Ebay Photography Guide. Tips and Tricks

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Pictures are an important part of most ebay auctions. You can sell successfully without them, but a good picture is worth a thousand words.

Many people make simple mistakes when photographing items for ebay, you dont need to be a top photographer, just apply a few common sense tips to get the best result possible.

You may be thinking, but how can I put photographs on the web? I dont own a digital camera, or maybe your thinking, well my digital camera isnt a all singing all dancing 4,6 or 10 megapixel camera!

Both are not a problem, digital cameras are cheaper than ever second hand, and you DO NOT NEED a high mega pixel camera, a 1 or 2 mega pixel camera should do fine for the internet. Lets face it, you will be shrinking the picture to fit in your auction anyway, so all those pixels captured by a expensive camera will just be flushed down the toilet.

OK, bring on the tips....

You need to remember that the photograph serves three main purposes,

  • To Sell the item
  • To show buyers what they are bidding on
  • To reassure buyers of its condition

In the examples below, I will use a photographic camera filter as the object to be photographed, no particular reason, I just had one handy!

Concentrate on the item.

You are photographing the item you want to sell, not your carpet, garage, family pets, husband wearing ladies underwear, or anything else...

How many auction pics have you seen that look like the ones below?



Can you see the problem? The item in question is tiny, hard to see, and all the clutter around it distracts from the item. You cant make anything out, and no one really wants to see that carpet do they?

Simply putting a sheet of paper on the floor, and getting a bit closer to the item will give you a much better shot. Cropping the image to only show the item (easy to do in most editing packages) is also a good idea.

Hopefully you will agree that the same item, closer up, on a plain background is much better, you can see what you are getting, and make out relevant technical info on the box.


(please note, ebay restricts the size of images in guides, this image would actually be bigger and clearer on a real auction).

You are not limited to just paper as a background, you could choose any "uncluttered" background, say fabric, wood, anything really, as long as it does not detract from the item being photographed, and photographs well. A little experimentation goes a long way!

While you have the item out, and the camera on, why not take more photos? A pic of the back would be nice, so people can see the whole item. Again, close, and cropped.


The best way to take photographs like this is in natural daylight, in these examples, they were done indoors, with flash photography. This can be hard to do, as sometimes the flash reflects of the item being photographed. Moving the camera to different angles can reduce this, also make sure you have plenty of lights on in the room so the camera can autofocus and auto-expose properly. Best of all, do it during the day.

Check each pic as you take them, if they are blurry, out of focus, or otherwise rubbish, take them again! Thats the beauty of digital camera's, you can reshoot the shots till you get them perfect. Why waste that feature?

As this is a item in a box, and its "used" we can take the item out of the box (not recommended on sealed items!) and photograph it so people can see the quality of the item. Buyers want to see if its scratched, damaged, or otherwise not in good condition. So lets take another shot, remember each shot only takes a few seconds, its not much extra work.


Note the battery, that is so people can see the scale of the item.

You could use a coin, a ruler, or anything. Digital cameras often make things appear larger than they are, many times I have bought something thinking it was big, only to find it was tiny! So if you put something in the auction (mention it in the text, so the buyer understands its not for sale, just for scale!) then there will not be any misunderstandings over the size of the item.

You can host your own photographs, to avoid paying ebay picture service fees, just search for a cheap hosting provider, do a little homework and you can save a fortune. Not to mention you can have large pictures, as many as you want (another guide I think is called for on hosting your own pics!).


Dont forget to try to hold the camera steady, have the flash on, if needed, a tripod helps but is not essential. Most importantly discard any dodgy looking shots, and reshoot - a good shot is worth the effort.

Get creative, it depends on what you are selling, but can you for example think of ways a photo could help to sell this item?

I can think of one straight away, a shot showing what the picture looks like WITHOUT the filter attached, and a after shot showing what the picture looks like with it attached would let buyers see exactly what the item is for, and how it performs.

Likewise, if you are selling a electrical item, try to power it up, and show it working in the photograph, buyers feel reassured if they can see it working, and it protects you if they suddenly claim it doesnt work when they get it. It was working before they got it, as its shown working in the auction.

You dont need expensive software either to crop or resize images, your camera probably came with some bundled software, or you can download excellent freeware tools such as irfanview. There are low cost packages (available on free trial) such as paint shop pro, which are excellent also.

The camera is also a excellent tool for honest sellers, if a item is damaged, take a CLEAR close up shot of the damage, and describe it in the auction,that way buyers can see the damage and make their own mind up if it is acceptable. Simply stating "scratched" does not inform the buyer exactly how badly scratched something is, and you may get a complaint. If its shown in the photo, they cant complain, as they have seen it first hand before they bid.

When you upload your images, if you are using your own hosting, then make sure you resize the pics to a sensible size, I recommend a little larger than ebays default size, thats to small to make out important details. DO NOT put a load of photos on from a 4 megapixel camera without resizing them,as people without high speed broad band will need to take a vacation before your ebay page finnishes loading.

Its also a good idea say in your auction you are willing to take any further pictures if a buyer is interested but wishes to see a certain part close up, or from another angle.


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