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8. Photographic Records

Uses Of Photography

If you wish, you can take your visual record keeping even further by taking photographs of your client’s feet. Photographs add a unique dimension to your work in that they give an immediately accessible record of the condition of the feet and, therefore, the person’s overall health. They provide an overview in a way that written records could never do, no matter how detailed, and there are several ways that they can be used to enhance both visual learning and record keeping.

A Picture Paints A Thousand Words

photo 1.

The following Victorian photograph is of plaster casts of two feet. Foot B belongs to an adult who has never worn shoes. Foot A belongs to a boy who has worn shoes for a short while. The black line shows how straight the alignment of the bone structure is. It is fascinating to note the difference and how much shoes have restricted the foot and altered its bone structure.


For Study

Insights into a client’s health

The most important use of photos is the benefit they can bring when helping us treat clients. Studying pictures of a client’s feet is a great way to gain a more profound knowledge of their health and wellbeing. Because we can study them at our leisure, and it is often easier to read the feet in a photo than in the light we use when giving a treatment, they allow us to gain other insights, which are different and, at times, more profound. For example, small lines and marks and slight changes in colour and texture tend to be much more evident in a photo. 

These things may seem of little importance, but they can be the markers that guide us to more meaningful ways to work with the client that we may not have realised otherwise. They can be especially useful with clients we may feel ‘stuck’ regarding how best to treat them. Or who may have multiple health issues and we are not sure which to prioritise, for example.

To improve our foot reading skills

We can use them to study by ourselves, as this is an excellent way to train our eyes and gain foot reading experience that we can practice during treatments. We can also share them for communal discussion in online reflexology forums, and this has grown enormously in popularity since I started the first online study group on Facebook. It is beneficial to ask fellow group members for advice on working on a client’s feet simply by sharing photos. And also counts towards (free) CPD points.

For self knowledge

It is especially fascinating to have photos taken of one’s own feet to study or ask for comments about them from other reflexologists, particularly the plantar aspect, as this is something few people have ever seen. We always do this at the Visual Reflexology workshops I run, as it can be very illuminating and show the person a lot about their physical and mental wellbeing. (We can fool ourselves, but our feet never lie!) A photo and reading of my own feet follow (photo 2.).

photo 2.

The main insight I gained about my health from seeing the photo I was unaware of was related to the amount of yellow on the lung reflexes, especially the right one. As I will explain in more detail in the chapter on ‘Reading skin tones’, yellow indicates toxicity at a reflex. 

But I’ve never smoked, and I don’t have any lung problems to my knowledge. However, I live right by a main road in a city, so pollution is very heavy near my house. And I have hereditary sinus issues and had a postnasal drip my entire adult life. So I think this is what the yellowness reflects: the toxicity/mucosity in the lining of the lungs caused by these factors. 

This reminded me how health issues may not be reflected as an obvious problem with an organ but can still impact a system of the body, in this case, the respiratory system. So although I do not have any acute lung problems, their function in terms of oxygenation and detoxification impacts dramatically on all body organs and so will affect any other health issues I may have.

Emotionally, I need to consider what toxic emotions from the past I may be hanging onto that is holding me back from taking in new experiences. (The metaphysical interpretation of breathing, i.e. breathing out: letting go of the old, and breathing in, letting in the new.)

For record-keeping

Having a photographic record of your client’s feet is an excellent addition to anyone’s practice, but it is up to the individual therapist how often to take and use photos. Whether you like to photograph all four aspects of the feet every time or just take an occasional shot of something that interests you. 

It is interesting to take a photo of the feet at the beginning of each treatment and then at the end to see how their energy has changed. You can also keep a photographic record of longer-term changes over a course of treatments. Or, if you know you aren’t likely to see the client for a while, it is helpful to take photos as they serve as a good reminder of how things were for the next time you see them. 

Keeping a photographic record is especially convenient for the growing number of reflexologists who store their notes online*, as it is very easy to add the photos alongside. It is not as convenient to see them alongside handwritten notes (though if you wish, you can print them out and attach them), but taking photographs is still a good idea as it is straightforward to store them online. 

*(N.B., if you are thinking of starting to keep your records this way, contact your professional body for advice on an app on which to do so, as there are strict laws regarding online privacy and encryption.)

Engaging clients with their treatment

Showing clients photos of their feet can be another way to engage them with their treatment and reflexology generally. Clients are usually fascinated by having their feet photographed and visually assessed. They like to look at the photos with the therapist and have how health issues can be seen manifesting on them explained. And then how the appearance of their feet changes due to reflexology and how these changes correspond to improvements in their health. 

It can even encourage a client who is slightly sceptical about the idea of reflexology to see how working on their feet is for more than just relaxation and that specific organs and health benefits can be accessed through the feet. Just be careful not to diagnose whilst chatting with them, though. Be aware of how much time reading the photos for them might add to your session.

For marketing 

‘Before’ and ‘After’ photos can be highly effective marketing tools. A picture can sometimes replace a thousand words, especially when used on a website, Facebook page, or even a business card. They work especially well if you can get before and after photos of a pair of feet that show many changes that are immediately apparent in terms of relaxation, improved skin tone, etc. These kinds of photos are very useful for attracting clients who don’t know much about reflexology.

Technique And Etiquette

There are some important things to consider regarding your technique and also the etiquette of taking photos of a client’s feet. 


  • Try to always take photos in the same kind of strong light and from the same angle. 
  • Take photos before using a cleansing wipe and applying any lotion or wax, as all these things can alter the appearance of the surface of the skin. 
  • Don’t ask the client to raise their feet, rotate them, or move them in any way to get a photo. They should be lying in their natural position. It is essential to get a correct impression of this as their alignment will provide you with much information about their musculoskeletal system. If you are sitting too low to have a good view of the soles, raise their leg support, or crouch down to get a better photo.
  • The only exceptions to this rule above are – 1. If you cannot get a good view of the soles because the angle of the ankles is too acute, lift each foot to get a shot. 2. when the feet are rolling too far outwards for a photo of the lateral aspect to be taken. After taking a photo of the feet in their natural position, ask the client to rotate one foot medially just for long enough for a photo to be taken. Then repeat for the other foot.


Always get permission

We need to be sure our clients are happy with us taking photos and keeping photographic records, not just agreeing out of politeness. It’s worth adding a section in your privacy notice to ensure that the client agrees, but it’s always best to check again in person, as people often don’t read them properly. 

You need additional agreement if you wish to post their photos online forums or for marketing purposes. And also, let them know that if they decide at any time that they’ve changed their mind and don’t want their photos taken, stored or used, it’s okay.


Clients are usually interested to hear feedback from other reflexologists, but you must be careful regarding anonymity if you are posting their photos on a forum. This is also extremely important if you intend to use them publicly for marketing purposes. Assure them that their name or anything else identifying them, such as ‘my friend’ or ‘ my niece’, will not be used. 

And do not include anything in the background that could identify them – not just their face obviously, but also distinctive outfits, or if taking a photo in their home, any distinguishing furnishings. All this is easily achieved by properly focusing the camera, editing the image, or drawing over parts of the photo with media tools.

There is no need to use the method of protecting anonymity used in photo 3. following which was sent to my Visual Reflexology Facebook group!!

towel head

Beware of Pants

When taking photos, be super careful with clients wearing dresses and skirts. It’s not unusual sometimes with reclining clients to have a good view up their skirt. So, it is really important that in your enthusiasm to try out your foot reading skills, you don’t get carried away while taking a foot photo and inadvertently include a fine shot of her underwear. (This is very easy to do, judging by the number of these sent to the Facebook group.) 

It’s always best to put a cover over a client if you can see up her skirt for obvious reasons, but it’s vital to do so if you’re taking a photo. Because really, if you show a client a picture of her flashing her pants, while presumably, you have not noticed, she almost certainly will. The chances are that the client will be mortified, and you may never see her again.

Be quick

Even if you are taking photos of all four aspects of the feet, which is ideal, this should not take more than a few minutes. It should not eat too much into the ‘hands-on’ time of the treatment itself, as the client may resent this. This also applies to showing the photos to a client. If you are both happy to chat about them for a while, that’s great, but otherwise, try to keep your discussion brief. 

Avoid diagnostics

A significant drawback when explaining to clients how their health can be seen in a photo is that it can encourage diagnostic requests. Like any other aspect of reflexology, foot reading is not to be used for diagnosing physically or emotionally (don’t ever tell a client how they are feeling, only ask!). So you may have to become even more adept at dealing with these types of questions. 

If you only take photos occasionally, tell the client it’s because you are especially interested in something you see on their feet, not because you are particularly worried. (Unless you are, of course, in which case the usual guidelines apply to referring a client to a medical/mental health care professional.)

This is the Q&A section, so please go ahead and comment on this chapter if you wish. If you want to ask me something privately so only I can view it, make a note and I will not make it visible to other readers. 

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to notify you when your comment has been approved, so you will need to check, but I aim to approve them all within 48 hours. You can also scroll down to go directly to the next chapter.

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