9 of the Best Before and After Photo Contest Ideas

Discover the power of before and after photo contests on social media, and get inspired by nine contest ideas.

By Will Blunt ・6 min read
Campaign & Contest Ideas

Social media often gets a bad rap for being a superficial, unrealistic, and glorified representation of life.Yes, in some cases, this may be true…But it also has the power to be inspirational. For those that share stories of transformation and are vulnerable about their experiences, it gives hope to those that resonate with the situation they were once in.The before and after photo phenomenon is built into our makeup. It gives us a chance to share an achievement with our friends and family. And it also gives others a chance to draw inspiration from our journey. We recently upgraded our campaign server with a multi-image upload feature for ShortStack to enable our customers to run before and after photo contests.

What is a before and after photo contest?

Before and after contests tap into the psychology of change and achievement. You ask participants to upload both a before and after photo and reward the most awe-inspiring transformation with a prize.For example, here at ShortStack, we ran a “Before & After Lockdown” contest.

ShortStack's Before and After Lockdown Contest. The worldwide COVID-enforced lockdown is a topical event that has changed the way we live. Some people may have a new hairstyle, have grown a beard, learned to cook something new, or transformed their body. It’s a great fit for a before and after contest.But what other before and after contest ideas are there? How can you leverage this style of a giveaway with your next campaign?Here are nine before and after contest ideas to help you brainstorm.

#1. Body Transformation

One of the most common before and after contests is the body transformation.Getting fit and healthy is a recurring goal for many people in western society. When someone sees a body transformation, they want to replicate the same outcome.What types of businesses could run a body transformation contest?Well, body transformation isn’t limited to one type of business. However, it is well-suited to health food brands, diet programs, fitness professionals or gyms, and other health-related businesses.The Beach Body Challenge is a recurring body transformation contest with both small (t-shirts) and large ($100,000) prizes up for grabs:

Recurring body transformation before and after contest.   Here is another example, this time from food delivery and diet planning business, Jenny Craig, on Instagram:

Team Beachbody Beach Body Challange Share Your Photos To Us Today

Instagram before and after contest.

#2. Makeover

Another favorite before and after photo contest is the makeover challenge.Whether you’re selling hair and makeup products or offering services in this sector - this contest could be a winner. Especially given how much extra time people have on their hands while staying at home!This Instagram contest from Laced Hair Extensions is a unique example:

Instagram Makeover Contest From Laced Hair Extensions

Before and after contest with hair extensions.   You might also see makeup brands run event-specific makeover contests, such as at Halloween, where people can submit their most creative and lifelike Halloween makeup creations.

#3. Beard or Mustache

Facial hair before and after contests are similar in a way to makeovers but suitable for different brands. Beard grooming products are all the buzz at the moment with long beards and mustaches in trend.The Ski Republic was creative when running a mustache growing contest by leveraging the well-known men’s health charity, Movember. They even made it possible for females to enter by providing fake yellow and pink mustaches for people to add to their photos:

Ski Republic Creative Beard And Mustache Growing Challange

Ski Republic's Movember contest.   As you can see, your brand doesn’t have to sell beard-related products to run facial hair before and after contests. You just need to think outside the box!

#4. Renovation

Home renovations are the perfect fit for a before and after contest.You can have contestants provide an old picture of a whole home, back patio, empty space, or the interior of a room, and then an updated photo of the renovation.Renovation contests work for all sorts of businesses. You could sell renovation services, such as painting or construction, or you may just sell one component of the renovation, such as the paint for the walls or cushions for the bedroom.Choices Flooring, for example, offered their customers $1,000 back on their order value if they shared a before and after photo of their flooring transformation. What a great way to capture user-generated content and social proof!

Choices Flooring Renovation Challange Before And After Giveaway

The Choices Flooring before and after giveaway.

#5. Restoration

Renovations are for the new, restorations are for the rejuvenated.Instead of buying a new floor or knocking down a wall, you could encourage participants to restore an old favorite. The cool thing about restoration contests is that they are not limited to the home or yard. You can literally restore anything!For example, Instructables runs restoration contests regularly. Here is one where a contestant revamped an old 70’s camper van:

Industructables Restoration Challange Before And After

A restoration before and after contest.   Furniture restoration specialist, Bekah, even created a standalone Instagram account to run transformation contests as a way of promoting her business:

Bekah Restoration Contest To Promote Business

Furniture restoration examples.

#6. Backyard Landscaping

Do you sell landscaping or gardening tools and services? The backyard transformation is a winning contest idea.Whether you have contestants create a new water feature, design a vegetable patch, or perfectly mow their lawn, the before and after pictures can be stunning.Landscape designer, Jules Moore, regularly shows off before and after photos on her Instagram. Look how good this transformation looks!

Jules Moore Transformation Contest Before And After Photos

Backyard landscaping before and after images.

#7. Decorations

The satisfaction of decorating a home or garden can be amplified by sharing the before and after shots on social media.This type of before and after contest works really well for events such as Halloween or Christmas, for example, when people are already decorating their homes anyway. But if you can get creative you can come up with a decorating contest for any time of the year.One of the most recognizable decorations contests is for Christmas lights:

Holiday Lights Contest Alert Travelgirl_Global Christmas Promotion

Holiday lights before and after contest.   Here’s another one from Walworth County Fair for Halloween:

Halloween before and after giveaway.   If your products are well-suited to decorative use, then this could be the choice for you.

#8. Declutter/Cleaning

There’s nothing like a good old fashioned spring clean to tap into that feeling of accomplishment. So why not create a contest out of it?Decluttering contests are a great way for you to encourage your audience to finally clean up that room they’ve been neglecting for months on end.Instructables even has a “Speed” decluttering challenge with a range of prizes on offer. One of the winners created a whole new adjustable set of shelves to organize their electronics.

Industructables Speed Decluttering With A Prove Of Adjustable Shelves

Declutter challenge.

#9. Then and now

I couldn’t write a guide about before and after contests without mentioning the “then and now.” It’s one of my favorites.This contest variation taps into nostalgia by comparing photos of something from the past with how it looks today.In this example, a photo of a woman with her dog at different points in her life is used to convey the meaning of the contest:

Photo Of Woman With Her Dog Then And Now Contest

Then and now contest example.   Your then and now contest could be about just about anything, as long as it portrays a transformation or story of time.


Not much is more inspiring than a before and after photo of a transformation. Be it a significant body change, home renovation, or extravagant Halloween decoration, you’re bound to attract a lot of interest and user-generated content from your audience with this style of contest.Ready to get started? Check out ShortStack’s multi-image upload feature and start building your contest today.

About the author

By Will Blunt ・6 min read

Will Blunt is the founder of Sidekick Digital by Will Blunt - B2B Marketing Expert - Sidekick Digital, a publishing business that launches, manages, and grows brands with content marketing.

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