23 Tips For Taking Better eBay Pictures
In the private eBay forum (Now closed) there is a thread on how to get
perfect pictures for eBay.
This article contains tips and advice gathered from that thread.
Does this describe the way you take your eBay photos?
The poster says,
"I generally feel like I am at a photo shoot, attempting to
get the best possible eBay picture, and end up taking like 20 -
40 pictures to make sure I get that one photo that is going
to bring in the bills....."
If so you're wasting a lot of time. This extra time becomes
frustrating and causes you to list fewer items because it's
just not worth the hassle.
Don't feel bad, taking good pictures for your listings is one of the most common areas eBay
sellers have problems.
This is backwards. I take one picture from each angle
unless I know I screwed up a picture. Then ONLY if a photo
isn't good enough to use I take another and replace it
after listing the items on eBay.
Get the difference? Rather than seeking perfection, I'm
looking for a good enough picture.
Said another way, rather than trying to get a perfect
photo, I aim for an adequate picture.
Specific Tips For Better eBay Pictures
- Never use stock photos. eBay bidders can tell the difference
between a photo of the actual item you are selling and a
stock photo. If you use them, all you accomplish is to
leave questions in a buyerís mind.
Archive your eBay photos. This means keep them on your memory card or computer after the auction ends so you can refer to them if there are problems. Even keep the pictures you don't use in your listings. I recently had a buyer complain that a train I sold had the wrong motor in it. He was wrong, and having a picture that showed the motor in the train made it easier for me to fight off his complaint to eBay.
Another reason to keep your eBay photos is you can make money from them. See my article on Profiting From eBay Images With A Blog for more information.
Use plain neutral backgrounds for your eBay pictures. Your
goal is to get bidders to focus their attention on the item
you are selling, not on the background. If you use a
background thatís too busy, it becomes difficult for them
to see the item clearly.
The only exception to this rule is if you are selling a
large piece of furniture and want to show it in itís
natural setting. I use plain newsprint for my backgrounds.
I buy it in 50 pound packages for wrapping items and tack
up clean sheets as needed.
Center the item in the cameraís viewfinder so itís
framed with a small border surrounding it.
Use diffused lighting. Often lighting can cause an item
to appear differently in the picture than it does in real life. Itís
important that you capture the real color, texture and
condition of the item you are selling.
Donít use a flash unless you are a professional. All
youíll end up doing is making your item appear washed out
or causing glare.
Use either natural light or room light whenever possible.
If you're using light bulbs, always use the same brand. I
use GE photo bulbs EBW-4 available from most camera stores
for about $5 each.
Almost all cameras have light settings on them. Play with
them a bit to find the best settings.
Light tents are a great way to take photos of small items without glare or flash spots. Here's an article explaining How to Make An Inexpensive Light Tent.
Use the highest resolution your camera offers. The last
thing you want is to end up with grainy pictures. With
todayís photo compression software you can quickly and
easily compress your high resolution photos so they will
Get a tripod and use it. Hand held photos tend to be
blurry Ė particularly close-ups. A tripod is essential if
you want to take clear eBay pictures particularly of small items.
Actually I don't use a tripod anymore. Instead I place both
my elbows on the table for stability and hold the camera in
Donít get too fancy. Always remember that youíre
selling the item in the photo and not the photo itself.
Bidders need a clear picture to make a decision, they don't
Never alter or doctor your eBay pictures. This is a huge
waste of time and most buyers will be able to tell that you
have made changes and assume you are misrepresenting your
item. If your photo isn't good enough take another it's
Include as many pictures as necessary to show your item
to its best advantage, but consider the expected selling
price of your item. A $30 item doesn't warrant the same
attention as a $100 item. Expensive items need more
photos and better descriptions than cheaper items.
Always show brand names and back stamps in your eBay photos. These should
also be described in your title and description.
Always show close-ups of any damage to the item so
buyers wonít be surprised when they receive the item.
Time saving tip: You can crop large resolution photos to focus on small details. So rather than taking two pictures, just crop one to show only the details.
Set up an area near your listing computer to take your
eBay pictures in and always use the same area. I have a
dedicated area that also serves as my wrapping table during
packaging. Here's a link to an article explaining m my eBay listing system
If your camera has a macro setting - usually this is a
denoted by a small flower - use it on close-ups. On my
cheap camera the macro setting is for taking pictures of
items that are less than 30 inches from the lens. This
describes almost all of my eBay photos.
Since I've been using my camera to take pictures of the dog and other shots without the macro setting, I've added a note just above my photo table reminding me to turn the macro feature on.
If your camera has a removable memory card get a card
reader for your computer. The last one I bought was only
$15. The reader means you don't have to transfer the
pictures into your computer - a big time saver. Take your
memory card with you when you shop for a reader as there
are many different kinds of cards.
Think about what the buyer is looking for, and take
your photos to show those points. When I sell trains to
operators, I concentrate more on showing what the item
looks like from a few feet away. When I sell to collectors,
I show more close-ups to emphasize condition.
An index item will help buyers figure out the true
color regardless of your picture quality. A can of
Campbell's soup is good for shades of red, a dollar works
for green, a post it note works for yellow. These are only
needed if your item is a collectible in an unusual color
and the color shade effects the value. Hot Wheels cars are
a good example of color shades playing a role in the value.
Use a camera rather than a web cam or cell phone. You can get a cheap
camera like the Nikon Coolpix for about $100. I paid $150
for my Coolpix, a huge memory card and the matching reader.
It was the cheapest camera with a removable card I could
find at the local Best Buy.
Unfortunately the Coolpix doesn't have a socket for a wall
power adapter so I go through batteries pretty quickly. I
use about 20 batteries a year which cost about $5 when I
buy store brands on sale. Then again, not having a cord
prevents me from stepping on the cord and pulling the
camera to the floor. That's how I broke the last camera.
Learn to use your software. I use one program to
rename, resize and, if needed, crop my pictures. I use
another program to move my images up onto the web. I've
been using both these programs for over 10 years, and can
whip through each operation without thought.
Systemize your listing operations. I do all my listing
on Friday evenings. I do the same procedures each week in
the same order. My system evolved back when I was doing
150-500 auctions a week as an eBay consignment seller. It
works great today when I rarely list more than 25 items a
Photoshop is not the right program for eBay pictures.
It's too much. Free image editing programs are explained in my free report: eBay
Images Made Easy.
I've found large clear eBay pictures usually lower the
ending price of items that aren't in mint condition. I
think this is because the pictures exaggerate the defects.
An overall shot gives the person a better ability to
determine what the whole item looks like.
PS. Here's a link to a free report explaining 44 common eBay selling mistakes.
PPS Since you're taking pictures for eBay anyway, you might as well spend a little more time and make money from them. See my article on Profiting From eBay Images With A Blog for more information.
Many of the articles and free reports here on IWantCollectibles were originally sent to readers of my Antiques and eBay Newsletter. Not all articles make it onto the website, and readers also get notices of free reports and special offers.
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