Better Photos

How to Take Good Photos for eBay

By James

How to take better photos for eBay? A lot of people need this advice because there are some absolutely shocking photos on eBay!

I am by no means a professional photographer but I have been selling things on eBay for years now and I have learned a few things about taking pictures.

Good pictures can make a world of difference to your selling so it is worth making the effort with them.

The good news is that you don’t even need a fancy camera to take good pictures, you just need to get the light right and follow a few basic rules.

Clean Your Item Before Taking Photos for eBay

Cleaning or washing your item is well worth doing if it is dirty because it can make a huge difference to the photos.

A good clean can make an old item look brand new, whereas a lack of cleaning can make a new thing look terrible!

Take Photos of What Buyers Need to See

There are two parts to this; showing people details of your item and showing them everything that is included with it.

If an item comes with a lot of accessories or a box & manual, I will always take a picture of everything together in one picture.

That might sound obvious, but I have seen a lot of examples of people selling ‘job-lots’ of things and using one item as the main photo.

Many buyers will not take the time to browse all of the photos, so it’s best to put everything in one shot, even if you don’t use it for the main photo.

If your item is damaged or has cosmetic issues, take a photo specifically of the damage, so that buyers can see it.

detail photo of damage from my ebay listing
This chair had some cosmetic damage, so I highlighted it with a photo

Try to Make It Look Interesting

This is a bit of a tricky one because it doesn’t really apply to every item in the same way, but have a little think about how you will arrange your items and the background for them.

I sell a lot of coins on eBay and I found that when I started taking more ‘dramatic’ pictures of them, they got more views and sold faster. Now I try to apply that to everything I sell.

standard photo vs a dramatic one.
A standard picture (top) and a ‘dramatic’ one (bottom)

What camera should I use?

I take all of my pictures with my phone.

Previously I used DSLR (Canon EOS) for my eBay photos, but I found that using my phone was much more convenient.

Most modern phones have very good cameras in them – I know they won’t compare to a big DSLR for fancy photography, but unless you already have a DSLR I wouldn’t bother buying one for eBay pictures.

If you are going to buy anything to improve your photos, I would buy lights and / or backgrounds first, before investing in a better camera.

How to Get the Best Light for My Photos?

Light is everything.

Getting the right light will hide the bad bits and show off the good bits.

Bad light will do the opposite.

If you don’t have any lighting equipment then natural light is the best free option.

Taking pictures inside your house with only energy saving light bulbs to light up your item will not look great and will give you gloomy pictures.

If you can, try using extra lights and lamps to brighten up the area where you are taking pictures. LED lights are great for this as they are bright but don’t get too hot or use loads of energy.

Mirrors can also help reflect the light around your item and reduce the shadows on it, so if you have a suitable sized mirror, they can do wonders.

Personally, I use a lightbox for my photos.

Here are some pictures I took with and without it.

Good light bad light
Top: bad light, good camera. Bottom: Phone + Lightbox

It gives you a completely white background for your item (a requirement for new products on Amazon btw) and takes away nearly all of the shadows.

My light box is essentially a tent in the shape of a cube.

Inside the cube, 2 sides are white, for the back drop, which can be switched out for black or beige.

The other 4 faces have a shiny finish like tin foil, for reflecting the light.

Two strips of LEDs are fixed to the inside of the tent at the top.

And that’s it.

Should I Edit My Photos for eBay?

There are some photo editing tools within the eBay listing interface, I would recommend sticking with those.

There is an auto adjust feature which works pretty well most of the time, but there are also some manual brightness and contrast adjustments which you can play with too.

I go through this in one of my videos on YouTube, you can check it out here.

eBay don’t recommend that you edit them in Photoshop or similar because they want people to see what they are getting.

If your item has holes or damage and you edit them out of the photos, the buyer will see them when they get the item and you will have a dispute on your hands straight away.

If you want more great tips on improving your eBay selling, check out this post here.

I have also made a step-by-step guide to selling an item from start to finish eBay on my YouTube Channel, which you can see here.