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How To Take A Good Before And After Photo. RoofTec Systems

Ryan Cash

UAMCC Associate Member
How do I take good before and after photos?
Should I do a live pressure washing demo for a potential customer?
How do I attract more customers to my website?

I see a lot of guys commenting about how they are bad at taking Before and After’s…An all too common complaint I hear is, "All I have is a phone! I can't take professional photos!" Contractors feel like they need a better camera to take photos for their website or google page.

None of this is true though. Proper Before and After photos can be taken super easily on any device. All you need to do is follow these 9 rules/guidelines:

  1. Clean up the background of the photo
  2. Watch the Shadows
  3. PreWet all Surfaces in the photo
  4. Make Sure EVERYTHING in the After photo is cleaned
  5. Take Them during the same time of the day
  6. Take both photos from the same location
  7. Before on the Left, After on the Right
  8. Don’t over do it with Photoshop/touch ups
  9. Stick your Logo/Contact info on the photos

  1. Let’s start simple: Clean up the Background of your photos. One common mistake I see from guys is not cleaning up the mess in the photo. Before you take any photo, be aware of what's in the frame. Does the customer have kid's toys laying all around the yard? Do you have hoses pulled across the driveway? Is your pressure washer sitting on the sidewalk? The sole focus of your photos should be the results. Don’t let anything in the background take away from your photo. Even your before photos shouldn’t be littered with junk. Customers want to see the change...keep it clean and simple.

  2. Another VERY common mistake I see if guys taking photos with distracting/overwhelming shadows. Be aware of where the sun/light is coming into the frame of your photo. If the sun is dropping shadows from a nearby tree right into the middle of the sidewalk or roof you’re trying to photograph, it may be better to find a better shot or wait until a different time of day. Heavy shadows will be a huge distraction and hide the results from your photo. Try to take a photo with NO SHADOWS at all.

  3. A good way to get a good dramatic result is to PreWet all surfaces in the frame of your photo. This is especially true for concrete cleaning. When concrete is wet, the staining will be more easily visible in a photo. Water all the concrete first to help show a greater contrast after it’s cleaned. Make sure ALL the concrete in the frame is wet though or your before photos won’t look uniform and the framing of your photo will look sloppy. Consider having the concrete wet in your After photos as well. This will help prevent getting comments from people saying things like, "The concrete only looks better because it's dry!"

  4. When taking your After photo, make sure EVERYTHING in the frame of the photo is clean. There is nothing quite as frustrating as seeing a beautiful transformation of concrete in a photo but the outside of the house in the background is still covered in algae or the roof in the background shows heavy black staining. It makes it look like you ignored other parts of the home that need to be cleaned (whether you forgot about it or the customer turned down the add on). Your after photo should be a completely cleaned frame. The concrete, siding, roof, or anything else in the photo should be clean. If the customer doesn’t want the rest of the house clean, find a way to frame the photo without it in the background. This includes rust stains, oxidation, or oil stains. You want your after photo to be COMPLETELY clean. Clean it or leave it out!

  5. Take your before and after photos during the same time of day. This is a pretty easy one to do for quick jobs where the sun hasn’t move dramatically across the sky. However, for larger jobs, it’s usually better to return another day during the same time that the before was taken. You want your before and after photos to really show the stark difference in what was cleaned. By altering the light the photo may look artificially changed. If the before photo is taken during a cloudy morning and the after photo is taken in the afternoon when the sun is out and everything is bright, it can make it look like your results are due to better lighting, not your work. You want as few differences in your photos as possible.

  6. Take your photos from the same spot at the same angle. This is similar to tip #5. You want as few things changed in your photo as possible. Put a piece of tape or a rock on the ground to mark where you stood for your before photo. Take note of the zoom level and the direction and angle you hold your phone/camera. Review your before photo while standing on your spot before you take your after. Take your after photo and swipe back and forth between it and your Before. Readjust and retake until you have it as close as possible.

  7. When compiling your photos, put the Before on the left (or top) and the After on the right (or bottom). This one should be obvious but we read from left to right and top to bottom. By re-arranging your photos, the viewer has a weird experience and will feel like your photos are in the wrong order. You don’t want them thinking about anything but the results of the photos when they look at them, so don’t try to be super creative here. Make is simple and let your results speak for themselves.

  8. For those of you who do any editing afterwards, whether on photoshop or other software, Keep the editing to a minimum! Again, the common theme here is to let your results speak for themselves. Avoid over-producing your photos. Don’t add weird sparkle effects or unnecessary vignette borders. Keep it simple. A little bit of color correction is about all a photo may need. This also bleeds into being honest about your results. Don't overly edit your photos to make them look better and show results that you didn't achieve in real life.

  9. Finally, the one other thing that’s ok to add to your photo is your company name and contact information. While most of the rules suggest that you avoid adding things to your photo, this is the one thing that’s ok. You can do it as a watermark, or simply just a name and phone number on the photos. But if these aren’t going on your website, you’ll need the viewer to have some way to know whose work it is. You can add this in the description of the photo on Facebook/Instagram or just toss in some quick info on the photo itself. The purpose of the photos, after all, is to get more customers.

So what about Video Demos or Live Demos?

Demos typically aren’t a thing you’ll find in the residential market. However, when doing commercial cleaning, a lot of times these are a must. You’ll want to decide how much to clean as part of your process.

In general, you’ll want to follow the same 9 guidelines/rules for video demos that you’re prepping to send to a prospect. Think about simplicity and how to best capture the dramatic before and after result.

A video demo of concrete cleaning should only be 10-20 seconds long. The entire frame of the video should be the concrete and show nothing else in the background. Start the video showing a pre-wet section of concrete. Have your surface cleaner start out of frame and run through the middle of the frame, stopping about 3/4 of the way through. Pull the surface cleaner back out of frame along the same path.

This quick and simple demo will show the potential customer just how dramatic of a difference your services can make.

For Live demos on commercial properties, you’ll have several things to consider. The first being, how much do you want to clean for free? Sometimes, doing a full cleaning on a franchise or chain can lead to large contracts with multiple locations. You’ll just need to decide if you’re willing to invest your time for a potential client. However, cleaning a few squares of a sidewalk or small area of a restaurant are very common and lead to quick jobs. Just be absolutely certain that your truck is clean and your equipment will start without issue. Be certain of your processes and confident in your ability to deliver great results.

Most of the time, live demos aren’t performed on residential properties outside of attempting to add on a service while you are there. Unless it’s a very large property, it’s generally not worth your time to drive out simply for a demo. However, if you’re there performing another service, It’s a great idea to clean a small area and then show off the results to the customer.

You can clean a single window, pressure wash an out of way square of concrete (look at the area under the trashcans…they’re typically the dirtiest but will also hide the spot if the customer decides not to add on the cleaning), or soft wash a small area of siding. For residential demos though, make sure your clean spot is out of the way and not immediately visible. You don’t want to draw extra attention to the spot and make the home look worse.