How to Take the Best Photos of Your Boat for Sale

The Gist:

When taking pics, be sure to have a minimum of six horizontally shot photos: full side shot, front, back, deck, interior, and cockpit/console. Be sure your boat is in pristine condition, inside and out, and uncluttered with personal effects. Walk buyers through a logical tour of the boat when you order the photos. Shoot in high resolution, using natural light, and be sure they’re cropped and edited, even if you have to hire a pro to do it. A few hundred dollars here is a drop in the bucket compared to the value of your boat—be sure you get top price when you sell it.

By the time you’re ready to snapshots of your perfect boat listing, it should be patched, waxed, scrubbed, shined, tucked, and dusted: in other words, you should already have repaired, updated, and cleaned your boat up, (honestly, by now it might be in best shape than you’ve ever seen it). Only now should you get ready to shoot photos of your boat. Here are some quick tips to be sure your listing stands out from the rest. Showcase how well-maintained it is! Leave no as few questions as possible for the in-person visit. Set the mood for what life will be aboard. Putting the effort in here will greatly reduce the time from listing to sale, and will help you sell it for the highest possible price.

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Shoot your photos in landscape (horizontal) format

This is the best way to showcase your boat in its full glory for your boat listing on BoatsForSale.

If you’re using your phone, please rotate it 90 degrees and see how much more you can capture, and imagine that shot in its full view like the ones below in this article. The same goes for videos. Don’t be tempted to shoot vertical photos to capture casting platforms or masts or flags. Use several photos to do the job, or shoot from further away for consistency, quality, and optimal visibility of your listing.

Choose a main “hero” image that captures the essence of time aboard

This is the image that will accompany your listing in search results, and it’s the first image a potential buyer will see.

Make it a good one and they’ll click through to learn all the details. And please shoot it in a setting that will help the buyer envision themselves enjoying. No one wants to imagine themselves sitting behind the wheel while it’s on a trailer, getting eaten by mosquitos in your boat storage yard. It’s worth shooting the boat while it’s in the water, in motion, even, from the viewpoint of a passing vessel, or tied up at the dock at sunset. Evoke the “boat life” vibes and you’ll drive all the traffic to your listing.

Example of professionally shot boat listing hero image taken at dusk
The setting of the photo can help it stand out because it provides a setting the buyer where can imagine themselves.

Shoot images with ideal resolution

Be sure you’re shooting photos that offer enough detail for the buyers to zoom in and look around in detail.

Blurry, bitmapped imagery suggests you don’t care that much (about photos, or maybe even about your boat). Ultimately, though, it simply prevents a buyer from getting a true view. Even if you’re not a photo pro, most smartphones from the past few years shoot high enough resolution to capture beautiful photos, and you can often edit them right on your device. Setting this resolution can be found in your camera or phone’s settings easily enough. They’ll need to be in .png or.jpg format, too, which should be standard if you shoot them on your phone. Our site limits photo uploads to 1MB each, so that’s a great size to aim for per photo.

Walk buyers through a tour of your boat

When you shoot, select, and order your photos in your listing, arrange them as closely to an in-person tour as you can.

A good rule of thumb is at least six images: full side view, front view, back view, main view of the deck, and a closeup of the cockpit. The last thing buyers want to do is solve a puzzle about what goes where. A video walkthrough is always ideal, but photos can mimic this if done correctly. Begin with zoomed-out, comprehensive external shots of the boat. Then, for each area of focus, show a zoomed-out image, and then zoom in on a few details. “Walk” them through each stateroom, for example, first with a holistic shot, then some details of each stateroom. While you’re often working with tight spaces, this method paints the most accurate picture for a buyer. On that note, depending on your lenses or smartphone tech, you may have a wide-angle lens available (18 mm for those with changeable lenses). While this can be super-helpful to capture a wider view in a boat’s tight spaces, be sure to back it up with standard lens shots. The fish-eye distortion of a wide-angle lens always makes a space look much larger than it is, and despite all the handy measurements you’re providing in your listing, you don’t want your buyers to be set up for disappointment when they see how big your deck actually is.

Shoot with good light

This might mean spending first light on a Saturday morning on a photoshoot rather than casting for freshies, but it’ll essential to have good lighting, especially if you’re leaning on a smartphone or consumer digital camera.

Shoot in daylight because natural light is the best for photography and because this is most likely when people will be on board. Perfection = sunny day for the outside images and cloudy for the interior ones, so there’s no glare. Ideally, the shots have both back and front lighting. This can be assisted with a flash or a lighting kit, and a kid or two to photo-assist. And for that hero image we talked about earlier, and the main exterior shots? May we suggest “golden hour”—you know when this is— just before dusk, when everything gets a warm glow but the light is still right to capture detail. Cruise by your friends who’ve got a camera onboard and let them capture your beauty in prime time (but try to stay out of the photo, okay, no one wants to see themselves on YOUR boat). And anyone who captures an overhead shot from a drone flying above gets a gold star from us—that’s just baller.

Aerial photo of Pursuit motor boat running in open water taken during golden hour lighting
Ahh, golden hour. Best spent reclined with the late afternoon sun on the skin—or staging the most important photo shoot of your boat’s life.

Edit your images

While it takes time to do this, we promise it is worth it.

The more effort you put in, the higher sale price you get out of it. Editing can be done with software if you’re skilled at that sort of thing, with an app on your smartphone, and often within the camera smartphone app itself. If you’re feeling stressed at this, we’re sure you’ve got a more photo-savvy family member to assist, right? At absolute minimum, be sure to rotate your images so they are right side up—for she is a seaworthy vessel, deserved of the respect of decent imagery. Be sure the lighting and color matches from shot to shot in your edited images, too.

For the Win

Hire a photographer to take your boat photos!

Professional photos make your listing stand out so it’ll get more hits, and good photos are also linked to a higher sale price. A quick online search or online wanted ad will likely yield quick and ample replies from a photographer excited to capture your boat in the best light possible. For anything ranging from a free lunch to a few hundred dollars, we promise it will be worth it.