When marketing a new or pre-owned vehicle via the Internet, high quality images of your cars are an important part of attracting potential customers and compelling them to act. The purpose of this guide is to provide some simple guidelines on how to photograph vehicles for effective display online.
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Customers are more likely to submit a lead on your vehicles if:
There are photographs available to view
The images are actual, rather than stock library shots
The images are of high quality and well lit
The vehicle has been detailed just prior to photography
There are multiple photographs to view
To enable you to gain the maximum benefit from your Internet marketing we recommend a minimum of 16 images per vehicle, including photographs of the front, rear, and both sides of the exterior, the interior, engine and trunk, as well as any options such as navigation, sunroof, or a convertible top in the raised and lowered positions.
When taking vehicle pictures consider the following best practices:
Photograph the vehicle in an indoor studio environment
Use professional lighting and camera equipment
Compose the photographs in an artistic manner
Maintain a consistency in image composition for all vehicles
Make sure you have a good quality digital camera and tripod available to use. Photographs will need to be taken in a 4:3 aspect ratio with an optimal resolution of 800×600, and saved in JPEG file format. Review the user manual that came with your camera, and practice different settings to obtain the best quality photographs.
Finding a Suitable Location
Before attempting any photography, it is essential to find a suitable location that will meet the following criteria:
Find a location that has a suitable clean surface and neutral background against which to position the vehicles.
Sufficient space must be available to position the cars so as to avoid cluttered views through the windows when taking interior shots.
The floor area needs to be level with no unsightly blemishes such as oil stains or drain covers.
An indoor location is preferable, and must always be available for use.
Preparing the Location
In the event that an indoor location is secured for vehicle photography, the walls should be free of windows and doors, and painted a color that will show off the majority of vehicles to be photographed. Typically a chalk white is ideal, although a dealership may wish to create its own Internet identity by selecting a memorable color palette for the walls and floor. The floor should be painted with an industrial floor finish to ensure durability and ease of cleaning tire marks and oil stains.
Preparing the Car
When preparing a car for photography ensure that the car has been fully detailed, and remove all POS materials and other items from the car such as paper floor mats, seat protectors, and be sure to remove any personal number plates, and replace with dealership licence plate frames and plate covers.
When the vehicle is in position, check the following:
Straighten the wheels
Switch off engine
Close all windows
If the vehicle is a convertible then always:
Remove/lower the roof
Take pictures with both the roof up and down
Put on any top cover
Lower the windows
Start with a consistent ¾ hero shot. This image will often be the first image that is seen when vehicles are pushed to a third-party vendor. Don’t be afraid to use close-ups in a sequence, you can always combine them with additional hero shots to add depth and context. Shot selection is critical, as is detail, context, and movement. Ensure that any image makes the most out of the subject it depicts. The secret to a good photograph is often the crop. Always crop the image so that the subject matter stands out and demands attention.
AutoEngage is widely regarded as the pioneer of studio photography in the franchise dealership environment, and our strategic implementation of the process has been recognized as a benchmark for dealerships nationwide. As part of our Automotive Dealership Consulting service, we assist our clients in the construction and management of the dealership photo studio. The result is a significant increase in unique visitors to the dealership website and inventory, an increase in page views, and reduction in bounce rate, that all add to a stronger conversion ratio and increased ROI.
Do you want Automotive Photography like this? Contact us today for a customized quote and we will have you up to speed with your own fully customized photo studio, for a lot less than you expect.
AutoEngage is a nationally recognized automotive dealership consulting and Internet marketing company that works with franchised dealerships, dealergroups, and manufacturers. Our strategic online marketing solutions dramatically accelerate dealership performance.