Car Photography Tips
Like all photography, taking great shots of cars isn’t as simple as pointing and clicking. There are a number of elements to consider if you’re looking to capture the vehicle’s true essence and nuance. We’ve put together these tips as a brief guide for taking compelling car photos.
Choose and Maintain Your Subject Wisely
While you might love that old Ford Taurus, it probably won’t be as interesting to shoot as a car with a little more personality. Choose a bastion of elegant modern design like a Tesla or a Maserati, go old school with a classic car, or choose a car with a new story, like a hybrid. The shot will be more compelling when the car has sharp, clean lines, unfamiliar details or is a part of a bigger narrative. And of course, before you start the shoot, make sure to clean it to perfection, from those crumbs in the cup holder to that dirt caked into the wheels. Danny Fayad, from GoAuto, always recommends detailing the car before a shoot. A good wax can take care of paint streaks that then to pop out in especially black vehicles.
Location, Location, Location
Whether it’s real estate or photography, location is everything. There are a number of routes you can go with this. You can stay true to the car’s context, shooting a race car on a track or a beaten up pick-up in a field next to a dilapidated barn. Or, you could turn expectations upside down and shoot a Lexus at a power plant to contrast rust with shine. Even better, set the car some place no car would normally be, like in the middle of an abandoned warehouse. Natural settings can also be quite striking. Defy nature by shooting a Jeep on top of a mountain or drive a luxury vehicle into the desert so it looks both rugged and pristine. Whatever you do, the location should enhance the mood and tone, not distract from it.
That gleam you’re working so hard to capture can also be your worst enemy. For the best light and least glare, shoot in those golden hours near sunrise or sunset and lengthen your exposure. Make sure you bring your tripod to keep the shot steady, and consider purchasing a polarization filter to further minimize any reflections. If you’ll be working in a studio, set up lights to highlight certain features and test out what you’ve done with a few shots first.
Have Fun with Angles, Focus and Zoom
Both luxury cars and rundown pickups provide plenty of opportunity for compelling detail shots. Zoom in close on that gleaming hood ornament, or focus on an interesting pattern of dents or rust. For more abstract photos, highlight grilles or paintwork. You can also use these techniques to create interesting perspective photos. For instance, if you shoot down the side of a blurred pickup to highlight a field of corn, you’ll have an interesting story about what a farmer sees when he or she heads out to work every morning. Car photography is a form of storytelling. Choose the angles, light, location and features that tell the story you’re looking to tell. And most importantly of all, have fun with it!
Stock Images appear courtesy of Shutterstock photographers, Max Earey/Shutterstock.com and denirofoto/Shutterstock.com