How to Photograph the Right Way - The Do's and Don'ts

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How to Photograph the Right Way - The easy Do's and Don'ts.

Are you looking for the best way to sell your item on eBay?  Well here is that million dollar answer.  Your photograph.  That's right, the image that you display with your item is what is going to sell it.  Not the fancy little extras such as bold, highlight or featured.  That one split second a bidder sees your photograph is when they decide whether they want that item or not.  Then they read your description and confirm whether they really want it, or if suddenly they don't.

So, how do you take a good photograph?  Well there are many different ways to take a photograph, and just as many ways not too.  I've been on eBay for a few years now and I've seen them all.  If you want your item to sell at $.01c then take a rubbish photo - or none at all.  However if you want true potential bidders to consider bidding on your auction then put a little more time and thought into your photograph.

First of all, you need a camera.  A digital camera is the quickest and easiest way to get a photo onto your computer.  Don't have one? - then borrow one!  Or even better, buy one.  You cannot seriously think about trading on eBay without some way to upload pictures.  Bidders look at them, and bidders ask for more.  A picture describes a thousand words.  If you go and write a thousand words, not only will I pity you, but I won't even stop to read it all.  Believe me, you need a picture.  Digital cameras are relatively cheap nowadays.  You could list 10 - 20 decent items as soon as you get your camera, and you've already made up for the cost of it.  Go for something good.  Pay that extra money and get a better quality, consumer friendly item.

Do not take photo's with a phone and upload them.  They are tiny, blurred, dark and nothing can be seen.  They are almost as bad as having no photo.  If you want to do it tough you can take a photo with a normal camera, develop the photos and scan them into your computer.  They look just as good - but talk about time consuming!  And yes - I knew one poor lass who did that for a span of two years until she decided to upgrade to a digital camera.  There are some other forms of taking pictures, but I'll go into the others some other time.

Now you have a camera, take out the object you need to photograph.  I take a lot of photos of clothing, so lets pretend we have a t-shirt.  You want to photograph the item to make it appeal to your bidder.  You want to show them just how fantastic your item is - without altering it!  You can't use photoshop to edit it, and it's pointless pinning it back on a mannequin.  You're here to show the item in it's best form.  Your buyer cannot touch it, they can only see it, so you're trying to display it with the most minimal information. 


- DO NOT pin it back on a mannequin - it's misleading the shape of the garment

- DO NOT lighten/darken the picture - it changes the colour of the item, and makes it appear different to what it really is

- DO NOT take pictures of the garment hanging on a washing line - how does that tell me what the garment looks like?  Clothes always look terrible on the washing line

- DO NOT take pictures outside.  I don't want to buy clothes that have been left outside near dirt / pets etc.  It comes across as unhygenic

- DO NOT take pictures with a busy background.  (eg posters, cupboards, pans, tables in the background).  Choose a simple background of equal colour.  You want your buyer to focus on the item, not look to see what else is in the picture

- DO NOT take photographs with your pets / children / family in it.  All of those items have associations in a negative nature, and put people off bidding your items.  (Pets = hair = allergies.  Children = mess = bad quality garments.  Family = busy = not enough time to spend on the bidder).  I don't personally think these - I have almost all of those items, but you'll notice a trend the more bidding you do.  A lot of ebayers now list whether they have pets or not because bidders complain when they find out as many people have allergies.

- DO NOT expect people to understand your lingo.  Write out full sentences, and don't use SMS jargon. 

- DO NOT expect people to assume a size 14 australian, will be the same in england.  All countries have different sizes and different measurements.  Some people put a small item in the picture to help the bidder gain an idea of size, but I prefer to add measurements to my listings (when I have time of course!)

- DO NOT place a heap of clothes on the floor for an auction lot and expect me to see underneath it.  I want to know what I'm bidding on, and I want to see what I'm bidding on.

- DO NOT take a picture of a top that takes up less then 1/2 of the photo.  The bigger the item in the picture, the better.  (Or the bigger the picture - even better).

- DO NOT take a picture of some writing on the shirt, and not actually the shirt.  Just because you zoom into what you feel the most important part is, it doesn't mean you can leave out a picture of the garment itself.  Don't forget to show the whole picture.

- DO NOT take too many pictures of the same thing unless you are trying from different angles.  For shoes it's great to take one from the side, one from the bottom and one from the front.  Don't forget a lot of objects are 3-D and it's good to see all of it.

- DO NOT model your clothes!  As much as we want to see the clothes on a body, if you are not a model we really don't want to see it!  It's terrible to see a size 10 top on a size 16 body.  I can't even go into detail on some of the photo's I've seen.  If you want to stay basic and easy, just take a photo on a mat on the floor.  Otherwise if it's a garment you can hang it on a hanger, and hang it like a picture on the wall and take a photo.  You can also use a mannequin, but don't alter it to suit the mannequin.  You're not selling the mannequin, you're selling the clothes.

I think for now that is most of the don'ts. 


Be clear in your photo about your intention.  Do you want to show a button on a shirt, or some shoelaces?  Are you highlighting any point as a close up, or do you want to have it as a long shot?

Have good lighting

Have a plain background (white is always best).

Take your photo's during the day.  Natural lighting works wonders.

Invest in a mannequin for photographing clothes. 

Invest in a good digital camera

Do intend to fit the item into the picture frame without making it too small or too large.


These are the best solutions I can come up with for the moment.  Experiment a little, and good luck!  Have a look at other auctions, and start understanding why YOU won't bid on an item because of a photo.  What puts YOU off of an auction?  Why won't you bid on that plasma TV?  Is it really because you have to hire a trailer, or is there something about that photo that doesn't sit well with you?  Don't forget you're a bidder too, so put your feet into your buyers shoes and see what attracts them to your auctions, and what pushes them away.  Good luck, and enjoy eBaying!



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