Used-Car Photos: Documenting Imperfection As a Best Practice

Showing blemishes most likely will lower the vehicle’s value, but the tradeoff is that the dealer gains customers’ trust as they make their buying decision.

Louis Norman III

November 17, 2022

2 Min Read
Dealer Image Pro screenshot
Growth of online retailing calls for transparency in presenting vehicle’s appearance.Insta360

Because new vehicles are in short supply, used or reconditioned vehicles have seen increased demand since December 2019, with prices rising by 42% during that time, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As this demand is expected to continue into 2023, one practice that many dealers do not realize, which greatly influences the consumer buying decision, is showing the blemishes that come with these vehicles, especially in today’s growing online retailing landscape.

Whether the reconditioned vehicle has scrapes, dents and scratches on the exterior, or even wear and tear with the interior, it’s important for dealership photographer vendors to be transparent and offer to display features of these blemishes on the dealership’s online vehicle detail page (VDP) to ultimately help the customer make an informed buying decision.

While it’s obvious that reconditioned vehicles aren’t going to look as perfect as new vehicles, dealership photographer vendors can give a dealership complete transparency with customers by photographing all imperfections on the reconditioned vehicle.

This can be done through an image viewer and an imperfections tab offered by leading dealership photography vendor applications.

Just by showing reconditioned vehicle blemishes, the dealership not only protects its reputation but also increases customer loyalty. Despite these blemishes most likely lowering the vehicle’s value, the tradeoff is that the dealer gains the customer's trust as they make their buying decision.

Even though dealers have asked about “Photoshopping” or “retouching” the vehicle blemishes before reconditioning occurs, this ultimately screams false advertising to the customer. Instead, photographing all reconditioned vehicle blemishes provides complete transparency.

With 78% of consumers expressing satisfaction when buying a vehicle online, according to an industry survey from Progressive Corp., an insurance company, early this year, showing the blemishes of the reconditioned vehicles helps the consumer feel more comfortable throughout the entire browsing experience. By being able to see any imperfections of the vehicle, the customer feels reassured that the dealership isn’t trying to hide the blemishes if they come to see the vehicle in person.

Louis Norman Headshot.jpeg

Louis Norman Headshot_0

The major strategy dealership photographers should use when shooting reconditioned vehicles is taking the blemish photos from multiple angles to show the vehicle’s overall condition. Consistent imaging across the VDP is a large factor when looking into customers’ buying decisions and ultimately will help increase the customer’s trust in the dealership.

For example, if a photographer is going to take multiple shots of a scratch on the driver-side door, it is best to show the whole length of the door versus only the part where the scratch may appear.

Photographs showing how the vehicle being offered appears in person gives the savvy car buyer peace of mind, knowing the dealership doesn’t have a problem with baiting and switching.

Louis Norman III (pictured, above left) is the director of operations of Dealer Image Pro (, a professional photo, video and 360 software company based in California.

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