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3 photography best practices that will make your 360 WalkArounds from SpinCar even more powerful

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on December 9, 2021

If you’ve shopped for pretty much anything online, you’re well aware of the importance of photos. The quality and quantity of photographs on a listing play a significant role in engaging shoppers and, ultimately, converting them. This holds for car shopping—a process done primarily online and that typically involves visits to 17 unique sites by the average buyer.

That’s why you (or the photographer you hire!) must take numerous high-quality and detailed photos for every vehicle on your lot. Not only will excellent photographs capture the attention of more low-funnel shoppers, but they will also allow you to leverage the 360° WalkArounds automatically created by SpinCar as part of CarGurus Featured, Featured Priority, Area Boost, and Convert packages.

So what can you do to improve your existing photos? Take a look at what you currently have displayed on your VDPs and ensure you’ve followed these three best practices.

Lighting and location are everything.

Shoppers need to see a vehicle in as much detail as possible, and a string of bad photos could scare off a potential customer. Give plenty of thought to when and where you shoot, making sure the car is the star in every photograph. It may sound obvious: don’t take pictures in the dark or of a vehicle surrounded by distractions, such as additional vehicles, signage, or other visual “noise.” Instead, find a well-lit setting, free from a cluttered background. Consider shooting inside your service bay, delivery bay, or showroom where you can easily control the lighting and environment. If that is not possible, an open corner of your lot on a cloudy day can also make for a great time and place for a photoshoot.

Bonus tip: if you’re using a high-res camera, invest in a lens hood or circular polarizer lens to eliminate sun flares, reduce glare from windows, and avoid reflections.

Your “digital showroom” (your website) deserves just as much attention as your physical lot. Take time to “walk” your digital lot and make sure it meets your standards. If you wouldn’t accept it in your physical showroom—sub-par imagery, clutter, or inconsistency, for example—then it shouldn’t be online.

Tell the whole story. 

Rather than reading through a long list of features, most shoppers will first look at the vehicle photos on your VDP. CarGurus users are 30% more likely to view photos of specific cars on-site than competitors’ users. Once your environment is ready, prepare the interior and exterior of your vehicle for a quality shoot. You’ll want to make sure every angle and feature is covered, including the following shots:

Interior photos
– Dashboard (including the entertainment console and navigation system)
– Odometer
– Steering wheel (+ special steering wheel controls)
– Front seats
– Driver and passenger doors
– Bird’s eye view of the cockpit
– End-to-end back seat view
– Upholstery close-ups
Exterior photos
– Vehicle’s full exterior—pretend you’re following a compass, shooting every 45 degrees and start and end at the same place (ideally, the driver’s side door)
– Tires
– Wheels
– Underside if possible
– Overhead shot of engine bay
– Empty, decluttered trunk
– Any special features or performance upgrades


Other tips for telling the whole story: turn on instrument panel lights, backup screens, and the radio to dial up the vibrancy and interior detail and ensure features are centered and photographed from a consistent distance.

With a minimum of 14 quality photos for at least half of your used inventory listings, your static images will be automatically stitched together into a unique 360° exterior experience powered by SpinCar. The interactive walkaround will display right on your CarGurus VDPs.

Be transparent about imperfections.

Picture-ready doesn’t have to mean free from all imperfections—you’re selling used vehicles after all. CarGurus believes transparency helps sell cars, so if there are scratches, dents, or dings, be sure to show them to potential buyers. Include a ruler to show the size of the damage, as potential buyers will appreciate the honesty.

When taking inventory photos, take care, stage your vehicles well, and be mindful of what customers want to see. Incorporating these best practices will ensure high-quality photographs and an engaging 360° WalkAround that brings your vehicles to life for shoppers. These tips will become second nature in no time, and you’ll quickly be on your way to more leads!

Topics: 360 WalkArounds, photography, SpinCar, VDPs