A little before Christmas I voiced my dissent at the major skills shortage that seems to afflict users of eBay and Craigslist, particularly when it comes to taking a descriptive, informative or encouraging photo of what it is that they’re trying to sell. One point I didn’t address in that particular screed, though can no longer be ignored.
It seems that there’s a truly frightening number of people out there who don’t realise that a phone camera can be turned through 90 degrees – further enhancing its ability to record images of wide, low things.
Like, you know, a car.
It’s not actually entirely clear what the vendor is offering in this image. Is the tarmac for sale? The white line? The garage block? Perhaps it’s everything. No, it turns out that our hapless salesman is offering a Renault 11 for our consideration today. That little shiny speck you see in the middle left of the picture.
The rot has well and truly set in. Wherever you look there are people inappropriately using portrait mode in still – and worse, video – images, where they’re broadly incompatible with our two side-by-side eyes, which are so much better at scanning from side to side than up and down. There are those who protest that ‘Why should be bound by convention?’. They also maintain that that vertically oriented images will always display better on certain smartphone applications, and even that certain social media sites actually favour a portrait orientation.
And if you were selling a beanstalk, a skyscraper or a Giraffe, such an image might be of use on eBay. But this format is singularly ill-suited to advertising a car.
The limitations of the vertical format on eBay are often compounded by the photographers reluctance or inability to get the entire subject in frame. Here, for example, we’re tantalisingly deprived of the first few inches of the Renault’s snout. We can see, though, that the street’s tarmacadam dressing is in remarkably good condition for a suburban street in England.
If these images were taken with a camera, deliberately rotating it to take these images in portrait mode would be an act of sheer perversity. More likely they were taken with a ‘phone.
I know that not everybody surfs the very crest of the wave of technology, and that the custodian of a metallic burgundy Renault 11 is, stereotypically, perhaps not as au fait with today’s gizmos as other folk. But, I mean, really.
Had the photographer chosen a landscape format we might be looking, right now, at the entire face of this lovely little Gallic relic, and it’s even more of a shame given the care and effort that the owner took to move it from the street to somewhere more photogenic, all raised beds and hedgerows.
Thing is, though, impertinent photographic critique aside, if somebody is sufficiently hard of thinking to not be able to fit the whole car in the frame where it’s easily achieved, what’s the chances that he might not have looked after his car with the utmost diligence? Generally speaking, If I’m doing something complicated with my car and there’s a risk that I might screw it up catastrophically, I’ll ask advice. If I was selling my Renault 11, and found that I’d utterly failed to take a single image that a buyer might find useful – I’d probably ask for a hand before concluding that 21st century technology really isn’t my thing.
(All images are property of eBay. Seller will remain anonymous, but you can recognise him easily, he’s the very tall man who lives in a narrow house and slices his bread lengthways)