There are two ways to showcase the inventory on your lot, the right way, and the stock way. By that, we mean using stock photos to promote your inventory. The allure of using stock photography is understandable. The manufacturer paid a ton of money to have a professional lighting and photograph the newest models. Let's be honest, they look amazing.
Here's the problem; these photos don't represent the car that the online shopper is looking for and, as a result of the generic image, the buyer doesn’t feel a connection with them. Now the right way. The right way is to properly merchandise your inventory and “make the car the star” - and that means taking photos of each individual vehicle.
However, with hundreds of cars on your lot, inventory coming in and out at a (hopefully) fast pace, taking photos of every individual vehicle can be difficult, not to mention time-consuming and expensive. Luckily, you have an amazing photo studio in your pocket. That's right; it's your smartphone.
Is that a photography studio in your pocket?
Yes, yes it is. Survey your dealership right now and you will find that just about everyone has a SmartPhone in their pocket. Now, let's put them to work as your dealership’s photographers.
The cameras on most phones these days are powerful enough to showcase your cars. Consider this, the sensors on most DSLRs are between 14.1 and 24.1 Mega Pixels (MP = 1 Million Pixels). The average smartphone camera has an 8 - 24MP camera already built in, so the images are comparable.
The main advantage that your smartphone has over a DSLR is the camera apps that can be loaded into it. These apps include filters and adjustments that essentially turn your smartphone into a mini photo studio.
However, if you want a little more functionality than the built-in camera app has to work with, then have a look at the Top 5 Camera Apps that we've put together for you.
ProCamera is our ‘go to’ for multiple reasons; easy to use, professional DSLR features and a very uncluttered, customizable workspace.
For a few extra dollars, you can unlock the LowLight+ (LUX+) and HDR+ features that really make images pop.
As a FREE iOS camera app, this is one of the better ones we’ve used and includes 1080p HD video at up to 240fps (software enhanced) for ultra-slow motion video which could be great for action advertisements.
Other features include exposure control, selective focus/exposure areas and manual override (if you like).
Camera+ has been around for a few years and has gone through many upgrades from it’s original.
Another uncluttered, free camera that allows you to unlock better features with in-app purchases. Like many of the other camera apps, the basic free version is plenty for the purposes of this article.
Highlights include control of white balance, selective focus and exposure control. All great features to get in there and tweak your images for best presentation.
Retrica is the first of the iOS/Android (cross-platform) apps. This app has a very uncluttered interface, however, rather than a lot of tweaks with exposure control, this app only uses a library of effects filters. The (recently updated) 3.0 version features 100 filters to really showcase the images you take.
The main drawback to this particular app is a lot of very artsy filters and lack of manual controls which make it more appropriate for social media than advertising, but don’t discount it entirely because it has a lot of functionality and creates beautiful images.
EyeEm is a neat little app that we stumbled on while researching this article. A ton of features and filters to really bring out the creative side in everyone. Also, iOS/Android compatible.
It’s a simple to use camera app for your phone or tablet, with the little twist of giving you (the photographer) the venue to sell your images built in.
HD Camera for Android is what we would think ProCamera for Android would look like if they had produced one. This is an Android-only app that fully leverages the 20+MP cameras that LG and Samsung build into their smartphones.
This is a feature rich, near professional quality app that may require some basic understanding of DSLR or film photography to take full advantage of everything it can do.
Selective focus/exposure controls, film speed selection, zone control and other tweakable settings make this a powerhouse. Add that it can record low light images in near darkness and great 1080p HD video at 60fps. So who needs a bulky DSLR anymore?
All the apps I’ve noted above are available in either the App Store (Apple iOS) or Google Play (Android). Most of them have extra features, filters and other functionality that can be unlocked through in-app purchases that rarely going over $3.99.
So now that you have your new apps get out there and take some great photos for your VDP. We would love to hear about your experience. If you think there are other camera apps worth mentioning, please let us know.