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Sun Sept 1 2013 12:18:43

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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In listing a like-new vintage Redskins jacket I found at a yard sale the other day, it occurred to me that maybe I was spending too much time taking and editing photos for my eBay auction. How many photos are ideal, I wondered, and can you be more efficient (without losing effectiveness) for low-to-medium priced items by taking just two or three key photos and only adding more if the customer asks?

One of the reasons I feel I am so much more efficient listing items on Amazon is that I only upload one photo on that site (unless you want to add more, nowadays). And this one I usually use my scanner for, because most of what I sell are books, magazines, and other media items. In the past, if I was listing an item on Amazon that already had a "main photo," and I was simply adding my item as one more seller in a list selling that exact same item, there wasn't a need to add a photo.(Amazon added the ability to add up to six photos for used or collectible books and DVDs earlier n August).

Now, however, this little bit of efficiency is gone, as Amazon lets you upload your own photo even if you're listing under a pre-existing catalog item. So, a little more time for me, but better for the buyer. But I can handle one scan.

However, I'd like to get your thoughts on numbers of photos for items on other sites - wherever you sell, how many photos work for you without going overboard? I'd say I put up the most photos by habit on eBay; then on Etsy - usually at least 3 or 4; followed by Amazon: at least one nice scan, and maybe one more image if a book, for example, has some beautiful plates or engravings.

Are we spending too much time on adding and editing photos? I know a seller who does very well selling golf shirts on eBay. Her photos? One or two showing the folded shirt with the sleeve folded over on top of the chest so the sleeve band style can be seen. Maybe there will be one more close-up of the logo or crest. Seems to work for her. (Note: this does not apply if an item has flaws; those, I think, should be photographed).

How about you? Do you add more photos for higher-priced items? Do you still include a lot of photos even for lower-priced items? Is there an "ideal" number of photos that works for you, if not in general, then based on a product type? Post a comment here!




Comments (19) | Permalink

Readers Comments

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Sun Sep 1 15:38:47 2013

I think it depends on what I'm selling. Some items don't need a lot of photos, while others might, especially if it's a vintage item that has a few flaws or dings. If I'm selling a book, for example, I usually put three basic photos: front, back, interior copyright page. If the book has features, like illustrations, I'll put one or two of those. If it has writing in it or tears/dings, then I'll post a photo or two of those. Likewise for a vintage magazine, especially if it has an article, ad, or photo that might be of interest to collectors (like a Coca-Cola ad).

I definitely put more photos on eBay than anywhere else - probably because other sites like Etsy allow fewer photos. On those sites, if I think I need more photos, I combine several into a collage of sorts so I can meet their limits. Buyers don't read descriptions, so photos have to say it all for you.

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Sun Sep 1 17:43:45 2013

Definitely any flaws in relation to clothing!  Otherwise, full front photo, close up, label, any details & features.


Tula, I've always wondered about books. Is it OK to photo any illustrations, plates, publisher pages, etc???  I've sold books on occasion & never ventured further than an outside photo of the book because I worried about copyright issues. I notice when I buy used books there is usually just the one photo also.

I recently passed on listing some nice art books on eBay because I was worried about the above. Is it something I should not be worrying about?

I'd much rather pop in several photos to show people what they are getting!

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Sun Sep 1 19:48:08 2013

@Basset,

You would only have to worry about copyright if you were selling copies of the photographed illustrations ...

“Customer First: The PayPal Way”—PayPal's David Marcus (2013) ...
What a still truly frightening scenario ... http://bit.ly/UVXx53

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww

Sun Sep 1 20:40:23 2013

Tula and Basset, I am thinking you are right about clothing...I am going with about 3 photos for simple items like golf shirts, and of which I list a lot.

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww

Sun Sep 1 20:42:50 2013

Basset I think that Philip is right re: copyright issues..you are not selling the photo or illust. but the whole book, so it shouldn't be a worry. I hardly ever see inside pages photos for books listed on Amazon but some books could really use them..those w/ the cool plates or engravings eg. Or even really nice spine or end papers. (Yes I am a book nerd). ;)

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 1 23:59:35 2013

If no one can see my items, NO PHOTO is ideal.

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

This user has validated their user name. by: Bijoux Dragon
Web Site

Mon Sep 2 00:01:19 2013

At my Betsy's Bijoux site, I sell jewelry and each piece has a front, a back, a hallmark when available.  3-d charms have front, back, bottom, side plus hallmark if possible.  I use 1000 pixel square format so when enlarged customers can really see what they are getting.

At my Betsy Keep's Place, I sell souvenir spoons, flatware and salts.  Front, back, and hallmark on all and bowl and head when they are well decorated.

When buying, I will never purchase jewelry if the back is not shown.  If it is a designer piece, I have to see the hallmark - too many knock-offs around to not get all the info before buying!

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
Web Site

Mon Sep 2 02:55:17 2013

It depend of the items. For many single trading cards a max of 2 (front and back) photos can be enough.  

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

by: Leesantiques This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 2 07:09:49 2013

It all depends on what I'm selling.  For small, flat items - coins, tokens, medals, single sheet ephemera, etc. 2 photos does it.  Front and back.

Sometimes closeups of problem or detailed areas.

For other things - as many as 12 (I sell on Ebay.)  All depends on what it is and how many photos are really needed.  I'ld rather have too many than too few.

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 2 07:28:45 2013

If you have the time-post as many as allowed. I would rather have too many .

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Mon Sep 2 08:38:27 2013

For larger than a flatbed scanner, I'll hook up my digital camera, take 1 overall shot & 1 shot of the legend area, if 2-sided, shoot the reverse. Then it's off to Photoshop to reduce the #of bytes so TurboLister can upload it in less than a day.

For photographic negatives (remember them), I'll Photoshop them & provide an inverse image (positive) and adjust the color/B&W levels to provide a 'how-it-will-look' look. I feel this helps if the negative is not optimally exposed.

And to prevent some cheapskates from just grabbing the image, I watermark both positive & negative with a large negative at about 10-30% density. Just enough to be noticed, but not intrusive. Time per negative? About 1 min to setup & scan, about another min to manipulate.

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Mon Sep 2 08:39:58 2013

Sorry folks - I was talking about foldout maps in the 1st paragraph above. Hadn't finished my 1st coffee....

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

This user has validated their user name. by: Vintage Touch
Web Site

Mon Sep 2 09:10:18 2013

Since I sell vintage & antique items, I feel its safer using all 10 photos allowed by eCrater - where I sell (with exceptions on some items that do not require that many shots). Since a picture is worth a 1000 words, people want to see all sides an angles of anything used.  I also try to add a photo of objects beside a ruler so the buyer can easily see the size in a photo.

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

by: racecarguy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 2 11:12:57 2013

We sell many diecast cars. We want the buyer to feel like he is right there next to it, so we include 8-9 pictures in each auction, as if the car was on a turnstile.
It takes a bit more time, but we think it reduces the number of returns (if just the USPS didn't enjoy Throwing packages so well...).

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 2 11:32:20 2013

There's an old saying on eBay (which has now, I suppose, been around long enough now that we can use terms like ''an old saying on eBay'') that you should write your description as if you had no photos, and take photos as if you had no description. Ergo, don't be shy about using all 12 available photo slots if that's what it might take to fully convey your item (especially if it's a used piece with some flaws).

You can, of course, use third-party auction software to host even more than 12 photos if need be, although my feeling is that if you're not selling a car or other complicated widget, you could probably summarize most listings in 12 photos or less.

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

by: doboy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 2 11:32:54 2013

When you purchase a new jacket, you:

Try it on.

Check the tag.

Check the cleaning instructions.

Check the length of the sleeves.

Check the fit of the cuffs.

Stretch your arms across your chest in a bear hug style to assess fit and comfort.

Check the length.

Check the lining.

Post a pic of everything you personally check when purchasing for yourself.  The more detailed an item (porcelain figurines, for example), the more pics necessary.  Depending on a buyer to request more pics is a great way to let them pass your item up and move to a better listing.  Additionally, provide all the exact measurements you can.  I won a case on a jacket because buyer said it didn't fit.  I have provided more than 8 exact measurements.  You have to make the item virtually visible to the buyer.

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Sep 2 16:49:47 2013

Powerseller2007 hit the nail on the head.

When small sellers get only intermittent visibility (and we all know this by all the 1s and 0s watchers) what does it even matter.

eBay takes our money but gives us little visibility. We are sitting at the back of the eBay ecommerce bus, and we are TRS with 100% feedback.

And like I shall continue to repeat, we will NEVER purchase another item on eBay until they do right by small sellers.  

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Tue Sep 3 15:00:57 2013

I believe Phil is right about the copyright issue. I think photos of the contents of books or magazine would fall under "fair use" as illustrations to assist in the sale of the item. I agree that more pictures are better than too few. A lot of sites only seem to have one or two poor photos and limited descriptions, even Amazon. I was looking to buy a swimsuit online last year and found that most sites didn't show the back view of them, which is important in how it fits. Many didn't even say anything in the description, leaving you to guess. Not good for online selling. As others have said, you need to give the buyer the best virtual view of the item that you can.

How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?   How Many Item Photos Are Ideal?

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 18:49:30 2013

Always think about what you would do when purchasing something in a store, short of trying it on. You would pick it up, look it over on all sides, the top and the bottom. You would look for any problems. That's how you should photograph your items, like it was you buying the item online. Would you be happy with only one photo? Or would you like several more. Good sharp pictures with good details are very important. Don't make them so large that the buyer will have to scroll back and forth and up and down. 800 or 900 pixels is a good size. Edit your photos for size and content. You can edit out your fingers, if needed. I do that. I only want the buyer to see the item. And if there is dirt on the background, clear that up with editing. Of course, you want your items to be unedited, but the background should look clean and not detract from your item. If you have to photograph something in your garage or a messy part of the house, set the item up on a nice clean piece of fabric, a white sheet, a white pillowcase, even a piece of fabric that you have hanging around.



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