Photography

A beginner’s guide to photographing your guitar

Written by Simone | 27th March 2020

While sound is probably the top priority for most guitar players, having good photographs of your guitar is essential when selling. Together with guitar expert, Alexander Becker, we’ve put together a simple guide on how to photograph your guitar for a successful online sale.

For musically minded individuals,  guitars are more than just a means to playing music –  they’re an object of pride meant to be displayed prominently in their interior. “Good pictures are really important”, Alexander tells us. “Especially in online auctions as you can’t view the guitar in person before you purchase it”.

Limit reflections

A glossy finish and chrome elements may be easy on the eyes, but when you’re trying to capture a guitar on camera, they can pose a real challenge. Both natural light and artificial light can be used to position the guitar in a way to avoid any kind of reflection that may distort the image. 

Natural light is best – just make sure it’s not too sunny and bright. And while your camera’s flash option may seem like an easy way to get some extra light into your photo, avoid it at all times, as you’re likely to end up in the picture yourself. 

Left: the photo shows that a flash was used and certain elements are harder to see. Right: two pictures clearly showing the guitar from front and back, without any reflections.

Setting & scratches

Always put yourself in the shoes of the buyer when photographing your guitar and consider what you’d want to see. Chances are, you’d want a clear shot of the guitar with an uncluttered background. Alexander shares this opinion: “It’s best to photograph your guitar in a neutral way, so that the surroundings don’t distract from the guitar, and its features, damages and dents can be properly identified. It’s important that the buyer actually knows what he’s getting.” 

To make sure the setting isn’t too distracting, you may be able to use what you already have – a wooden floor and white wall can often be enough. Using sheets or cloths, however, usually won’t achieve the best result, as there are often visible folds and shadows. If you want to take it to the next level and are willing to invest, a white paper backdrop is a good and relatively inexpensive option. 

Left: the person holding the guitar distracts from important details. Right: two pictures that show the guitar's details clearly without any distractions in the background. 

Sequence

Finally, something that may impact your sales results is the order in which you publish the pictures of your guitar. According to Alexander, the following picture sequence should be mandatory. “Start with a full shot of the front, a full shot of the back, then the body front, body back, neck front, neck back, headstock front and back with serial. Then photograph closeups of special characteristics like pickups, tuners and switches, as well as blemishes or damages”. Pick a cover photo that shows the full guitar upfront, and you’re all set. 

When it comes to quantity, Alexander assures us there’s hardly ever too many pictures. “Make as many photographs as possible. Start with wide shots in which the whole guitar is visible in full and then close in on the details to showcase the guitar's features”. In response to the question of which features are especially critical to highlight, Alexander says “All of them. Headstock, tuners, pickups, bridge, soundhole with the label (for acoustics), serial numbers–you name it”.

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