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How to Photograph Your Used Car for Sale

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Whenever you decide to sell your car your ad should include photographs, and the pictures should show your vehicle in the best light possible. Below are some helpful tips that will help show your car at its best and generate interest in the ad you post.

2017 Volt

2017 Chevy Volt
Photo: KelleyBlueBook


The photos’ background should be pleasing to the eye. Pick a background that looks nice; however a majestic vista is not needed, rather just a nice parkland or beach area will suffice. If you live in the city or just don’t have access to such a background, something plain is a decent option.

If you are shooting in an urban area or on the street, make sure that there are no distracting elements in the foreground and background. Mailboxes and telegraph poles can be distracting and anything between the camera and car is disruptive.

Many car ads and advertisements use industrial backgrounds. However, you probably won’t be using professional camera equipment necessary in producing quality photos. Keep it simple and try to come away with a handful of well-executed images that show your car is a solid choice.

Clean your car beforehand

Wash your car thoroughly before taking any pictures. You will not need to detail the vehicle unless the pictures will include close-ups of specific parts such as the rims, hubcaps, sunroof, etc. A basic wash can make a big difference.

Choose the right setting

The way your car looks in a photo is greatly affected by the time of day. During the middle of the day, the light is harsher and shadows can make picture taking harder. The best times to take the pictures are early morning and late afternoon—the light during those hours is soft and produces less glare. The light should be indirect yet still bright enough to show your car properly. Taking pictures in the right light helps to make the paintwork look better and it also adds an additional dimension to the photos. The light in the late afternoon hours does start to turn orange, so you should be mindful of color casting, which can work both for and against you.  Audi_Brooklyn

Flash photography

Using a flash can be helpful. Most regular cameras have a flash built in that ensures there is enough light and only fills in the shadow. If you use a larger flash, the light can be used to make the shot brighter while also creating more depth. The light of flash photography is sometimes very powerful; you can use a diffuser in front of the light if you need to soften it.  If your camera is in automatic mode, the camera should automatically balance the flash with the given lighting conditions so long as there is enough light.

Angles and framing

When framing your shot, consider the angle as well as the placement within the frame. If you have too much space around the car, you are wasting the space you have within your listing. However, you also should be careful not to exclude car pieces unless you are shooting a specific part of the car. If the bumper or some other part of the car is not showing in the picture, the photo will appear messy. Using lower angles helps to provide a proper perspective of the side and front shots. If your vehicle is not in the best shape, you should avoid focusing too much on imperfections while choosing angles that make your car look as good as it can be. Any issues that your car has should be included in the ad—using photos can help to show the scope of the issues the car has.

In addition to the things mentioned, you can also look at other car ads to draw inspiration of how to photograph your car in the best way possible. Meanwhile, if you don’t have a camera, a cell phone camera will do but the flash on most cellphone cameras isn’t the best. Ask a friend or neighbor to borrow his or her flash camera if you don’t have one or your cell phone camera is of low quality.