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Photo Release? Can I Take Before and After Photos?

Photo release? Can’t I just take before and after photos of the houses I’ve cleaned? Or do I need a photo release?

Today on Ask a House Cleaner we look at legal ways to market your cleaning business on social media. Before and after pictures need permission, a photo release and/or a creative commons license.

Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru gives tips on dirty vs. clean, slime vs. shine, and messy vs. organized photos. What you need to know before you take that shot.

Today’s show sponsor is

HouseCleaning360 is a business referral network for house cleaners and maids and housekeepers.

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Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer.

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Question: Photo Release? Can I Take Before and After Photos?

Now, today’s question comes from a house cleaner who wants to know: “Is it okay, if I’m at a customer’s house, to take before and after pictures of my cleaning?”

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Answer: Photo Release? Can I Take Before and After Photos?


Now, that’s an excellent question. Because a lot of house cleaners promote their businesses online through social media. And they use before and after pictures of the things that they have cleaned.

 Before and After Pictures to Show Your Ability

And so, the object is, to compare a dirty toilet with a clean one to show your ability to clean a house.

So, is it okay? Well, the rule of thumb is this: You cannot take a picture of someone else’s house unless you have their permission. This is not set in stone, and it’s not a law of the land. It’s just the rule of thumb. The polite thing to do.

So, you may want to create just a simple waiver that says

“Is it okay if I take before and after photos of some of the appliances in your home? I promise not to use any identifying information. No family photos, custom decorations etc. that your family or friends would recognize.”

Isolate the Appliance You Want to Photograph

Photo Release taking a picture

So, what you want to do is isolate the item that you’re taking the picture of.

Like, let’s say for example that you want to take a picture of an icky shower. Just take a picture of the shower, you don’t need to take a picture of the whole bathroom, just the icky shower.

And then, clean the shower, and take a new photo to show how amazing it looks. And the comparison of the photos gives you that “Oh wow” moment you seek.

Protect Your Customers

But, again, you don’t want to embarrass the people that have paid you to come into their home to clean. So, don’t ever photo anything sensitive or personal.


Where Do You Get a Photo Release Form? 

Photo Release sharing information

You can create a legal photo release form, at Rocket Lawyer.

We use photo release forms all the time in my company. We use them for everything. Blogs, videos, social media posts, business cards of employees with their photos, website etc. 

Your graphic designer shouldn’t touch any photo without a signed release on file. 

Future Proof Your Business with a Photo ReleasePhoto Release video editing

If you do Facebook live videos, or you make “how to” videos for your company, have a signed release on file.

I know what you’re thinking:  “Why would I have a signed release of me? I’m the one that created the video.”

You’re correct. It’s weird. But in the event that you sell your business down the road, the new owner can’t use these without permission.

You might be in a car accident and are unable to sign a release form.  Your family members may want to sell the company on your behalf. 

Cover your bases by having a signed photo release on file.

Creative Commons License for photo releaseCreative Commons License – Video Photo Release

I have a YouTube channel with videos free to the public. Those videos are available in the public domain. I am hoping that people watch and share them with other house cleaners.

To protect myself and you, I have a signed photo release (of my image) on file. And I’ve embedded a creative commons license in the meta tag of every public video I release on YouTube.

I know, that sounds crazy, right?

I’m granting permission (with the license,) for you to share the video in any way you see fit. 

Photo Release – It Protects Everybody

If you are going to take photos and videos of other people just protect them and you by having a signed photo release.

It would be awful if you created something awesome and decided to use it for promotional purposes. And then have your business sued by somebody who wanted to cash in on your creations.

So, if you are going to use before and after pictures, make sure you clear it with the customer first.  You don’t want to get fired or lose your job because their friends saw their messy house on Facebook. That’s not cool.

What Happens If You Don’t Have a Photo Release on File? Photo Release refusing to sign

Whatever you do for the rest of your life in the name of social media and marketing, there will be photos and videos.

That’s how we communicate now. It’s just a way of life.

So, get in the habit right now of carrying release forms with you.

When we’re out and about, I carry five to ten cameras with me when we travel. And if I run into a scenario where I want to start filming, I pull out the release forms. 

If I catch somebody on camera, I’ve got to have a release form signed by them, or I have to blur out their face.

Blur Out Those Faces

If somebody won’t sign a release form. You don’t have permission to use that photo or video clip. Just don’t use it at all or you can use it, but blur their face so they are unrecognizable. Filming the back of them is okay without permission. But filming their face, you’ve got to have a release signed form.

Alrighty, I hope that helps a little bit. And until we meet again, leave the world a cleaner place than when you found it.

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Resources For This Episode

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Use of Likeness Photo Release for Photographers –

Creative Commons License –

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