Top 10 Tips on Taking Great Photos for Your Listings

Jill Vonier

Jill Vonier

7 min read

Good photos are the most important part of any listing. Use these tips to make sure that your items sell.

Person taking a photo with their phone

Selling products on Craigslist is a great way to make some money as a side hustle or even a main income. However, to get your customer to even view your product, you need to make your product marketable.

This starts with beautiful photos. Photos are your chance to make your items stand out from the rest, to display your items to their full potential and outshine your competition, or to show your customer that your product isn’t that great so they should just keep scrolling.

So let’s take your product to the next level by capturing beautiful photos of it! But where to start? You’re not a professional photographer and don’t know where to even begin. We're here to help!

Here I share my top 10 tips for taking photos for Craigslist that are going to wow your customer and encourage them to buy from you. These tips will help you take pictures that are clear, detailed, and attractive so that you can sell your items more quickly and for a higher price. Read on for our top 10 tips for taking photos for Craigslist.

1. Always Use Good Lighting

Every photographer knows the key to amazing photos is the lighting. After all, there is nothing worse than seeing a picture of yourself with raccoon eyes from too little light or completely glowing from way too much light.

Balance is key. So when you’re snapping a shot of your product, make sure your room is well-lit, either from natural light outside or artificial light (hello, living room lamp turned studio light!).

Natural lighting is typically best since it easily brings out the natural colors. Be sure to take your pictures near a window in the afternoon when natural lighting is at its peak.

2. Shoot in Front of a Clean Background

When shopping online or in a magazine, you’ll notice most products are displayed in front of a white background. This allows the customer to focus on the product and not get distracted by other items in the background.

It’s equally important that you display your product in front of a clean, uncluttered background.

Avoid taking pictures of your product in front of your messy living room or cluttered yard. Instead, use a plain white or light-colored background to help your product visually pop.

You can use a white sheet off your guest bed or pick up a cheap presentation board at a nearby dollar store.

3. Provide Multiple Angles Of Your Product

Transactions happen faster when the customer is able to get all the information they need at first glance. We know that the common buyer will want to see the items you’re selling from a variety of angles to make an informed decision.

If you don’t provide this right away, they will have to either request more images from you or (more typically) decide it’s not worth it and drop off.

To avoid this friction, be sure to include a variety of angles of your product as possible the first time. Start with a straight-on picture, then one from each side, and even up above or below if relevant to your item.

4. Avoid Blurriness By Keeping Steady

iPhone on a tripod

Unfocused, blurry images do not help your potential buyer move forward with a transaction.

To ensure your images are as clear and as sharp as possible, don’t rely on a shaky hand to hold your camera or a soft surface to keep your items from moving.

Instead, use a tripod to keep your camera steady and place your items on a solid surface to keep them from moving. If you’re using your smartphone camera, be sure to tap on the image on your device’s screen to ensure it’s in focus.

Even better, use Portrait mode to put your items in the spotlight and blur the background.

5. Zoom In On The Details

Some products you’re selling may have important details your customer will want to see before purchasing.

Maybe it’s small writing, little features, and intricate designs, or something as simple as buttons and zippers.

Be sure to get up close or use the zoom feature on your camera to capture any details a buyer may want to see.

6. Add A Flash When Necessary

As we mentioned above, using good lighting is very important to capturing good photos. However, there may be some limitations that make the natural or artificial lighting not as sufficient.

This is a good time to include a flash for additional lighting. Your camera’s flash will ensure your items are well-lit while also preventing graininess or blurriness.

To avoid blowing your images out, use natural or artificial lighting to light up your image from a different angle than your flash, and use a low-light setting on your flash to fill in the shadows.

7. Use Editing Software

Give your photos that extra pop by applying some edits. You don’t have to go out and buy the most expensive photo editing software to do this.

Most smartphones have pre-installed editing capabilities and filters. Alternatively, you can find a free, basic software online or on social media.

Your goal should be to enhance the image - not make it look out of this world. We recommend you add a little brightness if needed, some contrast and vibrance to help it pop, and remove any graininess or imperfections.

8. Measure or Compare For Size

Measuing a cactus plant

Another piece of information your buyer may want to know is the relative size of your item. Of course, you should always provide measurements of your items in the description whenever necessary.

But sometimes a buyer needs to visually understand the size of an item, whether it’s a toy, a tool, or a piece of furniture.

Help them understand the product better by taking a picture of it while using a measuring tool, such as a ruler or a measuring tape, to display the actual size. The size of some items may be better understood when sitting next to a more common item.

For example, a dining room table may look large in a photo until you put it next to dining room chairs and show it only fits 4 chairs.

9. Be Honest & Accurate

Buying from an online marketplace doesn’t come without its risks. Someone could purchase a pair of shoes described as “lightly used” but receive a clearly “very used” pair of shoes instead.

To keep your customers happy and leave positive reviews, it’s important to be upfront and clear about the product they are considering for purchase.

If your item has a few scuffs, blemishes or scratches, be sure to include that in the images and description. Of course, it may turn off a few buyers, but there are plenty of people out there who don’t mind a few blemishes if they can get a good price.

10. Consistency Is Key

Finally, it’s important to be consistent in everything you do on Craigslist.

Each time you take photos of items you are selling, try to use the same background, lighting, angles, etc. for each of your images whenever possible.

It’s also important to use the same format for your captions and descriptions. Not only does this allow you to appear as a real storefront, it also makes your life so much easier to have a system already in place that you just simply follow each time.

Plus your customers will be more likely to buy from you when they trust your quality and customer service will remain consistent.

Selling products on Craigslist can be an exciting, fulfilling way to make some money.

By following these tips on how to take the best photos of your Craigslist items, you will be able to sell more items more quickly to make that income. Make sure to also follow the rest of our tips in How to Make Your Listing Stand Out.

It will also reduce time spent on unnecessary communication and make your life that much easier. Once you’ve taken some good pictures of your product, check out our other blogs to learn how to better sell your Craigslist items.


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