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How to take far better car photos (and resize them for sharing)

by DarkSky

One of my main focuses as the Internet Coordinator for my dealership is to make sure that all vehicles are correctly optioned, priced, and displayed on our website. The biggest factor in a customer deciding whether or not to come into the dealership though is the vehicle photography. If done correctly, it is the most important tool we have as a dealership for bringing customers into the showroom.

Dodge Charger

This article is written from a dealership perspective, but it also works well for amateur/enthusiast photography — ed.

Unfortunately, some dealerships that I have seen do not take full advantage of this, either as a result of poor lighting conditions in pictures, terrible angles, or even an overload of pictures highlighting every specific option a vehicle has. Here I will share a few things I’ve learned to help out with vehicle photography.

Lighting Conditions

Many of the pictures I’ve seen from different dealerships are ruined by poor lighting conditions. Although out of our control, there are a few things that can be done to ensure a great picture no matter what time of day it is or how thick the cloud cover is.

cherokee on dirt
The bright sun created harsh contrast and unwanted shadows and reflections in this photo.

Angles

Another extremely important determinant on your picture quality are the angles at which the pictures are taken.

wrong

right

III. Miscellaneous Notes

dashboard

Dave added: Try a circular polarizing filter to eliminate annoying shadows and reflections.

Hopefully by now you have realized that taking pictures is really an exercise in simplicity. Too much information will overload a customer. Again, the end goal is to get them into the dealership. More than likely, they don’t care about seeing every stitch, door handle, and headlight in the pictures — they want to see everything in person. Get good at taking overview shots and then showing the specifics at the dealership. If they request something specific, go out and take the picture and send it to them directly.

car photography
Overcast conditions and a polarizing filter led to a shadow-free image that still shows character lines and DRLs.

I also want to clarify that this thread isn’t meant to offend anyone here who takes vehicle pictures for their dealerships. I understand that not everyone has the time to dedicate to learning about the best techniques to use while photographing cars, but it really does make a difference in attracting customers when you have good pictures to display.

I am by no means an expert on the subject, I just wanted to get some of this information out there to help you guys sell some more vehicles and improve the public perception of your dealership at the same time. If anyone has something to add, feel free. If not, thank you for reading!

A quick guide to downsizing images for online posting

by David Zatz

Generally, shared photos shouldn’t be wider than 12 inches at 72 dpi — that is, 864 pixels wide — or taller than nine inches (648 pixels). Allpar’s current standard is ten inches, or 720 pixels wide, so pages work on tablets and computers alike. Here is a quick guide to resizing photos so they can meet those specs, using software you already have.

Mac OS X

previewOpen the image in Preview. The easiest ways are dragging the photo file onto the Preview icon in the Dock (the icon is shown at right), or launch Preview and open the image from the File menu. (Preview is kept in your applications folder and shows up in the Dock by default.) Often, just double-clicking the photos brings into Preview... but it might go to iPhoto or Photos instead. You can also use them to scale it.

Go the Tools menu and select Adjust Size; check Scale Proportionately and Resample Image (they are usually on by default). Enter the desired width or height, and make the resolution 72 dpi. Then go to the File menu, and select Save As (or Export) and choose a convenient place to save the smaller version (e.g. the desktop). Save photos in JPG format unless you have a reason not to. You may want to move the Quality slider around to get a good file size.

mac resize photo

You can also use Preview to take images from a PDF file. Open the PDF in Preview, and click on the Select (dotted box) icon in the toolbar, select Copy from the Edit menu (or press command-c), create a new file (File > New or command-n), and the image will appear. Then just resize as needed and save it.

Windows 7 and 10 users

Courtesy of Bob O’Neill

resizing photos in windows


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