How to Take Photos to Sell Your Car

As the old cliché goes, a picture paints a thousand words, and when it comes to selling your car, a set of high quality photos can do wonders to attract prospective buyers. Spending time to take effective shots now will pay dividends, increasing the response rate to your ad and even helping you achieve a higher sale price. Including pictures in your advert gives buyers the information they need to take the next step and contact you for a viewing and test drive.Before you get the camera out remember to only include photos of the actual car you are trying to sell, and not the manufacturer’s brochure pictures.

How to take photos to sell your car

1. Prepare the car

The buyer wants to see the car has been well cared for, so make sure the car is freshly cleaned before taking any photos. Remove personal items when taking photos and when buyers come to view the car in person. 

2. Prepare the background

It doesn’t matter whether you take the photos of your car on a public road or your private land, but do try to avoid busy, distracting backgrounds. The focal point for each picture should be the car, so ensure no one is in the background and avoid having other people’s property in view. Try to have plenty of space so you can move around the car, taking shots from different angles. 

3. Pick the best camera you have

Buyers want accurate images of the car so they can see its overall condition. Choose either a Digital SLR, Digital compact or phone and aim to take quality pictures. It’s worth practising with the camera first and seeing what the images look like on your computer. 

4. Choose the correct lighting

It’s best to take your pictures using natural light, which will bring out the authentic colours of your car’s paintwork. Direct light from a flash can create flare but might be useful for interior shots. If glare from the sun is a problem, wait for a cloudier day, or try mornings just before sunrise or evenings just after sunset. Avoid night time photos, which will do very little to highlight the sellings points of your car – literally. 

5. Choose up to nine images 

Include a range of different photos – nine is a good amount to help the buyer visualise the car. Always ensure the photos are in focus and not blurry. 

Take photos both outside and inside the car. Give the buyer a feel for what it’s like to be inside the car by including details like the dashboard, front and rear seats, and inside the boot. Take photos from a normal standing height to replicate how a prospective buyer would view the car. 

Try to include

  • Under the bonnet
  • Close up of the alloys
  • Any visual defects
  • Milometer and VINs
  • Keys service history file (often overlooked but if you have a full file, fan out all of your receipts for the pictures along with MOT certificates, open stamped service book and the tow keys).

6. Editing

Well composed and in-focus pictures should need minimal editing. Use editing software such as Photoshop to hide faces, personal information and the car’s number plate if necessary. It might be tempting, but don’t edit photographs to change the look of the car in any way that could be misleading, e.g. to make its colour more vibrant. 

7. Select your chosen pictures

Take several different versions of each shot and you’ll have plenty of photos to choose from when it comes to making your advert. Again, ensure photos are sharp and in focus. Once you’ve made your selection, all that’s left is to save your chosen pictures in a separate file on your device and add them to your advert. Read more on how to create an effective car ad.


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