Best Practices

Dealership Internet Department Photo Process

A Well defined Dealership Photo Process aids success with AutoTrader &

I have gotten several emails about “which photos to take of a vehicle and why?” and thought I’d create a posting about this often talked about question in our Industry:I have found that there are several differences
in the way that Classified Listing Services like AutoTrader and handle photos. offers up to 32 (or something crazy like that) photos with their $150 Multiple photo subscription Service and as of
now, AutoTrader only offers 9 Photo Slots on vehicle listings.This is where a well-defined Photo Process can help you capture the maximum photo impression in your Classified Vehicle Listings.

Okay, in the diagram below there is a reason that you must take photos and name them according to the order below. The reason, is simply that you want to make sure that you always offer a variety of pictures. With only 9 photos available on AutoTrader currently you must make ensure the “Number 9” Photo is taken from the back seat and taken of the full door-to-door interior dash, including rear view mirror.

By Implementing this proven method, on ALL of your Classified Vehicle Listing you will make sure you include the all so important interior photo. After all, from this 1 Single Photo, the shopper can see if the vehicle is Automatic or Manual, has a CD Player or cassette deck, has Cruise Control, has steering wheel Audio Control, has a Navigation system, has OnStar……. do you get the point yet, haha

Example Dealership Photo Taking Process.


Thanks for the great posting Jake
. Just to quick note, IF you are signed up with AutoTrader as a Partner Listing dealer, they are now providing up to 27 photos now.

Dealership Internet Department Photo Process – by Jake Wirth

I know this is a pretty old Blog entry (the link to Jake's article doesn't work anymore), but I recently ran into this problem with a dealer group that uses my company's inventory tools to take pictures of their cars. Very similar to this article, they had the ability to show many pictures (20+) through, but only 9 pictures through Autotrader (due to their subscription level.) This led them to an important decision: they could take photos out of order (so the first 9 would have an even mix of exterior & interior shots to export to AutoTrader) OR have them take the photos in order & only show exterior shots. Neither of these solutions seemed to work for our customer.

The solution we came up with was to use some technology to re-arrange the photos depending on where the photos were being exported to (to my knowledge we are the only one to have such ability) Below is the list of shots that they take:

1)Front DS 1/4
2)Straight Side DS
4)Rear PS 1/4
5)Straight Side PS
8)Front Seat DS
9)Front Seat PS
10)Back Seat DS
12)Steering wheel
14) Window controls
18)Special Feature 1
19)Special Feature 2
20)Special Feature 3

Note: The Special Features are for dvd players, navigation, or any other unique equipment on the vehicles. (DS = Driver's Side & PS = Passenger Side)

The list of photos is in the order that made the most sense to take them (process wise) and by having the order of the photos shot the same in every case, this would allow us to automate the order that the photos are exported (ie: will have all the photos sent in the order 1-20, where as, AutoTrader would have photos 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12 sent).

If you aren't using CarSpot for your inventory, this doesn't mean that you couldn't achieve similar results, you would just have to take the photos out of order (ie: you would take shots 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12 And then take shots 3, 6, 9, 13-20)

If you have any questions about this process, feel free to email me.

JoE Drosen
National Sales Manager - CarSpot
[email protected]
888-698-7768 x124
  • G
  • October 16, 2007
Going back to an old post, my dealership is now using a new program called ecarlist, which allows us to view & manage inventory by new/used, pre-owned, make etc., manage photos, comments, print window stickers and buyers guides, prepare all paperwork for print/emailing to distant customers, push to,, Craigs list and eBay, while tracking inquiries on each vehicle. With the photo tool, we can re-arrange in any order we like, add & delete, etc. Very impressive tool.
anybody else using ecarlist?
  • B
  • August 18, 2008
Brian and others.

Feel free to take a look at what we do

the differences in leads and phone calls generated since we first established these processes and before are tremendous.

Will be glad to help anyone wishing to get this started.
  • C
    Curious George
  • August 18, 2008

That's impressive. Do you mind sharing how this is done? It looks like you have designed a room totally one color to create the look of stock photos. I'm curious about the lighting, staging, etc...

Good work Billy! email me at btucker at swope dot com
we are working on that very thing right now!
  • B
  • August 19, 2008
Don't mind sharing at all.

Send me an email to sale at and I'll reply

the first email bounced the second one I sent to sales at hendrick atlanta dot com