The Importance of Vehicle Photos for Car Dealers

July 15, 2016

This content has been reviewed and updated on 3/8/24. 

A picture is worth a thousand words, but how much is one worth to your car dealership? If you’re not staying on top of vehicle photos for your inventory, you might be costing yourself leads.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to ensure every car on your lot has a current picture online. In this article, we’ll talk about why you want to get in this habit, when and where you should take pictures of your cars, and how to upload them with zero hassle.

5 Key Questions About Dealership Inventory Photography

Here are five of the key ins and outs of the car dealership photography process that all dealership owners should know. 

1. Why Do Vehicle Photos Matter?

About 90% of vehicle shoppers prefer to start the buying process online.1 When they’re researching and shopping online, they rely heavily on images. More than half of customers agree that high-quality images are more important than product descriptions.2 

Pictures will also give your pricing methods additional authenticity. The photos a customer sees should match what they read in your vehicle description. Doing this for new and used inventory is essential, but it might be even more critical when closing a deal on a pre-owned car.

2. When Should I Upload Car Photos of My Dealership’s Inventory?

The right time to upload photos of your dealership’s inventory is as soon as possible. Whether you’re getting cars through auction, dealer order, or straight from the manufacturer, you still want to take pictures and get them online sooner rather than later.

If a buyer has been checking in on a listing for several days, and that listing says, “Vehicle photos coming soon,” that potential buyer may head to a different dealership to see photos of a similar vehicle. To turn leads into sales, make sure to upload photos as soon as they’re available.

3. Where Should I Take Vehicle Photos for My Dealership?

The location of your inventory photos is key. All you need is an area on your lot that is clear of other distractions. Avoid photos with other cars in the background or anything else that can pull attention away from the featured vehicle. 

We recommend finding a space behind your store, possibly against the back wall or with a natural backdrop if your lot backs up to one. Don’t create extra work for yourself by choosing an off-site location. 

4. How Should I Take Photos of My Dealership’s Inventory?

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to capture and upload your inventory. Your goal for high-quality car dealership photography is documentation and display. You also don’t need a high-end camera. Most current smartphones have adequate digital cameras that will meet your needs.

When taking car pictures, keep these basics in mind:

  • Make sure the entire car is in the shot:  Don’t cut off the back end or leave out the front of the vehicle. Also, leave some space at the edge of the picture so it doesn’t look crowded.
  • Avoid direct sunlight and shadows: You want the customer to know the car is clean, but if it’s too shiny, they won’t be able to see the details. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times for pictures.
  • Include details: Document features and equipment that you wish to promote. For used cars, don’t try to hide any flaws. Be transparent.
  • Quantity and variety: There’s no perfect number of photos to include, but variety is the key. If a car has extra features worth promoting, take more pictures. If not, stick to the basics. 
  • Focus on the two most important photos: At minimum, include a three-quarter-angle exterior shot and an interior view of the cockpit. These are the shots people most want to see when browsing your inventory, so they bring in the most traffic3.

When uploading the photos, think about what customers want to see and organize your photos in order of their checklist.

5. What is the Easiest Way to Upload Vehicle Photos to My Inventory Listings?

The best way is to use the MAX Ad platform to upload vehicle photos in bulk. Our software makes it easy for you to upload and order photos for every car on your lot. Better yet, these car images feed directly into the MAX Content Generation Engine, which lets you merchandise your inventory and syndicates your listings across all major car-buying sites.

The MAX Mobile App also gives you a better answer for when you should upload photos. If you have our app, you can take photos and upload them to the correct page as soon as the car hits your lot. Say goodbye to placeholder photos. We help you give every car a unique face so that you can connect customers to the vehicles they want.

Making sure your vehicle photos meet the needs of consumers is one of the simplest ways you can adapt to the digital age. ACV Max wants to make it even easier for you and your dealership. Let us know if you want to schedule a demo of our services, and feel free to submit any questions you might have. We’re here to help.


  1. (9 August 2023). 90% of Car Shoppers Prefer a Dealership Where They Can Start the Buying Process Online. Porch Group Media. Retrieved 30 November from, 
  2. (7 July 2020). The importance of imagery for car buyers. Modix Automotive. Retrieved 30 November from, 
  3. (9 August 2019). Nobody buys a car without a picture. Strong Automotive. Retrieved 30 November from,