Automotive photography


To be able to photograph cars beautifully and with high quality can be useful to many in the future, for example, during the same sale of your car or taking a photo to order. You can post your works by publishing your photos in the portfolio.

In practice, it has been found that a large number of car owners do not know how to make beautiful portrait photography of their cars. But fortunately for many, learning to photograph cars beautifully is not so difficult. You just need to initially follow some specific recommendations.

Often, people take pictures of cars for sale, and if they do not know how to do this, they ask professional photographers. Photos of a car for sale need to be given special attention, because this is what the buyer sees first of all, before reading the description. We will tell you how to take such pictures so that your car will surely arouse interest.

Today we have decided to put together the basic photography tips for you, so that you can make yourself successful high-quality and beautiful photos of your own and not only cars. And I would also like to say that the ability to correctly photograph cars can be useful to many for other occasions in life.

Essential elements of automotive photography

We have prepared some tips that you should follow in order to get good photos:

1) Location of the car on the groundLocation of the car on the ground
To take a beautiful photo of a car, it is necessary that this car in the frame is exactly the center of attention, regardless of the background and weather on the street.
2) Natural setting

Natural setting

If you want your car in car photography to get a clean and vivid image, then take pictures of the car in the business district of the city, i.e. against the backdrop of business centers and beautiful modern office buildings. But, if you want to get a picture of a classic look, then photograph a car in nature, placing it on a hill with an open landscape horizon. Especially beautiful photographs are obtained during sunset. For this, the background of the car must have a western horizon.

4) LightingLighting
The next step for a successful automotive photography is lighting. It is an essential element of any photograph. It is advisable to use natural daylight by choosing daytime for shooting, if of course it is possible.

5) Corners


You need to decide what angle you want to shoot. It is definitely worth starting shooting at your eye level. But it is also worth taking a small series of pictures with different angles and foreshortening in order to choose the best photos for yourself in the future. When shooting the car from the corner, pay attention to the objects in the background. Try to make automotive photography so that there are no foreign objects on it, such as trees or electrical wires, which will distract a person's attention from the car.

6) External parts

External parts

After you have taken photos of the car in full size, you can  start photographing certain details of this object (car). Upon closer examination, you will further notice that you can take several pictures and close-ups, which, for example, emphasize the smooth lines of the car body itself or, say, the same logo. Again, friends do not forget that you can also photograph them from a certain angle.

7) The rule of thirds is one of the main photography tips

The rule of thirds is one of the main photography tips

This is the main rule for building a composition (the rule of thirds), which is based on the "golden ratio". Before shooting, you should divide your future picture in the frame, as it were, into three equal parts horizontally and vertically.

According to the shooting rule, the object you want to focus on should be located on these intersection lines, which, in principle, will create the very impression of emphasizing more tension, as well as energy and greater interest in the entire composition.

Equipment for shooting automotive photography

Equipment for shooting automotive photography

What equipment do you need when taking automotive photos? 
If you are limited in shooting space, it is better to use a wide-angle (17-55mm). You will also be close to the subject (if you work in a crowded place - this is especially important, because you will be able to control the process of getting unwanted elements into the frame;

It will come in handy if you need long exposures. With a tripod, it is easier to achieve high-quality pictures. A tripod is also irreplaceable for panoramic shooting. If you decide to fit the car into a beautiful landscape, then you cannot do without a tripod. Using a tripod, you can achieve a high dynamic range effect. A tripod will help with framing and framing images.

External Flash
This is a completely optional element for automotive photography, especially if you are just starting out with car photography. But such a flash can significantly expand the shooting capabilities.

A special attachment for the light source, for soft lighting, without glare and harsh shadows). Softness is achieved due to the presence of a scattering surface (or two) of a significant area and the desired geometry of the reflective surfaces on the side. The softbox successfully eliminates glare and also prevents loss of light flux.

Photography tips: You will also need a reflector when shooting in natural light. A polarizing filter will also be useful (it emphasizes important details and removes unnecessary ones). It also allows you to eliminate or minimize any reflections.

What should you do before shooting an automotive photography?

Before you start shooting, you need to evaluate the technical conditions and the object itself.


Tip 1 

Choose the right time for shooting

There are great apps like Sun Seeker or Lumos that show you exactly when and where the sun rises and sets. At dawn or dusk, the light is more beautiful and softer, it emphasizes the car's relief and creates spectacular reflections on the surfaces of the body parts. Bright sunlight is the main enemy when photographing a car. In the midday sun, the car will look dim and the shadows will be too harsh. It is best to shoot half an hour after sunrise or, conversely, an hour before sunset. Then the body color will look more advantageous.

Tip 2

Look at the picture as a whole

Secretly, the best shots are those that look great as labels or thumbnails, and they should be eye-catching even at very small sizes. Break the big picture into simple shapes. Try to squint, sometimes it helps a lot. Look for dramatic spots with strong directional accents that guide the eye through the image and enhance the overall impression.

Tip 3

Find the best angle for car photography

First, do not use the zoom function. Instead of standing in one place and zooming in on the image, drive around the car and try to find the angle and distance you want. Even a subtle movement can highlight the lines of the body in a different way and completely change the visual perception of the future shot. The "Rule of Thirds" is a well-known technique, but it is with its help that you can significantly improve the image. The human eye perceives images better where key elements are placed at the intersection of imaginary lines. This must be taken into account when placing the main elements of a future photograph in the frame.


Tip 4

Perfect weather is not always ideal for shooting portrait photography cars

The clear blue skies are beautiful, the bright sun warms the body and soul, but they can turn a photo into a rather boring picture. Rain, frost and fog can suddenly unload a tense scene, adding depth, simplicity, and ambience. Shooting in rain and drizzle can provide a winning framing by focusing on the vehicle itself. And the water droplets on the hood look great too!

Tip 5

Take a photo of car on the level of its headlights

When you take portrait photography of a person, the best angle is usually at eye level. When you do automotive photography, their eyes are headlights.

  • The front wheels should be aligned or facing away from the camera to show off the rims and add sportiness to the image.
  • Better not to show the tires of the car.
  • Do not turn on the head lighting; elegant front side marker lights (parking lights) or LED daytime running lights look much better in the photo.
  • On the other hand, it is better to photograph a car from behind with the headlights on, then the pictures look more advantageous.
  • Placing elements such as roads or bridges in the frame adds a sense of dynamism to the image.

A few more photography tips on automotive photography

A few more photography tips on automotive photography

In order to take good pictures, you need to know all about it:

1. Shoot not from one but from several angles
Photography tips: Take pictures of the car from all angles that your imagination can tell you. In this case, it is imperative to remove it from the front, side, back and then from all four corners. When selling a pickup truck, do not be too lazy to climb the dais and acquaint buyers with the look of its body. Take pictures of the engine only in its pure form and only when there is something unique in its design.

2. Take a test photo
With modern digital technology, it is very easy to get the right framing. Take a test shot and study the composition carefully. Check if the body elements that you have mentioned in the accompanying description are included in the frame.

3. Unscrew the wheels
Be sure to turn the front wheels so that the discs (or caps) are clearly visible on the portrait photography car and do not fall into the shadow cast by its side. It is this detail that is important, and not at all the tread pattern, which will still not be distinguishable.

4. Watch out for shadows
Shadows falling from trees or lamp posts on the car distort the shape of its body, hide the details that fall under them and interfere with the holistic perception of the subject.

5. Cut off unnecessary background
The vehicle should cover the entire picture. It is he who will be looked at by buyers, and not the dull landscape around. The larger the car in the photo, the easier it is to distinguish between different parts and exterior elements. If you forget about this rule during shooting, crop the frame later on the computer.

6. Choose the right spot for your car photography
Do not shoot a car in front of garage cooperatives or in the garage itself - such pictures create the impression that the car has not been used for a long time. The simplest option is a regular brick wall. Just remember that the colors of the car and the background should be different: do not photograph a blue car against a blue fence, and a white one against a white wall.

Practice shows that it is quite possible to find such a location if you travel a little around the surroundings. The main thing is not to go too far from the car wash, otherwise there is a risk of getting the car dirty again. Remember that a body that you think is "conditionally clean" will look dirty in frames.

How to take quality car photography?

How to take quality car photography

Photographing a vehicle in motion is taken in shutter priority mode. This mode allows you to automatically select the optimal aperture value, and the shutter speed is adjusted so that the background is blurred in the direction of travel, and the car itself is clear. The blurred background conveys the effect of movement and dynamics of the plot. The description of shooting with wiring deserves a separate discussion.

Here are some tips for taking an ideal photo: 

  • The picture must be clear and of high quality. You need to think over and adjust the lighting, choose the right angle, and work out the background. Car photography should be filled with ideas and emotions.
  • To get a three-dimensional image of the car and underline the lines, you need to shoot from the side and at an angle. Both the front and the side of the car should be in the frame. You can get interesting images by shooting with a wide-angle lens. Such shots will appear aggressive and predatory. Many old cars have beautiful shapes and unusual logos. They can be shot in close-up. Interestingly stabilized images can be obtained from this. 
  • To shoot individual elements or parts of the car in close-up, you need to prepare. 
  • Remove dust, smudges, fingerprints and streaks from the photographed surface for a beautiful automotive photography. 
  • Do not rely on the fact that all this can be removed during the processing of the image. It often happens that some elements simply cannot be corrected without spoiling the original look of the photo. Maybe for some it will be news, but a stationary car is much more difficult to shoot than a moving one. 

Professional photographers who take pictures of cars for advertising say that every model has animated properties. In order to consider this, you just need to not think in stereotypes, but turn on your imagination. For any car photography, it is important not to take expensive or rare pieces, but simply to look around. It is possible that a model for shooting is in your garage. By the way, you can post your photos on our website.


Where is the best place to take a picture of a car for sale?

You need soft light to shoot - don't shoot in the sun, where the reflected rays will dazzle everyone, or at dusk, let alone at night. However, if you have already prepared the car, and there is not a cloud in the sky, you can simply look for a suitable site in the shade of a large building.

How to photograph a car at night?

So set the focal length to f / 3.5. Remember our main goal when shooting without sunlight, so that when the shutter is pressed, the maximum amount of light enters the lens and hits the sensor  Remember, if you set a lower focal length, you will get less light in the picture.

How to take beautiful photos of a car for sale?

Ideally, you need to take eight good shots: frontal view, two photos on the left and on the right from a three-quarter angle (half-turn at an angle of 45 degrees) from the front, two photos in profile, two photos in three-quarters from the back and one photo from the back. By the way, the front wheels should stand straight or be slightly turned towards the viewer with disks.

Can I take pictures of other people's cars?

Anyone can take a picture of your car, and their intentions can be very different. Representatives of various services can also take photographs of car numbers, allowing the car model to be determined by the car number.

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