Before and After Shots
Some people feel it is tacky and maybe a little overdone. I however receive nothing but positive feedback from viewers of my website regarding the before and afters. They say it has more impact and shows exactly what I do. Otherwise where did the photograph finish and the retouching begin? What of the finished image can you really claim as yours if you do not show the before?
Before and Afters for composite images are almost essential and should not degrade the underlying images as the viewer will already expect that retouching has taken place. This kind of retouching is amongst the most difficult and therefore is an opportunity to really showcase your skills.
Another conflicting view is that some clients do not want the befores on show. Celebrities are especially sensitive to this as it is all about their look and want to control their brands by vetoing all images of themselves. Photographers also feel it puts their photos in a bad light and reflects on their ability to produce great images. Even clients themselves only want the first grade finished images available and not the unretouched befores. Luxury brands for example have a certain caché and they expect a certain level of discretion in everyone they deal with. Sometimes the more exclusive you are the better, it’s been my experience that most high end photographers don’t want to even reveal who does their retouching or their printing; those are closely guarded secrets.
To avoid any legal issues arising always ask permission from the photographer, agency and/or client before posting before and after images. Otherwise reserve these images for private viewings by appointment in a physical book or a password protected website.
If I don’t see before and afters in your portfolio, I’m immediately suspicious that you either have not done the work yourself, you were part of a chain-gang of retouchers and only did a portion of the work or there was very little to do to the image and not worth putting in your portfolio. Pirating portfolio pieces is a common occurrence so if you can show the befores it installs more confidence in potential clients.
A portfolio is after all designed to show off your range of skills and not simply a pretty picture book so without before images exactly what are your skills? I think the question is how or where to present them and not whether you should present them at all.