How to Take a Good Ebay Ad Picture

One of the things that will help any item fetch a better price on E-bay is a good picture. I’m amazed that there are still folks out there who post items with no picture, let alone even a bad one. Folks, it’s just not that hard! You don’t even need a top quality camera – lighting is what makes the difference. All of the pictures here were taken with either a 3 megapixel Canon G1 or a very tiny Canon SD10 – neither would be considered top of the line these days.

First, let’s take a look at the typical ad picture:

NomadMG 034

I took this on my kitchen table – it’s a Creative Nomad MG MP3 player, that I will be selling on Ebay shortly. I used a flash because it was dark in the kitchen, and my first shot was ruined by camera shake. This is a pretty lousy photo – not only does the hot-spot in the middle of the frame make it hard to tell what you’re looking at, but where are the accessories? The charger, earphones and other gitchagaws that go with it?

NomadMG 036

Ok, this is a little better. Of course, the hotspot is still there, but at least people know what they’re getting. But it still stinks. We can do better!

But first, a few supplies are in order:

  • 1, or better yet 2 four foot flourescent fixtures, the $10 ones you hang in your garage or basement.
  • Four sheets of 20” x 30” foam core board.
  • Masking tape
  • Straight pins

Everything on the list will total about $50 or less. You can use the light fixtures elsewhere when you’re not doing a photo shoot. Once you have this stuff together, you can make you’re own light box. This will let you shoot a much better picture.

NomadMG 039crop

This is what we’re after – a 4–sided box, with the flourescent fixtures on top. The white foam core gives us a nice, neutral background to start with, and with some tape and a few straight pins making the box is very easy. It’s even fairly sturdy, although you are going to want to take care people aren’t bumping into it. I just laid the fixtures on top, and let them overhang on each end.

NomadMG 037crop

Here you can get an idea of the even lighting the light box can give. The room lights are not shut off, it’s just the brightness of the box making the room look dark. You’ll also notice that I’m using a tripod. With this lighting, I shot at about 1/60 of a second. I could probably hand-hold the camera and get a decent shot, but a tripod makes things easier and is handy for all kinds of shots. Instead of a tripod, you can use a pile of books or the like to help hold the camera steady.

NomadMG 006

Here we go! No obvious shadows, and no obnoxious glare on any thing. The background is as neutral as it gets – plain white. You can always put patterned paper, or whatever in the background if you want something besides white. I suppose the arrangement of the items could use a little work, but once everything is set up, it’s easy to rearrange and snap away. Along with the group shot, it’s a good idea to take a larger picture of the main product, so people can tell that the item’s in good condition:

NomadMG 003crop

One last tip – make sure you crop your pictures so they fill the frame. Get as close to a good crop in while moving the camera, and then tweak it if necessary on the computer.

So there you have it – two pretty good pictures, both evenly lit and presentable and ready for posting on the auction site. Give it a try the next time you have something to sell online.


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