How to Photograph Your Boat for Sale

Post by: Dee White
17 December 2014

When you start advertising your boat for sale, the first sight a prospective buyer will have will probably be the photographs in your advertisement. It will be these, more than anything else which will either appeal to your buyer enough make him look further at your boat’s details, or put him off completely and force him to look elsewhere. I can already hear many male boat owners disagreeing with me, but I wonder how many of them have wives, partners or girlfriends who will insist on having a say in which boat they are going to end up with. I can tell you, from my own experience, that us women will look at the pictures and if we don’t like what we see, then buying that boat is a definite “no-no”.

Think of it in the same way as selling your house. You have one chance to interest the viewers, so you need to make your home as appealing as you possibly can, as well as showing its style and condition. Here are some tips to help you take those all important photographs.

  • Clean your boat really well, getting rid of all those marks on the hull and polishing it to bring out the shine. Clean the windows and get rid of all the streaks. Stainless hardware should be polished too and any rusty or missing screws replaced. Carpets should be vacuumed or cleaned and soft furnishings like cushion covers and curtains should be washed and dressed tidily. So many boat curtains have missing hooks so that they hang badly, or are too short to be drawn properly. Mildew stains should be removed and all loose dirt swept up.

  • Dress your boat as if it were a house. Artistically arranged cushions, a bowl of tempting fruits on a table, a bottle of wine and a glass – never mind if you would never sail in the boat looking like this, they make it look attractive.

Now that your boat is probably tidier and cleaner than it has been for years, maybe since you bought it, the time has come to take some quality photographs.

  • Take a picture of your boat in motion. Use a close-up shot so that you get the whole hull but not too much of the view behind it and don’t worry about fitting in the whole length of the mast.
  • Think about the natural light and wait for good conditions. A grey, dull sky will not show off your boat to the best advantage, so choose a sunny, early morning or a late afternoon.
  • Take lots of shots from different angles to give potential buyers different views of the boat. Sometimes the obvious shot will not turn out the best. You can throw the others away when you’ve made your choice. The pictures should be crisp and clear, depicting as much of the boat as is possible and don’t forget the gauges and instruments.
  • When photographing the inside of your boat, make sure that the light is good and choose your boat’s best features to show off. Beware of reflections in shiny objects and glare caused by sunlight catching them.
  • Look at each photograph carefully. It is easy to miss the fact that you’ve forgotten to remove a tea-towel, hung up to dry, or haven’t closed the lid of the loo, or even that your picture is not quite level. Nothing looks quite as amateurish as a tilting photograph.

Getting the best results online

If you are advertising your boat on the web – which these days is the best way to get a sale – here are some additional tips for ensuring the best online boat advertisement.

Your primary photograph will be the first view of your boat that your potential buyers will see. We all know how important first impressions are, so make sure this is a great photo and preferably an external shot.

The primary photograph will be the one that will be presented in the online search results and will be displayed first when your advertisement is viewed. So, to ensure that your advertisement and its search results view look the best they can, the aspect ratio and orientation of your photo should match those used by the website it’s being displayed on to prevent parts of the photograph being cropped out. Most websites use a landscape orientation with an aspect ratio of 4:3. This means the photograph should be 4 units wide and 3 units tall. Thankfully, this is the normal orientation and aspect ratio of most cameras.

If you are advertising a sailing boat, don’t be tempted to use a portrait shot showing the full height of the mast for the primary photograph. If you do, websites will either automatically crop your photo – which may end up showing just the middle of the mast – or may show blank areas to the left and right of the photo which just doesn’t look great. Instead, use landscape orientated photograph showing all of the hull and just the lower part of the mast.

It is still a good idea to have a full-height portrait shot, showing the entire mast, but use this as one of your secondary photographs rather than as the primary photograph.

Support your photographs with a well written description of your boat, accentuating its most important features and including its specifications. Make sure you proof read it well or get someone else to do it. Silly mistakes will not inspire a prospective buyer.

Remember, an eye-catching advertisement with striking pictures will be your first step in selling your boat. Make sure that your buyer wants to take the next step.

Author – Dee White