Photographing a Car for Sale

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With thousands of options online for potential buyers, attracting attention to your used car advertisement can be difficult.

One way you can make your vehicle stand out from the rest is to take a variety of good photographs. Use these tips to take pictures for the perfect used car listing.

Present a Clean Car

Before you take pictures of your vehicle for your advertisement, make sure you:

  • Wash the exterior.
    • Apply a fresh coat of wax.
    • Detail the wheels.
    • Make sure the wheels are shiny.
  • Clean the interior.
    • This includes:
      • Washing the carpet if necessary.
      • Replacing floor mats.
      • Cleaning the trunk.
      • Vacuuming the interior.
  • Clean and roll up the windows showing they are intact and operational.

Use the Right Camera

Most sellers choose to take photos of their vehicle with a smartphone. While this is a convenient option, it might not be your best choice depending on the pixels of the camera on your phone.

Using a "stand alone" digital camera can increase the clarity and quality of your photographs.

Make Smart Lighting Choices

Lighting is a consideration not many sellers take into account when photographing their vehicle. But make no mistake—choosing the right time of day can make a huge difference in the quality of your photographs.

A few things you'll want to avoid include:

  • Shooting at midday.
    • When the sun is at its brightest, your photos will tend to look washed out and not as sharp.
  • Taking photos at night.
    • The flash of your camera won't show off the details of your car as well.
  • Reflections.
    • If you take pictures next to buildings, people, or other vehicles, these images will be noticeable in your photographs.
    • Taking photographs when the sunlight is not at its brightest will help.
    • Parking your vehicle in an open space is ideal.

For perfect lighting, you should aim to:

  • Take pictures just before the sun rises OR just after it sets.
    • This limits the amount of direct sunlight, but lighting will still be sufficient enough to get good exposure.
    • Glare will be limited.
  • Stay away from other large objects.
    • Buildings or other vehicles can create shadows and reflections.

Take a Variety of Photos

While most classified online sites will charge according to the number of photos you put in your advertisement, including as many photos as possible can help your vehicle sell quicker. How many you include will be up to you.

To get the right variety, be sure to take pictures:

  • At eye level for basic shots.
  • Of the exterior, including:
    • The front.
    • Both side profiles.
    • The rear.
    • The wheels.
    • Tire tread.
    • The grille.
    • Tail lights.
  • Of the interior, including:
    • Seats.
    • Stereo.
    • Shifter.
    • Odometer.
    • VIN number.
    • Dashboard.
    • Steering wheel.
    • Trunk.
    • Engine.
  • Of every angle, focusing on quantity.
    • By taking multiple photos, you can choose the best of the bunch later.
  • That are creative.
    • Experiment with high and low shots taken at angles.
    • If they turn out well, it could be that perfect shot that attracts attention to your car.
  • That don't hide the flaws.
    • If there are dents, scratches, or other issues, take pictures of these as well.
    • Buyers will appreciate your honesty.
  • Of special features, such as:
    • Folding seats (especially for SUVs).
    • Sun roof.
    • Performance upgrades.
    • Upgraded stereos.
    • Storage space.
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