PHOTO FAIL: These Craigslist Ad Photos Do More Harm Than Good

Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald | Aug 05, 2015

You might not think a good photo is important, but it is. The real estate business has figured this out, to the point that Redfin, a Seattle-based real estate company, figured out that taking pictures with a DSLR camera versus a point-and-shoot camera results in significantly higher transaction prices.

It's exactly the same with dogs. The Humane Society of Utah has recently started working on a fun series of "Photo Booth" photos of pets in the shelter. Animals photographed in the booth have an amazing 93.26 percent placement rate.

(Humane Society of Utah)

Are you trying to sell your automobile? When you do it and you accompany your ad with a photo that looks like it was taken from three towns away, you're not doing yourself any favors. We're not suggesting you run out and buy a fancy DSLR camera to sell your old Taurus, but now that 66% of us have a smartphone with a really decent camera in it, isn't it time we started taking better pictures?

TIP 1: When you're taking a photo of the car you're selling, make sure the whole car is visible.

The ad says that this Nissan Altima is "beautiful." Tough to tell. Either this is a really fuzzy picture, there's peanut butter on the lens, or the prescription in my glasses has run out.

Take a good look at the picture before you post it. Is half of the car missing? Take two steps back and try again.

TIP 2: Do a quick clean up.

You're trying to sell this car, right? Nobody wants to know that you're a slob before they even pick up the phone to call you. Take the 12 minutes to remove your McDonalds cups, pizza boxes, smelly sneakers, hockey bag and dirty underpants before you take a photo.

TIP 3: Keep the focus on the car. Check the background for distracting visuals.

Pro Tip: Nothing sells a Buick Riviera like a sweaty, shirtless dude.

This photo of a Jeep CJ-7 says: "I want your money, but I was too lazy to get out of the truck."

TIP 4: Take your finger off the lens, doofus!

Sometimes people will take a photo with their finger in it because they're trying to indicate something in the photo. Not this Ford F-150 owner. Out of seven photos in the ad, he got his fingers in the picture four times:

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

Exhibit D:

Now look, we're not suggesting that you need to be Annie Leibovitz, but there are some basic photo techniques you can use that will cost you exactly zero dollars, may take a few extra minutes of your time, and will result in -- at the very least -- way more interest in your car when you try and sell it. If you take your time and think about it, you'll end up getting hundreds of dollars more, too.

Over at, we've got seven solid pointers that will help you take better pictures of your car. Read them all and tell us if we missed any.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One