Automotive Photography


Automotive photography is a popular genre that has many fans and followers.  Both professional and amateur photographers enjoy taking photos of cars – after all, if you have a car you’re proud of, eventually you’re going to take some memorable shots of your beautiful machine. In case you want these shots to be more than just average snapshots, follow our five tips and get some wicked good photos of your car!  

If you put just a bit more thought and efforts into your automotive photography, you’ll be able to create images that totally resemble those you can see in car ads. You can also check out this cool Instagram profile dedicated to car photography for additional inspiration.

Bold Lighting

The choice of lighting for automotive photography depends on what’s available to you. Luckily, you don’t need studio lights to capture memorable shots – just choose the right time of day.

The rule of golden hour matters a lot. The hour after sunrise and the one before sunset offer the best light for almost any photos (including car photography!). Low-angle sunlight adds a special warmth and texture to the image – you will have those cinematic vibes everyone raves about! You can get alluring images once the sun goes down as well – just pay attention to the sky and spectacular colors that tend to appear after the sunset. In this case you might need to use a reflector as there won’t be enough light.

In case you like challenges, you can experiment with backlit car photography. Shooting with the sun in the background is not easy and it requires more post-processing than regular shots. You will have to brighten up the foreground by raising the shadows and lowering the highlights.

Shooting your car at night can be fun too –  all it takes is a few diffused flashes from the side to highlight certain aspects of a car. Just bear in mind that cars are highly reflective and that using a light diffuser is necessary.

Proper Depth Of Field

Your choice of depth of field should depend on the intention of your photograph. Decide what you want to focus on – the entire car or its distinctive features and details.

Using a shallow depth of field (such as f/2.8) adds an artistic feeling to your car images and it is ideal for making various details stand out. It can also help you deal with cluttered backgrounds since it will blur them out.

On the other hand, when you need absolute sharpness and detail from front to back, you need to stop your lens down significantly. For instance, f/8 is usually a good choice of aperture since it can ensure maximum sharpness throughout the image.

Photo by Benjamin Child on Unsplash

Unusual Perspective And Composition

Car photos are often very predictable – no matter how perfect they are from the technical point of view, they can easily look rather boring. You need to surprise the viewer!

An easy trap to fall into is shooting at eye level— this is the view you get while standing in front of the car. Though that’s the most natural starting point, it’s not the most flattering angle for a car. Make sure to go high or go low – you can use a ladder or step-stool for the high angles.

Don’t ignore your car interior! Interiors are important part of the driving experience, but capturing them can be a challenge.You might need to use a different type of lens for shooting interiors. Many photographers use wide-angle lenses for car photography, most commonly a 24-70mm zoom lens. It’s a great lens, but using a telephoto will help you compose your images differently.  For instance, a 70-200mm zoom lens is great for filling the frame, which leads to more unusual, tighter compositions.

automotive photography creative composition perspective
Photo by Zane Lee

Good Choice Of Location

Carefully chosen location can improve your car photography a lot because it provides a certain context and mood.

Even though the car is the focus of your shot, the background can make all the difference in the final image. Make sure that the location suits the type of your car and its color.

If you want to achieve a gritty feel, it can be great to head to the top level of a car park with a view across the city. You can also go to the industrial part of town with abandoned warehouses. If you want a classy bright image, go to the business district of the city with office blocks and modern architecture.

Alternatively, you can capture a classic shot, at the crest of a hill. Make sure to check out various locations – something totally unexpected can be in your nearest neighborhood!

Capturing Unique Features

Some cars have unique features and ornaments that we really admire. You certainly want to pay tribute to these features with proper photographs.

Try to focus on finding novel or surprising ways to shoot these unique features.  Pay attention to interesting hood ornaments, unique wheels or interior materials such as fine leather, suede or velour. You can capture amazing abstract photographs of such features and emphasize the sheer beauty of colors and shapes. You can even experiment with b&w shots especially if you decide to photograph your car in low light – such images can be very classy.

automotive photography car details
Photo by Angus Gray

To learn more about automotive photography, check out the links below.

Further Learning:

  1. How To Photograph Cars For Amazing Shots
  2. The Distinctive Art Of Automotive Photography
  3. 7 Tips For Taking Better Photographs Of Cars
  4. Alternative Automotive Photography: Capturing The Details
  5. How To Make Your Car Photography Look Like This

About Author

Jasenka is a photographer with a background in web design. You can find out more about her on her website, see some of her newest images at 500px or get to know her better here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *