Tips to create better listing photos

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it could also be worth a lot of money if it makes buyers click on your listing.

By: HeliTraderPosted on: July 26, 2022

“Things have really evolved in how we buy helicopters,” said Mike Reyno, owner and publisher of Vertical and professional aviation photographer. “People are looking in many different places. It’s not like the old days where people are looking just for the facts. Now, high-net-worth individuals are looking to buy their own aircraft; they’re used to buying luxury cars, homes, and yachts with eye-catching images. Helicopters, which can cost as much as those items, should be presented in the same way.”

Getting good images that capture a buyer’s attention is quite simple. It just takes a little time and attention to detail. Here are a few tips to get you well on your way to click-worthy photos.

Thoroughly clean the aircraft
Give the helicopter a good wash and polish. Clean the fixtures, carpets, and all interior panels. Wipe down the instrument panel, clean the upholstery and remove all stains, and ensure there are no smudges on the windows.

In addition to ensuring the helicopter is spick and span, also clear away any distracting clutter.

“A messy photo does a real disservice to the aircraft,” said Jamie Chalkley, joint managing director of Eastern Atlantic Helicopters. “Leaving seatbelts undone, headsets hanging down, random things on the floor, all of this shows a lack of attention to detail. Cleaning up the aircraft before photos promotes confidence in the helicopter to the buyer.”

Pay attention to the background
Just as a messy helicopter can leave a bad impression, the same goes for the background. Ideally, you want a clean, plain background that contrasts with your aircraft’s colors, making the aircraft stand out. Avoid shooting a white helicopter in front of white hangar doors, for instance.

“Sometimes you can’t move the aircraft,” said Vertical’s Reyno. “In those cases, clean up the background. If you’re in a hangar, remove the clutter or organize it so potential buyers’ eyes aren’t drawn to the clutter, but instead to the aircraft.”

Find a background that makes the the helicopter the focus of the photo. Savback Photo.
Find a background that makes the the helicopter the focus of the photo. Savback Photo.

Get all the angles
Buyers want to see all aspects of the aircraft. In addition to capturing the outside of the helicopter, a good set of marketing images should also include closeups of the instrument panel, inside the engine cowling, the storage space, and pilot and passenger seating areas.

“A confident seller will have a large number of photographs covering every aspect of the helicopter,” said Chalkley. “There are wide shots, closeups, and photographs from every angle. It shows you have nothing to hide and have strong confidence in the aircraft.”

Showcase the aircraft’s differentiators

Chances are high that your aircraft is not the only one of its make and model for sale. There could be several on the market at once. Photos focusing on your aircraft’s unique selling features are the fastest and clearest way to make it stand out from the competition.

If your aircraft has a particular STC, updated avionics, unique accessories, desirable upgrades and the like, dedicate an image to each of these items, suggests Reyno. Potential buyers are more likely to cruise through the photos before reading the specifications. Seeing unique features will encourage them to dig deeper.

Ensure proper lighting

Every single photo should have good lighting with very little contrast between light and shadow, noted Reyno. This is so much easier to do today thanks to digital photography and even the latest smartphones.

“Today’s smartphones are phenomenal,” he added. “Get familiar with how to adjust the settings in an image on your phone, and you really don’t need a lot of extra skills to get a well-lit image.”

You can avoid harsh shadows by shooting images on cloudy days or out of direct sunlight. Also avoid back light, where the source of light is behind the aircraft. Photography editing software can also help you to adjust contrast and shadow after the fact, as well as brighten colors, crop images, and remove distracting background items, said Reyno.

Back lit photo. Mike Reyno Photo
Back lit photo. Mike Reyno Photo
Properly lit photo. Mike Reyno Photo
Properly lit photo. Mike Reyno Photo

Shoot horizontal and vertical images

With all the social media and online marketing forums available today, having a variety of images in both vertical and horizontal orientations helps sellers better promote their aircraft across the various platforms.

For instance, Instagram works best with vertical images, while horizontal images are better suited for Facebook. By shooting all the images in both orientations, sellers can increase their aircraft marketing options.

Include video

Nothing captures the full feel of the aircraft like a walkaround video. Whether done with commentary or not, a video puts the buyer there with the helicopter.

Reyno suggests starting off by fully walking around the aircraft, then getting in close to look at the instrument panel, flight deck, passenger/utility area, storage, engine, and any special features.

Savvy sellers brand their videos and share them on social media in addition to marketing sites, drawing in more potential buyers with the power of video.

Illustrate the helicopter’s mission

If possible, include an image of the helicopter in its environment. If it’s a corporate aircraft, perhaps shoot it on a corporate helipad. If it’s luxury, VIP, or personal use, perhaps capture it in an eye-catching off-airport locale. If it’s utility, use an image of it on the job.

“Another thing you can illustrate in listings is the helicopter’s potential,” added Reyno. “It may be a utility helicopter, but a buyer may be looking at it for EMS, for instance. If you have images of its past configurations showing its potential, share those, too.”

Show your helicopter at work or what makes owning it so enjoyable.
Show your helicopter at work or what makes owning it so enjoyable. Lloyd Horgan Photo

Mistakes to avoid

Finally, avoid these common mistakes that can erode confidence in both the seller and aircraft:
Dark and over exposed photos
Crooked photos
Fuzzy photos
People in the image

A great listing is made up of more than just images. How to create an enticing helicopter listing provides a great overview and checklist for sellers looking to give their listing its best chance.