Whether you’re trying to sell your car online or you’re placing a classified ad in the newspaper, a picture really can say 1,000 words about your vehicle. Listings that feature a photo get noticed more and give the potential buyer a better idea of the kind of car you’re offering.
But it’s not just as simple as taking a few quick shots – you want to take good quality photos that accurately represent the car you’re selling and highlight the vehicle’s best side. Using a poor quality picture could actually hurt your selling chances. Here’s a list of tips to follow when you head out to snap a photo of your car.
Give the car a good wash
Make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape when it comes time to photograph it. Clean the exterior and interior and remove any bumper stickers or personal touches you’ve added to the inside.
Lighting is crucial
The best time to take a picture of your car is in the early morning or late evening. These are times when the sun is low and this provides a warm glow, free from harsh shadows and bright glare. A cloudy day can also be a good time to pull out your camera.
Location, location, location
Be prepared to move your car in order to find a good background for your photos. You don’t want distracting clutter in the photo like your neighbour’s house or other cars in the driveway – the car you’re selling has to be the main focus. Beware of trees and signs in the distance that look like they are growing out of your car. As you take photos of different angles of the car, be prepared to move the car once again to make sure you get the best background and lighting.
Switch your settings
Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have settings that allow you to select the picture quality. It’s best if you pick the highest quality setting along with the largest resolution – this will capture your car in greatest detail and will also make it possible to crop the photo later if needed.
Shooting in the sun
If you have no choice but to take the pictures in bright, sunny conditions, then position the vehicle to minimize deep shadows caused by the direct sunlight up above. Take photos from the sunny side of the car, and not the side that’s in the shadows. Set your camera to force the flash so you can use the flash to add light to the dark areas and minimize glare. Use the same flash setting to take photos of the inside of the car as well. Don’t park the car under a tree to try and block the sun – you’ll just end up with reflections from the branches instead.
Position yourself for great shots
Don’t make the mistake of taking photos too close to the car. This could distort a certain aspect and make it look bigger than it actually is. Instead, back up and use your zoom to get in close to the car. Kneel down to make sure the photos you’re taking are eye level to the car. This will give the potential buyer an accurate representation of the vehicle.
Take lots of photos
If you’re using a digital camera with a good sized memory card, then you have lots of room to take plenty of pictures. It’s often hard to tell how good a picture really is through the camera’s display screen. Once you’ve downloaded the images to your computer, then you’ll be able to tell if you’ve cut off a certain part of the car or if there’s a blinding glare shooting off the front bumper. By taking lots of pictures, you will increase the likelihood of getting great shots.
Give potential buyers a good variety
There are several typical shots people have become accustomed to seeing when they are shopping for a used car. The most common is a photo from the front side (either right or left) that gives a good look at both the front and the side of the car. Other great shots you should post to the listing include the front of the car, both side profiles, the rear, the front interior, the rear interior, a shot of the odometer reading, the trunk and a rear three-quarter shot of the back and side of the car.
Keep it accurate
You might want to edit out any distracting elements (parking lot lines or people walking by in the background) but don’t do anything to touch up the car or cover up flaws. Make sure the photo is an accurate representation of the car. Anything you try to hide will eventually be revealed when the buyer comes to check out the car.
Be prepared to email
If you can only add one or two pictures to the listing, a buyer might request to see more photos via email. You’ll want to resize the photos (you can do this online on a variety of websites) so you don’t overload that person’s inbox.
If you follow the tips above, then you’ll have good quality pictures that highlight your car’s best attributes. By showcasing all that your car has to offer, you’ll likely see more interest from buyers and hopefully sell your vehicle that much faster.