Product photography is a part of daily life. But while most product photography is fairly simple, car photography for dealerships isn’t the same as product photography for items such as a phone, furniture piece, or laptop. 

Cars are a collection of multiple complex systems, working together to not only get drivers and passengers where they want to go, but doing so comfortably and safely. As such, car photography for dealerships needs to focus the full scope of a vehicle to demonstrate how it operates, the comfort it provides, the safety features it offers, and the enjoyment it promises. This requires a great deal of more photos than just simple front, back, and side views.

Additionally, the utilitarian nature of car photography doesn’t mean there’s no room for artistry. Changing expectations for imaging over the last decades have caused potential customers to expect high-quality images shot at striking angles, with flattering lighting, and in true-to-life colors—and, sometimes, with stunning backgrounds. In other words, car photography for dealerships is about capturing the best of each vehicle with diverse, compelling, and plentiful images.


The foremost challenges dealerships face when it comes to car pictures is the volume of cars they deal with and the volume of photos needed for each of those cars. From scheduling photo shoots to editing images and posting the final pictures, the process of an image making its way online can be a lengthy one. And any delay can be a missed sales opportunity.

Today, the majority of car shoppers begin their buying journey by researching vehicles online, whether at a dealer’s website and via third-party sites. These online listings must stand out from the crowd, stand in for the showroom experience, and come to represent both the vehicle and the dealership itself. Listings that use generic placeholder images rather than images of the car being listed are therefore at a significant disadvantage, as car shoppers are likely to move on to listings—and dealerships—that show them what they want to see.

To avoid this common scenario, dealerships are increasingly providing automotive stock photo galleries to show each vehicle on their lot, whether in addition to or in place of their own photos. These stock photos give car shoppers in-depth views of a vehicle that are functionally indistinguishable from actual images of the car in a dealer’s inventory. And they can be posted before a dealership even has time to schedule its own photoshoot. But not all stock photos are created equal, and the success of this strategy depends largely on the quality and diversity of images.



Automotive stock photos can be highly useful for dealerships and car shoppers alike. To optimize their value, these images should provide:

  • True-to-Life Colors: Research consistently shows the color of a vehicle deeply influences purchasing decisions. At times, it even trumps all other features. That’s why the color of a vehicle in stock photos must match the color of the vehicle in real life. Whether a car shopper is looking for a specific color or is drawn to a hue they had not considered, ensuring that what they see online is also what they’ll see in the dealership is critical. 
  • Good Lighting: Lighting can dramatically affect the appearance and desirability of a vehicle. A poorly or unevenly lit vehicle is at a significant disadvantage, while correct and consistent illumination can show a car at its best. 
  • In-Depth Coverage: When a car shopper is relying on online car listings to guide their purchasing decisions, it’s essential to offer comprehensive interior and exterior views. Whether they want to see images of the cargo space, close-ups of the infotainment system, detailed views of passenger spaces, or a wide shot of the dashboard, car dealer photography should offer the photos they need to understand their options.
  • Consistency: While some car shoppers know exactly what they want, many compare multiple vehicles before finalizing their decision. Car stock photos should facilitate this process by offering consistent lighting, angles, and coverage throughout the library.

While dealers may recognize the need for these qualities, finding them is a different matter. Even if the dealer doesn’t use generic placeholder images, car shoppers too often see low-quality stock images that don’t give viewers the information they need. At other times, dealers forego stock photos altogether, relying instead on images taken by sales staff. For car dealerships, these images can not only mean lost sales, but may also present the dealership itself in a less than flattering light. 


To avoid the most common pitfalls of car dealership photography, forward-thinking dealerships are increasingly turning to specialized automotive stock photo libraries. These databases contain images shot by experts who understand the needs of dealers and car shoppers and have the skills to showcase each vehicle at its best. With unmatched breadth, depth, and quality, dedicated stock photo libraries can offer the best car photos available for dealers, whether for use in car listings, website design, or digital marketing campaigns. Depending on a dealership’s needs, this can include customized and white label options.

One of the most important features of these libraries, however, is speed to market. By partnering with a library that offers innovative speed to market solutions, a dealership can ensure it has new car images first—sometimes, even before a vehicle is released. This allows dealers to capture the attention of car shoppers early and stand out from the saturated world of online car listings. 

As car shopping moves online, car stock photography for dealerships is vital for success. Understanding what matters in car photography for dealerships can help dealers capitalize on the potential of these images and strengthen their position in a competitive market.