It's been proven that photographs have a direct correlation to both the final sale price and popularity of vehicles sold online. Not only do quality photographs help potential buyers get a better sense of your vehicle and bid with confidence, but they also help to get more eyes on your auction. We understand not everyone wants to bear the cost of a professional photographer, however, those that do will yield a higher final bid amount which ultimately pays for the photographer and, in the end, puts more money in your pocket as the seller.
If you're planning to handle the photography of your vehicle yourself, we've put together a photo guide to help ensure you capture all of the necessities and give your vehicle the best presentation possible. While it does help to use a professional grade digital camera, modern day phones now come with cameras that are fully capable of getting the job done.
1. Clean Your Car
While this may seem obvious to most, we often see vehicles listed for sale that have not been properly detailed, let alone cleaned. Not only does a clean vehicle look much nicer in photos, it also prevents dirt from hiding imperfections or distracting buyers from the vehicle itself. In addition, it's safe to assume that an owner who doesn't bother to take the time to clean their car for photos has also not taken time to properly maintain the car. Don't forget to clean out the engine bay, cargo area, and interior.
2. Pick an Appropriate Location
We recommend finding a location with a background that has as little distractions as possible. You want people to look at your car when viewing the photos so avoid having other vehicles, signs, or distracting items within the photo. For example, an empty parking lot is acceptable while the mall parking lot filled with cars in the background is not.
3. Be Mindful of Lighting
Always photograph your vehicle outside. Direct sunlight should be avoided if possible due to harsh shadows. If you must take photos in direct sunlight make sure the sun is not directly in the photo or it will create too much contrast and wash out your vehicle in the photo. Think of the sun as a spotlight and use it to your advantage. Dawn or dusk are the ideal times for the best natural light. Overcast weather is great for photos as well as it provides adequate lighting without glares or shadows. This is especially important for interior shots so find a shade if you must. Lastly, don't wait too late in the day or you'll quickly run out of sunlight and photos that are too dark won't help anyone. Remember, you can move the car for different angles as needed whereas you can't always move your lighting source.
4. Hold Camera Horizontally for Landscape View
Make sure your camera is turned horizontally for a landscape view. This means that the photo is wider than it is tall. This will allow you to easily fit more of the car in each photo, especially for exterior shots. We recommend keeping all photos consistent in this view. Please make sure a finger isn't lingering along the border of the photo by accident and no thumbs over license plates. If you don't want your license plate in the photos, remove it.
5. Shot List
There's a lot necessary angles and items to capture when photographing your car for an auction. To help, we've put together a list of shots to include at a bare minimum in order to give bidders a complete view of the vehicle being sold. Obviously, we encourage additional photos at different angles and heights to get the most comprehensive presentation on the listing. It's relatively standard to have 100+ photos in one listing. Walk-around and driving videos are also strongly encouraged to give the best presentation possible for potential buyers. Be sure to include imperfections (dents, scrapes, corrosion, etc) as well so we can present your car accurately and honestly.
- Driver-side profile
- Driver-side front quarter angle
- Driver-side rear quarter angle
- Passenger-side profile
- Passenger-side front quarter angle
- Passenger-side rear quarter angle
- Head on front
- Head on rear
- Each individual panel up close (roof, hood, trunk, quarter panels, doors, bumpers)
- Trim pieces
- Underneath each door
- Each wheel and tire individually
- VIN tags and stickers
- View from driver door open
- View from passenger door open
- Each door card
- Steering wheel
- Center console
- Gear selector/shifter
- All seats (full shot and side bolsters)
- Guages (include shot with vehicle running)
- Carpets and floor mats
- Door jams
- Switches and controls
- Trunk/Cargo area
- Spare tire
- Engine bay (multiple angles, all sides)
- Underbody (recommended on a lift or incline)
- Service records and owner's manual
- Tool kit
- Any additional accessories that accompanies the car
- Any and all imperfections or problem areas
- Title (for verification purposes only, not included in listing)
Get the best of The MB Market directly in your inbox every day. Subscribe for a curated list of our top market listings and articles!