This article is an edited excerpt from How to sell a classic or vintage motorbike in Australia.

Good photographs are absolutely critical when selling a classic or vintage motorbike.

“Honestly, the biggest mistake I see in most motorcycle advertisements is in the photos,” says The Bike Shed Times editor, Peter Terlick.

“They are the single most important element of selling your bike – even more important than the words in your advert.

“You want a prospective buyer to look at the photo of your bike and say to himself: ‘Gee, that’s nice. I would like that in my shed.’ For that to happen, you must have a good photo.

“You do not need a professional photographer (you can do it yourself), and you don’t need an expensive camera (you can use your phone) — but you do need to make an effort.”

There are five basic photo rules.

  1. Get your bike out of the shed and find a bland, neutral background. A bare wall or garage door is fine!
  2. Turn your phone on it’s side, to get a horizontal format.
  3. Show us all your bike, including the headlight, with bars straight ahead or slightly towards the camera.
  4. Squat to headlight level for eye-to-eye contact.
  5. Ensure good, even lighting. The best lighting is heavy cloud, ideally early or late in the day. Never shoot towards the sun because the ‘front’ of your bike will be in shadow, nor in the midday sun when your whole bike will be in shadow from the seat and tank. If you are taking photos out in the sun, arrange yourself and your bike so the sun is shining from behind you, illuminating the bike — but make sure you’re not casting a shadow onto the bike.
Your photos should present your bike in a neutral setting with no distractions, and be visually attractive. A photo taken in the shed, generally speaking, doesn’t cut it.
This is also a photographic no-no. The bike should be upright and “facing the camera”, not looking away.
This photo is good. We can see the whole bike, it’s upright and not facing away from the camera, and the photographer is at eye level with the headlight. There are no shadows to speak of, and no major visual distractions. It also shows most of the bike’s features such as the Joe Hunt magneto, aftermarket oil cooler, Mk2 Amal carbs, TLS front brake and external oil filter. Old Triumph aficionados will notice such things!

Two common mistakes

Backlit photos are to be avoided. The entire bike is basically in shadow, with the background more clear than the bike.
Poor lighting, and we can’t see the whole bike. It’s always worth moving your bike to a location where it’s well lit and you can present it in full.


Shooting multiple photos

If your advertisement enables you to use multiple photos, take the opportunity to get in close. Don’t just shoot the bike in varying locations — move right in and get detail pics. The Bike Shed Times‘ advertising options provide a choice of up to ten photos, so use them well. (You can also provide a video, and we’ll host it on our YouTube channel.)

These are the sort of extra pics you should take, in addition to your main picture.


The Postman