Lights, Camera, EBay - Taking Pictures That Sell
by Chris Malta
One of the biggest things you can do to build potential eBay buyers’ confidence is to accent your listings with good, quality photos. Shoppers may not believe something just because you say it, but they will believe it if they see it with their own eyes. Showing them the condition of your item is just as important as telling them about it.
The Right Equipment
While it’s not necessary to run out and buy the fanciest camera, there are a few features that can help you take pictures that let your customers know precisely what they’re buying. These may be worth investing in:
- • Macro Capability for Close-Ups. For extremely large items—your Buick, for example—a zoom feature that lets you focus from 10 or 12 inches is sufficient. But for smaller items, like jewelry or stamps, where you need to capture details, you should be able to focus from ½ an inch to 2 inches away. If you focus from closer than your camera’s rated for, your pictures won’t turn out, so measure the distance you’re shooting.
• Aperture Priority (also called Aperture Value). This allows you to control and extend which parts of the photo—from foreground to background—are in focus. You may need to have more than one plane in focus, such as the mount and the item sitting on it. You should be able to check the spec sheet or the manufacturer’s website to see if a camera has this feature.
Or you can go to DPReview.com, and look in their camera section under the brand and model specifications.
• Manual White-Balance. All light has color—house lights, sunlight, reflector lights, it doesn’t matter. This color shows up in photos, which is why you often see pictures where everything seems to have a green, red, or blue cast to it. A white balance lets your camera read and adjust to whatever light you’re in, so your photos give an accurate representation of your item’s appearance.
Lighting your object well is essential to having clear, detailed pictures. You don’t have to buy an expensive lighting kit, reflectors, and soft-boxes. According to Daniel Grotta and Sally Weiner-Grotta, contributing editors of PC Magazine and authors of Shooting for Dollars—Simple Photo Techniques for Greater EBay Profit, you can set up your whole studio on a shoestring budget. Says Grotta, “We set up a studio in our laundry room for under twenty dollars. It was just a background cloth with two clamps and two reflector lights that we bought in a hardware store.”
Getting great pictures for your listings isn’t hard. Lighting your photos sounds very complicated. But assures Weiner-Grotta, “In essence all you have to do is flood an [object] with light to make sure it’s well-illuminated…Just play around with placing the lights at different angles, and see how that affects things. After a day of experimenting, you should have control over it.”