How to Photograph Commercial Vehicles and Heavy Equipment for Sale

Learn not only how to photograph your commercial vehicles and heavy equipment for sale but also how to think like a buyer to maximize your results.

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how to photograph a commercial truck for saleThey Want the Truth—and They Can Handle It

Unlike selling a consumer vehicle, selling commercial equipment demands a unique approach to photography to earn the attention of interested buyers. Whether you’re displaying semi trucks for sale or construction equipment for sale and beyond, your photos require a balance of attracting buyers and managing expectations. 

What This Guide Covers

In this short guide, we’re going to give you some concepts to keep in mind while photographing your commercial vehicles and heavy equipment for sale online or in print classifieds that will help your images and listings resonate with buyers. 

Think Like a Commercial Buyer

Before you set out to snap pictures of your semi truck, trailer, dump truck, skid steer, backhoe, or excavator, put on your commercial buyer’s hard hat (or trucker hat). Think not only about what you’d like to see but also what you’d
expect to see. 

farmer shaking hands with salesman over equipment

Commercial and industrial buyers are not necessarily looking for flashy or exciting equipment. Instead, they’re looking for transparency and a seller they can trust. Looking through this lens as you look through the lens of your camera will guide the direction of your photography. 

Clean Up Your Equipment to Realistic Levels

person power washing commercial truck to sell

It’s fairly common knowledge that you’re going to want to clean up any item you’re photographing for sale—simply put, nobody wants to buy dirty stuff. With this being said, few heavy equipment buyers are going to expect a coat of wax on an excavator. As a decent rule of thumb, consider what your ideal buyer would expect to see and then go one step further than that. Just remember that the condition of your item’s appearance is not only the buyer’s first impression of the item but is also their first impression of you or your dealership.

  • Make sure all interiors are free of trash, clutter, and debris. 

  • Remove major dirt or debris from heavy equipment exteriors.

  • Semi trucks should likely be cleaned up a bit more than heavy equipment—but just enough to make your trucks stand out from the competition.

Photograph During the Right Time of Day

While natural lighting is best for photographing just about anything, there is such a thing as too much light. Photographing your equipment for sale in the midday sun can result in a harsh contrast between blown-out sections reflecting the sun and hard shadows cast wherever direct sunlight is missing. 

The Best Time to Photograph Your Equipment

The best time to photograph your heavy equipment or semi truck is when the light is naturally softened and more evenly distributed—usually a half-hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset. Keep the sun behind you (displaying on your item) when photographing for maximum results. Be mindful of any shadows you may end up casting on the item and avoid appearing in the reflection of the item whenever possible.

Use the Highest Quality Camera Available to You

The highest quality images will make any ad stand out from the rest. If you’re a heavy equipment or semi truck dealership and you need to regularly photograph your inventory, investing in a professional-level DSLR-style camera and lens setup may be worthwhile. 

With this being said, the camera on your mobile device is likely very capable of delivering great image quality if you have it set properly. Before shooting, make sure that you’re taking pictures with the camera application’s highest quality settings engaged and operating within the most appropriate mode. 

To maximize the amount of space your equipment occupies in the frame, shoot in landscape mode (horizontally) rather than portrait mode (vertically) whenever possible. Shooting images while holding your mobile device vertically will likely result in photographing large sections of ground and sky you will need to crop out later.

horizontal vs vertical phone camera infographic

Take a Few Test Photos and Adjust Accordingly

Before you take hundreds of images in hopes of a few turning out well (sometimes called “spray and pray”), take a few test images and review them on the spot—either in your camera viewfinder window or your mobile device screen. Make sure that the light is illuminating the details you want to highlight instead of backlighting them with harsh shadows. Inspect the background for distracting elements—such as signage or unsightly trash and clutter. 

Taking a few test shots before uploading images to your listing service can ensure a quality photoshoot and decrease the likelihood of needing to re-shoot any images due to various conditions. 

Shoot All Sides of Your Equipment or Truck

The images you post of your heavy equipment or semi truck are intended to give potential buyers the most detailed preview possible. Why? To remove as much mystery as possible and give buyers the confidence necessary to take the next step towards buying from you. 

“Which camera angles are best for heavy machinery or commercial vehicles?”

The answer? Every angle. 

Photograph every angle of the exterior and interior of any truck or machine—every corner, angle, from above, underneath, every wheel, track, or attachment. Open every door, hood, or hatch, and photograph the contents underneath or within. 

You may need to use your flash to photograph under hoods, in floorboards, or underneath the truck or equipment. Treat your camera lens as a scanner of every surface. The more angles you provide and the more surfaces you cover, the fewer mysteries buyers can expect later. 

Every aspect of your equipment you leave out of your photos, your competition is leaving in.

Editing Your Images

In many instances, people edit their images to make the contents look their best. When it comes to taking pictures of your heavy equipment or trucks, edit with the goal of creating the most accurate, honest portrayal of what you’re trying to sell. Any attempt to hide or deemphasize aspects of your item will only leave your buyer feeling betrayed once they see the imperfection in person that you tried to hide in your photos. 

Foster Trust by Acknowledging Flaws

If you’re not willing to fix certain damage or replace worn components, consider specifically photographing such flaws and acknowledging them in the description section of your listing. This kind of transparency will create trust with your potential buyers. 

Cropping should only aim to remove unnecessary elements from images—too much ground or sky, and the like. Brightness should only be adjusted to reveal details hidden by shadows. The use of filters is strongly discouraged. You want to provide the most accurate possible rendering of your item.

Resizing & Condensing

Depending on your heavy equipment or semi truck listing service, you may need to resize or condense your images to help them load faster. To do this, there are a variety of free tools available online—such as Make sure not to overly condense your images to the point of significantly degrading the original image quality and clarity. 

Are You a Private Seller?
If you're a private seller listing your heavy equipment or commercial truck, we created the Private Sellers Guider to Listing Heavy Equipment & Trucks just for you. 

Affordable Heavy Equipment & Semi Truck Marketplace

If you’re looking for an affordable online listing service with high traffic in which to post semi trucks for sale or heavy equipment for sale, you needn’t look any further than your friends at My Little Salesman. Since 1958, My Little Salesman has been connecting sellers just like you with buyers all over the United States—and beyond

One low monthly seller subscription fee includes:

  • Unlimited item listings on My Little Salesman’s highly visible online marketplace

  • Unlimited photos per listing—no resizing or photo condensing necessary

  • Use of our All-In-One Dealer Management System (DMS)

Integrated Dealer Management Solutions

In addition to My Little Salesman’s intuitive sales listing service, dealerships can manage their business from one place—including contact management, inventory management, and the ability to manage every stage of every sale using the All-in-One Dealer Management System (DMS)

Selling your heavy equipment and commercial vehicles couldn’t be much easier. 

Get started selling your heavy equipment and commercial vehicles online with My Little Salesman today.

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About Ken Lane
Ken’s affinity for the heavy equipment industry was fostered as a curious youngster—becoming happily lost on his grandfather’s tractor sales and service lot (his favorite color is still Allis-Chalmers Orange). Since then, he’s perfected the art of turning black coffee into helpful buyer resources and marketing materials for My Little Salesman.
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