There are many advantages to putting your auction online, and one of them is being able to inspire more bidding through the use of images. For example, even the best description of a great trip, doesn’t quite capture how amazing the trip will be. Online you have a great opportunity to grab your bidders’ attention and inspire more bids with excellent images. Before they even go to your event, bidders have a chance to look through all of your items and images and decide what they want to bid on. They can bid before they even get in the door, and they will have much more motivation to bid when they see what you have to offer.
A stay at the Ritz Carlton in Puerto Rico sounds lovely and like something a bidder might what to bid on. But, what if you could show them a picture like this:
That’s the kind of picture that has bidders checking their calendars to figure out when they can take the trip. It tells a beautiful story of how relaxing and luxurious this stay could be. If every time bidders bid, they are looking at a picture of the paradise that awaits them, they are likely to bid a lot higher as well.
This also applies to unique experiences. A trip to the aquarium including exclusive background animal experiences sounds fun, but it may not be the kind of thing bidders would be especially excited to bid on when they hear about it. Suppose instead bidders saw a pictures like this:
Images of the bidders’ children having the time of their lives meeting sharks, walruses, sea turtles, and more will come to mind. Instead of just seeing a certificate, bidders now see an exciting trip filled with unforgettable memories. You can bet they know you can’t put a price tag on that!
Suppose you’ve got a trip to a place that isn’t the most popular travel destination, but actually is a really great place to go. When you say, “Paris” or “New York City” bidders immediately can picture where and what you mean. If you say “Northern Michigan”, unless they grew up there, it probably doesn’t conjure up many images. Luckily, online you can not only explain that it is a wonderful place to go hiking, you can show them that the Sleeping Bear Dunes there are a great place to explore. Show them a picture like this and they’ll have a much better sense of why this is a trip worth taking:
Images are also important when it comes to items like jewelry, electronics, handbags, or artwork. In those cases, you’ll often have to take an actual photograph, so we’ve put together some tips for you on how to take the best photos possible.
Lighting is key
It is best to photograph the image in natural light. This prevents the issues that arise with using a flash such as shadows, reflections, and glare. These can make the item difficult to see. If you have to do your photography at night for some reason, you can purchase inexpensive light bulbs that create the appearance of natural lighting.
If you place an item on a flat surface, you will get the best result by standing over the item to take your photo. Be mindful of where your light source is coming from, so you don’t end up with a shadow or your reflection in the photo.
Your backdrop matters
Place your item up against a black or white background for the best results. This could be on a black table, on a white sheet of paper, or against a white back drop. If you use a white sheet, be sure that the sheet is clean and well ironed. Otherwise it will be distracting and can work against you.
Consider the quality of your camera
If you have the latest smartphone, you likely have a high quality camera and can use that to photograph your items. If you don’t have the latest smartphone yourself, see if someone on your auction team does. If you can’t get your hands on one, it’s best to use a digital camera to take your pictures.
Watch your angle
Make sure that you are taking a picture of the image straight on, so there’s no distortion. This will also prevent parts of the item from getting cut off or from being hard to see in the picture. It will also save you time later, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time cropping the image or manipulating it in an image program like photoshop.
This final tip may seem obvious, but you want to be sure your photo is in focus. A blurry picture can definitely discourage bidding.
Let’s get specific
Here are a few examples to illustrate what we’ve just reviewed.
First, we have an example of a great photo of a watch. It is well focused, taken in natural light, and is set against a flat hard wood surface that makes the watch visually pop. You can clearly see the quality of the watch and details like it having a second hand and displaying the date. The second photo almost looks like a different watch because of it’s poor quality. The photo was taken with a flash that created a glare that makes it hard to see the watch clearly. It even hides some of the features of the watch. You can barely tell that there is a second hand, for example. The background also makes the watch look far less appealing. Being photographed on a dirty table takes away from the quality of the watch even more, and the gray color of the table works against the color of the watch itself.
Here is an example of two photos of a handbag that also illustrates the difference following these guidelines can make. The first image has great natural lighting, a clean white background, is taken from a good angle, and makes the bag look very appealing. The second photo has poor lighting, a cluttered background, and is blurry. The bag looks old and the lighting makes the bag look like it’s a different color. You can see why a bidder would be much more inclined to bid on this bag when they see the first picture.
Our final example is a necklace. In this case, we’ll first look at the less effective image. The background here is very distracting and takes away from the item itself. It’s hard to stay focused on a necklace with so much clutter behind it. The pendant on the necklace is also blurry and the photo makes it hard to see its details or get a sense of what it may look like on someone.
Here we have an example of two photos that are focused and clear with great natural lighting. The second photo shows all the details on the pendant. It’s much clearer what the necklace looks like and why it is unique. These images also look much more professional. The changes we made in photographing the images didn’t cost a thing. Just using natural lighting, a flat black background, and taking the photo straight on made a huge difference.
You can see all the ways that quality images can make an enormous difference when it comes to inspiring your bidders to bid more. Keeping these tips and tricks in mind will help you to tell a more compelling story about each and every item. A picture really is worth a thousand words and potentially worth thousands of more dollars for your organization!