So in the interest of ensuring that sales posts are as awesome as possible, I've decided to compile a few tips for getting your pictures nice and clear, as well as some general advice for ensuring your sales items look the best possible. Further additions are definitely welcomed!
Setting up for photos:
- Get a decent digital camera. If you don't have one, try to beg, borrow or steal (not really) one from a friend or relative. It doesn't have to be top of the line at all, you just want one that will take clear photos with a nice pixel count and without weird lighting issues. Camera phones are the next best option, especially if you have a newish phone (I'm all old with my technology, but apparently new cell phones have fairly good cameras). Webcams are really the last option since they're often difficult to manipulate, leading to holding dresses awkwardly up to the camera while you try to keep everything in focus.
- Make sure your items for sale are clean and pressed. You don't have to pay for dry-cleaning beforehand - there are lots of tips in the memories for safely handwashing. Giving it a nice iron will definitely help, it's much more pleasant for a potential buyer to see a nicely pressed dress than a crumpled piece of fabric with a note saying "I will iron before shipping." Take some time and make sure it looks perfect! (If you're in a dorm or something and don't have an iron, try hanging it up in the bathroom while you shower or run the shower - the hot steam will help to remove some of the creases, especially if you smooth it gently with your hands.)
- If anything needs mending and you're handy with a needle and thread, consider mending it neatly before selling. You'll most likely get a much better price than selling something that needs repairs. If something has loose threads, go over with a small pair of snip scissors and snip off the threads carefully. You can shave pilling off socks or sweaters using this tutorial.
- Find a nice area to take photos in. Ideally there should be a good source of natural light without being a stream of direct sunlight - it's best to take photos during the day but in diffused light, since direct sunbeams can make white items especially overexposed and lacking in detail. If you live somewhere you can't set up near a window, try to ensure the lighting is as unobtrusive as possible - some lightbulbs will give a very yellow glow and you want to avoid that. Try shining a wee desk lamp so it gives a nice spotlight to your items.
- If you have a dress dummy, definitely set your clothing up on it - it shows off how the item looks worn, which is often one of the first questions potential buyers ask.
- If you don't have a dress dummy, arrange a nice place to lay your items out on. Some people use the floor, but personally I hate seeing clothing laid on the floor even if it's clean - shoes aren't so bad. Spread out a pretty bedspread, sheet or clean towel on your bed and lay the items on top of it. Arrange blouses so the sleeves are laid out to show their fullness and cuff detail, spread the skirts out enough to show any special detail on the skirt. Try not to leave clutter around your item, or have items that are not for sale in the shot - it will lead to comments asking if they're also for sale and general confusion.
Taking your photos:
- If your camera will let you set the lighting through shutter speed and focal distance, do so. You want to get a shot that will show the detail but won't overexpose anything. Try playing around with the settings a bit until you get a nice shot. (This all depends on your individual camera, so try reading the manual or checking online for specific instructions for that model.)
- Take two or three snaps of each shot, so that if one winds up a little blurry, you have backups. I'm amazed when going through my photos to edit and upload how one will be fuzzy and the next one perfectly crisp. (Shaky hands are tons of fun!)
- Take a shot of the front and back, plus any special detail or areas that need repair or are stained etc. Buyers might be more likely to buy something listed as 'stained' if they can see a clear photo of the stain and assess the likelihood of getting the stain out themselves. Some sellers also take a photo of a print closeup or of the brand tag - brand tag photos can be useful if you're selling a more basic item without a recognisable design or print, since it proves your item is genuine and not a replica.
- For photos of jewellery or close-ups, use the macro mode on your camera. This normally shows up as a button with a flower icon and focuses the camera for closeup (about 10cm close) shots.
- Avoid using the flash. It will throw out the colour of your item and overexpose detail. Set up as much natural light or lamplight as possible, since it's not nearly as harsh as a bright camera flash.
Editing and posting your photos:
- Once you've uploaded your pictures, go through them and delete any fuzzy ones. Choose the ones that you want to use and resize appropriately. I find that a picture between 400-600 pixels wide gives a fair amount of detail without being too huge for loading on slower connections. (I cannot stand how small BtSSB uploads their pictures. Eyestrain just to make out the detail is not loli.)
- If you'd like to, you can add a pretty border or a watermark to ensure that your photos won't get stolen by other people. You don't need Photoshop to do this, there are free programs like GIMP which work pretty much as well. Personally I dislike cutesy stamps/sparkles/other purikura-type images which tend to distract from the actual item, but each to their own.
- If you didn't have enough light when you took your photo to see the details clearly, they've probably still been recorded within the image. If you have photoshop, don't just think "oh I can put the brightness up" It's better if you create an exposure adjustment layer and put the gamma correction somewhere between 1.10 and 1.35. You could also play around with the exposure and offset settings until you get a nice clear picture! (Tip from xxcrazyxangelxx)
- If your photos still aren't the best, it may pay to use a stock image as well as (not instead of) your own pictures. Stock photos direct from brand are kind of okay, since they're recognisable as the brand's pictures. But please please don't steal other sellers' pictures to show off your item. If you do get permission to use someone else's photo as an example of what you're selling (or conversely, in a WTB post) please add that you have their permission and give credit to the owner of the photo.
- DO NOT HOTLINK THESE STOCK PHOTOS. Hotlinking is Not On, especially from sites like Anna House or Bodyline which tend to crash by the end of the month because all their bandwidth has been killed. Don't hotlink from Poupee Girl either. You can take your photos that you've uploaded to Pupe and upload them to an actual image host like Photobucket (or re-upload them direct to Photobucket from your own computer, since they are your own photos), but don't hotlink - Pupe is not set up as an image host.
- In a similar vein, pancakebear has made the good point that Flickr requires that you a) link back to the photo page at Flickr, and b) it is not for commercial purposes. Flickr say that if they find you using your photostream to sell products, they will terminate your account.
- Post your photos along with a clear description and a correctly-formatted sales post and sit back to a job well done! All you have to do now is wait for the buyers to start lining up XD.