How To Take Photos For eBay: 7 Must Read Tips To Make More Money

How To Take Photos For eBayGreat pictures are essential to successfully selling on eBay. Learn how to take photos for eBay that get your item noticed and sold.

Spend just a few minutes browsing listings on eBay, and it doesn’t take long to realize that there are a lot of bad pictures out there.

Because there are so many bad photos out there, taking great pictures is the best (and easiest) way to make your eBay listings stand out.

So if you can take amazing pictures, it’s nearly a guaranteed way to stand out from the crowd and actually get those items sold!

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • How to take professional looking photos without having to invest a lot of money (yes, your phone works just fine!).
  • How to comply with eBay’s photo guidelines (so you don’t get your listings pulled).
  • What to do (and what NOT to do) for amazing pictures that sell.

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Who Am I?

Before we get started, let me introduce myself!

Who am I to be giving advice on how to take photos for eBay?

Well, my name is Lee. Busy mom of 3 kids, founder of ListingToFreedom.com and I’ve made over $65k (net profit) flipping used items on sites like eBay, Poshmark and Mercari!

While I’m not a professional photographer by any means, I have figured out what things work and what doesn’t.

And that’s the good news!

You don’t have to be a professional photographer, or have expensive equipment to take great pictures (and make money!).

And by the way, if you’re wanting to learn how to start your own side hustle flipping items on sites like eBay, make sure you join my FREE 5-Day course, Reseller Bootcamp.

In it I teach everything you need to know to get started making money as a reseller.

Just enter your info here and I will get you the first lesson right away!

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7 Tips To Take Photos For eBay

So you want to take photos for eBay that actually get your listings sold, right?

Let’s jump right in with the first cardinal rule of photography…

1. You Must Have Proper Lighting

If you remember one tip, this is the one!

Proper lighting is a must.

There’s nothing that ruins a picture faster than not having good lighting.

There are a few ways to make sure you have good lighting.

One is to use natural lighting. This can be near a window or even outside.

Just make sure the item isn’t in direct light or you may end up with a lot of shadows.

Which brings me to what you don’t want in your pictures:

  • Glare
  • Shadows
  • Overall dark look

Here’s an example with glare (not to mention clutter):

If you’re having trouble finding a good spot (or you need to take pictures when it’s dark in the evening/morning), your next option is to go with a lighting kit.

But wait….you don’t want to spend money.

I get it. However, a lighting kit is the #1 thing I recommend when it comes to investing in selling online.

If you can only buy one thing, this is it.

Fortunately, lighting kits start out relatively cheap (around $50).

There are lots of good options on Amazon, but this is the one I have been using for a few years now:

Last update on 2021-08-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Continuous lighting kits like this are great for photographing bigger items.

If you’re primarily selling smaller items (gaming systems, games, shoes, etc), you should probably instead go with a light box like this:

Last update on 2021-08-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pro tip: Don’t use your flash when taking pictures!

Using your flash is the fastest way to wash out your item, create shadows and possibly glare spots.

Only on very rare occasion do I turn on my flash, such as when taking pictures of the inside of shoes or handbags.

Learn how you can make money flipping items!

2. Keep it simple

When you take photos for eBay, you want to keep things as simple as possible.

Clutter

Make sure you’ve cleared the clutter from the area where you’re going to be taking pictures.

You don’t want to take pictures like this that have a lot of random objects in the background:

example of how not to take photos for eBay

Does this purse come with Minnie Mouse in it? I don’t know…. hmmm.

Props

Now that you’ve cleared the clutter, don’t go too overboard with props.

Make sure your props aren’t distracting from the item itself.

You also want to make sure the buyer knows what included (and not included) in the listing.

When in doubt, minimize props or do away with all together.

I promise your items will sell without props!

3. Choose Your Background Carefully

Along the line of keeping things simple, you will want to choose your background carefully and go for something simple and clean looking.

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a background.

First, white or light-colored backgrounds look best for most items.

Here’s a side-by-side example of items shown with a dark background and light background. Notice how the one with the white background really “pops?”

Also try to avoid backgrounds that are “busy” with patterns like this one below. (This is also an example for how NOT to title your item!)

You will also want to choose a background that contrasts well with your items color so it doesn’t just blend into the background like this gray wallet on gray fur:

Free (and Cheap) Ideas For Backgrounds

So what are you supposed to use for a background?

There are lots of things you might already have that can work well for a background.

Here are some ideas for things you can use for a background that you might already have:

  • Wood floor
  • Tile floor
  • White wall
  • Fireplace mantle
  • Tabletop

Some inexpensive backgrounds (that don’t look cheap) can be:

  • White marble contact paper from the Dollar Store
  • Scrapbook paper from a craft store like Hobby Lobby (great for small items)
I’ve also seen some really nice pictures with sheepskin. This is an inexpensive faux fur option that I have: (Does shed some).
 

Last update on 2021-08-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

And this is the background I personally use for my reselling business:

Last update on 2021-08-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It does come folded up and it takes a while for the wrinkles to come out.

It is also a little more gray/off-white than true white.

But you really can’t beat the price and it’s lasted several years now.

Stand For Your Background

If you choose to go with a photo backdrop, it can be used for both flat lay photos as well as vertical (upright) photos.

Some people choose to go with a stand such as this one to hold up their background, but it’s really only necessary if you don’t have a wall to attach your background to.

Last update on 2021-08-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is another option that comes with a white backdrop:

Last update on 2021-08-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Wall-Mounting Your Background

If you have wall space available, there’s no need to spend money on a stand.

I use these velcro strips by 3M:

Last update on 2021-08-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

One side goes on your background, the other side on the wall.

I use two pairs to hold up a 5’x7′ background.

I’ve been using the same strips for several years. The only one I’ve had to replace is the wall strip only because we moved. The side that attaches to the fabric I’ve never had to replace.

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4. Take Plenty Of Photos

Now that you’ve got your photo area set up, it’s time to take those photos!

The main tip here is to make sure that you take lots of photos. Don’t be the person who takes just one photo and calls it good!

You want to show your buyers exactly what they are getting, including the condition of the item.

Here are the photos you need to include:

  • Front, back, sides
  • All angles
  • Up close of details
  • Tags, labels, any writing
  • Flaws

Pro tip: eBay penalizes listings in the search results that don’t have enough photos. Aim for a minimum of 6-8.

5. Edit Photos

You may need to edit your photos to make sure they look their best.

Here are some tips when it comes to editing.

Editing takes a lot of time, so try to follow these guidelines to “pre-edit” your items.

Taking pictures for eBay this way can save time having to edit pictures.

Crop

Make sure your pictures are cropped close to your item. You want your item to be as big as possible in the frame you’re given.

Remember, most shoppers are looking at pictures on their phone.

In addition to being dark and having a lot of shadows, this picture wasn’t taken close enough to the item.:

As a result there is a lot of “negative” space around the bag and it appears very tiny from the phone screen.

Taking the picture closer would look much better.

In a pinch, if you’ve already taken your photos, just edit them by cropping to get closer.

Rotate

Make sure you’re pictures are rotated the right way.

Nothing says you don’t care more than not taking the 2 seconds to press that rotate button.

Better yet, make sure your pictures are the correct orientation when you take them so you don’t have to edit later!

Exposure

Sometimes, even with a lighting kit or natural light, pictures can still just be too dark.

This can be due to things you aren’t able to change like the color of the item. (Some colors photograph better than others).

If you’re having a hard time with lighting, try adjusting the exposure on your phone before taking your pictures.

This is what it looks like on the iPhone:

To get the “sun” to come up, just tap and hold on the screen. Then slide the sun up until the exposure looks right.

If you don’t have an iPhone, other phones have similar capabilities.

Just make sure you aren’t changing the true color of your item.

Editing Software

If you need to edit your photos after they are taking, it’s helpful to have some photo editing software or apps.

Adobe LightRoom works really well. (The free version is great).

You can also get “presets” for Adobe LightRoom from places like Etsy for just a couple of dollars. (These also work with the free version of LightRoom).

Background Remover

If you don’t have a great setup for your photos, a background remover can be very helpful.

Background removers are great for creating a nice clean, white background without those nasty shadows.

The app I like is called Photo Room Studio. (Hopefully will be coming out with a desktop version soon!)

If you’re working from your computer, this website works well.

It’s easy to waste time editing photos, so don’t go too overboard!

eBay also has a background remover available that works okay.

If you list from your phone, you may have seen this option.

eBay is working on releasing it to the desktop listing workflow as well.

eBay’s Photo Editing

A note about eBay’s photo editing…

eBay does have a “magic wand.” My experience is DO NOT USE THIS!

For a lot of items, it distorts the color.

Get started making money today with reselling.

6. Beware Of eBay’s Picture Policy

Compared to some other platforms, eBay is a little bit more strict when it comes to the photos you use for your listing.

There are basically lots of “don’ts.” If you don’t follow eBay policies you could be at risk of having your listings pulled (or worse).

The policy includes things like:

  • No watermarks
  • No borders
  • No text
  • No placeholder images

And unlike other platforms, eBay does not allow stock photos for used items.

The only issue I’ve ever ran into personally is having my listings removed for using stock photos. There was no penalty. I just had to remove the stock images and relist the item.

Here is an example of a listing that is violating eBay’s Picture Policy by using a border and having added artwork:

7. Know How To Quickly Upload Photos

Now that you know pretty much everything you need to know about how to take photos for eBay, I have one last tip for you.

And it’s how to get photos uploaded the quickest.

It comes down to two options:

  • From your mobile phone
  • From eBay’s website

I’ve tried both options over the years, experimented with pretty much every scenario possible for dealing with photos.

Here’s what I’ve determined:

  • If you want to use the background remover, upload photos from your phone.
  • However, the quickest option is to upload from your computer.

Keyboard shortcuts (such as holding down the SHIFT key to select multiple photos at once), making uploading a lot of photos at once a breeze.

Pro tip: Delete pictures as soon as they are uploaded and the item is listed. No need to fill up your phone!

Getting Your Photos To The Computer

There are a few options for getting your photos to your computer if you want to upload them from there.

If you have an iPhone, just set up your iCloud to transfer pictures to your computer.

I’m not a techy person, but this is pretty easy to get set up. Once it’s done, you can automatically access photos from your computer.

However, there are sometimes where I’ve ran into glitches (probably due to running out of cloud space or slow internet connection), where the pictures don’t show up for a while.

So I’ve found the most fail-proof way is to plug my phone into my computer with a USB to lighting cable.

A simple drag and drop will transfer the pictures to your computer for easy access.

Additional Products You Made Need For Taking eBay Photos

Depending on what you’re going to be taking pictures of, these additional products can help your items stand out even more.

Clothes

For clothes, I really recommend having a mannequin like this one.

Last update on 2021-08-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It will showcase even the longest clothing items, such as dresses, nicely.

Shoes

Shoes are one of the hardest things to take pictures of (at least in my opinion!).

There are a couple of things that can help.

The first is a shoe stand like this:

Last update on 2021-08-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The second thing is a clear insert, especially important for styles like sandals.

Last update on 2021-08-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Note: they break relatively easily, but there’s not really ones that don’t. They are relatively cheap so try to keep a few extras on hand.

Conclusion To How To Take Photos For eBay

If you’ve made it to this point, thanks for sticking around to read this extensive article about how to take photos for eBay.

I know with your new knowledge you will be successful selling on eBay, getting those items sold, and getting top dollar for them.

And in case you missed it earlier, I’d like to extend one last invitation for my FREE 5-Day Course, Reseller Bootcamp.

I’d love to help you get started with a fun side hustle.

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Happy sales!

-Lee