Good Photos Sell Vehicles

by Tom Smith, WarJeeps.com

So you’ve got a one-of-a-kind historic military vehicle (HMV) to sell and you’re ready to place a classified ad. But wait – you’re not a professional photographer. How are your photos going to turn out? Will potential buyers get the right idea of your vehicle’s condition?

Regardless of what you say about your HMV, photos add a level of authenticity your words just can’t. Let buyers see what your HMV has to offer with these seven quick tips for photographing your HMV.

Check your camera

Before you take a photo, be it with your smartphone or handheld camera, be sure to give it a once-over. Although there may not be too much to go wrong, make sure the lens is clean. No one’s going to see how beautiful your restoration is if there’s a huge thumb print over your lens.

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Opposing corners

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then get your money’s worth! Taking a photo straight on of the front, back, or side of your HMV shows that one side great, but could you show more than one side at a time?

Whenever I shoot for WarJeeps.com, I make sure to always get a photo from one corner of the vehicle, then the opposite corner. That way I know I have the front and one side and the back and the other side in just two photos. This will give a potential buyer a well-rounded idea of what kind of shape the body is in.

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Composition

Before you release that shutter, take a quick second to look at more than just the center of the frame – more than just your HMV. What’s in the background? Is there a telephone pole awkwardly placed so it looks like it’s coming out of your HMV? Here’s something that you shouldn’t allow to happen: Your finger showing in the side of the picture!

Make sure all of your HMV  is in the frame. When you “cut off” a part of your truck, it creates tension in the photo. A buyer may wonder why that portion was cut off.

Whenever I take a photo, I always look around the edges of the frame to be sure there is nothing that will distract a viewer from the subject I want them to see.

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Get low or high

The better your photos, the more likely your HMV is to sell. When your audience is looking up at your HMV from a low angle, it looks more powerful or commanding (and thus in better shape). Not only that, but they might get a better view of your beautifully restored undercarriage, as well.

You don’t want your HMV to look just like every other vehicle listed for sale. At the very least, a low or high angle sets your Jeep apart from others. Try standing on a stool or a (sturdy) chair to give your photos some perspective. Don’t just take your photo standing next to your HMV. Crouch down or grab a step stool to find a unique angle.

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Interior / Engine Photos

What’s inside counts. It’s a shame to see a great HMV for sale with just one photo of the exterior. What’s it look like inside? How’s the engine holding up? Take a moment to show your buyers what they want to know, even if you’ve already written it down.

A buyer needs to know what may need work in the future. Even if your engine compartment or interior isn’t the cleanest, it’s better for a buyer to see it before they show up. Another good idea is a plain photo of the undercarriage.

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Location, Location, Location

Although it may not seem fair, what’s behind your Jeep helps sell it. There’s a reason you don’t see cars in magazine ads pictured in front of an ordinary home garage: A destination adds flavor to your photo. That is to say, it helps a buyer imagine themselves in your HMV,  or what they can do with it.

Often, you’ll see Jeeps on WarJeeps.com pictured in front of a western landscape or a mountain range. Let’s face it, that sort of setting makes a vehicle look a lot better.

Maybe you don’t live in viewing distance of the Rockies, but any backdrop is better than none. Go to a local park or maybe a historic street to give your Jeep a more attractive setting.

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The little things count

It wouldn’t be the best idea to only photograph the things that may be wrong with your HMV, but you also don’t want to ignore them. If there’s a particular dent or patch of rust, take a photo. Let the buyer see that it really isn’t that bad.

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This works the other way too. If there are subtleties that can help sell your Jeep, be sure to show them off as well.

At the end of the day, there are dozens of techniques professional photographers use to represent their subject in the automotive industry. Regardless of where you are and what camera you are using, these seven secrets are fast and (mostly) free to use. So show viewers exactly what your historic military vehicle has to offer – and make the sale!

Reprinted with permission of WarJeeps.com, home of the free Jeep Classifieds

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