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10 Tips to Creating Bid Worthy Auction Item Photos

Now that mobile auctions for virtual or hybrid events are a way of life for most nonprofits, the spotlight is much brighter on your auction item photos. Rather than seeing your items in person, your patrons are now scrolling through these items on their laptops, smartphones and tablets. If you want your items to catch your viewers' eyes, you need your photos to stand out, there is a certain level of quality that needs to be met.

In this blog, we will cover ten photography tips that will help make your items become highly sought-after bids at your next auction.

The Importance Of Taking Great Pictures

Before we get to the tips, let's take a quick moment to go over why it's so essential for your auction item pictures to be of high quality. Start by considering your own experiences when purchasing something online. Have you ever looked at an item online with a poor picture? Maybe it was blurry, off-centered, or too small. There's a good chance you probably passed on that item, no matter how fabulous the description (Learn how to Write a Great Auction Item Description). Most of us associate a lousy picture with a lesser item. This is why it's so essential that your auction item photos do not give off the impression that they are poor in quality.

10 Tips To Taking Better Pictures

  1. Use a high-quality camera. Most of today's smartphones come with high-quality cameras if you don't have a professional camera at your disposal. Using a good camera will ensure that you don't end up with blurry images with poor resolution.

  2. Utilize a good background. A plain white background is your best option in most cases. This kind of background removes all distractions, allowing your item to take center stage. However, if you have an outdoor item or something that requires a specific background to match the item, be sure to use that if it makes sense.

  3. Pay attention to lighting. It's best to use a lightbox or light tent when photographing small items (such as jewelry). It's best to avoid shadows, glare and other lighting issues, as these blemishes often make the items look cheap. Be sure to use natural lighting if you don't have access to artificial lighting sources.

  4. Shoot from different angles. Make sure your viewers can see your items from multiple viewpoints. The more views they get, the more information they have on the item. The more information they have, the more likely they are to place a bid.

  5. Make sure the picture is big enough. In other words, don't photograph your items from far away. People want to see details. Get up close and utilize as much space as you can in your photos.

*Quick tip: Do not use the zoom feature when taking these photos. Using zoom will take away from the quality of the picture. You will often end up with a pixelated image.

  1. Turn off the flash. Using flash will give your items a shining glare that is not attractive to the eye. Instead, utilize the lighting around you in different ways (as mentioned in Tip #3).

  2. Use a tripod. There's no better way to steady your camera than with a tripod. Using this tool will ensure that your pictures are perfectly still to help you avoid motion blurriness.

  3. Bring life to your items. As we mentioned earlier, a white background is often the best option. However, you can add some other features to your photo if you need to showcase them in a certain way. For example, if you are auctioning clothing or jewelry, put them on a manikin or use a model to give your viewers a better idea of how these items will look.

  4. Don't clutter up your pictures. In the previous example, we talked about adding features to your photos to help showcase your items. However, keep in mind that you don't want to over-cutter your pictures with too many things. Keep your main item as the focal point without using too many additional props that can often be distracting.

  5. Edit your photos. Last but not least, learn how to edit your photos with image editing software. The editing process can work miracles on your photos. Even if your shoot didn't go quite to plan with lighting and other aspects, you can touch up your photos to make them look professional when you are in the editing process. We recommend using Photoshop. You can even download a free 7-day trial for a test run.

Let's take a look at a few photos and decide which ones are more appealing and why.

Gift Basket 1 Grade: C-

This first example has a nice white background with good photo quality, however, for online presentation, the viewer has no clue what is inside the gift basket unless they read the entire description. As we know, pictures attract first before words, and often times people don't' even fully read the descriptions.

Gift Basket 2 Grade: B

In this next photo, the background is ok, the items are partially visible, but not fully, and the wrapping looks nice. *Pro Tip: Photograph the baskets unwrapped if at all possible- the wrapping can cause unwanted glare and awkward lighting in your photos.

Gift Basket 3 Grade: B-

This basket clearly shows some of the contents, however the fact that it is not framed well in the photo and was very obviously taken in a warehouse. We feel the background of this photo seriously detracts from the aesthetic, cheapening the item. Take the time to frame your photos properly and pay attention to your background.

Gift Basket 4: A

This thoughtfully arranged and aesthetically appealing basket shows possible bidders what is inside the basket they are bidding on.

Gift Basket 5: A+

This basket to us is ideal. The overtop photography angle clearly displays each and every item with enough detail. The bright background plays well by highlighting each item drawing the viewer in.

If you need further assistance taking pictures of your auction items, please contact us today. Our team here at AmFund can help advise you and share many other strategies to help you plan your next fundraising event. If your organization would like to be considered for our unrestricted funding programs, please contact the American Fundraising Foundation. As always, thank you for reading and stay safe!


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