Online Selling Tips: Not Just Any Photo Will Do

Sept. 17, 2009

If you were shopping for a 3' equitation horse or hunter, which horse would you call about based on the pictures?

Ok, ok... you can probably tell that's a trick question. It's the same horse, but the photos illustrate the importance of selecting good photos for your online ad. If I were looking for a 3' eq horse and hunter, I'd call on "D". The horse looks clean, shiny and sharp with her knees. Even though photo C is a show photo, it's not really flattering, with her twisting her chest and knees over the fence as if she'd just chipped out of a terrible distance. Photo A is a schooling photo from a lesson, and not very eye catching, while Photo B is over a tiny fence that she's stepping over, even though she looks perfectly attractive.

So this example brings us to another of our Online Selling Tips: PHOTOS = VERY IMPORTANT!!

NOT JUST ANY PHOTO WILL DO when trying to sell your horses online. Riding and showing is a visually-intensive sport. We evaluate a horse not only on whether it clears a fence, but whether it does so in 'good form.'

Your photo is a buyer's first impression of the horse. In an instant the photo has to sell all your horse's good traits, as the buyer is scanning the search results pages. That little thumbnail image is the first step in hooking a potential buyer, so make sure it's good. Here are our tips on selecting good photos to accompany your ads:

• First off: no picture, no sale. We sampled the page views for a group of comparable large ponies listed during a one month time period. The ponies with photos were viewed more than twice as much as the ponies with no photos, despite being similar in capabilities and experience. Any photo is better than none.

• Get a good jumping photo (or conformation shot if the animal isn't backed/jumping yet). Try to get the magic "knee" shot, with both knees up and together at the midpoint of flight over the fence. Many buyers like to view a conformation shot, and the ideal shot would have the horse bridled, clean, and posed in a background that is not distracting on a sunny day.

• A professional or high quality amateur photograph from a horse show is best. DO NOT steal proofs from professional photographers online. Buy the photos and get permission to use them from the photographer.

• If you decide to photograph your horse at home, remember to present the horse as if you would at a show, meticulously groomed, and tack clean (avoid bright, distracting tack bling, polos/boots or saddle pads). The rider should also be well dressed, in boots, breeches and a polo shirt. You want the buyer to focus on the horse, not on the rider's hot pink hat cover and matching saddle pad.

• Select a nice jump to photograph, similar to what you might see in the show ring in terms of condition, not chipped up and worn out. Be aware of distractions in the background: like other horses, people by the ring, farm buildings/equipment, etc. For conformation shots, much of the same applies: pick a nice level place with few distractions. And lastly, shoot on a sunny day! Make sure you're positioned to capture the 'sunny-side' of the horse.

• As you're preparing to submit your ad for your online advertisement, we do recommend color-correcting and cropping your image in photoshop, or another editing program. Make sure the colors and lighting are bright and even, and crop out everything but the horse and the jump.

• Leave any editing at that. Don't be digitally dishonest by Photoshopping your 2'6" hunter into a working hunter. Bigeq does not condone photoshopping of jump heights or other dishonest practices, and we ban it on