Your potential eBay bidder/buyer cannot touch, smell, taste, or hear what you have for sale. But they can see your photos, and many will make their decision based on what they see. While an accurate description and clear auction terms remain very important, it is often the visual representation (i.e. your photos) which will make or break a sale.
It is not necessary to be a professional photographer or even a good amateur photographer to get good results with your Ebay photos. Nor is it necessary to have top of the line equipment. An average quality digital camera is quite adequate for most three dimensional items. (For those selling sport cards and other flat items, a flatbed scanner may be a better choice).
Here are a few tips to get the most from your eBay photos:
1. Keep it sharp ….There is probably no greater turnoff than auction photos which are fuzzy. The easiest way to get sharp photos is to use a tripod. After you have set up for your photo, set the self timer on your camera to make the actual exposure. This eliminates any possibilities of accidental vibration and also allows for longer exposures in low light conditions.
2. Unclutter the background….You want all of your buyers concentration focused on your widget. Remove anything from the cameras view that is not for sale. It is also a good idea to use a background which contrasts with your item. Lighter backgrounds for darker items, and vice versa. A hardwood floor or a solid colored fabric remnant can work quite well as background material for many items. Clothing can be photographed hung up in front of a neutral colored wall.
3. Lighting is very important…. Lighting can be one of the more difficult areas to master.
Turn off your cameras automatic flash and use natural lighting whenever possible. Your object is to avoid flash glare and harsh shadows while keeping the color rendition as accurate as possible. Soft natural light filtered through a white curtain can often produce good results. Where shadows appear, position white poster board to reflect light back onto your subject. If you must use flash, the best results will be with an external bounce flash that will provide indirect lighting. It may take a bit of experimenting to get the setup just right, however it will be time well spent.
4. Watch the file size….. Keep in mind that you are publishing on the web – not making a door poster. Using the mid range settings on your camera will keep the file size down and allow the photos to load faster.
5. Use editing software with caution…. It is fine to use editing software to crop a bit and touch up the background. Use caution however when editing any aspect of the actual subject. Regardless of the magic you can do with Photoshop, it remains quite important that your photo be as accurate a representation as possible of the real thing.
6. Show the bad stuff…. When selling used items be sure and photograph any defects in the item. (they should also be noted in your written description)
Number seven is an easy one – quite simply practice until you have a system that works well for you. Objectively look at your photos and ask yourself if you would buy that widget based on the pictures alone. If the answer is yes, you can then be reasonably comfortable that buyers will feel the same way.