Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pose your Royal Enfield to help it sell

If you're selling a Royal Enfield, or any motorcycle, you want the picture in your ad to help convince buyers to pay your asking price. That means showing your motorcycle off to real advantage, even if it's not perfect. Your picture has to do more than just prove you have a motorcycle.

It has to attract attention to your ad.
It has to clearly show the product, especially special features.
It has to cast the motorcycle in a good light.
It has to show the motorcycle in a way that suggests you were a good owner.

Let's take these one at a time. Most private sellers don't try to draw attention to their ads by asking a female friend to put on short shorts and pose with the motorcycle. That might work, but could also prove distracting.

A better way to draw attention is to use a background that pulls the shopper's eye to your ad but then doesn't get in the way of the motorcycle. Something red will usually do it. Here's an example:

Something both red and instantly recognizable will work, too. The British Union Jack is a powerful, iconic image for a Brit bike, appropriate and eye catching.

Remember that the power of red can hurt you, too. In the photo below the seller probably didn't even notice the red Mini Cooper in the background as he shot the picture, but the car, not the motorcycle, leaves the strongest impression here.

The next challenge is clearly showing the motorcycle and its special features. Sounds easy, but plenty of sellers don't manage this. The enemies of good photography are back lighting, clutter and bad cropping. Incredible as it may seem, the examples that follow really did run with ads intended to sell motorcycles. What were they thinking?

Above is an example of back lighting. The very bright light coming from behind the motorcycle has cast it into shadow. The photographer could have used flash to throw more light on the motorcycle, balancing the light from behind it. But an even easier way to avoid this is to shoot the picture with the bright light behind you. Let the sun be the spotlight that shines on your motorcycle.

Clutter is the next foe. My garage is messy, too. But I would never try to make an attractive picture of my motorcycle with all that junk in the background. Wheel the bike outside for the picture! Or, if you absolutely must shoot the picture inside, do what the seller in the example below did and hang up a plain tarpaulin to put the motorcycle on an uncluttered stage. It's not perfect, but it works.

You don't need expensive photo software to crop (trim) your picture correctly. Professional photographers try to "crop the picture in the viewfinder." In other words, they compose the picture properly as they shoot the picture, saving time and trouble later. In the example below, the cameraman took his stand too far from the motorcycle and included a very unattractive dumpster in the picture. What is he saying about his motorcycle?

Below is an example of the opposite problem. The photographer has moved too close to the motorcycle, which gives us a fine look at most of it, but leaves us guessing about the last six inches of the bike, which he left out. The result is not balanced but, more importantly, the tail lights are very prominent on a Royal Enfield, and are often changed for nicer options. Buyers want to see what they're getting.

Finally, you want to create a positive impression of the motorcycle and of yourself. The buyer will be looking for clues as to how the motorcycle was maintained. The most common error I see is the photo of a motorcycle parked on oil stained pavement. The natural impression is that it leaks oil! Find a nice clean spot to park before you shoot.

You probably won't do what the seller in the example below did, and pose your Royal Enfield parked above an oil pan! Maybe he was just changing the oil when he shot the picture, but the pan summons the worst "Royal Oilfield" concerns.

In the next installment, I'll show off some of my favorite pictures from motorcycle "for sale" ads, along with a few more horror stories.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7/07/2009

    My question is: When do we get to the part about the best ways to pose the babe? And what's better: Boots or bikinis? Of course, if you can have both.....


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