10 Vehicle Inventory Photo Tips for Auto Dealers
Independent dealer of all sizes will find something in these 10 tips to help you showcase your inventory in the best possible way. Let's face it, everyone is shopping online and doing research before they ever head to the dealership. Poor images of inventory is one of the main reasons shoppers bounce from a website. Inventory images are the key to enticing your potential customers. These 10 photo tips can help guide you to ensure you are showcasing your inventory in the best light, so your images are consistent across your website, which ultimately leads to more sales through Facebook and Instagram advertising.
1) Invest in a good camera instead of using your iPhone. It is better if you use a nice, digital camera instead of a cell phone or something cheap. Spend the $500+ on a good Canon or Nikon camera to take your inventory photos because the better the camera, the more eye-catching your inventory will be. When using a digital camera, hold it for an extra second after the shutter is pressed. This will help your chances of getting a great photo instead of one that might not be centered or come out granulated. Don't stand too far away from the vehicle or too close. There can also be many settings on your camera, so make sure it is set the way you want it so that your image doesn't appear to be low quality.
2) Make someone responsible for taking the inventory pictures at your dealership. Ideally someone who has a passion for photography! This can be a fun side job and an opportunity to make some extra money. Not having too many different people at the dealership taking the photos will also help keep the consistency of the photos.
3) Photograph new inventory as soon as possible. The sooner you get new inventory online the better! Having placeholder and/or stock photos find their way into ads negatively affects campaign performance.
4) Find a nice, clean spot with a neutral background for photographing. This includes areas that are free of clutter, trash, other vehicles, tools, distractions, etc. The only thing that should be noticeable in the photo is the vehicle itself. It's also better to use the same spot for all of your vehicle photos, as it gives it a more professional and clean look. If you can avoid it, try not to take seasonal photos (i.e. no visible snow). You want to be able to use your photos in summer or winter without people thinking the vehicles are older, if they take a while to sell.
5) Don't alter your inventory photos with Photoshop! Show your inventory as is with no false advertising. A car wash is recommended though to make your inventory look shiny and new.
6) Be consistent and take all the photos from the same angle. For instance, start on the front-quarter panel like you are walking up to the car for every photo. Keep it uniform and go around the car highlighting features, benefits, exterior, and interior. Take them from far back enough so that the car doesn't go to the edge of the picture and the ends of the vehicle don't get cropped out when photos resize into Facebook ads, Instagram ads, or Marketplace.
7) Squat down a little bit (unless you're on the shorter side already!) and don't stand up to take photos. You don't want the camera angle to be tilted downwards too far. Get eye-level with the headlights of the vehicle and use this positioning all the way around. Use it as your squat workout for the day!
8) Be aware of lighting! When you are taking photos outside, a bright, but still slightly overcast day is the best. If it is a sunny day, this can cause a glare and cast distorting shadows on your inventory. Sometimes it is best to take photos outside as it can give them more detail, especially if nature is in the background. If you live in a place that is sunny year round, consider finding an awning that covers the vehicle completely and evenly and snap your photos under that.
9) Photograph new vehicles as well as used! No stock photos! Always show shoppers the real thing and use your inventory images through social media ads as an extension of your showroom.
10) If you do have the budget to hire a 3rd party photographer, make sure you vet them and get exactly what you're paying for. Just because you spend lots of money on a fancy turntable display doesn't mean your pictures will come out any better than if you took them yourself!
There needs to be a step-by-step process in place for all photos taken so that your images are consistent. Good photos is just like you making a good first impression with a customer in-store! People form opinions of the legitimacy of your operation before they've ever walked in the door. Dealer OMG would love to help you be as successful as possible with your social media ads and hopefully these tips will help you on your way!