Simple Tips to Photographing Your Car

Whether you want to show off your new car you just bought on Facebook or you’re posting pictures on Craigslist to sell an old car, there are many photography tips and tricks to help you show your car off just the way you want. We mention six simple things to keep in mind when photographing your car, truck or SUV here.

Learn from others

Before you start planning or even setting up your shoot, you should look through different car magazines or advertisements online to get a feel for the type of photography session you want to achieve. Getting inspiration from the big leagues never hurts your imagination when coming up with something you’re trying to do. You do have to be hesitant not to expect your images to look identical to these images. They are from companies who have a very large budget to work on large scale shoots which are nearly impossible to duplicate.

Location

There are a lot of factors that go into choosing a location to photograph your car, the first being the background. When choosing a location, you want to try to make it as clean as possible. You want to avoid things that will pull attention from the car. These sorts of things can be electricity poles and wires, trashcans or dumpsters, bright colors or even parking lines.

An example of how to choose the right location for your car.

An example of how to choose the right location for your 2013 Nissan Xterra.

The next thing to think about is the physical location. You don’t want to make your car look too out of place from its surroundings. A good way to think about this is to consider your car. Do you drive a Z Coupe or GT-R? If so, you probably don’t want to photograph it in the wild with mountains and snow in the background; whereas if you drive an Xterra or a Frontier, those would be the perfect settings. If you’re not sure what location fits your car best, don’t be afraid to have multiple locations to photograph at. You can always delete the bad pictures later.

Timing

While the location of your shoot is important, the time of day you do it is almost more important! Taking the time of day into consideration will save you a lot of hassle later.

You always want to try to shoot with natural light as often as possible because you don’t want to use your flash and create weird reflections off your car. The best time of day to photograph with natural light is at the peak hours right before and during sunrise or in the evening as the sun is setting. These times are best because you won’t have the harsh sun glaring down and causing bad shadows or areas that are too overexposed.

Clean your car

This may seem like an obvious thing to say, but the camera lens will pick up details that your eye might not see. However, with that, if you’re driving a car that is meant to be dirty and you’re showing it off, by all means, the dirtier the better.

One thing to keep in mind that you might not normally notice is the clutter inside your car. Any maps or trash in the door bins will be very distracting to a viewer and is hard to remove in post production.

Angles

This is when you start to take things into your own hands. You are in charge of the camera and therefore have the control to photograph your car at any angle you want. Even if you’re not sure about something, you should still try it because that’s the joy of digital, you don’t have to worry about taking up space on film! You just want to make sure your memory card has enough storage to hold all the pictures you’ll be taking.

An example of a front 3/4 view of the 2013 Nissan 370Z Coupe.

An example of a front 3/4 view of the 2013 Nissan 370Z Coupe.

There are the few shots that you need to make sure you have: front ¾ view, rear ¾ view, full side view, full front view, full rear view, engine shot, and dashboard and interior shots. You shouldn’t be afraid to shoot above the car or from below. One thing to keep in mind when shooting from below is to make sure the sun is at your back; this will make the sky behind your car blue!

The main thing here is to not be afraid to try different angles and vantage points. You never know what you’ll get until you try it. The worst that happens is you don’t like the picture and it can be deleted later.

Interior shots

When photographing the interior of your car, you want to make sure you have enough light. If it is getting to be too dark, wait until later to photograph this. You want to avoid using a flash whenever possible to avoid the flash reflecting off the materials inside your car.

The last thing to remember when photographing the interior is for the manual drivers. Instead of putting on the hand brake, put your car in first gear. It’s one less distraction to worry about!

Always remember if you don’t get what you want, don’t be discouraged to go take more pictures until you get what you really want! For more examples, check out any of our new or used cars. Also try not to delete any images until you have them on your computer. The small image you see on the back of your camera could look so much better on a bigger screen. If you happen to use any of these tips, please share your photos on our Facebook page! Happy shooting!