You should also remove any jewelry. Cover any clothing with a drape (white, black, or gray) to prevent any colors from reflecting onto the patient’s skin tone. Use a plain, colorless backdrop (white, black, or gray). Have them pull back their hair. We recommend using a black, disposable headband. Ask that your patient maintain a completely neutral expression. No smiling, frowning, or squinting—you don’t want the skin stretched in any way. Also, the patient’s resting face is the best way to ensure consistency between the before and after photos.
The after photo: Schedule your patient to return for a follow-up examination and after photo (1 to 6 months after the procedure, depending on the recovery time). Again, you will want them to remove all makeup, creams, and jewelry. You will want to use the same background and the same colorless drape to cover their clothing.
Perfect your lighting. Keep in mind that your objective is to accurately capture the before and after conditions of your patient’s skin to demonstrate the benefit of your treatment. This is not a glamour shoot with soft, flattering light. You want enough light to clearly show texture, wrinkles, spots, scars, discoloration, and pores, but not so much light that it becomes blown out or looks unnatural. You can achieve this clarity with just two lights placed on either side of your camera that are aimed toward the patient at 45-degree angles. Two inexpensive soft boxes will work. Two slightly more expensive LED light panels will work even better, and you can adjust the light intensity. This type of fixed lighting is preferable to a flash because you can make camera and light adjustments while the light is on.
Match the camera angles and focal length. If possible, you want everything about the before and after photos to be identical, except for the improvement that your treatment provided. For this reason, you want to shoot your patient from the same distance and angles, before and after. To do this, attach a string to the base of the camera and stretch it to the patient’s chin; this will align the focal length. To align the angle vertically, adjust the camera so that the string is horizontal to the chin.
You will probably want 5 angles of your patient for each before and after set of photos: full profile right, 45º angle right, full face, 45º angle left, and full profile left. To ensure the same angle each time, you can put spots (on the walls, if possible) at 90º and 45º angles on both sides of the patient’s chair. This way, you can direct the patient to look at those spots to line up the same angles. Obviously, they should look directly into the camera for full-face shots. You should also refer to the before photos when shooting the after photos to ensure the same angles. For the 45º angles, you can match the amount of cheek that shows on the far side of the patient’s nose.
Dedicate space for a photo studio. For many dermatologists and med spas, office space is at a premium. But the value of having a dedicated space for your B&A photos is enormous, even if it’s just a corner of a room. In addition to providing a great sales tool, many cosmetic providers will use B&A photos to prove results to patients themselves. A dedicated photo studio brings all the elements of a good B&A shoot together and makes them readily available. Everything is set up and consistent. Lighting, backdrop, camera angles, and depth of focus can all be controlled. Even the patient will appreciate the more professional approach to capturing their treatment. There are plenty of online articles and videos that describe in more detail how to set up a photo studio in your office that’s inexpensive and doesn’t require a great deal of space.
HALO® laser for the best after photos
It goes without saying that the best B&A photos start with the most effective treatment. When it comes to laser resurfacing, many of the most successful cosmetic providers have built their B&A portfolio with the HALO hybrid fractional laser. HALO is the only skin-resurfacing laser that delivers both ablative and non-ablative wavelengths to the same microscopic treatment zone. This dual-wavelength feature works on the damage you can and cannot see at the same time, which means great results with minimal downtime. In testimonials, reviews, and social media posts, HALO patients consistently express the highest levels of satisfaction with their treatment and results.