How to Take Photos to Sell a Car


Selling Online or in Print
When selling a car (or anything else for that matter) online, there are a few key principles to follow to increase your chances of a sale. One of the big ones is photos and images. Even with things like cars, where 99% of people come to look before they buy, having nice images gets your foot in the door. Looking over the classifieds, I’m often surprised how little effort some people put into making their item for sale look good. Sometimes these can be high ticket items – but when shot at night, on a mobile, multiple times on one side, in a shed (you get my drift) – you really are not helping your chances in making a quick win. Worse case, you loose all your potential buyers.

Now, I’m by no means an automotive magazine quality photographer, but if you follow some of my general guidelines below I have developed when selling my cars, you wont be any worse off!

1 – Clean the car!
Spend 30minutes (or much more) giving it a good wash. Even if you don’t look after something – make it look like you do. Dry the car off after! (unless you are hiding that faded or lost clear coat?) Of course, if you kept it clean all along, this step is easy.

2 – When
Shoot during the day, where possible in good weather and light. Those few hours around sunrise and sunset are best, avoiding the high midday sun where you can. If you have some lights or whatnot you want to show off for night shots, taken them – but include daytime shots also.


3 – What with
If you are using your cellphone, shoot in landscape format. Well, that applies to all cameras really – its just a lot of mobile phones are shot by habit in portrait. If you are lucky enough to have a camera that can adjust aperture shoot fairly wide open (within reason). Throwing your background out of focus just enough to keep the focus on the car. If you have a tripod, you might like to use it here. Also, if you have lenses, or a zoom, try at different focal lengths. Often 50-80mm portrait can work well.

4- Venue
Venue sets the scene. Travelling 10min from your garage to an open spot helps paint the picture for the buyer. This cars not just shoved in a garage – it looks nice when out and about. If you shoot in attractive, or themed surrounds, it gives the item for sale a bit of appealing background. This in turn, helps it be a pleasing image. I prefer shooting off the road (If I can find somewhere) with a bit of nature in the background. Equally, I have also shot some cars in built up industry areas early morning and in weekends before people are out and about.


5 – Angles
Personally, aside from roof and interior shots, I’m of the strong opinion that you want to shoot cars from below head height. Get down low – not on the ground (well, for some shots maybe), but around waist height works well. Capture the lines of the car – contrasting to the background. Rather than just shooting square front and sides, which works, but can be a little uninteresting, also shoot some angles of the vehicle – capturing the front and one side gives depth to the car, and allows people to see the nice shiny and straight panel work (of course, if its not straight you can use these tips still, just with different intentions)

6- Images of What
People buying online like to see as much as they can before taking the plunge to come see you. Without flicking through 20 pictures of the glovebox at different angles (I’ve seen it), make a capture of the car circling round – front corners, Back corners, under the hood, in the boot/trunk, back seats and front seats. Maybe the dash with mileage showing. If you have special parts on the car that appeal to your intended market, shoot them too.

Thats it!
And thats It! The main bulk of things I consider when shooting a vehicle for sale. Start with that and your images will already be in the top 15% of the classifieds. Obviously other factors like price, ‘words’ etc. are also important in selling, but I’m running out of space today.


Editing todays images
For todays images, I shot them on my Sony Nex using the kit zoom, and also a polarising filter to remove the glare from the windscreen. If you compare the below originals with those posted above you might also see a few more tweaks I made in post. Aside from the whited out number plate, I didn’t make any adjustments to the car itself – I want to keep that as honest as possible. However, I did edit out power poles and power lines – both which distracted from the focus on the car. Finally for personal taste today, I added a minor vignette to the images. Why? – I think it adds a small difference and makes one look for that split second longer when scrolling through the hundreds of cars available.

Unedited images

So if any of you reading are selling something, hope todays list has helped!

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