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Please Stop Taking Vertical Photos For Your Car Listings

Photo: Facebook Marketplace
Photo: Facebook Marketplace

Can we talk? Photographer to photographer? I see a lot of the shots you all take for your car listings when I’m compiling Dopest Cars every week, and there’s something I need to tell you all: You gotta cut it out with the vertical photos.

I get it, you’re on a mobile device taking the shots. You’re probably even using one to make the listing. But the person who’s looking to buy your vehicle likely isn’t on their phone, and those vertical photos aren’t helping you out at all.

Photo: Amber DaSilva / Jalopnik
Photo: Amber DaSilva / Jalopnik

Let me start by saying I have nothing against portrait-oriented photos of cars. In fact, I love shooting them — you’ll find vertical shots in nearly every story I put together using my own images. If you’re orienting your photos like this with a specific artistic intent, you’re not the person I’m talking to here.

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Similarly, this is not some “Old woman yells at cloud” rant against the youths and their mobile-first browsing. First off, I’m 27, I’m not that old. Secondly, I’ve got as much TikTok screentime as the next girl. If you’re shooting something that’s taller than it is wide (like, for example, a person) vertical orientation makes sense, especially if you’re targeting your work towards mobile viewers.

For car listings, however, none of these reasons hold up. Cars are (generally) wider and longer than they are tall, so they fit worse in a vertically oriented frame. If your goal is just to get An Image of An Car, you’re going to be filling a lot of that frame with empty space. Even that, though, would be fine if your prospective buyer was shopping on their phone — something they statistically aren’t doing.

We all shop on our phones, we all browse on our phones, but statistics show we hold off on high-dollar purchases until we’re in front of a desktop or laptop. Mobile buying has certainly increased since those stats came out, but it still hasn’t caught up entirely — we make small purchases on small screens, and spend big money on big screens.

You’re shooting an object that’s longer than it is tall, to be displayed on a screen that’s wider than it is tall. At no point in here does a vertical orientation make sense, the way it would for TikToks, Instagram posts, or even videos sent directly to friends via iMessage, WhatsApp, or Discord. When you’re selling your car, just turn your phone and shoot in landscape. Your prospective buyers will thank you.

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