The BEFORE picture is just as important as the AFTER photo

Hey DIYers, Bloggers, Foodies and Gardeners! So have you ever been in a situation where you made this really awesome project or did this really incredible thing with something you rescued from the trash and you go to post it and something is just missing?  The project looks good, but everyone doesn't really understand that you took this "thing" from literally a piece of trash to something everybody wants to pin-pin-pin and make-make-make.  Have you been there? Of course you have.

We've all been there because we've all forgotten to take the all important BEFORE picture.

I know, I know... it is so very exciting to get home, unload the trunk and start cleaning, sanding, painting, stripping (the dresser, not yourself) that we all forget to grab the camera and take that all important BEFORE picture.  That BEFORE photo is JUST as important as the AFTER photo because it shows just how far that piece of trash, or those simple pantry ingredients or that ugly patch of a flower bed -- has really come. 

I really realized my lack of skill in the BEFORE picture arena when my husband was going through my project photos, helping me pick projects for my portfolio.  He kept picking projects that were just kind of ok - not stellar.  I couldn't figure out why and then I realized that he was picking  projects where there was a BEFORE and AFTER one right after another that really showed the transformation.  It could simply be a painting job on a piece of furniture, but he liked it better than my more creative projects because there was a good before picture.   This was his favorite project....a simple project, but a great BEFORE and AFTER sequence...

Now, not only do you need to TAKE a BEFORE picture, but you need to take a GOOD BEFORE picture.  This might be a little contrary to your original thinking.  Shouldn't a BEFORE picture look really bad so the piece looks even worse in its previous state?  You would think so, but actually a bad picture works against you.  People might think the dresser or chair isn't all that bad, rather the PHOTO is bad and your makeover isn't all that grand.  Instead, take a BEFORE picture in the exact spot where you will photograph the AFTER shot.  Then your audience will get a true picture of your awesome work.  See this sequence below?  TWO FAILS.

#1 The first photo is badly lit and the second is well lit.  It makes it seem like the lighting makes a huge difference instead of the changes that I made.

#2  The photos are taken from different angles, so you don't get a true picture of how drastically the room changed.

Bad BEFORE photo
AFTER photo that is not as effective...

Another biggie when photographing the BEFORE of a room is to take several pictures from several different angles.  Doesn't it just drive you batty when there are BEFORE and AFTER pictures in a magazine and you can't really figure out where the walls were in the first photo and how those windows just kind of appeared in the middle of the second photo?  It is disconcerting as a reader and uninspiring.  Inspiring is when you can see EXACTLY how someone has recreated a space because the photos are taken with similar lighting from the EXACT SAME ANGLE.  Take this example from my Sharpie Rug Project.  It is very close to the same angle, but not exact...

The next set of photos does a better job of telling the story of the transformation...

 So while not an expert quite yet on BEFORE pictures (I still start refinishing pieces in the driveway before grabbing my camera - oops!),
I have been focusing on doing a better job at capturing the horrible BEFORES to better capture the awesome AFTERS...
What do you think THESE befores will become?!


Lol, I almost always forget to do a before pic! In fact, we're working on a big project in our living room right now and it wasn't until we'd gotten our ugly paneling down that I remembered I needed to take a before pic! Grrrrr!!!

You're so right about the before being just as important as the ofter. When it's all finished it lookes great to us because we've seen the transformation, but no one else knows what you did because they've only seen the finished product.
Miss Kitty said…
Thanks for those tips on taking before pictures of projects! I think you are exactly right about taking the after photo as close to the the same angle, lighting, etc. as the original picture.