They say not to judge a book by its cover, but let’s be frank, when selling a vehicle, looks are just about everything. In a world of automotive digital advertising, this is the first chance you’ll have to catch your potential customer’s attention and you want to be sure that you wow them with the inventory you have. While we recommend having a company that takes care of the photography for you, we also know that just isn’t in some budgets. Luckily, you don’t have to be a professional photographer or have a professional camera to achieve this. With just a few quick tricks you’ll be on your way to taking the best photos for your inventory.

Lighting is Key

There a few ways you can improve your dealership inventory photos but lighting is most important. You want to make sure that it’s bright enough to show the vehicle’s lines, colors and any additional features that might add value. This will also help ensure your ability to capture photos of darker vehicles or vehicles with dark interior. The best time to do this is usually in the morning, before the sun is causing too much of a glare, or in the evening, before sunset. If you need to take a photo on a cloudy day wait until the sky seems the brightest which would then usually be mid-afternoon.

Try to Avoid Flash

Vehicles are obviously very reflective. When a flash is used it reflects off the vehicle causing unwanted glare and unflattering marks on the vehicle. If you’re stuck in a position where you need to use flash try to bounce the light off something, preferably something white, instead of having it point directly at the vehicle. This will still give you the light you need without having the unwanted light bounce back or reflections.

It’s All About the Angle

You’re in the car business so you understand that each vehicle has its best angle. When taking inventory photos you want to be sure that you show off those angles. Try standing level with the vehicle as best you can. This will help ensure that you are capturing the lines and curves of the body in the most flattering way as well as eliminating anything that may be distracting in the background. Which leads me to my next tip.

Distracting or “Eyesore” Backgrounds

Before you even take your photo you want to ensure that your background is clear of any distractions and is appealing to the eye. You are already up against the fact that these customers have a limited attention span and the last thing you want to do is distract them even more. Try to take your photos in an area where not much is going on. Make sure there are no bright or busy signs and try to avoid any possible clutter. Simple backgrounds make the best backgrounds.

Don’t be the Star of the Show

Along the same lines as not having a distracting background for your vehicle’s photos, you don’t want to steal the show and get caught in a car’s shot. This can happen easier than you might imagine. We just talked about how reflective the exterior of the vehicles is, and if you’re standing there taking photos, you will reflect in the image. To avoid this, stand further back from the vehicle. You might need to zoom in slightly in order to just capture the vehicle and not the surrounding elements. You’ll also want to keep your body as small as possible. Practice a compact stance and keep the camera directly in front of you. This will help eliminate any reflection of the photographer – no matter how photogenic you might be!

The Impact of a Good Photo

In a 2019 survey, Digital to Dealer Direct reported that 85% of online shoppers say quality images of the actual product are “extremely important” to their purchase decision. This will likely be the first impression you make with a potential customer. Your website is your virtual showroom and with consumers doing more online research than ever before, you want to make sure they love what they see.

A well-taken photo can improve the overall shopping experience as well as improve your dealership’s reputation. In addition to your website, you will probably use these photos across multiple platforms including social media advertising, email marketing, third-party providers. You want the vehicles to get the customer excited and feel comfortable with your dealership. Like it or not, trust can be a big factor when deciding where to purchase a vehicle. Stock photos can lead the customer to believe the vehicle might not look exactly as described which can drive them to a competitor’s site. Be transparent from the start with high-quality inventory photos to engage your online customers!

Author: Kristen Noble

Kristen has 11 years of experience within in the creative side of advertising as an Art Director and Photographer. She is multi-faceted in her experiences and skills in both traditional and digital spaces, primarily for automotive marketing.

Digital Dealer