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Buying & selling

How to Take Photographs for Preloved Adverts

Want to sell for FREE fast on Preloved? Get snapping – a photo is worth a thousand words.

It’s a fact – buyers are much more likely to respond to your advert on Preloved if you include a selection of good quality images that show exactly what you’re selling.

And while a detailed description is also a must to give potential buyers all the information they need about the item’s history, the reasons for selling, where it was purchased, etc, an image makes an immediate impact and shows them exactly what’s for sale.

We’ve pulled together some simple handy tips for making sure your photos are sharp enough to get you selling in a flash – whether you’re using a camera or mobile phone. We’ve used a household kettle as an example, but the same rules apply when taking pictures of cars, toys, clothes or anything else you want to advertise.

Pick your Own

While it may be tempting to pinch a pic of a product shot from the Internet, it’s better to take a photo of the actual item YOU are selling. Our kettle on the right hand side in this pic has a more authentic feel and shows exactly what’s for sale, rather than the brand new version on the left.

Clear out the Clutter

Make sure it’s obvious exactly what’s for sale by ensuring it’s the centre of attention. If the item is surrounded by clutter it can be confusing to a potential buyer and doesn’t look as though much thought or attention has been given to presentation. In our example it’s not clear whether it’s the kettle, biscuit barrel, food mixer or even the jar of coffee for sale!

Tip: Photograph the item for sale on its own

Keep it Neutral

If possible, place the item for sale against a neutral background. The good news is you don’t need an expensive professional photography background. For our shots, we just used a roll of white paper, this could be lining paper for decorating or a piece of office A4 paper for smaller items. You could also consider using a bedsheet or even a towel. If you have none of these, make sure you choose a neutral background like a painted wall, curtains or an exterior brick wall.

Tip: It’s best to try and use natural daylight, rather than a flash which can cause harsh shadows.

Wear and Tear

Be upfront with your images and show any signs of wear and tear or damage. Honesty is always the best policy, and potential buyers will appreciate the fact that you are not trying to hide any problems in your photos. Our kettle has some limescale damage around the edge, so we want to make sure any buyers are aware, rather than discovering it later on and losing a sale.

Tip: Zoom in or take close-up shots of any wear and tear

Sharp Shooter

Whether you’re using auto focus, or manual, it’s important to only use images in your adverts that are really clear to show off items at their best. Select only the sharpest images to upload with your adverts and ditch the rest.

Tip: It’s best to use the auto-focus function on your camera

Shaky Shots

Keep the camera or mobile phone steady when you’re taking your snap. Any slight movements can result in a shaky image that’s blurred and shouldn’t be used with your advert. You might want to use a tripod or even rest your camera on a chair or wall if you’re struggling to keep it still when shooting. Digital cameras and phones are great for allowing you to take plenty of photos, deleting those that are no good.

Tip: Hold your camera or phone steady and still when shooting

Sense of Scale

If you want to show the actual size of the item you’re selling, place a familiar object alongside it so that buyers can get a good idea of how small or big it is. Here, we’ve put a £1 coin alongside the kettle. This is useful for such items like ornaments, jewellery or children’s toys.

Tip: To avoid confustion, put a well-recognised object next to your item for sale

Lost in Landscape

Choose the right framing for your item so that it fills the image without any of it getting lost. With this landscape shot of our kettle, buyers aren’t able to see it all as some of it has been lost at the edges. Generally, for items that are wider than they are tall (like cars, sofas and tables), use a landscape shot, with the longest edge along the top and bottom of the image.

Tip: Use landscape shots for objects that are wide than they are tall

Pick Portrait

So, we think our kettle works best as a portrait shot, with the shortest sides at the top and bottom. Buyers can see the whole item and nothing has been cropped out. Think about using portrait shots for photographs of pets, tall furniture such as wardrobes and items that, generally, are taller than they are wider, like doors. It’s easy to rotate your camera 90 degrees to go portrait.

Tip: Use portrait shots for items that are taller than they are wide

Cover All Angles

With a FREE Preloved membership you can include up to three images of an item in your advert, so make the best use of it by taking photographs that show it from different angles. This will give buyers a better idea of what your item looks, rather than just one shot from the side or top. Move you camera around the item, snapping various shots and choosing the best ones to upload.

Tip: Shoot your item from different angles

It Takes Three, Baby!

You can put up to THREE images with any FREE ADVERT on Preloved – so make sure you include a trio of your best shots. Buyers want see as many images as they can of an item, so don’t leave then wanting more and deciding to make a purchase elsewhere. Selling is competitive, so give yourself the best chance of sealing the deal – take three.

Tip: Use THREE photos in your FREE ADVERTS on Preloved

(Psst, here’s some Bloopers!)

OK, no-one at Preloved HQ is claiming to be David Bailey, but we’re sharing a few examples of photos in adverts on the site that could do with a little reshooting! Some examples are blurred or cluttered, others are too dark or taken far away.

Check out these culprits to see how NOT to do it!



Liv Serrage

Liv Serrage

Writer and expert

Liv writes the newsletters and looks after the Preloved social media community, hunting out the quirkiest, most beautiful items on site just for you! As an English Language and Literature graduate from the University of Oxford, Liv is passionate about all things fictional, bookish and creative. In her spare time, she loves to go to gigs and scour vintage and charity shops for one off items!