Congratulations! You’ve made the commitment to start a workout program designed to change the look and shape of your body (i.e., weight loss, muscle gain, increased definition). A long-lasting result will require several weeks or months to get the results you’re looking for … so tools to keep you motivated and on track are essential! Before and after photos are a great way to objectively document your progress along the way!
There will be times where your hard work in the gym and diligence in the kitchen isn’t paying off … when the weigh scale doesn’t change or possibly goes in the wrong direction! Even though we know that the scale doesn’t decipher between muscle, fat, or bone it’s hard not to get discouraged. Pictures, on the other hand, provide an objective tool that can show physical change over time to keep you focused and motivated along the journey towards your fitness goal.
Before & After Photos – Getting Started
Before you take your first “baseline” photos, it’s best to plan your long term game plan.
- Determine the timeline for your photos (take photos on a regular basis – i.e., every 30 days)
- Choose a location to take your photos (uncluttered space with a white background – i.e., wall or door)
- Choose an appropriate outfit to showcase the contours of your body (no shirt and shorts for men; sports bra and shorts or a bikini for women)
- Have someone available to take girth measurements and photos (ideally the same person every time)
- Make sure you take high resolution (minimum 300 dpi) images that will clearly show changes when you compare pictures over time
Before & After Photos – Taking Great Photos
When it comes to measurements (photos, girth measurements, weight, etc.), it’s important to be consistent and keep conditions the same wherever possible. Below is a checklist for the day you take measurements and photos:
- Take accurate girth measurements (i.e., chest, abdomen, hips, thighs, calves, arms). Click here for information on how to take accurate girth measurements.
- Mark a spot on the floor where you will have the camera and a spot where you will stand to take your photos (this ensures the size and proportion of the images are consistent).
- Position the camera so you take pictures in portrait format (where the image is more tall than wide). This ensures you see everything from head to toe.
- When taking photos stand upright and look straight forward for all views (front, side/profile, and back).
Before & After Photos – 3 Basic Views
The three most basic shots to take include a front view, side/profile view, and a back view.
- Front View – Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart. Arms are at your sides, but not touching your hips (so you can see the shape of your hips and side). Avoid twisting at the hips as this creates an illusion and doesn’t truly show how your body is changing.
- Side View – Stand up straight with shoulders back and arms hanging down at your side. Make sure your hands are in the middle of your thigh (to ensure your hand doesn’t block the outline of your hips or thighs).
- Back View – The exact same set up as the front view but with your back to the camera.
If your camera does not have a “date stamp” to accurately date when the picture was taken, take an addition front view photo holding a newspaper with the date on it. Make sure the date can be read clearly in the photo.
Before & After Photos – Saving the Information
Once you’ve gathered all of the information and images for the day, be sure to do the following:
- Create a folder with today’s date (i.e., My Progress_May 1, 2014).
- Upload the photos to the folder marked with the date. Be sure to “date” each photograph and differentiate them by the photo view (i.e., front, side or back).
- Document your girth measurements in a Word document and include the date in the file name (i.e., Girth Measurements_May 1, 2014.doc)
If you take the time to carefully document your progress you will most likely enjoy the transformation journey you have in store. You will be less likely to doubt your progress and celebrate the small victories along the way.
Good luck in reaching your fitness goal (and take amazing pictures along the way)!