Car dealerships are going through the most disruptive time ever. Ever since the COVID pandemic hit the world, the automobile industry has woken up to the world of online retail. Thus, the need for attractive car catalogs has spiked sharply in recent years. To that end, car dealerships (even automobile marketplaces and independent sellers) thus need high-quality car dealership photography.
While selling online, it is not the salesperson or inventory tour that decides if a deal will go through or not. On the internet, car pictures (and videos) matter the most. This article will guide you through everything about car sales photography; your journey of immaculate vehicle merchandising begins here.
What is car dealership photography?
Car dealership photography is a subset of automotive photography, concerned with shooting commercial car pictures for dealerships (and other vehicle retail businesses). Basically, it is the art of showcasing the vehicles in your inventory in the best way possible. You need to pick the correct angles, a good backdrop, appropriate lighting, etc. Also, the pictures need to showcase all notable details of the vehicle, like imperfections/damages (on used cars) or available accessories.
Why car dealers need professional dealership photoshoots
As a dealer, whether you want to sell cars on your website or a third-party platform, your car images will be a major factor in deciding your success. Buyers these days are hopping from Facebook marketplace to dealership websites to automotive eCommerce platforms (like Carvana) to find the perfect car to buy.
High-quality, professional car dealer photography ensures that the images on the VDPs win buyers’ trust. Following are some of the reasons why this is not just an option but a necessity for car retailers:
- Good car images improve the buyers’ experience. While selling online, digital catalogs replace in-store car tours for buyers. They want to see your cars from every angle and perspective and inspect the details as minutely as possible.
- Impactful car images are essential for the digital marketing of your dealership. You can’t expect to grow your business on the internet without a full-fledged marketing plan. According to a survey by Hubspot, 32% of marketers agree that images and videos are the most significant marketing tool for their online business.
- Car images decide your brand’s authority on the internet. Your car images will be everywhere- on your website, ad copies, social media, third-party websites, and catalog. The quality of your images would represent the authority of your business. Poor-quality car images convey that the seller needs to be more professional and trustworthy. With the competition so fierce on the internet, there would always be another seller ready to steal your potential customers.
- There is no better description of your inventory than images. Did we tell you that 63% of online buyers prefer descriptive images over a written product description?
- Visual information about the car (or any other product on the internet) is much more retainable for the buyers. They might not remember the specifications of the model that they read somewhere. However, they would better remember a car if they explored it via HD images and 360-degree spin videos.
Top tips for impressive car dealership photography
Doesn’t matter if it’s your first time or the hundredth time shooting for your automotive dealership. You are always worried about how the lighting should be, what should be the right angles of the automobile, what kind of camera should be chosen, what should be the location, etc. Well, here’s everything you need to keep in mind when clicking car dealer photos.
1. Choosing the right location for the shoot
Your editor will be beyond grateful if the location you pick is well-lit and clean, with no unnecessary distractions to disturb the set-up, and it is an obvious choice to try to set up your vehicle near a large window if you’re shooting indoors.
2. Choosing the correct camera and equipment
The photographs you take for your business should always reflect well on you as a car dealership. As such, you should never compromise the quality of the camera. You’ll need a professional camera, along with a tripod and lighting equipment. That said, plenty of modern smartphones have brilliant cameras these days, so you don’t really need to invest in expensive DSLRs.
3. Cover the interior and exterior of the car
In order to convince online buyers to buy from your business, you need to present your cars in the most appealing and informative way. This means capturing both the exterior and interior of all the vehicles in your inventory in detail.
While shooting the interiors of the car, keep in mind everything you want to show, like the dashboard, backseat, leg space for each passenger, etc. Give your viewers a close look at the design by taking close-up shots of the front grille, wheels, taillights, etc. The list goes on!
4. Editing your pictures
Editing is where a lot of the magic happens. If you have sub-par car dealer photos, you’ll need to edit them appropriately to increase their appeal. If you already have good car dealer photos, well, why not make them great? You should keep a few things in mind, though:
- Keep the pictures realistic: Your car images should always seem real, or you risk losing buyers’ trust. Listings with fake-looking vehicle pictures are sure to drive people away! Thus, over-editing your car dealership photos is a no-no.
- Remove distractions: The customer’s attention should always go toward the car in the images. Any distracting element – clutter in the background, photobombing people, etc., should be removed in the post-processing stage.
- Don’t remove the imperfections of your cars: When it comes to displaying used cars, hiding things like dents or blemishes (if any) is not going to work; it will backfire once the customer sees the car.
- Enhance the color of the car, and this can be done by playing around with saturation and temperature. You might want to be careful with color saturation as it determines how strong colors appear.
Additional tips to dominate the local and global market
1. Develop a strong social media presence
It is becoming common for consumers to check out the social media presence of a brand before trusting their business. Car dealerships are no exceptions to this. Having a great social presence can give you a massive edge over your rivals. Good dealership photography acts as an absolute game-changer!
How can you make your car photographs social media platform friendly? Here are a few easy-to-do tips:
- Choose the right background: Social media is all about making people imagine a lifestyle they’d want to live, places they’d want to travel in their car, and how they’d look with their ‘amazing’ car. Find locations where people would like to take their car. For e.g., in front of a beach, a serene hill shot, outside a fancy building, etc.
- Have correct lighting: Lighting is the key to an amazing shot! It doesn’t matter whether you use a smartphone or a high-end DSLR. Choose an appropriate time of the day to shoot (preferably during the golden hour) or get lighting equipment and shoot in a studio.
- The more, the merrier: This phrase goes well with taking pictures for social media platforms. Take several car and dealership photos, experiment with angles and perspectives, etc., and pick the best ones to post online.
- Use the rule of thirds: Enable grid lines on your smartphone and break the frame into three parts, both horizontally and vertically. The subject should ideally be placed over an intersection of the grid lines.
2. Keep your inventory updated
Creating an online inventory for your car dealership is the most important step for your digital business. Maintaining and updating it from time to time to keep it fresh and relevant for the visitors is next on the list. What makes a good first impression of your dealership? Well-taken photos! These photos are not limited to your inventory, and they can be used for social media advertising, email marketing, and third-party services.
Your inventory should be such that the customers should feel comfortable in your dealership and excited about your vehicles. It can’t be said enough that whenever you want to purchase a vehicle, trust is a big factor to consider. You cannot trick the customer with dealer stock photos, as they may view them and think the vehicle doesn’t look exactly as described, leading them to visit a competitor’s site. Transparency is key to engaging your online customers with high-quality inventory photos!
3. Use AI-powered car dealership photography solutions
AI is everywhere and making our lives easier by reducing or removing repetitive tasks, bringing innovation to existing tasks, and beyond. Dealership photography has not been left behind; car dealers have hopped on the technology wagon and are saving time and money by editing quicker, better, and more efficiently. Platforms like Spyne are helping car retailers in the following ways:
- No need to pay for a studio or a crew. No need for expensive cameras as well! You can just use a mobile phone to get high-quality professional car photographs.
- Scalability is one of the advantages of automated car showroom photography. Compared to traditional (manual) methods, shooting and editing take far less time. Even if you plan to expand the inventory, cataloging won’t be an issue.
- AI is not biased, and it can suggest the best angles of the car for your digital dealership. Also, some AI photography platforms can automatically recognize and highlight dents/damages on a vehicle, which makes consumer research easy.
Though you might think that keeping your inventory updated might be an expensive affair, not with Spyne. You can easily edit and create high-quality inventory catalogs with your phone-clicked pictures. Don’t believe us? Book a discovery call and experience the magic firsthand!
Biggest photography challenges faced by car dealers
We hate to do this all the time, giving this reality check to online car sellers that only a few do. But someone has to, so here we are! Getting professional photoshoots done takes a lot of work and is extremely difficult. So, what are these challenges?
It is expensive
It is the biggest roadblock in the journey of vehicle merchandising that demotivates most digital car sellers. Car dealership photography prices are quite high, and understandably so. Let’s understand how.
You begin by hiring a professional automotive inventory photographer (which is if you follow the steps we mentioned in the last section). They work hard to set up the production, blend creativity and technique and get the job done. Therefore, he charges an amount of money that can burn a hole in many pockets.
But that’s just one part of it. You also have to rent a studio to get the professional setup. Not to mention the additional props like a turntable for 360-degree images of the car.
This prompts small-scale retailers to skip professional car sales photography entirely and just use sub-par pictures for their listings.
Dealership photography is not scalable
Here comes the biggest challenge – scalability. What if you expand your inventory within months? You’d have to make all necessary arrangements, and make them quick? That isn’t very feasible and practical.
It is a time-consuming process
Scouting the right dealership inventory photographer itself can take days. And once you do that, photography can take weeks, depending on the size of your inventory.
Once that part is done, editing the final photos would again take days till the final output is ready. Time is money, so there goes another expense on your list!
Overcoming the challenges of dealership photography
There’s a smart way to fulfill all your commercial photography needs; employ AI-led automated solutions! Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the way car sellers create their inventory images.
Everyone realized the barriers that digital selling of cars faces- the cost and time taken for vehicle merchandising. But here is the thing- there are AI car photo editors like Spyne that eliminate this whole process to give you inventory images within minutes.
In the digital world, every retailer needs to take a dive into the world of internet commerce in order to stay relevant. If you want your car dealership to have the edge over your rivals, finding the best car dealership photography solution for your business is absolutely crucial. It will help you market to a wider audience, sell more cars, and gain more leads.