Photography for Online Auctions




Regardless if your buying or selling something, you know a well made picture will maximize the item’s appeal. Especially since an online buyer can’t inspect the item in person, having an image of the item can make or break the sale.

An image made for an auction doesn’t have to be a work of art, but it does need to answer a prospective buyer’s questions. A buyer will want to know the condition of the item, the color, and any fine points like the details of the piece.

Simple Uncluttered Background

photograph of a table top photography studio
Table Top Studio

To make your auction item pop, create a temporary studio with a sheet or some poster board, really anything that will give you a plain background. Or, you can purchase from many portable studios that are perfectly designed for online auction photography. The area you use needs to give you enough space to move around and work in comfortably. Insure the area is clutter free by removing anything that will not be part of your photograph.

Diffused, Even, Lighting

photograph of green pot by Robert Couse-Baker  https://flic.kr/p/nNDPjN
Green Pot

Use soft, even light, to illuminate your items without created hot spots or heavy shadowing. Avoid direct lighting, consider setting up your temporary studio outside on an overcast day or in the shade of you house or garage. If your work area has light coming from one direction creating heavy contrast between light and shadow use a reflector (white poster board) or a small lamp for fill lighting. The objective is uniform lighting with few or no shadows.



Sharp Focusing

Although the advantage of sharp focus is obvious when you’re showcasing something to sell, many auction images aren’t focused well. This is were using a tripod pays off. Using a small aperture, like f/11 or smaller, will give you a greater depth of field and better sharpness overall.

Color Accuracy

Photograph of ethnic drum from Germany
Drum

If you are selling an item that is white, ivory, or some other light color, you wouldn’t want your photograph to have a blue or yellow tint to it. But it will if your white balance is off. Be sure your white balance is set for the type of lighting you are using. The best solution is to use you camera’s custom white balance feature to make you whites spot on.

Tips for Online Auction Photography

  • Image editing. Edit you photographs with your image editing software. Pay attention to color saturation and sharpening. You will want to crop your images to an optimum size for your auction.
  • Brighten pictures for the web. Since images on the web are small, it’s often best to lighten them slightly, making them a little brighter and brings out details. Be gentle or you will washout the image.
  • Highlight the items best features. Try putting a little more light on your items unique feature to create a soft spot light effect. You can try this in you editing program as well.
  • Use a tripod. This is especially important when you taking close-up pictures or using a small aperture, and corresponding slow shutter speed, for depth of field.
  • Study your competition. Look at the photographs in the auction of items like yours or are similar to yours. Consider how you can make your pictures better and more interesting than your competition.

Photo Credits

“Green Pot” by Robert Couse-Baker
“Drum” by Musikethnologie EM

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