I’ve been taking digital photos of cars and putting them on the web for more than 16 years. There are many ways to take a poor vehicle photo, but fewer ways to take a fantastic photo. Most of the photos I’ve taken have been acceptable, maybe even very good, but I’ve also seen hundreds of examples of awful photos. The problem is, despite establishing and teaching best practices, in the end we may still end up with bad photos of our new and used vehicles on our websites. How do we guarantee that a blurry, over-exposed or misaligned photo doesn’t end up in front of online buyers?
Successful vehicle photos require hard work, training and a system for accountability. Years ago, I worked with a guy who loved to say, “Inspect what you expect.” It is a clever saying, and fairly accurate. We all expect great photos, but in the end it comes down to the talent and consistency of the photographer. And even if we hire a great photographer, everybody snaps a bad photo from time to time. What looks crystal clear on a little LCD camera screen may be, in fact blurry. You only know when it’s too late, you stumble upon the photo online, or worse…a prospective customer points it out! With so many dealerships online, many prospective car buyers will simply move on to another store if they find poor photos on your site.
The only way to make sure you have great photos is to physically inspect each and every one. What?! If you have 200 cars on your lot, and take 24 photos per vehicle, that’s almost 5,000 photos to review. Is that really reasonable? Well, that is where the hard work comes in. The only way to guarantee the highest quality vehicle photographs is to check each image.
Even with someone on your staff that is computer-savvy, with a reasonable method to check each photo, it could still take up to seven hours to inspect 200 cars with 24 photos. At the end of the day, how important is your online image? If you truly want to stand out among your online competitors, you must take excellent photos, and inspect each and every one. If spending seven hours to review these vehicle images seems too daunting, there are certainly companies that will tackle this for you. Perhaps, if you outsource your photography, you should outsource the inspection service as well. This way, they inspect what you expect!