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BN Editor
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eBay: Taking Photos

[ Edited ]

Once you decide what to sell on eBay, the next important step is taking and uploading a photo of your item.

There is an old saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words." On eBay, however, a picture can be worth a thousand dollars. During my first year on eBay I once tried to sell a heart-shaped diamond pin for a lady on consignment. She gave me the pin and I took some photos of it and launched an auction. After two tries I just couldn't get a bid. I wasn't really happy with the photo but it was the best I could do at the time. So I took the pin to a professional photographer in town. He took a few very nice photos of the pin and I launched it again on eBay. This time the pin sold at the end of a 7-day auction for $1,114.00. The auction got 185 hits and 23 bids from 6 different bidders.

That taught me a lesson. I had to learn how to take good photos.

Blurry or overexposed images and photos with junk or distraction in the background really turn off bidders and will hurt your auction results. Take the time to go through your camera's instruction manual and become familiar with the features and controls. Pay special attention to picture size, auto-exposure adjustments, white balance and close up or macro settings.

Here are some tips for taking great photos for eBay:

  • Always Use a Tripod. Digital cameras typically use a very slow shutter speed unless you are shooting with a flash or outdoors. The slightest movement holding the camera can blur your photo.
  • Don't use flash. Most of the time a flash will cause reflections or hot spots on an object. Also a flash tends to flatten an object taking away depth and shape. If you are shooting outside shoot in bright shade. Shooting inside set up two of the student type gooseneck lamps set on each side of the object at a 45 degree angle. This will cancel out the shadows and usually give you a nice shot.
  • Compose your photo and use a clean background. One of the most famous photo stories on eBay is a fellow who used to like working at home in the nude. He was selling a silver teapot which is highly reflective. When he put the photo on eBay, if you looked carefully at the teapot you could see a perfect reflection of a naked man holding a camera. Although this may be an urban myth, I can't tell you the number of times I have seen photos with distractions in the background. I use a product called the EZ Cube from EZ Auction It is a portable fabric light tent shaped like a cube. You put your objects inside and shine the lights on it or take it outside in the daylight. All of your photos are bathed in a smooth white light with no shadows or reflections.
  • Keep your images small so they download quickly. Bidders hate waiting for large (high pixel count) images to load and they will often click away from your auction. Keep your images under 75KB.
  • Be sure to show close ups of the object and always reveal any flaws if you are selling a used item, an antique or collectible, or anything where the condition of the item is important. If a seller finds out later the item had a flaw, they may want to return the item or leave you negative feedback.
  • Make your item stand out. Use a neutral or contrasting background. Avoid pattern on the background because they will distract from the image. Rich colors can often add drama to a photo. If you are shooting silver, try a purple or royal blue background. Bright yellow or bright red works well for some items too.

Chapter 15 in Three Weeks to eBay Profits goes into greater detail and has many more tips for taking profitable photos. Are you confused by all the controls on your digital camera? Do you have any tips to add to these? Have you run into any objects that are difficult to photograph? Do you know of any great free or low-cost tools to help you take better photos? Share your tips or questions with the group.

Reply to this message to discuss these topics.

Message Edited by BookClubEditor on 03-02-2007 01:09 PM

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