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We’ve all seen it before. You’re searching the classifieds like Gumtree, CarsGuide, or Autotrader for a car you’re interested in, but every few listings have a barely recognisable picture as the lead photo!
Even if the seller has managed to capture the whole car in frame though, it somehow doesn’t stand out, and you can’t quite put your finger on why.
It’s worth remembering that sometimes it only takes a picture to get someone to click through to your listing, so in an era where we all have pretty good cameras in our pockets, it’s worth learning how you can make the most of it to help sell your car faster.
For the best tips and tricks in the business, we talked to Aussie-gone-global auto photographer Easton Chang to find out how you can easily make your next listing stand out from the rest.
TW: You must be an enthusiast like the rest of us – when you’re browising classifieds sites, what are the most common issues you see?
EC: Not showing clear images. When I see things like that, I automatically assume the seller has something to hide. When you have clear, clean photos, it’s just so much easier to sell.
When you see dirty, grungy images it gives you a certain psychological profile of a seller, do they take as much care of the vehicle as they do of these pictures? What I’ve been trying to do when partnering with Gumtree is to try to make it a bit of a nicer marketplace for everyone.
TW: Hardware-wise you can still get an amazing picture with a phone, right?
EC: Absolutely, phones have sort of reached this point of maturity, right? Since about iPhone 7 or so, the cameras have improved so much. People are always worried about megapixels and think they’re going to need a big DSLR or something to take a good picture, but your phone is the best tool available to you.
TW: If you were talking to someone about to take some photos for their listing, what are three essential tips you’d give them?
EC: 1. Be mindful of light. Find some shade so you’re not going to get crazy contrast or anything. 2. Be aware of reflections. You need reflections to show the shape of the car, but they can also distract from how a car looks. Taking a photo of a car is like shooting a mirror. 3. Move the car, don’t move yourself. Once you’ve set the car up in a good location, don’t move around the car to change the background.
TW: Any tips for picking a location or background?
EC: Keep it as open and clear as possible. Boat ramps, carpark roof tops, empty parking lots.
TW: Headlights on or off?
EC: I’d say on. If you’re following the rules they shouldn’t blow anything out.
TW: How about interiors? They can be particularly bad
EC: Interiors are hard, even for me. I’d say just try to expose darker [you can do this by tapping your phone’s screen in the darker area of what you see] but it’s best to shoot it in a soft light environment, try to avoid hard shadows as they will take away from the image. Also, get as wide as you can to try and show the whole dash at once. Interiors are the only time I get my wide lenses out.
TW: Let’s talk about editing pics, are there any go-tos for easily improving phone pictures before adding them to your listing?
EC: When it comes to “cool cars”, you know, [Honda Civic] Type Rs and stuff, people often try and “photoshop” them. But all those low angles and post-processing takes away from the ad. Don’t go overboard. Just make it sharp and clear. Boosting highlights, adding a bit of contrast, and sharpening (which you can do in the ‘edit’ tab of most phones) can make it stand out on those classifieds feeds that people will be scrolling through.
Mr Chang also noted the similarities between classifieds feeds and Instagram, saying that the thumbnail style of Instagram had a heavy influence on how professional photographers compose and style their work.