Photos That Sell: Using Focus and Isolation

Whether selling a couch or a car, a good photo increases response. Here are two keys to making great classified photos:

1. Focus
A blurry photo tells people you don’t care or worse, that you may be trying to hide a defect. Most digital cameras will allow you to hold the trigger half-way and bring the image into focus before taking the picture. Digital cameras need good light to focus automatically. If the light is low, using a flash will usually help.

Once you’ve mastered focus, you may want to eliminate distractions by limiting what’s called “depth of field.” A shallow depth of field is created when only the subject is in focus, but the foreground and background are blurred. For manual settings, you do this by selecting a wide-open aperture. For automatic settings, you might try the “Portrait” mode.

This photo has a shallow depth of field (only the subject is in focus, but the background is blurred.) It also uses isolation by eliminating distracting background elements. Photo: Shutterstock

2. Isolation

Isolation refers to eliminating distractions from the subject a photo. A subject is isolated when there is nothing in the photo except the single item. In most cases, there will be something else in the photo — the ground, the sky, floor or walls.  But taking the picture from an angle with no other cars or distractions in the background allows the buyer to see easily which car you are selling.

Drive your car to an empty parking lot to keep other cars out of the photo. Move a few feet to the left to keep a power pole from appearing to grow out of the car’s moonroof.

When photographing small items, place a single item on top of a cleared table. A white tablecloth will eliminate distracting colors or patterns from the table’s surface.

Look for distracting items in the shot. Does that trash can have to be there? Of course not. You can move it out of the way until you have to take the photo. The same thing goes for clutter or stacks of magazines.