A Picture is Worth either A Thousand Words, or Just Two

edited January 30 in Chatter 7 LikesVote Down
The regular readers here know that I'm a customer at hipstamp, not a dealer. I love to look at stamps, and I spend a lot of my time browsing at random. I've learned quite a lot looking at good photos, and reading good descriptions.

Many, many dealers still use their phones to take photos for thier stores, despite all arguments about the benefits of using a scanner. I use a phone myself because my scanner is off in another room on a desk with too little space to work. Although there are limitations, it's very possible to take very good photos of stamps with the camera on a modern phone. So why do so many dealers bugger it up?

The professionals that visit these forums all the time don't need my advice, but I'm certain they would happily tell the rest of you that good images sell stamps. Bad images are a waste of time and effort. Yet I see the same stupid, lazy, careless mistakes over and over and over. I've got money, but no dealer presenting a bad image of what he's trying to sell will ever get any of it.

Let me present a few basic observations about basic phone-camera techniques.

1. Clean the lens. Good Lord, folks, make at least an effort at professionalism. You want to charge 40 bucks and I can't even see it clearly? Clean the dang lens.

2. Use a black background. I don't want to see your tabletop. I don't want to see your lap or your knee (yes, it happens). I want to see the stamp. And don't try to be cute with a blue or yellow or red or whatever background. Stamps just look better with a black background.

3. Stand above the stamp to make your photo. Try to keep the camera level. So many dealers make their images while seated with the stamp in front of them. The camera is at an angle, and it captures the stamp as a trapezoidal shape. Duh! Malta has trapezoidal stamps. Danzig does not have trapezoidal stamps. I will never buy a stamp from Danzig that looks like a trapezoid.

4. Present the stamp RIGHT SIDE UP! Let me get this straight. You have made the effort to open a hipstamp store, linked to a new PayPal account, and your credit card. You have all your supplies, a set of catalogs, stamps to sell, yada yada, you've written up a description, you have ironed out your terms and such but now, making sure your image is right side up is just a bridge too far? I'm outta here...

5. Remove the stamp from any plastic cover. You will almost always need to use flash, and a flash will always produce glare on the plastic, hiding the stamp. If I cannot see it clearly, I'm not going to buy it.

6. And finally, learn how to use the editing tools. EVERY phone has a set of editing tools built into the camera program. Learn how they work. They can help you make a much better image.

Well, I feel a little better now. It's really too bad that no one who needs suggestions like these will ever read through the forums. Ennnh...



  • 50 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Another big one is the photo that is so far out of focus you cant distinguish the design on the stamp.
    Did they really not notice that?
    Did they really think that was acceptable?
  • BRAVO! I have been thinking this for a long time. But I am just an old fart dealer, set in his ways and out of touch with technology, Glad to see a buyer say something - even if it is to to choir.
  • Phil, thanks for taking the time to share your observations with us. I`ve been using the same Cannon flatbed scanner for at least ten years ($100.00) so it`s a very profitable investment. I use 2-sided black backing stock pages, six pockets. They will hold many stamps. One run through the scanner and your`re done. I use Microsoft`s PAINT app.to crop the stamps - no need to leave a 10 mm wide empty space around the stamps. Same app. to resize the stamps to at least 800 pixels to better show the details. However, I save my scans at 1600 pixels. Trusting this and Phil`s comments will be useful to some sellers.

  • edited January 30 2 LikesVote Down
    I could not have said it better myself and long overdue too. Especially from a customer's perspective.

    One thing I would add is for #2. I agree that 99.99% of the items should be scanned or photographed against a black background. There are odd exceptions however, for example, a black stamp (yes there are some out there) I would scan against a white background. And less commonly a stamp whose black cancellation infringes on the perfs making it appear there might be damaged perfs against the black background. See lower left on attached image. I scanned this one on black and it looked like there was a gouge in the stamp when it is just the cancellation.

    Another thing I might add is to provide a scan or photo of the back of the stamp, especially if the item has some value and/or issues on the back that might affect its value. In my case, I typically do not show back scans of minimum value items but would provide it if requested. But pretty much anything over a couple of dollars gets a back scan.

    Otherwise, BRAVO Phil!02a1966f317918d95842ff5f950ca996
  • I have been scanning the front and the backs of all my items for years now and like Greg says I use a black background unless it is like his example above.
  • It appears Ms. Five Pence was quite the heavy smoker
  • edited February 10 0 LikesVote Down

  • edited February 10 0 LikesVote Down
    I, umm, I just don't know what to say. Ah, what. I mean, people actually want me to send money based on images like these....
  • Isn't that the specialty stamp for cylinders?
  • LOL Scott!!!!
    AND try, please try to use spell check ..... ( here come the comma folks)
  • Photos that are clear and precise is how you sell. People who do not do that are lost in a lost world.
  • Careful Mr. Bravo! The great, and vengeful, (and confused) god Apostropheii may strike you down by hurling a bunch of confused commas your way. "It's raining commas!!!! Bring the cats and dogs in!!!!" LOL!!!!!!! Have a good one hombre'!
  • Hahaha, I had all of 1 minute while transiting through Singapore to chime in on that. (In Columbo today). Otherwise my browser will usually catch my autocorrects. :)
  • Hey, Scott. While you're in Sri could you get us some stamps?
  • Current, modern local ones?
  • Sure!
    When I was young, back in the last century, and I learned that any friend was visiting another country, I would always ask for stamps...
  • Tell me where to send them.
  • edited February 11 0 LikesVote Down
    I was only kidding, Scott. I tried using emogee thingies, but they didn't show up.

    Once in high school, a teacher was going to Hawaii over Xmas break. I asked her to get me some stamps while she was there, as a joke. Then I had to explain it was a joke....
  • Well I already got you the 2008 commemorative set. So you might as well send me your address now.
  • Scott! Wow...you are too kind. Thank you, the address will follow shortly.
  • Hi Phil,
    This was sent today from Harrogate, in northern England. Should get to you in a couple weeks I think.

    It was crazy because I walked into the airport in Columbo and they had this kiosk right smack in the middle of the airport:

    SL - 1 Airport Kiosk

    I've been to this airport many times, and it is a recent addition. Quite surprising.

    So I sent it from this post office:

    SL - 3 Harrogate Postoffice

    In North England.
    Post us some photos when they arrive. It's the full set of 2008 commemoratives.
  • VERY COOL and unusual to see something like that these days.
  • edited February 20 0 LikesVote Down
    Scott, again, you are too kind and truly a prince among all these frogs. :blush:
  • edited February 20 0 LikesVote Down
    Phil, don't you have to get kissed by the princess first? I'm still a frog, alas...

    @Rene Bravo when I'm on the run using my mobile phone, all bets are off on spelling...
    Half the time it doesn't even come up with what I've put in. ><

    So please try to keep in mind that spelling doesn't count when on a mobile phone. :)
  • Forgiven you are....( my clumsy big fingers plus autocorrect create the weirdest things sometimes)...
  • Thanks Dr. Bravo. My 3rd grade anxieties are at ease.
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