Car photography: Tips and Tricks

December 21

17 min. to read

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People who haven't dealt with this before have no idea how difficult it is to do cool car photography. Like other cases, there are certain secrets. It doesn't matter what kind of camera you have in your hands. If you want to get started with really amazing pictures, you have to think and act like a professional.

How to take good car photos? If many people think that this is not necessary, we want to tell you that they are wrong. Being able to photograph an auto beautifully and well can be useful to many drivers in the future, for example, when selling your car. Also, such photoshoots are very necessary for some specialized publishers and magazines.

In practice, it is found that a large number of photographers are not able to make beautiful photography vehicles. But fortunately for many, comprehending this genre is not so difficult. It is just necessary to initially follow some specific recommendations. Today we decided to collect for you the basic tips so that you can make successful high-quality and beautiful photos of automobiles. And we would also like to say that this ability properly can be useful to many people for other occasions in life. So, how to take pictures of cars?

Getting prepared for the upcoming photoshoot of the car

Do you want to take dramatic pictures of the amazing exotic cars you find in dealerships? Or perhaps you want to take great shots of your gorgeous auto? Either way, taking these photos isn't always easy, but if you follow a few simple rules, you can quickly improve your auto photography. You don't need expensive equipment to start taking pictures, all you need is a camera, a vehicle, and a passion for photos. Of course, it is important to prepare properly.

Packing our gear

If you want professional-looking results, it's better to shoot with a DSLR. Here we'll give you a few recommendations right away:

  • It is wise to buy a wide-angle lens for professional car photography, it will help you capture a brilliant car surrounded by scenery. A macro lens will be necessary if you want to capture details such as wheels, badges, or interior elements.

  • Remember that a wide-angle lens curves straight lines outward and enhances perspective. If you take a close-up car shoot with such a lens, the body will look spherical, the near edge will be enlarged and the far edge will be hidden and reduced.

  • A lens with a narrow-angle bends straight lines to the center and flattens the image, visually bringing the far and foreground closer together. Strong distortions make it difficult to assess the scale, proportions, and shape of the car.

  • When choosing your camera settings, make sure you shoot in RAW. This will give you more options when eliminating glare or detailing shaded objects, which can be crucial. For car photography at night you need to adjust the properly ISO.

  • A tripod is a good idea because it will help immobilize your camera, allowing you to set longer shutter speeds that will get more light when shooting in low-light conditions.

If you are shooting your car, make sure it is as clean as possible before you leave the house. It will of course get dirty on the way to your photo shoot, so make sure you bring a roll of cleaning cloths and some kind of detergent sprayer to wipe away any marks and streaks. Don't forget that you need to get rid of the dust on the windshield.

The right camera angles

If you're shooting an automobile on location, you'll be able to move around it to find the best angle. Many photographers place their camera low, almost flush against the vehicle to give it an imposing, dramatic look. Shooting toward the front corner of the auto is already an established standard for car photoshoots. Not only does this angle show most of the automobile in one shot. Сonsider that this picture clearly shows: the front grille, side panels, and hood of the car, but it has the added advantage of hiding your reflection.

Shooting the vehicle from the side will capture more elements on the side panel, but the side of the car turns into a large mirror that will likely reflect you as well. Of course, you can edit this shot, but it will be easier if you just don't imprint yourself in the vehicle photography.

You should position the vehicle so that the best part of the chosen background is behind it, and if you can use the auto to hide any distracting elements like road signs it will be even better. When you have the vehicle parked, try to turn the steering wheel completely away from the intended location of the camera, this will open up the wheels of the car to the camera, giving a more dramatic pose.

Top tips for a stunning picture of any car

Now we will suggest you some car photo shoot ideas. It may come as a surprise to some, but it is much harder to shoot a stationary car than a moving one. The picture has to be clear and of high quality, as if the auto is just from the showcase. You have to think about the lighting, choose the right angle, and adjust the background. The picture should be full of ideas and emotions. You can't just randomly click a couple of shots. If you have no idea how to take pictures with your car, the following tips will help.

1. Choosing a location

If you have the opportunity to shoot in different areas, think carefully about which locations fit the style of the car. You need to know the specifics of the auto to get a great shot at the right location. For example, a Bentley will also look good against a natural backdrop. Any country is full of beautiful landscapes that are perfect for this driving style, just as long as there are suitable roads there. Sometimes you get amazing pictures even in the parking lot.

2. Don't forget the details

It's tempting to spend all your allotted time photographing the entire auto from many different angles, but don't forget to get closer to show some of the key details of the exterior. First, take a picture of the interior. Look for hand-finished elements on the seats or steering wheel, interesting shift knobs, real wood paneling, or anything that makes the auto special. These are some of the best car picture ideas for beginners in this business.

Look around the outside and pay attention to details, maybe some nice-looking double vent vents are just begging for a close-up. If it's a top-of-the-line auto, there might even be a badge there that will tell you more than a photo of the engine itself under the hood. Some automakers' badges speak volumes.

3. Correctly capture the movement

To properly capture motion, use slower shutter speeds, below 1/180th of a second. This is one of the camera settings for car photography. Set the camera to continuous shooting mode so that you can take many shots since with the car moving fast, we hope the probability increases that at least one of the shots you take will come out properly. This way you can even create a beautiful motion blur.

Before the car pulls up to the scene, find a comfortable spot where you can turn around to follow the camera behind the passing car. We also recommend using manual focus by setting your focus point in advance on the stretch of road where you expect the car to pass. If your camera's autofocus is not very fast, the car may pass by before the camera has time to react and take some photos.

4. Choose the right time of day to take pictures

When you have decided on the location and position and made sure you have the sun behind you, don't rush to shoot the car in the bright sun, unless you specifically want to create some effect with sunlight for some of the car photography ideas.

It's better to shoot the car in diffused light, that is, not at noon. Try shooting in the afternoon or at sunrise, and then you can shoot for a few hours with good light. With shooting at the right time you will avoid the harsh shadows that appear at noon when the sun is high. You can also use a lens hood. Of course, car night photography looks very spectacular, but you have to play with the camera settings, which can be difficult for beginners.

5. Try a polarizing filter

A good filter will eliminate or greatly attenuate any reflections from the body or glass, if the windows are not dark tinted, you will be able to see the interior of the car when using this filter. You will have much fewer problems with reflections of objects surrounding the car. They can give ugly reflections in photos with cars, especially trees. 

By installing a polarizing filter, you will get rid of these reflections, so it's also worth trying. If, on the contrary, you want to shoot the car shiny and create a mirror effect, you can leave the filter at home, then you will be able to fix any incredible reflections. But we advise you to use this filter anytime there is the sun.

6. Auto interior for car photo ideas

Note that there are many interesting details in the interior of the auto, which can also be photographed. When taking pictures of the interior, make sure there is enough light, especially when you decide to take such pictures in the afternoon. The most common mistake when taking this type of shot is a lack of ambient light.

Never shoot the auto interior of a car if you don't have enough light and when you can't make additional lighting. What needs to be filmed in the cabin for professional car photos? The steering wheel, of course, focuses on the logo of the brand and the dashboard. You can also take pictures of the seats, as well as the upholstery of the doors themselves.

7. Learn from others

Look at your favorite car magazines often if you don't know how to photograph a car. As you look at the illustrations, analyze and think about how they took that picture. With experience comes the ability to see the image in your mind before you even take the picture, this can be a very useful skill. There may be problems with visualization on first shoots, but still, try to visualize in detail what your future picture will look like and try to do it in practice. Try your best!

Improve your photos with Luminar Neo

Of course, the creative process stops as soon as you try tips for car photography and press the shutter button on your camera. There is a lot you can do for your photo afterward to make it stand out. We recommend using Luminar Neo to edit your photos, which gives you really easy control over the highlights and shadows in your automobile photography.

There is no right or wrong way to do editing, just get creative. If time permits, play around with different things to see what interesting effects you can achieve. Just like when deciding on a shooting location, think carefully about the style of the car when you're editing.

Final thoughts

Now you know how to take car pictures. As with most of the art of photography, practice is the surest way to improve. The more shots you take under different conditions, the more you learn about how different lighting conditions change the look of the car. With each shot, you learn something new that you can use to make the next one even better and more impressive. 

Practice more on taking pictures in motion with a panoramic background, and experiment with different effects in the photo editor to see how each adjustment slider changes the mood of your shot. Don't forget to use our car photography tips!


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