How to Snap the Best Used Car Images

Professional car stock photos are high-resolution images that showcase the best angles of a vehicle. Stock photos include close-up looks at specific features of the car like the instrument panel, wheels or the gear shift.

While car stock photos are the best image choice to use when marketing new vehicle models online, in advertising or even via social media, these photos might not be the best choice for marketing used cars. Here’s how to snap the best used car images when dealerships need to promote and move their used car inventory.

Why Shouldn’t Dealerships Use Stock Photos for Used Vehicles

Vehicle stock photos are the most professional types of images to use when marketing inventory, and dealerships might wonder why these images aren’t the best choice for used cars, too. After all, car stock photo libraries often include earlier model years.

While EVOX Images offers photos of earlier model vehicles, dealerships might only use these images as a placeholder to provide a bit of data and reference to buyers before the actual used model is photographed. Stock photos can help potential buyers see a depiction of the car that will be available, and dealerships should include a note that the photo isn’t the actual used model.

Why are these professional stock photos not the ideal images for used or pre-owned models? Used cars, trucks, minivans and SUVs might have little flaws or imperfections that need to be shown to buyers. Some used models could have worn spots in the upholstery or even unique features added by a previous owner as aftermarket modifications.

Car stock photos show a new vehicle. While these images depict the older model, they still show a new vehicle that hasn’t been driven and that doesn’t feature any wear and tear.

Used Car Images

Photographing Used Models

Potential buyers want to understand what they are possibly purchasing. They need to be able to see any areas with rust, chipped paint, or other issues. A car model’s features and upgrades can vary from what is depicted in a stock photo.

For this reason, dealerships might snap their own photos of used inventory. Custom photos should include a look at the exterior and interior of the car.

Here are eight tips for dealerships when photographing their used / pre-owned inventory:

  1. Find the best light
  2. Choose a flattering backdrop
  3. Show the good and the bad
  4. Snap a photo of the odometer reading
  5. Don’t forget a photo of the trunk space
  6. Opt for 360 degree photos (if possible)
  7. Don’t post blurry photos
  8. High-resolution lets customers zoom in without pixelated distortion

Find the Best Light

If the sun is too bright, it could impact the look of the car. Choose a time of the day when the sun isn’t shining directly down on the vehicle. Ideally, take a photo when the sun is behind the car and is lower in the sky. Bright light can distort colors, which is why it’s better to take pictures as the sun is lower.

Choose a Flattering Backdrop

Don’t snap a photo of the car in front of a large crowd of customers or near a boring beige wall. Try to photograph the vehicle with an enticing background; the easiest option might be to take a photo in front of the dealership signage.

Show the Good and the Bad

Car buyers want as much information about a vehicle as possible. If there’s rust, a dent or some other flaw, they will want to see a photo. Customers will probably come in to take a test drive, and they won’t want to be shocked to discover that the car doesn’t look like the pictures.

While dealerships should show any issues, they also need to photograph upgraded features and other unique aspects of the car. Take a variety of photos to show features from different angles, too.

Photograph the Mileage

Dealerships shouldn’t forget to snap a photo of the odometer reading. This ensures that buyers understand the mileage. Most dealerships photograph the odometer readings of used vehicles.

Don’t Forget to Photograph the Trunk Space

Cargo space is important to some buyers. For this reason, don’t forget to snap a photo depicting the trunk space. This helps buyers understand if the vehicle will meet their needs.

Opt for 360 Degree Photos (if possible)

Some cameras are designed to take 360 degree photos, and these images could be helpful to customers shopping for cars online. A 360 degree image lets the customer see the vehicle from different angles. A 360 degree photo could be beneficial for capturing the interior, too.

Don’t Post Blurry Photos

Blurry photos look unprofessional and could frustrate buyers. If a photograph looks blurry, delete it and take another shot. Blurry photos look DIY and could be a detriment for the website, too.

Opt for High-Res Photos

Photos should be high-resolution; this means 300 pixels per inch (PPI). High-resolution photos can be resized easily without leading to distortion. These high-quality photos also could allow shoppers to zoom in on areas of the photo without pixelated blurriness.

Used Car Images

How Many Photos Should Each Vehicle Include?

Dealerships might wonder how many images they should include when marketing a used vehicle. There isn’t any limit per se, and dealerships might use their own judgment. However, dealerships also need to keep in mind that shoppers now research their cars online; as the chip shortage impacted inventory, many shoppers spent more time on dealership websites.

More photos provide more information for the buyer. Dealerships could include a slideshow of images for used models that show different details of the interior and exterior.

Using a Stock Photo as a Placeholder

Dealerships might have a used model that’s being inspected or cleaned but has not yet been photographed for online marketing purposes. Dealerships might want to ensure that buyers know the car is available.

Car stock photos that depict the model year could be used as a placeholder online while the dealership is prepping the vehicle. However, dealerships should add a note that the image is a stock photo and not the actual model. This brief note can help ensure buyers don’t get confused if the car doesn’t look like the photos.

Other Photo Tips for Marketing Used Vehicles

Not all car dealerships want to snap their own photos of inventory. While some on the team might be great at photographing vehicles for marketing purposes, dealerships also could research professional photographers that can take the best photos for promoting high-end used models.

For example, some dealerships might have a trade-in that’s unique or a classic car that they want to elevate via online marketing. A professional photographer could find the best backdrop and lighting and customize a photo shoot that aligns with the dealership’s marketing plans for the vehicle.

Dealerships also could arrange for a custom photo shoot via EVOX Images. These custom photos can allow dealerships to have high-quality images of specific models. In addition, dealerships also could arrange for a photo shoot that includes the dealership owner or sales team.

While professional stock photos are ideal for marketing new models, these photos might not be the best solution for marketing used or pre-owned inventory. Custom or DIY photography for used inventory is the best option to capture the vehicle’s unique features or even small flaws and provide the visual insight buyers need when researching cars from home or online.