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How To Take The Perfect Picture Of Your Classic When Listing

Date: 2020-03-14
Author: Clasiq

The old saying goes a picture speaks a thousand words and never has this phrase been more true than when trying to sell your classic. In the world of online car sales, there are two key things you need - good photography and a strong description. The most powerful of these being the pictures, so you need to get this right. No prospective buyer will read the first word of your description if your pictures look like an afterthought. You need to grab their attention and convince them to read on. Here we’ll talk about how to take the best quality photographs for your listing, to enable you to convert a sale quicker and potentially cut down the number of tire kickers you need to deal with.


Image Source: @jeremybirenbaum



1. Clean your car!


Don’t set yourself up for fall. The most crucial step of photographing your car takes place before you even touch your camera so make sure your car is clean. A dirty car makes a poor first impression, it can send a message to potential buyers that you don’t care, and have never cared about the car you’re trying to sell. Pay attention to every detail, and view the car from a buyers perspective. It's worth cleaning the engine bay too, a few sprays of a citrus pre-wash and hard bristle brush should be enough to bring it up nicely. This says to a buyer that you take good care of the car, and despite making absolutely no difference to how the car runs, it does install confidence in the mind of the buyer.


Image Source: @jeremybirenbaum


2. Timing is key


You may have heard of the golden hour for photography, and this couldn't be more appropriate than when taking pictures of a car. The golden hour is the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset, when the lighting is most forgiving. Shooting in this time slot means deeper blacks, crisper images and truer colors. Photography in the midday sun will result in the opposite, usually washed out colours and grainy shadows that make pictures look like they were taken by an amateur, whatever device they were shot on.


Image Source: @jeremybirenbaum


3. Smartphone or camera?


Don’t worry if you do not have a camera, most modern smartphones have powerful enough lenses to capture the shots you need. If you need to, basic picture editing software is available and is often available for free, meaning you can tone down the exposure or deepen the blacks. If you have a camera to hand, then this might be the better choice for overall quality of the images. Older or cheap camera phones probably won’t deliver the quality required, so in some cases it's probably worth investing in a modern smartphone or a dedicated camera, especially if you’re listing a car and hoping to get top dollar.


Image Source: @jeremybirenbaum


4. Location & Background


It would be easier to do a photoshoot on your driveway, or parked on the road outside your house, right? The truth is these kinds of locations deliver nothing but distraction to the viewer. For example, other cars in the background will take away the focus from yours. Your location needs to be somewhere where there are no passing cars and minimal distractions in shot.


Image Source: @jeremybirenbaum


5. Reflections


When you have found the perfect location to take your car photos, you then have to be mindful of the reflections in the paintwork of the car. This is why it's important to find a location that’s wide, open and uncluttered. Be mindful of passing cars, brightly colored objects and even your own reflection. Taking photos at different angles can help minimize and control what will appear on the end result, so experiment and take plenty of shots.


Image Source: @jeremybirenbaum


6. (Optional) Use a tripod


You can pick up a tripod for a few dollars second hand. It doesn't have to do anything too crazy but these tools can really help you take stable shots, reduce blur and sharpen up the image. Using a tripod also gives you time to take the photo, allowing you to get every aspect of the details you need in order to get the maximum impact. The tripod gives you a clear view of what's in the frame before you take the photo. In low-light, exposure times will be longer and it's very difficult to keep your camera steady for longer than a split second without using a tripod.


Image Source: @jeremybirenbaum


7. The money shots


Taking a photo at standard eye level seems the most natural way to take a photo, but it's also the most unflattering angle when taking a picture of a car.

Crouch down to take exterior photos at car level, capturing the curves and features in the bodywork like grills, vents or natural lines. The key here is not getting so low that you’re looking under the car, but low enough to make the car the main focus of the shot.

Try to capture a 360 degree view of the car in your photos, but avoid those awkward straight on or side on photos. If you want to capture the side of the car, take it from a slightly angled stance. Taking a photo of the front, maybe take two photos, slightly angled so you can see some of the side of the car. A good tip for front and rear photos is to turn the front wheels outwards/inwards to give the car a more sporty feel.

Think about the most flattering angles of the car, what you like most about it, and do your best to highlight those areas. For example, if the hood has a vent in it, be creative and get a good close up side shot of the vent in full focus.

When taking interior shots, make sure the headrests are all the way down in the seats and move the front seats all the way back giving the cabin a larger look. Again, the height you take the photos can make a real difference here. Experiment with low and high shots to get the best angle, holding the camera slightly behind the headrest capturing the whole front of the cabin is a great shot and gives the viewer a sense of being inside the vehicle. Highlight any particularly interesting features within the car and get some close up angled photos, such as a clock on the dashboard or stitching in the steering wheel.


Image Source: @jeremybirenbaum


8. The good, the bad and the ugly


Being honest with your photographs is important, capturing the bad and the good. If you don't want people writing lists of things to knock you down on price, highlight them in the photos so you can defend your asking price by telling a buyer that you’ve shown the imperfections with your listing, which is reflected in your asking price. You don’t want to be left looking foolish as somebody points out the seat is ripped and you have tried to pretend you’d never noticed it. Be upfront, and you’ll get less tire kickers.


Image Source: @jeremybirenbaum


9. Word of warning


It sounds like a contradiction, but don't make your photos appear too professional. If you’re selling a used car, using photos that look like they belong in a magazine can actually be off-putting as buyers think you’ve used stock photos or the listing is a fake or a scam. If the listing feels like it’s too good to be true, a buyer might not contact you in the first place. Finding the balance between great photos, and honesty in your photos is the secret here.


Image Source: @jeremybirenbaum

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