top of page

Want to sell stuff online? Then you need good photos...

Updated: Jun 17, 2019

Here are some tips to get great shots with your mobile phone camera

Have you ever tried to sell anything online but struggled to get your photos uploaded to the website? Or your item is listed for days, weeks or even months without getting a buyer to close the deal?

Worldwide there are many different selling platforms, in New Zealand the most common website for the general public and businesses to sell on is TradeMe or different Facebook buy and sell pages, while some business owners might also use Shopify in collaboration with their Facebook business pages. Others might use Amazon or eBay. Other countries might have their own specific platforms, but overall the same rules apply when using any online platform.

Let us look at some basic tips from a commercial photographer to avoid the most common mistakes when selling anything online.

A plate photographed from above on a concrete floor using natural window light.


You can literally do anything you want and it has the potential to look good! Experiment with different backgrounds and textures. The photo of the plate above, was taken from above on a concrete floor with natural window lighting. You can use different tables, types of floors, printed or plain fabrics and even different design wrapping paper to place your object on and then photograph the object close enough to cut out the space around it. This way nobody will know that it might have been a wooden cutting board that was placed on a chair next to a catch my drift? The photo of the watch below was taken by placing the watch in an upright position on top of a book and then lowering the camera to the item's "eye level". You can experiment with different angles.

A smart watch placed on top of a book and photographed at a slight angle while facing the item straight on.


Try not to have too many other items in the photo with the item you want to sell. This might look cluttered and create the wrong impression. Keep it plain and simple so that the focus is on the item you are selling. Make the item the hero in the image. If you are selling a large item such as a treadmill or a lounge suite, try to tidy the area around it and clean before you take the photo. You don't want clothes hanging on the treadmill or visible pet hair on the sofa you are trying to sell. I have seen some horrible things in my life when scrolling through

Photo of an old treadmill used in a recent TradeMe advertising campaign. (Sourced from the Register)


Before uploading your photos to the online platform, always make sure of the requirements and settings. Most of the principles that apply for the one will also apply to the rest, so here is a list of some settings to always keep in mind for online selling:

  • Acceptable format of the photos are .gif, .bmp, .png, .jpeg or .jpg . Try to stay away from other formats as this will cause you endless struggles to upload your photos and result in errors. (Most cameras usually store the photos as .Jpeg by default, but you may have your camera's setting on RAW files, in which case it will be better to adjust your settings in order to save you having to convert the photos afterwards)

  • File size: First prize will be 1MB per photo, but sites like TradeMe accept photos up to 5MB each in size.

  • Cropped size: All uploads are cropped to achieve the platform's optimal display area. The cropped size is usually 4:3, so it is advisable to take your photos in a landscape orientation to ensure that you don't lose valuable parts of the image when it is automatically cropped in the platform. Most mobile editing apps have the option to crop and save your photos, so it will be beneficial for you to explore those options. (Most Instagram posts are also in the 4:3 aspect ratio so you might be familiar with it already)

Aspect ratio of 4:3 as opposed to 3:2. By Tracy Larsen


It is not necessary to do professional editing on your photos, but sometimes it pays to adjust minor things such as the exposure, brightness, contrast or even add a slight vignette. I have a few apps on my mobile phone that are amazing for quick editing and "fixing" of your photos. You can read more about them in my blog 4 amazing mobile apps for editing your photos like a PRO.


Please DON'T do any of the following when taking photos for selling anything online:

  • Do not accidentally capture yourself in a mirror in the background..specially not if you are still wearing your PJ's or are not appropriately dressed. (This could lead to embarrassing or troubling moments for you.)

  • Do not capture and upload any personal information such as your residential address (sometimes visible on a courier label stuck on a box of a product), mobile number, identity information or any other relevant information that might jeopardize your safety and privacy.

  • Do not upload any misleading photos of products. This can cause you a lot of trouble if someone buys the product and it is not in the same condition as in the photos they saw when finalizing the purchase. Always try to add close up photos of any defects or damages such as scratches or marks when you advertise something.

I hope the tips and information will help you become more successful in selling your products, whether it is for your business, or simply just a white elephant at home that you want to get rid of. If you still feel in doubt, it might be advisable to hire a professional photographer to do the photography for you.

Until we speak again...happy snapping!

52 views2 comments


Betty Cooper
Betty Cooper
Feb 25, 2023

This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. CreativeTDesign


Betty Cooper
Betty Cooper
Jan 14, 2023

CreativeTDesign is an online store that deals with providing the famous costumes of various Hollywood celebrities. Also, we have a diverse range of outfits from main events and parties based in the USA. We present diverse designs of t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jackets available in both printed and plain designs. We cover a wide variety of color options for presenting our attractive designs and love for everyone.

bottom of page