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Photography Guide for Treatment Centers

How Great Photography Improves Your Admissions

A comparison of a good and bad picture for rehabs. A stock photo is bad, a natural scene of people doing yoga is good.

Compelling photos of your center unlock opportunities for connection, trust, and profile clicks. Centers that follow these guidelines typically see significant improvements in the number of people that click on their profile and connect with admissions. These principles can help your own website and your Google My Business profile just as much.

Show. Don’t Tell.

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” 

Why? Because pictures immediately affect emotions. They garner trust, emotional connection, and slice through the fear of the unknown. And they do that all in seconds.


Pictures turn a building with beds and rooms into a place people can recover. They can help the 90% of people who don’t get treatment cross that bridge.

Jeremiah Calvino, RehabPath Co-Founder


Good photos can potentially do more for your center profile than your accreditations, location, and staff. People on the internet don’t read, either. They scan—usually, looking for pictures or something else that jumps out. That’s how photos show. 

So think about every aspect of your program that matters and how you can visually show it to someone who likely knows nothing about treatment.

Why Do Photos Matter?

Seeing the experience you offer gives potential patients confidence in their decision—which can be invaluable to someone making a life-changing, life-saving choice. Honestly representing the experience at your center instills trust, which can encourage someone to reach out for treatment.


Photos show the reality of addiction and mental health rehab. They ease fears of the unknown and squash stereotypes about rehab.



Authentic pictures attract and build trust. Stock pictures don’t. 

Stock Photos—Boo!

One clear way to attract? Use authentic photos and avoid stock photos. People can spot staged photos from a mile away, and no one (or very few) can emotionally connect to stiff poses, unrealistic settings, despondent grimaces, and artificial smiles


RehabPath values transparency, so stock photos go against our guidelines for provider profiles.



A comparison of a staged stock photo to a candid scene of people doing yoga in an outdoor group.


Professional Photography—Yay!

Hire a professional photographer. Consider their work a true investment: you pay for their talent and the connections your photos will make with prospective patients.


P.S. If professional photography isn’t an option for you, that’s okay. It’s much better to have non-professional photos than none at all. Use your phone or a camera to snap pictures of your clean and styled facility. Our next tips still apply, too!



A comparison of two off-centered and blurry pictures of a treatment center to a centered, clear photo of the same center.

Variety is the Spice of Photography

Include various settings, angles, seasons, and models in your photo shoot. This keeps the eye and mind engaged, and creates a chance for connection with each new shot. More photos also open a larger window into your treatment experience, which can make an unknown situation less daunting. 

A note on ethics: The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) says “Patients’ identities must not be revealed by a treatment provider, either in the form of photographic images, video images, media coverage, or in marketing testimonials, at any time during the client’s engagement.” Doing so, NAATP says, is only okay if the patient gives informed, written consent and has finished treatment. For more advice, see Jaywalker’s code of ethics. You can also hire models to pose as patients. They’ll portray the exact day-to-day life at your center while keeping your patients’ privacy intact. 

Separate pictures of a facility’s aerial view, a woman tackling a ropes course, and three people around an outdoor fire.

Highlight the Genuine Experience

Genuine photos attract by appealing to desires and emotions, which can “stop the thumb” mid-scroll. A professional photographer can keep your models and scenes looking natural, compelling, and trustworthy—which reflect back on your center as a whole and make the experience look familiar.

This is called lifestyle photography.

Separate pictures of two men talking on a couch, a group doing outdoor yoga, and two people meeting their doctor.
Three versions of a woman at a zip line course. They get progressively clearer and engaging, with the third the best.
Three scenes of food, with the first unappetizing, the second boring, and the third an engaging scene of people eating.
Three group therapy setups, the first a stock image, the second from a real center, and the third people sitting together.



The Value of Lifestyle Photography

Lifestyle photography captures genuine moments and everyday situations—like candid photos, but better. Using lifestyle photography, you can represent the unique experience of your treatment center.


We’ve found lifestyle photography can produce a 166% better click-through-rate than a profile without.

Jeremiah Calvino, RehabPath Co-Founder


Capturing the real-life experiences of your center also helps potential patients imagine themselves at your center. When they can easily see themselves recovering with you, their confidence builds, their trust grows, and your center becomes familiar. Knowing what to expect soothes the fears of an unknown, highly stereotyped experience.

Photos of your center’s true experience provide the information, trust, and familiarity people need to make a decision in a tumultuous time. That’s priceless. 



Ideal Photos for Your Profile

You can enhance your RehabPath profile with lifestyle photography and other small improvements. 

The More, The Merrier

Include every room, angle, and activity you reasonably can. You never know who may appreciate seeing your walking paths, or who will want to know what equine therapy looks like. Include as much as you can to familiarize the experience and show what you offer. We recommend a minimum of 8 pictures for each profile.

Three comparisons of equine therapy, the first dark and blurry, the second unengaging, and the third a woman petting a horse.


Showcase Your Uniqueness

Do you have a unique treatment track? A professionals or veterans program? An outdoor activity you only do in the winter? Then make sure your photos show it off.

A man windsurfing on the ocean and a separate example of a woman petting a therapy wolf.


Clear Photos for Header Images

Make sure you have high-resolution images, too. A professional photographer, using a high megapixel camera, provides the high-quality photos you’ll need. If that’s not an option, you can use your phone.

We use large photos for header images, so be sure to send one our way. All images should be at least 2000 pixels.

The same center photographed three times, the first blurry, the second clear but off-focus, the third bright and centered.

A good picture will look mostly clear, bright enough to see everything in the picture, and centered. A great picture will account for angles, lighting, and have a staged scene without any obstructions. The best picture will include great lighting, clean and level interior shots, a staged scene with models, and high-resolution clarity. 

The front of a rehab center with dark shadows compared to the same center with its lights on and no shadows.
A rehab center with harsh shadows and slanted lighting compared to the same center with correct lighting.
Amateur: direct sunlight, lots of shadows, lots going on vs. Professional: proper night lighting, better angle/crop, no shadows, window lights, more inviting



Spotlight Your Staff 

Place your smiling staff in front of a plain, nondescript background. Avoid brick backdrops, textured walls, direct sunlight, and unnatural poses. Friendly, approachable-looking staff can set someone at ease.

A smiling woman standing in front of a brick wall compared to a woman with a non-distracting background.
A collection of dissimilar staff headshots compared to a collection with the same background and gentle lighting.



Knowing who’s involved in treatment can enhance the relatability of your center and improve someone’s trust.


Life-Changing Photography: It’s Real.

Photos can prompt a life-changing decision by creating trust, confidence, emotional connection, and intrinsic appeal. Those qualities help connect the right people with your care. That means more qualified leads—and more opportunities to help people recover.

A checklist of what to include in the photos of an outpatient rehab center.

A checklist of what to include in photos of a residential rehab center.

To add pictures or make any edits to your profile, contact us at