For med spas and cosmetic clinics, before and after photos are crucial as they help build trust with potential clients by showing real and accurate results of their treatments. They provide clear evidence of how treatments work and help set realistic expectations for future clients. 

A Guide To Taking Before & After Photos For Med Spas

These photos are more than just evidence of results; they help clients make informed choices about their treatments. They also play a big role in promoting the clinic’s services online, attracting new clients by showing the successful outcomes of past treatments.

This guide offers a standardized procedure for capturing the best before and after photos for med spas. It provides practical tips on how to create a consistent environment for every photo session, ensuring that the true impact of treatments is accurately depicted. 

The guide covers everything from choosing the right camera and lighting to positioning patients correctly, as well as ethical considerations. Follow this guide to enhance your portfolio with high-quality photos. 

General Steps to Follow When Taking Before and After Photos 

It can be difficult to determine where to start when it comes to taking before and after photos. This section outlines the general steps to follow, providing a helpful checklist for practitioners in med spas to document the impressive results of their treatments. It includes detailed instructions on obtaining patient consent, setting up the right lighting and background, choosing the appropriate camera equipment, and ensuring consistent angles and distances. 

Step 1: Asking for Patient Consent 

Obtaining patient consent is the most important step in this checklist. Not only is it a legal requirement, but it is also a crucial aspect of patient care and trust. 

Asking For Patient Consent

Prior to taking photos, it’s vital to have a detailed discussion with the patient about HIPAA compliance to assure them that their privacy and personal health information are protected.1

It’s equally important to be transparent about how the photos will be used, whether for marketing purposes, medical records, or treatment assessments. In some cases, offering compensation or incentives for their participation can be considered. 

However, this should be approached with sensitivity and in compliance with ethical guidelines. Securing written consent is also vital as it helps maintain an open and trusting relationship between the healthcare practitioner and the patient.

Step 2: Prepare All Essential Equipment

After securing patient consent, it’s time to prepare all the essential equipment to ensure high-quality before and after photos. 

Prepare All Essential Equipment

You must have the following: 

  • A high-resolution camera, a professional DSLR or a high-end smartphone camera should do. 
  • Proper lighting equipment, such as ring lights or softbox lights, is crucial to avoid shadows and ensure uniform illumination.
  • A tripod will help maintain consistent camera angles and heights for each photo.

It’s important to have a neutral background free from patterns as well. This helps to eliminate distractions and ensures that the focus remains solely on the visual changes post-treatment. A plain, solid-coloured backdrop, preferably in shades of white, gray, or light blue, is ideal for highlighting the details of the treatment areas without any interference from the background. 

Preparing all the necessary equipment and ensuring it is functioning correctly before the photo session can greatly enhance the quality of the before and after photos, providing a clear and professional depiction of treatment results.

Step 3: Set Up Proper Lighting 

Proper lighting helps highlight the details of the treatment and increases the accuracy of the photos as the true colours and textures are captured. 

Set Up Proper Lighting

Although most clinics make the mistake of using fluorescent lighting, it usually does not bring justice to the photos. Using natural light may also result in inconsistency with the colours. It’s advised to have a dedicated photography space, ideally in a windowless room. If this isn’t an option, using blackout shades can be a great alternative. 

For the lights, it is recommended to utilize soft, diffused lighting to avoid harsh shadows and to provide even illumination across the treatment area. This can be achieved with ring lights or softbox lights. Make sure to position the lights so that they evenly light the subject’s face and body without causing glare or sharp contrasts. The goal is to mimic natural light as closely as possible, providing a clear and true representation of the treatment results.

Step 4: Stay Consistent! Keep the Same Distance and Angles 

Consistency is crucial in achieving great before and after photos. Having your before photo from a different angle from the after photo can affect the way potential patients see your results. To achieve consistency, maintaining the same distance and angles for each photo creates accurate comparisons. 

Stay Consistent Keep The Same Distance And Angles

This means that every photo should be taken from the same fixed point, with the camera held or placed at a consistent height and angle. Using a tripod and marking spots on the floor can help achieve this consistency. 

Avoid altering the camera’s perspective to exaggerate the treatment outcomes, keep the angles as natural as possible. 

Step 5: Take Multiple Photos from Different Angles

Taking before and after photos from multiple angles provides a comprehensive view of the treatment results. Capturing these varied perspectives is essential for highlighting the nuances of each treatment, ensuring that no detail is missed. 

Take Multiple Photos From Different Angles

It’s important to discuss all the necessary angles for each treatment with your team to ensure comprehensive documentation. It’s recommended to consider at least five angles: 

  • Left Profile
  • Right Profile
  • Left Oblique (approximately 45 degrees)
  • Right Oblique (approximately 45 degrees)
  • Frontal (directly facing the camera)

These angles provide a well-rounded representation of the treatment effects. It’s important to consistently use these angles for each client to maintain uniformity in your photo documentation. By doing this, you can accurately showcase the changes and improvements made by the treatments, enhancing the credibility and effectiveness of your med spa services.

Step 6: Focus on Showcasing the Results and Keep the Photos as Natural as Possible 

To accurately represent the effectiveness of the treatments, it’s vital to avoid any form of digital manipulation.

Focus On Showcasing The Results And Keep The Photos As Natural As Possible

Patients must be briefed on appropriate attire for the shoot, steering clear of heavy makeup, jewelry, or hairstyles that could detract from the treatment’s true results. Ideally, their hair must be tucked away from their face. Patients should also wear the same attire as in the before photos to maintain consistency.

Additionally, patients should maintain a neutral expression during the photoshoot unless the treatment, such as Botox or filler in the laugh line areas, specifically targets facial expressions. In such cases, a smile may be necessary to demonstrate the treatment results effectively.

Keep in mind that the goal is to present the patient in a natural state, allowing the real impact of the treatments to shine through. By doing so, the photos remain an honest depiction of what the med spa can achieve, building trust and setting realistic expectations for future clients.

Step 7: Securely Store and Label Each Photo 

Secure storage of patient photos is key to upholding confidentiality and meeting HIPAA requirements. Opt for encrypted digital or cloud-based storage solutions tailored for medical data. These systems provide robust security and simplify photo organization. Ensure a backup system is in place and routinely perform audits and updates for consistent security and legal compliance.

Securely Store And Label Each Photo

Proper labelling and detailed descriptions of each photo are essential for monitoring patient progress and effectively showcasing results. 

As including the patient’s name in the label is generally not advised, the photos should be marked with the patient’s identifier, date, and treatment specifics, such as treatment type and areas treated. Brief descriptions adding context, like relevant patient history or treatment objectives, enhance understanding and presentation.

Additional Advice for Different Body Parts 

Taking before and after photos for med spa and plastic surgery practices demands a customized strategy for each body part, as every area has its specific requirements and sensitivities. This section delves into supplementary guidelines for photographing diverse areas, aiming to assist practitioners in obtaining the most precise and visually appealing outcomes. 

Taking Before and After Photos: The Face 

Facial before and after photos should aim to fully showcase the results of the treatment. They must capture the subtle yet significant changes in skin texture, tone, and overall facial aesthetics. 

Taking Before And After Photos The Face

Here are some important steps to consider when taking facial before and after photos:

  • Get Both Direct and Profile Shots: Capturing both direct and profile shots is key when taking facial before and after photos. Direct shots illustrate changes in the front facial features, while profile shots emphasize side view transformations, together offering a full depiction of the treatment results.
  • Avoid Makeup: For genuine facial before and after photos, it’s essential to avoid makeup. Makeup can obscure the real outcomes of treatments, affecting the visibility of skin texture and tone. Natural skin allows for an honest and clear depiction of the changes.
  • Keep a Neutral Expression: It’s vital to advise the patients to maintain a neutral expression when taking facial before and after photos. This helps accurately showcase the results free from the influence of facial expressions. 
  • Pull or Slick the Hair Back: Have patients slick back or tie up their hair when taking facial photos. This prevents hair from covering facial features, allowing for a full and clear display of the results of the treatment. 
  • Ensure Even Lighting: Even lighting is essential in ensuring consistent skin texture and avoiding any misleading shadows that can affect the accuracy of the facial photos. Proper lighting reveals the actual effects of treatments, like fine line reduction or skin tone improvement, allowing for an honest and reliable comparison. 

Taking Before and After Photos: The Body

When it comes to capturing before and after photos of the body, it’s vital to focus on illustrating the overall changes in body shape, skin condition, and tone. The following steps are crucial in obtaining clear, detailed, and accurate before and after body photos.

Taking Before And After Photos The Body
  • Maintaining Consistent Posture: Ask the patient to maintain consistent posture in all before and after body photos. This uniformity ensures that changes are attributed to the treatment and not to different body positions.
  • Full Body Vs. Targeted Area: Determine whether a full-body shot or a more targeted shot is the most appropriate for effectively showcasing the treatment results. Full-body shots provide a comprehensive view of the body’s transformation, whereas targeted shots emphasize specific treatment areas, highlighting detailed changes and enhancements.
  • Marked Reference Points: Apply non-permanent markers as reference points on the body for precise alignment in each photo. This aids in accurately comparing changes in specific treatment areas.
  • Clothing Considerations: Advise your patients to wear appropriate and non-distracting clothing that shows a clear and unobstructed view of the treatment area. Some clinics provide patients with in-clinic, branded, and coloured hoodies. 
  • 360-Degree Views: Consider taking a 360-degree photo to capture the results from every angle, ensuring a complete and detailed depiction of the changes.
  • Scale Reference: Add a physical scale or ruler in the photo frame to accurately demonstrate changes in body dimensions, providing a tangible reference for size alterations post-treatment.

Taking Before and After Photos: Private Parts 

Taking before and after photos of private parts can be a little more challenging as it requires a delicate balance between clarity and discretion. It’s also important to maintain a comfortable environment for the patient throughout the process. 

Taking Before And After Photos Private Parts

The following guidelines are designed to assist practitioners in taking respectful and precise photos of private parts, ensuring patient comfort and confidentiality throughout the process.

  • Maintain Professional Communication and Demeanor: Ensure professional communication and demeanour when taking before and after photos of private parts. Be clear, respectful, and sensitive to the patient’s needs and concerns.
  • Ensure Patient Comfort: Prioritize patient comfort during the photo session of private areas by providing a relaxed environment and responding empathetically to any concerns or requests.
  • Use Draping Techniques: Try incorporating draping techniques during the photo session for private areas, exposing only the area that has been treated to help make the patient feel more comfortable and secure. 
  • Limit Identifiable Markers: Minimize the inclusion of identifiable markers like tattoos or birthmarks in photos of private areas, focusing solely on the treated area for privacy.
  • Secure Storage and Confidentiality: Ensure secure storage and confidentiality of photos of private areas, using encrypted systems and restricting access to authorized personnel only.


Remembering these guidelines is crucial for creating HIPAA-compliant and effective before and after photos. Consistency in lighting, angles, and patient presentation, along with strict adherence to privacy laws, is essential in crafting photos that accurately demonstrate treatment effects. 

Attention to detail and legal compliance are key in establishing a reputable and trustworthy practice, essential for attracting and retaining clients in the competitive med spa and cosmetic clinic industry.


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