At some point in our lives, we've just gotta get rid of stuff (you know, all those cherished things down in the basement or garage, yep, all that stuff). If you've used eBay like I do regularly, you'll notice the onslaught of well, horrific eBay photos.
Do you ever feel like people go out “looking” for the worst quality point and shoot or old-school camera phone, place the watch they wish to sell on a bed with a seriously untidy bedroom behind the item (already on a questionable duvet cover as a “background”)? I do.
The bleary focus and super harsh flash can just finish you off, it's almost upsetting. As a photographer (and I know this will resonate with you) it's a case of moving past and taking a wide berth until you find something where the seller has actually taken some time and care. A relief!
Let's dive into some essential points you need to be aware of to get your images looking irresistible. Remember, this doesn't have to be perfect stock photography for a glossy catalog, just some time and thought into your images can make all the difference.
First up on the list and it just so happens to be the most important. Whenever possible, use natural window light – this is by far and above the most even and well-exposed type of lighting for photographing your items for sale.
Ensure it's diffused of course, this ensures an even distribution of light on your item and it won't have harsh shadows (they don't look any better on your items than they do people). If the weather's good (i.e. the light), head on out and shoot outside.
If this isn't an option and you need to use flash, again, ensure it's diffused and as soft as possible. You're going to need to tweak a little in post if you're struggling for light – just ensure you get the white balance as accurate as possible.
Keep the Background Simple (a solid color)
This may seem obvious but so many disregard this point and yet it's incredibly simple. Scrap any ideas you have of messy duvet covers, just plain black or plain white are your best options. Also, consider an even wood/laminate, as long as it's not distracting to the eye.
Search for a photo tent if this is something you're planning on doing quite often – ideal for taking photos of small items for which you can illuminate externally and get crisp even lighting (without any of the distractions).
Give Your Items a Damn Good Clean!
Seriously, this is a biggie. Wipe smudges off reflective items and wash clothes which might have a stain or the slightest mark – it will otherwise deter buyers from taking your listing seriously, which means a lower chance of a higher sales price (whether an auction or fixed price).
Shoot Tons of Angles
Usually, you can upload around a dozen images to sell your things, so ensure you max out and take several different photos from different angles. From above, close eye-level shots, 45 degrees, zoomed in on a particular section (perhaps detailing part of the item specifically)
To add to this, crop your photos – have them cropped edge to edge – you're not trying to describe anything here or tell a story but simply show a quality item you have for sale.
Your Best Photo Should be Your Search Display Photo
One of your images will stand out more than others. The one you're most impressed with, use that one. It just means that you're going to hook in potential buyers as they notice a great picture of the exact item they're looking for.
I'd also ensure your images are of a medium resolution. The reason for this is because higher res won't be accepted or will take far too long to upload (or frustratingly, both) and lower resolution, well, they'll be poorer quality – especially if viewed on a large screen.
Tripod – Avoid Nasty Camera Shake if Your Hands are Wobbly
If you've got good light available and a fast enough shutter speed, this isn't something you'll have to worry about too much – but if it looks as though your shutter speed is a little slower than you'd like, just play it safe and use a tripod.
This takes away any worry of a slightly blurry image, as it won't be. This is especially important for smaller items, even if you use a Gorillapod or something similar, just to stabilize your camera.
Clothing Sellers – One Word: Mannequin (consider using one)
Clothes on a hanger in front of a door or untidy room don't look great. If you can, use a mannequin (consider purchasing a cheap one if you're selling lots of items) – if you don't have access to one, ask a friend to model the item of clothing.
This really can make all the difference when selling clothes. If you're selling a particular brand, get a close-up shot of that brand's logo or at the very least, the label inside – this can also give the buyer peace of mind they're getting the size you've described.
Ensure your Images Actually Represent the Item's Color and Scale
This means your white balance should be as accurate as possible – try getting it right in camera, otherwise, you'll have to shoot RAW to correct in in post processing (which I would choose to shoot anyway).
In addition to this, use representative tones, don't over saturate images, ensure highlights and shadows are kept to a minimum. You're not creating art but trying to take a quality photo of exactly what you're seeing in front of your own eyes.
Your potential buyer needs to feel as though they're confidently looking at the same thing as you.
Some tips to get you started with your eBay photos at least. Some of these will seem pretty obvious but are gentle reminders, others will be practices you should definitely stick to.
Some of these apply even if you're using your smartphone because let's be real, you don't always have your DSLR with you or want to get it out every time you want to list an item.
Essentially, the main areas to focus on, to begin with, are the lighting and immediate background of your photo – ensure these two are spot on and other tings from there will really add some great features to your image.
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