Many photographers started using digital photography only when they needed pictures for online auctions and sales. In fact, sales pictures are still a major reason why people use digital cameras. Luckily, shooting pictures to help you sell items is not difficult, but you should keep a few things in mind.
First, your picture should clearly show the item. Although this sounds too obvious to mention, it’s not. Many people upload blurry, dark images that make viewers squint at their screens and scratch their heads. Maybe the photographer thought, “Close enough!” However, potential buyers are likely to move on to something that they can see and don’t have to imagine.
For example, if a bookshelf has drawers, open one slightly so people will realize that they are not mere decorations. If you’re shooting a porcelain sugar bowl, be sure that the shape, pattern, and lid are clearly visible. If you’re selling a cup, show the handle and shape; if your product is a book, slant it so that buyers can see both spine and cover.
If you are photographing a large item, consider whether a detail shot would help. If that wing chair has wonderful ball-and-claw feet, show them. If a painting is signed, take a picture of the signature.
If you’re selling a collectible, make sure you shoot identifying marks that collectors look for. People who buy first editions, for example, want proof, so shoot the edition information. Hummel collectors want to see the factory marks; model train enthusiasts need to see the manufacturer’s name.
A new online tutorial by Cliff Smith can help you produce crisp, clean images. Smith explains how to create a simple, inexpensive tabletop backdrop and also how to use homemade flash diffusers and simple photoediting changes to create compelling images. His tutorial is brief, clear, and written without jargon.
Finally, photograph any flaws an expensive item has. Nothing disappoints a buyer more than finally tracking down a large-sized mochaware bowl and then discovering an unexpected chip, crack, or stain. If the flaw is small, your picture will prove it. If the flaw is more noticeable, let buyers decide ahead of time whether that matters.
Always resize pictures so that they load quickly. Buyers do not want to wait while mammoth files load and then scroll down and across to see an image. For most sites, an image between 300 and 400 pixels on the largest size is more than adequate.
Auction and sales sites, such as eBay and craigslist, have revolutionized selling for individuals. Such sites make it easy to reach a large national or even international audience. Make sure that any ads you run on such sites include sharp, clear, informative pictures. Good pictures are more persuasive than anything you can write.