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Photo Tips & Recommendations

Support & Resources > Dealer Articles > Photo Tips Sheet

Peter Cameron-Inglis

July 25, 2005
Peter Cameron-Inglis

Here are some additional tips and recomendations from ASL for taking photos that will make your vehicle look its best and give Internet consumers the confidence they need to buy! We have tested and experienced first hand the dramatic difference each of these approaches can make to an auto dealer's Internet sales.


In general, vehicles listed with more photos get more views, more leads, and sell for higher prices than those that do not.

Remember that most of your potential buyers will not see the car (truck, minivan, SUV) in person before taking action on your listing. The more pictures, the better. 10 is a good starting point (exterior: left side, right side, front, rear, close-up of wheel with tire tread, and interior: front seats, back seats, engine compartment, dashboard, and odometer close-up). More are even better. This is especially true if there is any unique features or customization that you'd like to showcase or if there are any signs of wear that you should point out to increase buyer confidence that you're representing the vehicle accurately.

Both sides of the vehicle

Give your buyers the full exterior view of your vehicle.

  • Acceptable: 3/4 view to capture the front, back and sides in two photos.
  • Preferred: Both side views and front and back of vehicle (4 pictures total). These views are useful, because they can also show options like fog lights (front) or trailer hitch (rear).

NOTE: The front and back of the vehicle should be clear as these distinguish makes and models

Drivers Side Front View Passenger Side Rear View

Interior Condition

Document all the details a buyer will notice inside the vehicle including the controls and instruments.

  • Preferred: Interior view including dashboard, instruments, controls, seats and carpet.
Interior Driver Front Interior Passenger Front Interior Middle Interior Rear

WOW Them With Honesty - The Trust Factor!

Here are the four BIGGEST "wow" photos to build up the consumer's trust in you

  • Close-up of Odometer Reading
  • Close-up of Tire Tread
  • Close-up of the VIN on the Dash, Door Sticker or Engine Sticker (see photo in engine section below)
  • Close-up of Damage or Wear
Odometer Tire Tread

More Info On Damage and Wear Close-ups

Your buyers need to be aware of any known problems with the vehicle before purchase. Give them a view and accurate description and they can make requests about purchasing with confidence.

  • Acceptable: Notable problems including dents, rust, interior damage, rips/tears in upholstery/headliner, paint fade, and scratches.
  • Preferred: Detail all of the notable problems listed above but also use a business card and a handheld label machine (or even a small post-it note) to indicate the size of the wear or damage as well as the location on the vehicle. These photos represent the best place to subtly establish the dealership's trustworthy status (no blemish is too small to point out) while at the same time advertising your company on the business card.
Passenger Door Rear Passenger Quarter Panel

Engine Compartment

Buyers like to know the engine has been maintained and is as described.

  • Preferred: View of entire engine bay with adequate lighting
Engine Sticker

How to Take Your Pictures


  • Use proper lighting. Many people find natural, outdoor lighting best. Indoors or out, light your item thoroughly. Early/late sunlight (30 minutes before sunset or after sunrise) is the best.
  • Take the picture on the sunlit side of the car (have your back to the sun.), not the shadow side
  • Consider a backdrop. If appropriate, consider using a plain, colored fabric backdrop to make your vehicle stand out. Many dealers also have a banner advertising the dealership's name and logo on the backdrop. Don't use a pure white backdrop, as it tends to create too much contrast in your photo. If you don't use a backdrop, be sure to move other things out of the way so your vehicle will really stand out.
  • Use your camera's flash for the interior of the vehicle and engine bay
  • Watch for shadows, especially your own!

Bad example taken on shadow side bad frame and light
Bad example taken on shadow side and bad frame and light


  • The car should fill the frame of the picture
  • Get close up! Buyers want to see detail, so really make your item take up the whole photo frame.
  • Get close up! Show the detail of the vehicle, especially for any damage, wear and interior photos
  • Get a low, flat angle. Try to be about headlight level for the best angle

Good example of filling the frame, lighting, and angle Backdrop example
Good example of filling the frame, lighting, and angle & Backdrop example

Additional Hints:

  • Make sure your vehicle sparkles! Wash your car (including wheels and tires) and thoroughly clean the interior before you take your pictures. If you make a habit of taking the photos immediately after the vehicle is detailed it will ensure the best results while at the same time providing a routine to help you keep your vehicle listings on your website up-to-date without having to all of the vehicles at once.
  • Pay attention to your cameras settings to make sure that your photos are in focus and clear.
  • Good photos show nice detail. Bad photos are crowded, backlit or confusing!

We would love to hear what you think of this article. And of course, if you have any suggestions for future articles that you'd like to share with us, please send those, too!

Need some fresh, free content for your web site or e-zine? You are welcome to reprint this article on your web site or in your e-zine. We simply ask that you let us know where the article will be appearing, and include our byline with a link to the website.


Peter Cameron-Inglis is a co-founder and the Vice-President of Marketing & Operations at ASL (Aged Stock Ltd), a company that provides Internet and sales systems for automotive dealers to increase traffic, increase leads and increase the sales closing ratio.

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