Posting high-quality images of your pawn shop inventory is essential for increasing online sales. Buyers want to see high-quality images of products to help them make their final decision about whether or not they should buy from you.

9 out of 10 pawn shops do not publish high-quality images on their websites or listing pages, which is hurting their business. And with the number of ecommerce sites you have to compete with, not publishing good images is just not an option if you want to be successful in the digital space.

Just imagine how customers examine products in your store. The images that you post online should be of such quality and variety that the customer feels like they are holding and examining your product when they view it online.

93% of consumers consider images essential in purchasing decisions.

According to Bigcommerce, “Product photography is an essential part of both online and offline advertising for successful catalogues, brochures, magazine ads, billboards, online ads and company websites, specifically when selling product direct to consumers… 93% of consumers consider images essential in purchasing decisions.”

All of that to say, we know trying to take good pictures can seem daunting and expensive. It doesn’t have to be. This post will walk you through how to take good photos of your pawn shop inventory on a low budget. You might even have everything you need to take these pictures at your shop right now!

What Makes a Good Photo?

First, what makes a good photo? Good photos are consistent, focused, taken from different angles and make the viewers want to buy what’s photographed.

To achieve this, here are some overall guidelines to use when you are taking inventory photos:

  • Make sure the product is clean before you photograph. Any scratches or blemishes can turn away viewers. Do whatever you can to try to make the product look its very best. This will help it sell!

    You’ll find there is a difference between cleaning the product and trying to hide product issues–which we’ll talk about later.

  • Use a tripod for your camera. You can buy a cheap but good tripod for about $20 on Amazon. They have tripods for all different types of cameras—even smartphones.

    As steady as you think your hands may be, they can still shake, which will blur your product image. Plus, if you’re taking a lot of photos, you won’t want to hold your camera or phone the whole time. Using a tripod ensures the product image will be clear and focused and will enable you to take more pictures.

  • Take shots at different angles. As mentioned before, buyers want to see every side of a product before they buy it online. Think about the customers that come into your store. They turn the product over in their hand and examine it before they buy. Online buyers don’t have that luxury.

    It can be tempting to only post pictures of a product’s good sides, but buyers want to see every side and angle of the product before they buy. If there are blemishes you are trying to hide, your buyers will find them eventually, and if you wait until they have the product shipped to their home, you could be dealing with upset customers who will leave you bad reviews for everyone to see. Clean up the product as best you can but be upfront and transparent about any issues there are. You’ll build loyalty that way.

  • Use a solid, consistent background. The focal point of your image should be the product you want to sell. Use the same solid background for all of your images. White is often the best background because it makes the product the focal point.

    Additionally, if you can set up a permanent mini photo studio for taking product images, that will ensure the background stays consistent. We’ll discuss in the next section how to set this up and you’ll see it doesn’t have to take up a lot of space. If you aren’t able to do this though, you saw how quick it is to set up in our own product photoshoot video.

  • Clear the scene. Wherever you take your product pictures, make sure there aren’t any other objects in the image that could distract from what you’re selling.

    For instance, if you are photographing a watch, only show the one watch you are selling. Don’t take a picture of multiple items—even if you’re selling every item in the picture. It distracts the buyer from the one watch you want them to see.

  • Don’t use a flash. Especially if you are photographing jewelry or watches, a flash will create a glare off your product or blow out the image so it’s hard to really see it.

    We’ll talk about ways to get the best lighting so you won’t need to worry about using the flash on your camera or phone.

  • Consistent Lighting. Consistent lighting is so important. Did you know that apart from wattage, there are color differences in the bulbs you use? The time of day you take your images can also vary the lighting of your image. Try to keep the lighting as consistent as you can. It is one of the most important elements for taking good photos, so take some time to learn about proper lighting.

    Below is a picture from our own product shoot. The original lighting we got with our lights cast an orange tint over the product (see watch left), making it look old and unappealing. We fixed our lighting issue by creating our own scrim—which was just a piece of paper we held in front of our light. What a difference that made (see watch right)! For more information on how we created this effect, see our video above.

    As far as consistent lighting goes, you can do a few different things:

    • Create a scrim to use for consistent lighting like we did
    • Use the same lamp each time you shoot
    • Photograph your product image at the exact time of day (if you are using natural lighting)
  • Use a good camera. This may sound like an expensive piece of this project, but it really doesn’t have to be. Smartphones can take high-quality, professional-looking photos these days, and so many people have smartphones. Did you notice the watch image we shared above? That was taken using my iPhone and no additional editing was done.

    Check your inventory, too. You may have a good camera or smartphone in your shop that you can use for your product shoot!

    You can find a list of recommended cameras listed on Digital Camera HQ. Some of these cameras are pricier, so we would recommend taking a few from this list and 1) search your store for that make and model, 2) check on Amazon or Best Buy since they usually have cheaper prices on the same cameras listed.

    If you aren’t looking to purchase a camera for this project, consider using a smartphone, as we mentioned earlier, to take these photos. Here is a list of the best smartphone cameras you can use. You or one of your employees may already have a smartphone on this list.

How to Take Professional Inventory Photos on a Low Budget

Now that you know the general guidelines for taking product photos yourself, here are some steps and things you’ll need for your product photoshoot.

What You’ll Need for Your DIY Product Photoshoot

  • Construction paper roll ($17.09 on Amazon)—for multiple projects and larger items

    Poster board ($0.99 at the Dollar Tree)—for a few projects and smaller items

    • Check in-store for one or two poster boards or buy online in bulk.
  • Clear plastic container ($15 – $20 at Walmart)

    • You can find these in varying sizes. Check in-store for cheaper prices

    • This is optional. We did not use a tub in our photoshoot and the photos came out fine. This is just another way you can help control your lighting.

  • 2 Adjustable Lamp or Work Lights or Lights with Clamps ($8.50 at Lowes)

  • Clear tape ($0.99 for 2 at Dollar Tree)

Steps for DIY Product Photoshoot

  • Set the Scene

    • Backdrop

      • Use a white or light-colored backdrop. Solid colors are best so they don’t distract from your product. You can use a matte or gloss finish for your backdrop depending on the look you’re going for. We recommend a matte finish.

      • For smaller products, fit your backdrop within a plastic tub. Tape the construction paper roll or poster board inside the plastic tub and slope the paper downward. The tub will help control your light and is a self-built light box. Again, this is an optional step. If you don’t have a tub, we recommend first trying this by taping your backdrop to the wall and seeing what kind of pictures you can get.

      • For larger products, clamp poster board or top of construction paper roll to a chair or some type of raised surface. The idea is to create a slope. The backdrop will need to be wider than your product and allow you room to shoot some different angles of the product.

        • You can also tape the poster board or top of construction paper roll to the wall

    • Place Your Product

      • With a sloped backdrop, position the product toward the back—where the paper meets the table or floor. Make sure you have plenty of white on either side of the product. You won’t want your product hanging off the sides of the backdrop but to be centered in the middle. If the product is too big, consider getting a wider backdrop.

        • As you can see here, we did not have a wide enough backdrop to photograph this guitar properly.

    • Lighting

      • Position lights on either side of the product. The tub will help control the light and will give you a surface to position your scrims (tape a piece of paper on either side of the tub for softer light).

      • If you aren’t using a tub, space out the lights as much as you need to until you get the desired effect. You can also use natural light by a window for larger objects.

    • Camera

      • Position your camera or smartphone on the tripod in front of the product. Zoom into the shot so you only see the product and backdrop and not the surrounding space.

  • Take Photos

    • Get a few different angles of your product. Prioritize getting a straight-on angle of your product and a three-quarter angle, but remember to show all sides of the product, if possible.

      The easiest way to do this is leave the camera and tripod in the same place and move the product.

    • Shoot the photos in such a way that you won’t need to spend time editing and cropping the image, as that takes time—especially when you have a lot of product images to take.

  • Upload Images to Computer

    • Upload your images to your computer and edit if necessary. When adding your product images to your site or another listing site, be descriptive with your product image titles. Think of how customers will be searching for that product and use those keywords. This will help your product get found by those looking to buy.

  • Editing (Optional)

    • The idea is to position your products and take your photos in such a way that you don’t need to edit the images, but if you do, there are a lot of helpful tools and tips you can find online.

    • Consider using one of these editing tools to help you edit your product images.

      • Whatever tool you use, search for some “how-to” videos to help you use that software. You can do this by searching: “product editing tips in [insert photo editor software name]” in Google’s search engine to find instructive blogs or videos.


Follow the tips and tricks we’ve listed here and you will be way ahead of the curve in the pawn shop industry. It may take time to take these images and repost them online, but it will be well worth the effort. Posting poor product images just isn’t an option anymore.

Here are some of the product photos we got from our product shoot using a couple of work lights, some poster board and my iPhone:

Ruger LC9s Pro

Luminox, Series 800, Silver Wristwatch

Gold Owl Necklace