A weathered but profound old saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words. And in the dental industry, a perfect smile is always a provider’s goal. What better way to show off your professional expertise than with patients sporting teeth that bring out their individual charisma?
Here are some tips to make sure your before-and-after images are clear, consistent and worth a long look.
How to Light Your Shots
Lighting doesn’t have to be fancy. Two gooseneck floor lamps with strong bulbs are ideal, placed at 45-degree angles on both sides of the subject, and about 2 feet away. Employ a staff member to sit for a photo session and adjust the lighting to determine the best setup.
If the lamps are too harsh and “wash out” the patient’s features, soften the lighting by taping foam board to the lamps to disperse direct light.
What Kind of Camera?
For portrait photography as well as consistency, avoid using a Smartphone for gallery images. A DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera is ideal for this type of photography and should be mounted on a tripod for security and consistency. The settings can be locked to optimize the room lighting, distance, resolution and color filters.
The only component that should change in a gallery photo setup is the patient. Everything else—distance, lighting, backdrops, and positioning—should remain the same.
Remember your high school yearbook photos? Chances are, the backdrop was grey or blue crosshatching. These variegated colors are ideal for capturing skin tones (and “toothtones”) without distorting them. If you want a solid color, opt for elephant grey. Despite the assumption that grey is a “cold” color, it’s actually a warm, neutral tone that makes the subject “pop.”
Backdrops come in canvas and paper, usually in 6-foot wide rolls. Affix the backdrop at the very top of the ceiling and allow it to drape onto the floor.
End results are not just front facing, but side-facing too. For each subject, you’ll want to take three images: Full, straight front, a 45-degree angle from the left and a 45-degree angle from the right. Mark each position on the floor with gaffer’s tape or a magic marker so the patient will know where to place her feet so she can align her body with them at the correct angle.
Your camera should never move, just the patient. The ideal seat is an armless, adjustable height swivel chair that allows for freedom of movement and doesn’t restrict larger or taller patients. Take close-up photos of the patient’s full face at these angles, and if you need closer detail of just the mouth and jaw region, you can enlarge and crop the photos later.
Keep in mind that some patients can be insecure or just hate having their pictures taken. You don’t have to show their full faces but just images from their noses down, or a full-face image with the top half pixilated.
Gently remind a shy patient that he or she might have seen your patient gallery and that these images help to educate new patients and quell their concerns. Finally, depending on your jurisdiction, it may be a requirement that patients sign a release, so be sure to check with a legal professional to make sure you’re complying with these requirements.
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