Sell Your Car Online: Step 1, Taking High Quality Pictures of Your Automobile
Placing your car or truck for sale in an auto classifieds website is a great way to reach tons of potential buyers. But constructing a great ad is not child’s play. To generate a lot of interest in your vehicle, you must know how to create the perfect online listing. The necessary steps are outlined in five articles titled “Sell Your Car Online.”
The first step in placing a great ad is taking pictures of the car or truck that is for sale. You don’t just want to take any picture and post it on the internet. You want to post the best picture you possibly can. After all, the potential buyers that view your online listing want to see a picture that tells them something more than just the color of the vehicle. A good picture can convey the overall condition of the body, paint, interior, and more. A good, or near professional-quality, picture can seal the deal in the buyer’s mind.
Hypothetical situation: A potential car buyer is looking for a particular car. The buyer has found two nearly identical cars, one belongs to you and one belongs to someone in a nearby state. These two cars have the same body style, the same engine and transmission, the same color, the same options, and very close to the same price. The only deciding factor is the pictures. The competing car has one low quality picture. It is half blocked by a neighboring vehicle. The sun is in the background causing a glare that obscures the color and overall appearance of the car. Your car, on the other hand, has multiple pictures from different angles. There is no sun to cause a glare and no rain to make the picture look dreary. The true color of the car shows and there is nothing blocking the view. Which car do you think the buyer would choose? Pictures of competing cars can, without a doubt, influence the potential buyer to purchase one car over another.
There are things you must consider before you take the first picture. What type of camera should I use? How many pictures should I take? What exactly should I take pictures of? Should I take the pictures in direct sunlight? Unless you are a professional photographer, or at least an experienced one, you may not know the correct answer to these questions.
What type of camera should I use? Since the pictures you upload to the internet must be in digital format, a digital camera is the best type of camera to use. If you use a non-digital camera, you first have to pay to get the film developed. Then use a scanner to digitize it. You must spend valuable time and money to do this. Using a digital camera is the most cost efficient and time conserving way to take and upload photos of your vehicle. In most cases, all you have to do is connect your camera to your computer to download the photos to the hard drive. Then you’re ready to post your ad.
What size mega pixel (MP) camera do I need? This depends on what you will be doing with the pictures. If you need large, high quality pictures, like 8X10 prints or a large display photo in the newspaper, you may need to purchase a 5 MP camera or better. If you will be printing the pictures for personal use or posting small photos in print ads in the local newspaper, you probably need a 3 MP camera or better. If all you need is camera to take pictures to be uploaded to the internet, a 2 MP camera should do the trick.
Remember this! If the picture you are taking will only be used on the internet, use the lowest quality setting that your camera has. Some cameras even have a setting for internet quality photos.
How many pictures should I take? There is no correct answer for this question. Just take as many as you need. A good photographer will take pictures from multiple angles as well as take duplicate pictures from each angle. If you have 20 pictures to choose from, you can easily find at least 5 high quality photos to post with your listing that show lots of detail about your vehicle. Then you can delete the unused photos so you’re not wasting space on your hard drive.
What exactly should I take pictures of? You need pictures from opposite angles that show the exterior of the vehicle. Pictures should be taken of the engine compartment with the hood raised. More pictures should be taken of the interior. If your vehicle has expensive aftermarket accessories, take pictures of them. For example, take close ups of expensive mag wheels, custom artwork or painting, or a high-tech audio system. In essence, you want to convey the overall condition of the vehicle and any special features the vehicle may have with the pictures you take.
Where should I take the pictures? You need to take pictures of the vehicle in a place that has as little background detail as possible. For example, you don’t want another car, a highly trafficked street, or a person in the picture at all. The best place to take the pictures would be near a plain brick wall, or in front of an empty field. You don’t want any object, whether in the foreground or background, to distract the buyer from seeing the details of your vehicle.
Should I take the pictures in direct sunlight? In order to take a great picture with a mid- to low-quality digital camera, you need plenty of light. But too much direct sunlight can cause bright glares and dark shadows, neither of which is good. The absolute best time to take pictures of your vehicle is on a partly cloudy day when the sun is behind the clouds. This eliminates the harsh, dark shadows even though there is still plenty of light to draw out the true color(s) of the vehicle. If you must take the pictures in direct sunlight, always make sure that the sun is behind you (so it will be shining on the side of the vehicle that is facing you). Try not to take a picture of a vehicle when the side facing you is in the shadow.
If you normally take terrible pictures, remember this! It is much better to take a picture with a wider view that has all the details in it than to try to get a close up and cut part of the important details out. So zoom out to make sure you get a great picture.
Follow these steps and you will have high quality photos of your automobile for display in the car classifieds site of your choice. Look for the next installment titled “Sell Your Car Online: Step 2, Using Pictures of Your Automobile Correctly.“ Happy selling.