Any who has ever used a camera before knows that lighting is a key component to any good picture. Detailing pictures are no different. There are several types of lighting that could be used: LED, halogen, fluorescent, and direct sunlight. Depending on the specific light source used combined with the intensity of the bulb and the proximity to the paint, the scratches shown can become whited out and “disappear”. Therefore, the photo will appear to show crystal clear paint, when in reality, it has just become whited out by the light.
Aside from manipulating light, pictures are a very subjective way of portraying paint correction. A detailer could take pictures of only the areas on the car he or she wants you to see. If the bumper on the car is really scratched, but the door panel looks amazing, he might only post pictures of the door. That gives the viewer the impression that the entire vehicle looks that good, but in reality, there are still scratches present on the car. Followed by a wide shot of the car gleaming in the sun, you would never know that the vehicle is anything but perfect.
Social media has made it seem like a contest between detailers of who has the best 50/50 shot. But in reality, turning every car you polish into a competition ready show car might not always be the best choice of action. As we know, a car only has a limited amount of clear coat and polishing it down to remove every single scratch can be dangerous and irresponsible. Some clear coats are very soft and thin, which can easily be burned through. Even if you manage to get every single scratch out of the paint without incident, that car can most likely never be polished again because the clear coat is now dangerously thin. Any true professional would understand that this is a bad business practice because you just lost the potential to ever have that car return for a polish. That might be fine for a show car, but for the average daily driver, it doesn’t make sense to make it perfect.
Anyone looking to get their vehicle detailed should do some research and find a detailer that they can truly trust. Don’t let the pictures you see on Facebook or Instagram be the only qualification as to which detailer you want to choose. Go to the shop in person and get a good feel for the atmosphere and quality of work being done. There are a lot of honest, professional detailers out there who stand behind their work and not behind lighting and filters. And not all detailers want to push every vehicle they polish to perfection. Potential clients just need to be aware that detailing pictures might not be what they appear.