Photography Tips for Winning eBay Listings
By Steve Myers, Online Marketing Consultant
Focus on Profits
They won't buy what they can't see. You've only got one
chance to get the attention of an eBay buyer. Then they're
So what can you do to highlight your product and make it
stand out? Show it off! At a retail store, you can pick an
item up. You can see and feel the quality.
Your eBay listing can only sell with two things:
- The words you use
- Pictures of your product
eBay buyers need to be assured that the things you list
are in good shape. They don't want a nasty surprise when
the get the item. They need to see with their eyes what they're
buying, so reassure them with images that show your product
in the best light.
Keep reading to learn step-by-step how
to take great pictures that will increase your chances of
selling your eBay products both more often and at a higher
Without good lighting, they can't see a thing. I'm sure
you've seen eBay listings with poor lighting. Without adequate
lighting, you won't show details of your product. Potential
buyers can't see if the item is clean. They can't see if
it has tears, damage, or other defects.
Think about when you go shopping at a retail store. What
do you look for to decide if you should buy. Sure, you'll
look at the price tag, but what else? If you're shopping
for clothes, you will want to make sure there are no spots
or stains on the item. You may check to make sure the zipper
works on a pair of jeans or check for missing buttons on
Great lighting must be:
- Bright Enough
- Come from More than One Source
- Be the Right Color
Probably the best source of lighting for many products is
natural lighting. Especially for outdoor products such as
camping equipment or yard tools, the sun provides the most
natural light for these items.
The reason the sun is such a good light source for auction
items is it is bright enough, comes from more than one source,
and it's the right color of light all in one. It may seem
like the sun is a single light source, but lighting in an
outdoor setting comes not only from the sun itself, but from
lit up clouds and the sky itself.
Why do we care if our item we want to list is lit from more
than one source? When a single light source is used, it casts
harsh shadows on the object. The parts in shadow you can't
see well. Lighting an object from two sources of light (or
more) means you can see all of it.
What do I use for lighting when outdoor lighting isn't convenient?
I picked up two halogen shop lights at my local Home Depot.
Each one is free-standing, can have their height adjusted,
and have two bulbs each (for a total of 4 light sources).
They provide plenty of light. The bulbs are a nice, pure
white as well.
Proper Lighting Color
There's only one light source I try to stay
away from as much as possible. Fluorescent bulbs actually
don't typically emit pure white light. Before I knew better,
I'd take product pictures with this kind of light.
The items would often look somewhat green
or blue, depending on the kind of fluorescent bulb. You can
actually buy fluorescent bulbs that are "natural" colored,
but they'll cost more.
Standard light bulbs tend to emit light with a blue
or yellow hue. They work ok, but my recommendation is still
natural lighting where possible, halogen light if not.
My Dirty Little Lighting Secret
If you have Adobe Photoshop, you can easily adjust the color
of the picture, its contrast, and even make it lighter.
correct your image, load it into Photoshop and click the
Images selection at the top of the screen. In the drop down
menu, click on Adjustments. Then within Adjustments, click
on Auto Levels. You'll be amazed how this single adjustment
will correct many image lighting problems.
If you don't have Photoshop, you can get similar results
with an excellent (and free!) image editor called "the
Gimp." The Gimp isn't Photoshop, but it doesn't cost
up to $800 either. :)
Load your image into the Gimp and click on
Tools at the top of the program. Then click on Color Tools
in the drop down menu. Finally, click on Levels. In the Levels
dialog box, click on the Auto button and then click on OK.
OK, now that we've lit up our product, let's
make it the star of the show. Effective eBay photos make
it clear what you're selling. Make sure it's the only thing
in the picture.
You'll want a nice background that sets your product off
nicely. I've seen some advice stating flatly that you should
take all your pictures with a white background. If all the
products you sell are black, I agree with that advice.
You want to display your product with a background color
that contrasts with your product. If I'm selling a white
iPod, white's not the best background color for me to use.
It won't stand out. Pick up a simple, plain white or light-colored
sheet to use as a background for dark colored objects and
a black or other dark color to put light colored items in
Also, keep in mind the color you'll display the image on.
You'll want to select a background color that goes well with
the look you use for your eBay listings. For a more complete
discussion on how to design your eBay listings for greater
impact, click the link below.
Learn to Create a Unique Look for Your eBay Listings
Make it Big Enough
Since you're selling your item and not the sheet behind
it, you want as little of the sheet to show as possible.
Zoom in on the object or move the camera closer to the object
so it takes up most of your camera's viewfinder.
If you've already taken your picture, you can use a program
like Photoshop or the Gimp to "crop" the image. Basically,
you'll cut off all but a fairly small border around your
item. When you upload your image to eBay, if it's larger
than they display it, they will reduce its size to fit their
format. If you have a lot of sheet showing around your item,
the shrunk image will make your item appear very small.
is especially true for the gallery images on eBay. These gallery
images are pretty small. Once your picture gets shrunk down
to gallery size, if your item's too small to really see well,
you likely wasted the extra listing fee to add a gallery
image to your eBay listing.
You may want to take two or more pictures of your object.
If you're selling a car, you'll want front and side pictures.
Maybe you'll want to show off the car's interior. You get
Just make sure you take enough views to show
off your product well without paying a lot of extra by uploading
views of your image that won't increase its chance to sell
at a higher price.
Make Your Item Look "Sharp"
Another thing you can do to improve the look of your images
is to "sharpen" them. Many digital cameras can take somewhat
blurry images. Also, when you resize an image, it tends to
get blurry. Here's an example of two pictures, the first
prior to sharpening, the second after.
In Photoshop, to apply a sharpening filter to an image,
do the following:
- Open the image in Photoshop
- Click on Filter -> Sharpen -> Unsharp Mask
- Check the Preview checkbox (if it's not already checked)
- Adjust the Amount until the image visually looks
more in focus to you
- Click OK
- Save the Image
In the Gimp, do the following to sharpen an image:
- Open the image in the Gimp
- Click on Filters -> Enhance -> Sharpen
- Check the Preview checkbox (if it's not already checked)
- Adjust the Sharpness amount by moving the slider left
and right until it visually looks best to you
- Click OK
- Save the Image
To Sum It Up
A picture's worth a thousand words. Potential
buyers of your eBay products will be much more likely to
buy your product when it's showcased with a good picture
It doesn't take much time to take great
pictures. With free image editing software like the Gimp,
it won't even cost you anything to crop, sharpen, and color
correct your images.
Follow the advice in this article to increase
your chances of closing your eBay listing successfully. When
eBay buyers see your products showcased in the best light,
they'll often pay more.
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