Monthly Archives: August 2011

How do you Guarantee Great Photos?

I’ve been taking digital photos of cars, and putting them on the web for 16 years now. I’ve seen and heard of many best practices, there are many ways to take a poor vehicle photo, but far less ways to take a fantastic photo. I would like to think that 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, we can establish and teach best practices, but in the end we may still end up with bad photos on our websites. How do we guarantee that a blurry, over-exposed, mis-aligned photo doesn’t end up in front of our web shoppers?
The answer is, it’s not easy. It requires 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, probably a bit cheesy for me, but it is fairly accurate. We all expect great photos, we know many of the best practices, but in the end it comes down to how talented and consistent is my photographer? And even if we hire a great photographer, everybody snaps a bad photo from time to time. Heck, I’ve taken blurry photos that looked crystal clear on my little LCD camera screen. You only know when it’s too late, you stumble upon the photo online, or worse…a prospective customer points it out to us! The problem is, most shoppers will simply move on to another store if they find poor photos, since there are so many online choices these days.
I would prescribe, 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 individually look at. Is that really reasonable? Well, that is where the hard work comes in. The only way to guarantee 100%, is to quality-check each image.
If you have someone on your staff that is computer-savvy, they can create a pretty reasonable method to check each and every photo. Perhaps you can get it down to 5 seconds per image, that would take 7 hours to inspect the aforementioned 200 cars with 24 photos. It comes down to the question, how important is your online image to you? If you truly want to stand out among your online competitors, you must take excellent photos, and inspect each and every one. If the 7 hours seems to 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!