How to Take Amazing Photos of Cars (For Sellers)

The term “curb appeal” can apply to more than just real estate. When selling your car, great photos can be extremely valuable to potential buyers. It helps sell your car faster and can typically get you more money for your vehicle. Pictures also determine how buyers engage with your listing. So if the images are bad, you can expect to see a lot of passes from shoppers. In this article, I’m going to give you tips on how to get the best angles, and I’ll teach you what’s most important to focus on

The images in this article are all photos of cars that I’ve taken for listings on, and I’ll be using them as examples to walk you through the process. 


Before we get started, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind. I’ll go into these in more depth throughout the article, but these are the keys to taking great photos of cars: choose the right camera, detail the vehicle, find a nice background, consider the lighting, and get the right shots.

Most smartphones are sufficient for taking photos of cars as long as the lighting is good. If you have access to a good camera, you won’t regret using it for this project. Details matter significantly to buyers, and the crisper your photos are, the more views your car will get.

It’s important to clean your car to remove any exterior dirt and interior clutter. Make sure to dust and wipe down the interior and condition any leather, if possible (you’ll also want to toss all those empty coffee cups and water bottles from the back seat). Along with a basic wash, I recommend opting for some tire shine and exterior waxing if you’re able. It’ll allow your car to look its best from every angle. More importantly, it makes a potential buyer think that you put the time and effort into regular maintenance.

I also like to use solid-colored buildings as a backdrop. It’s important to choose a color that’s a nice, natural tone that contrasts well with your vehicle color. Taking photos of a black car against a black background won’t allow the vehicle to stand out. In these images, you’ll see that I chose a building that’s the opposite of the car’s color.

Exterior Photos

Buyers like to view photos of cars starting from the exterior, going inside the car as they go through your listing. I like to start at the front right of the car with the wheels pointed to the left. This gives a professional profile that looks like it should be in a magazine. I then rotate around the car getting all sides and corners.

Take Amazing Photos of cars - TRED
Commonly referred to as the “money shot” at here at TRED.
Take Amazing Photos of cars - TRED
In this shot the light is right behind me. You can see how the light shows the true condition of the paint and highlights dents as it hits the car directly.

Take Amazing Photos of cars - TRED Take Amazing Photos of cars - TRED

Take Amazing Photos of cars - TRED

For this 2008 Porsche Cayenne, I also chose a spot with a lot of natural light. You’ll want to avoid excessive shade or dark lighting because it can flatten the features of your car. The best time to grab photos of cars (or of anything, really) is in the morning or in the evening when the sun is coming from an angle rather than from directly overhead. It’s also a good idea to avoid taking photos inside, if possible. Natural light is going to give the best results.

Once I finish the walk around photos, I focus on some of the details on the exterior, INCLUDING blemishes. I am of the belief that disclosing blemishes leads to a better, less awkward test drive.

Take Amazing Photos of cars - TRED Take Amazing Photos of cars - TRED

I like to take pictures of key details, including all of the wheels, from a profile angle. It shows the rim condition as well as the tire condition and is visually pleasing for shoppers.

Take Amazing Photos of cars - TRED
Adding all four wheels to your listing is recommended.

Fun features like spoilers, cool looking brakes, and badges can also help your car sell. It confirms trim level for buyers and shows the condition of those extra bits, so definitely make sure to snap photos of those areas.

Interior Photos

I take this shot by sitting in the middle-back seat and reclining the front seats all the way back.

When you move inside the vehicle, it’s best to set an establishing shot (ideally of the front cockpit). It gets the viewer ready for interior photos and answers their questions about what the inside looks like after flipping through your exterior photos. After taking a photo similar to this, I open one door at a time and take photos of the car’s seats. This gives shoppers a full interior view of the upholstery or leather and its condition.

Take Amazing Photos of cars - TRED
Your lens might not be wide enough to capture this. A nice alternative is to open the door and stick your camera right above the side view mirror shooting through the gap in the open door.
Take Amazing Photos of cars - TRED
Taken by resting my camera on top of the center console shooting backwards.

I recommend laying all of the seat belts flat and straightening out any attachments for these shots. It’ll give your images a more symmetrical and confident feel. It also makes the car look more taken-care-of than one with twisted seat belts.

After that, I zoom in on instruments, starting with the odometer reading. This gives buyers a chance to verify your listed information and get a feel for the car’s instrument panel. People should be receiving a clear, crisp image of the car in its current condition. It’s not fair to a buyer to remove blemishes and/or damage via editing software, so avoid that. You want to give a sense of full disclosure. It not only raises the amount you’re likely to sell your car for, but it also fits in line with the rest of TRED’s quality principles.

Take Amazing Photos of cars - TRED

Take Amazing Photos of cars - TRED
You can almost grab the wheel in this one.

Features like a sunroof, power seat adjustments, cruise control gauge, and logos are assets. Use them to your advantage by snapping some pictures of them at unique angles. I recommend trying to create the most distance possible between the sunroof and camera, in order to make the cabin feel more spacious. For all other features, it’s good to get up close and personal.

At TRED, we require a VIN tag shot, but within the listing, it is not necessary. Once that’s taken, I move over to the trunk and the engine compartment. These are the last areas that I photograph in a listing.

Use angles to your advantage and try to get as much of the trunk space into one photo as possible. This will show off all of the interior space your vehicle has. In addition to that, it allows a buyer to more easily imagine the vehicle in-person.  If you have a big, fast-looking engine, take advantage. The more unique details you show of your car, the better. Make sure that these components are as clean as possible for these shots, and really focus in on logos and features.

Take Amazing Photos of cars - TRED
It’s a V-8… why not?

Take Amazing Photos of cars - TRED

Taking photos at this level is worth your time, period. As a seller, you have to understand that the right buyer is out there looking at hundreds of cars online, making split (yes or no) decisions based on few details. Photos are the best way to make the car real in the minds of the people thinking about buying it. If they see themselves in it, the chances of them scheduling a test drive and ultimately making a purchase go through the roof. To me, this is the easy part of the car-selling process. The marketing, call answering, and coordinating test drives with buyers is where the real stress sets in.

If you want a smooth car-selling experience that takes a lot of the workload off your hands, then try TRED. Every buyer that enters our marketplace is pre-qualified, background checked, and has their questions answered by our buyer support agents. We can even offer them financing on your car, opening up more buyers if your car has a high value. The best part? We make people thousands more every day than they would by selling on their own or trading into the dealer. Get an instant estimate on your car today!


Sell Your Car for Thousands More!GET AN ESTIMATE!

Comments are closed.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: