If you were going to buy a car from a dealership, you'd hope the dealership would have a nice selection on display, around the forecourt and in the showroom, so you could take a look around, choose your favourite colour and study the general condition before you took a test drive. It may be fair to say you'd be a little disappointed if the dealership just had a load of little signs telling you the details of each car, but not a car in sight. Chances are, you'd go to a dealership which did have cars in plain view.
So it would be completely ridiculous to try and sell a car on ebay without a nice picture, would it not? And yet, a quick browse through the eBay Motors listings will reveal that many sellers try and do just that, and many more provide woefully inadequate pictures of their pride and joy.
Before we look at the best way of taking photographs, we'll go over a few "don't's" of car photography.
Don't take a photograph in a place that restricts the view of your car. So many private sellers, and even some trade sellers, take a photo of their car in a cramped driveway, hidden behind another car, squeezed between two cars or a couple of fences, or from a ludicrous angle. You know the ones - the car is barely visible in the shadows, and the driveway is so cramped that the only views you get of the car are of it's bonnet and windscreen, the spoiler on the back, and a reflected interior shot through a closed side window.
Also, please give some consideration of technique. A photograph taken in the light is much more likely to display your vehicle well than one taken with a flash in the middle of the night. Rain is sometimes unavoidable but darkness isn't - take your photo during the day! With that in mind though use common sense as to the direction you're facing - if you take a photo into the sun you'll have a very bright photograph with a very dark car in the centre of the frame. If the day is overcast, take photos both with and without the flash and use whichever comes out best. On darker days you will need the flash for a photograph of the interior, otherwise it'll come out blurry and dark.
Try and hold the camera steady too (or use a tripod), a blurry shot will completely hide any details you're trying to display. Also, try and avoid using a 1 megapixel phone camera - you won't be doing the car justice at all. Virtually everyone knows someone with a proper digital camera - try and borrow it if you can, it makes a difference. And importantly, make sure whatever you're taking the photo of is in the centre of the frame! A great shot of the side of your car is no use if you're missing the front end off. Finally, clean your car first! If it looks awful in the photos then you're immediately de-valueing your car and may even put of sellers altogether.
So, how best to photograph your car?
The bare minimum you really need is three photographs. Don't be stingy and refuse to pay the extra few pence it takes to host another photo - a car is an expensive item and you need a few good views of it. You wouldn't buy a house if you'd only seen the front of it and not the garden and interior, so the same should apply to a car.
I've taken some photos to show you the three most recommended angles from which to photograph your car. It's a view that photography agencies use to take dealership photographs, and you'll see some of the trade sellers on eBay using very similar views.
Front 3/4 offside
Rear 3/4 nearside
Rear 3/4 nearside
(Apologies if the images are a little small here... due to eBay guide regulations I can't link to larger images from another site)
By including nearside and offside 3/4 views, you're allowing people to see both sides, and the front and rear of your car in only two photographs, and the most relevant interior shot is covered too, showing the general condition of the interior and front driver's seat (the one that gets most wear). If you're willing to include extra photos, these should be prioritised for areas you want to highlight, such as close-ups of damage. Feel free to add a photo of the engine bay or boot area, but remember that if the rest of your car looks pretty tidy from the original three photos, chances are the boot and engine bay will be in good nick too. Notice how the subject is as near as possible to the camera but still within the frame. Also, try and use a neutral background like the one shown - a busy background (houses, other cars etc) will distract attention from your car.
Try not to waste photos - never substitute one of the three above for any other, but there's no real need to take a photo of every wheel and tyre, or an arty shot taken from ground level, or even a photograph of your odometer. All this information can be included in your listing and doesn't need photographic evidence. Photos are to attract attention and to give people a general idea - your listing is for all the small details.
I hope this guide has been useful to you, and best of luck selling your car on eBay!