Advanced Techniques for Photographing Vintage Guitars

 Vintage guitars are rare and beautiful instruments. How do you really capture those qualities in your photographs? We’ve put together a list of advanced photography tips for you. If you’re wanting something a little more basic then read our Vintage Guitars: Ten Basic Photography Tips.

1. Use a tripod-hand held photos of vintage guitars tend to be blurry. Using a tripod also allows you to step away from the camera to rearrange the scene for a better composition.
2. Don’t use a shallow depth of field- using that 50mm lens may seem like a good idea but it could distort the image of your guitar and make parts that are only inches away from the camera appear out of focus.
3. Don’t use on-camera flash-camera flashes are a bad idea because of the way they play off the high gloss finish that most guitars have. Use diffused light from an off-camera light source or take pictures outside early or late in the day. This will make it easier to show the condition, color and texture of your vintage guitar. A plain and neutral background also helps your presentation.
4. Use the macro setting- chances are that even your point and shoot camera has this setting and it’s great for close-ups. On most digital cameras it’s a tulip icon on the dial. This setting along with a tripod will help you to get the tack sharp detail shots that collectors want to see.
5. Find the light- this is a great tip if you want to take artistic photos. Orient the guitar so that the sun highlights half of the carve and casts shadows on the other half for a more dramatic effect. Don’t get too fancy though; remember that you’re selling the guitar in the photo and not the photo itself.
6. High resolution images-use the highest resolution your camera offers. The last thing you want is to end up with grainy pictures. With today’s photo compression software you can quickly and easily compress your high resolution photos so they will load quickly.
7. Close-ups of damage or repairs- always show close-ups of any damage to the rare guitar so buyers won’t be surprised when they see it. Time saving tip: you can crop large resolution photos to focus on small details. So rather than taking two pictures, just crop one to show only the details.
8. No Photoshop magic- doctoring or altering your photos is a huge waste of time and most vintage guitar buyers will be able to tell that you have made changes and assume that you are misrepresenting your item. If your photo isn’t good enough, it’s usually faster just to take another one.
9. Think like the buyer-ask yourself what the buyer is looking for, and take your photos to show those points. If your guitar is rare and collectible and it’s unique features and condition affect its value, you should use an index item for visual reference. An index item could be a coin to show the size of a blemish, ruler to show distances, or even a post it note to show color. This is a good practice to show the size and detail of things despite your picture quality. Here are the 8 pictures that I want.
10. Take multiple shots-with digital photography you can fill up an 8 GB memory card in one shoot and not have to worry about the cost of processing. Take multiple shots of each guitar from different angles and try different lighting arrangements. Upload your images to your computer and then chose the best one’s to keep. Save different sizes and resolutions of the image so that they’re optimized for print or the web.

As the founder of Gary’s Classic Guitars I’ve been collecting, playing, and dealing in fine vintage guitars, and rare vintage guitars for over 35 years and have reviewed literally thousands of seller’s photographs. Following these advanced tips for photographing beautiful rare guitars will help you impress savvy buyers and fetch you top dollar for your classic instrument. If you have a vintage guitar for sale then I may be interested, check out our list of wanted vintage guitars. Call or email me.