Ebay photo tips - Shooting to sell.

Photographing small objects to sell online

Many of us buy and sell on ebay and other auction sites. In order to sell, the quality of the photo is of high importance. Here are my ebay photo tips.

Photographing clothes for sale

The simple rule of thumb is to see how the manufacturers photograph their own clothes.

ebay clothing

You probably don't have access to a model and a beach at sunset, but you probably can find a coat hanger and a white wall. This method of displaying clothes sells well and is used by top clothing websites, so you can safely follow it yourself. Suffused natural lighting works better than artificial and watch out for strange colours. You don't want an item returned because the colour on the photo was misleading.

If you can, bring the object away from the wall, open up your aperture as wide as possible for crisp detail and a blurred background. A tripod is essential for this kind of work. If you dont have a remote trigger, use the 2 second delay function to ensure you are not touching (and shaking) the camera at the moment that the shutter opens.

And here is a tiop from my wife. If the item is unworn, show this by including rather than hiding any labels that are still attached.

How to Photograph small items

If you want to sell little things such as toys, jewellry or collectable diecast model cars you need to do two things.

Preparing to photograph small things

Firstly clean the item itself. When you get in for a close up, all the dirt, grime and dust shows up, so remove it first.

If you have something shiny, like a toy car, give it a polish too. With jewels or glass you should also polish the item, but be careful about the type of polish you use. Some leather items look amazing with a little olive oil rubbed in.

Set up a table top studio

Your table can become your studio for the afternoon. 2 or 3 cheap desk lamps are perfect for supplying your lighting needs. However, you will want to diffuse the light they produce. A 'photobox' features cloth, paper or frosted perspex walls to diffuse the light coming from the lamps, killing shadows that would spoil the shot. You can make a light box yourself or buy one from around £30.00

Turn the flash off

Turn off the camera's inbuilt flash. Direct light on macro objects results in flat images that don't sell.

Experiment with the colour and material of the surface upon which your object will be placed. Black velvet, white plastic, coloured paper, and tinfoil are all popular although many people just go for white paper.

Photographing the objects

Think carefully about angles. A picture of a toy car, when taken from above looks dull. Get the camera low and shoot it from the same angles you see in real car magazines. This will add interest to the shot and make it stand out from the crowd. Take a look around ebay and see which photos grab your attention and think about why. Is it colour, contrast, size or arrangement?

Take multiple photos so that your buyers get to see as much detail as possible. If there is any doubt, include a scale so that nobody is confused. Obviously, you want to present your items in the best possible light, but if there is wear or damage, don't hide it. Let your customers know.

Use a macro lens

Although macro mode seems the obvious choice and will be the right on about 90% of the time, play around with other settings and see what comes out. Remember that at small scales the depth of field can become a bit of a headache, so think about what part of the object is most essential to the sales process and ensure that at least that part is in super sharp focus.

Your macro lens should let you get within 4-5 inches of the object. If you cant afford a macro, get a cheap extension tube and use that.

Photographing coins and medals

I saw a great tip about coins so I will share it with you. Basically, light them from one side only and make that the side facing the 'face'. As you can see below, bringing out the human profile makes the photograph more impactful.

lighting coins for photography

Get into the digital darkroom

If your light box doesn't quite come up to scratch, take the time to photoshop out any background detail that takes the eyes away from the object you are trying to sell. A bit of sharpening can also be helpful in bringing out the 'sparkle' of diamonds and other precious stones.