In my industry there can be a lot of pressure to put up before and after shots of my work with clients. I get asked often for pictures, or get told I should put them up to display what I do. You know, make it obvious how much of an impact I can make on someone’s space and life.
To be honest, I rarely do them. I have a few here and there when a client is very happy for the pictures to be public, and celebrate their success. Rarely though, do I even take photographs at client’s homes. On occasion I will ask them if I can take a picture (or tell them to take their own) so they can see their own progress. I have asked on occasion to photograph a memory box we’ve created, or a paperwork station, so I can use it as an example of what someone could do. Generally, there are no identifying features in the photo though, and I am sure to get the picture approved by them. Mostly, I ask to photograph and share a picture of their pets, which they’re happy to do.
So why don’t I do it?
1. I don’t want to put undue pressure on my clients when they’re already feeling overwhelmed and often embarrassed and ashamed of where they’re at.
Most of my clients feel bad about the state of their house and find it extremely challenging to let me in the front door, let alone photograph their clutter in all its glory. It’s hard for me to say ‘hey share that shame you’re feeling with the world by letting me photograph it to build my business!”
I personally don’t think they should be ashamed as clutter is just a sign of life. I just know they feel anxious and embarrassed and asking them to be even more vulnerable makes me uncomfortable. I loath to do it. So I don’t.
2. Canberra is a small place. My clients have verbalised that they reckon someone will recognise their stuff or room, so even if a client was happy to share anonymously, Canberra being tiny means they are left feeling vulnerable again. So, see point one! It’s too much pressure on my client to share them.
3. Photos aren’t the be all and end all. I can share clients progress in words rather than pictures. The words they use to explain how their space makes them feel can often be much more powerful than any picture. Their success should be measured this way anyway. The relief of having things set up the way they pictured, is much more important to me, then getting a Pinterest worthy photo to share.
4. Although most before and after shots would have you believe we all live in magazine cover homes, real before and afters are not that Pinterest worthy.
When I work with clients, we work through their things and keep what is important to them and their family. We often use storage they already have (like shoe boxes and the like), so we don’t end up with a ‘Martha Stewart’ look or the Kiki K catalogue office. It’s neat, organised and an obvious improvement but there are imperfections. I think the before and afters often shared are unrealistic and put undue pressure on me as an organiser, on my clients to get things perfect, and to anyone following my posts to also be picture perfect. None of us have time for that!
5. I think sharing my own journey, experiences and realisations give a good picture of how I can help you. I don’t think I necessarily need to share a before and after picture to show you what I can do. Besides, what I do goes much deeper than the physical layer. I help people penetrate below their stuff and look at why it’s really there. What’s really going on in their life. No picture can capture that.
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