5 Best Ways to Photograph a Used Car for Sale


Selling a used car can be a bit of a task to manage. However, if you go about it the right way, you stand to make a return on your investment that you can put toward a new vehicle. This is a great alternative to trading your car in, especially if you channel your inner marketer.

High-quality photographs can help your vehicle stand out in online market places and attract potential buyers. Here are five of the best ways to photograph a used car for sale.

pictures of car for sale

Have the Car Washed and Detailed

Before you photograph your car, give it the TLC it deserves. You don’t have to pay for a professional detailing service, but you should do a thorough cleaning. Remove any garbage or debris that’s found its way to your cupholders and under the seats. Shake out the mats, vacuum the upholstery, and scrub the dash. If you have any stains or marks, consider renting a steam cleaner.

Run your car through the local car wash or do a DIY washing the day you plan on taking photos. By scheduling everything on one day, you reduce the risk of driving through a wayward mud puddle or accumulating dust from a passing truck before you capture your car in its glory.

Have the Car Washed and Detailed

Choose the Right Background

If there’s one thing photographers and influencers know, it’s that the background matters more than you think. Just look at some famous car selfies to get the idea.

Choose a background that’s free of distractions to ensure all eyes are on your vehicle. That includes background debris, other vehicles, and the neighbor’s backyard. Consider heading to an empty parking lot to snap the photos if your space at home is limited. You may need to move the car around and get some different backgrounds as the lighting and surroundings change.

Choose the Right Background

Choose the Right Lighting

Lighting plays an integral role in photography, and this is no exception. Try to avoid bright, reflective light, such as indoor garage lighting or the afternoon sun. This type of light can cause color distortion and distracting reflections that take away from the image.

Shooting in diffused gray light on a cloudy day or during the early morning or evening when the sun is near the horizon is the best time to get your photos. Don’t park your car in the shade to try and block the sunlight while taking photos— this can also create color distortions can patches from the leaves overhead.

It's integral to get as many pictures as possible when photographing your used car for sale. Get a photo of each side, the back, and the interior to post online when creating a listing. It's also worth spending time zooming in on various details— such as the bumper and console— and keeping them on-hand in case someone asks for more. It's common for prospective buyers to ask for specific details before scheduling a viewing, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Work the Angles

It’s integral to get as many pictures as possible when photographing your used car for sale. Get a photo of each side, the back, and the interior to post online when creating a listing. It’s also worth spending time zooming in on various details— such as the bumper and console— and keeping them on-hand in case someone asks for more. It’s common for prospective buyers to ask for specific details before scheduling a viewing, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Be mindful of how you take the photos. It’s better to step way back to get a full view of the car, to prevent any strange angles. Try to shoot so that your eye level is at the midpoint of your vehicle for even distribution. Rather than getting up close for the details, take a step back and use the zoom feature.

Take multiple photos of each feature so that you won’t have to repeat work later. While a photo might look good on the small screen, it’s not uncommon to realize that an image is slightly blurry or has a glare once you upload it to a computer or take a closer look.

While sharpening your image is fine, don't add any filters or photoshop style edits that conceal the true nature of your car. Keep in mind that people are expecting to see a used car photographed by an amateur.

Keep it Natural

While sharpening your image is fine, don’t add any filters or photoshop style edits that conceal the true nature of your car. Keep in mind that people are expecting to see a used car photographed by an amateur.

Even if you’re a professional photographer, it’s better to use your iPhone than to schedule a professional-looking photoshoot. If your photos look too polished, it could be a red flag for buyers who think you’re working for a dealership or running an online scam.

Use these five tips to capture your car in its best light and attract the right buyer.

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