How to Photograph Vehicles

photographing cars


Whether you’re a car person or not, sometimes you just have to  that you just bought for thousands of dollars. You just need that picture to show it off to your way cooler friends. Of course, you may not be trying to take a picture of that amazing car for bragging rights, this could be your job, career, or some such to make your living.


In either case, or any other case, you need to take a picture of a car, or really any vehicle, and of course, like every other picture, you want it to be an amazing picture that just gives whatever you’re shooting to look amazing.


The problem that you are probably facing is that you just don’t have any idea whatsoever in how to take a picture properly, you don’t even know what the buttons do, or which way to point the camera, or at the very least, you just don’t know how to take a good picture. Which is completely okay, it’s not as if you were trained to be a photographer, tons of people can’t take a picture to save their lives.


Anyways, the whole reason that you’re here is to learn how to take better pictures of your vehicles, for whatever reason that may be, to brag about your amazing vehicle, for work, or for anything. Whatever it may be, you need to learn, and we can explain how to in just a few quick minutes. So, for your convenience and pleasure, here is a conveniently compiled list of how to photograph vehicles.

Try to Get an Interesting Shot


Now, we are starting this list off with the most obvious of things that you can do. You need to figure out how to make the photo look interesting, when you take your shot, it needs to be at a good angle that conveys an interesting image. This is something that is really obvious, but in reality, can be kind of really hard to do, I should know, I have taken hundreds of thousands of horrible looking photos, especially of my car.


A kind of not so common hypothetical example of taking a picture, of a car for example, is to take a picture of a car in a parking lot, but making it look as if you’re not actually taking the

photo in said parking lot. To do that, you should either go in tight, or go in low, do that to make sure that the markings on the ground, the parking space markings, aren’t seen in the shot.


When you do that, you’re not only making an emphasizes on your vehicle, but you’re also giving an emphasis on whatever is on the background, which can really make your vehicle pop, make it stand out in an amazing background, it makes them look stronger essentially.


Just a little note to add to that tip though is that you don’t want a background that is too distracting or makes the vehicle look worse. The background is used to give your vehicle emphasis, its used to make the car, for instance, look stronger than it already is.


Another really important thing to note with the rule of either getting in close to the vehicle or getting it in a low shot is that you don’t need to take a shot of the entire thing. You can take a picture of only one side of the car, for example, or maybe the cabin of a sailboat, with an awesome background to make it pop.


Lastly, you should try to avoid any kind of shots of a side of the road shots, which essentially means, don’t take any kind of obvious shots. A car on the side of a scenic road is kinda. obvious, and has been seen a hundred thousand million times by the entire world, and by now it seems to have gotten pretty boring. So, make sure to give it a little flair for the vehicle.


Find your Focus


Something that’s really important is finding the focus of your picture, and there is a ton of ways for you to find it. When your car, for instance, has something special about it, like a really nice hood, or interior, and you want to take a picture of that, then that’s your focus, that’s what’s going to be center frame of the picture.


Sometimes a vehicle is going to have something special about them, a little quirk that would just look amazing in a picture, a hood ornament for example is a really good example of a quirk that you can take a picture of. A hood ornament is really good to take a picture because its more unique, and easier to take your photo.


The thing that I would do to try and find the quirk of a vehicle though is to just look for anything that stands out. A ship has a plaque on the back of it with a specific name, that’s a quirk, your motorcycle has some tires that light up, another quirk.


Something that you can do to enhance your focus, is to use the background. This is something I already covered, but there is another little trick that you can do with the background to really make your photo shine. You can de-focus your background, which highlights your vehicle in some pretty amazing ways. You see it happen in the Transformer movies all the time if you need to find a reference. You can accomplish this affect, which is called bokeh by the way, by setting the aperture as wide as possible and then increase your shutter speed. this affect really gives it an artistic flair that you can use for everything, it’ll always look good as long as whatever your photographing looks good.


Take Interesting Shots That You Want


For some reason, I wanted to take my really old Camaro, a car, out and take it to this abandoned house on the edge of my town, a real spooky looking place. I wanted to take this amazing photo of my old car in front this old house. After I did, I went in and added some pretty cool effects, like making these ghosts fly out the windows of the house and into the car, at night. It was really interesting, it’s something that I wanted to do, and that’s something that you should be trying to accomplish as well.


You need to take the photos of your vehicle that you want, you should be taking the pictures of what you want. So, if you have an interesting kind of photo to take of your vehicle than you should absolutely, one hundred percent go out and take it.


It’s not going to be hard too, you just have to find an interesting place to take a picture of with your car in the foreground, or background if you wanted but those are never that great. If you don’t really have the time to go out and find an interesting spot, then you can just use something like Google maps to help you out. Virtually go in and take a quick look around town.


Now, when you find an interesting location, make sure you use the setting to your advantage. Like when you use a de-focus the background a little bit, you can use your natural setting to make your object pop, to enhance it in really different ways, that are uniquely captured by you. You can use natural environments, like falling leaves in a forest in fall, or the lights of a big city. This can be a little time consuming though as your gonna have to move your vehicle around a little bit and it can take a while to find that really good background. The good news to that though is that once you use that location, you can mark it, and use it again later for a different picture, which is just a huge favor that you’re doing for yourself in the long run.


Take the Big Picture


When you take your picture of your vehicle, you usually don’t fill in the background with something. You want the image to be focused solely on the vehicle, and that’s okay, if that’s what you want to do, then go for it, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.


But you can add some stuff in the background, physical things, not just effects or locations, that can really enhance your picture. The best way to do this though is by doing the opposite of the get in tight or get in low rule. For this you need to get way back, like 50 yards if needed to get the vehicle and the image in the background.


You can use a multitude of things to have in the background, a giant tree, a really nice mansion, a racetrack, a stadium, etc. All of those things by the way are backgrounds that I’ve used for my own vehicle pictures, and they were all just amazing in what they each brought to the table.

Get the Right Lighting


For this list we saved the absolute most important thing for last. Getting the lighting right is everything, it is the absolute most important thing that you can do to improve your vehicle pictures, or any picture for that matter. The lighting can do so many things for you, it’s almost insane, honestly, there are hundreds of thousands of different ways that your picture could affect what you are seeing.


Now, if you do want to stick to the normal criteria, which gives the best pictures, which is totally fine, and not worth stressing over, is if you use the golden rule. An hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset. Those are the absolute best times to use natural light in our natural world. It lets you balance the elements of your image using the golden rays that are lighting up your vehicle a whole lot more easily.


That doesn’t mean don’t take more pictures once the sun sets. The stars give amazing lighting to in a lot of cases, and cities, and other lighting sources can just as easily make a good picture. Also, when you do take pictures during sunrise, and sunset, make sure to pay attention to the clouds, see where they are at, and make sure that they don’t block your shot. If they do block our shot, then you either have to move the vehicle to a different spot, or you just have to wait for them to pass, both of which is not fun, but it’s really all you can do.


A Conclusion


We talked about a ton of ways that you can enhance your pictures of vehicles. The first of which, was an explanation of how you should, obviously try to take an interesting shot. You can do a ton of things to get a more interesting shot, and there is a ton of reason to do that.


We also explained the go in low and go in tight rule. That essentially means that you want to take a picture that avoids the markings on the ground, assuming that you’re taking a picture of a car that doesn’t need dielectric testing companies. Next, we told you to find a focus, like the hood ornament of a car, the sails of a ship, etc. We next talked about taking interesting shots, that you specifically want to take, find the best things that you want to take a picture of and go for it. Next was taking a bigger picture, trying to include some more elements into your shot. Lastly, we talked about getting the right lighting, which is extremely important, or most important arguably.


That was our list of the best things you can do to increase the way you take pictures of vehicles. We hope that this was informative and that you have a ton of fun when you start taking better looking shots. Have a lot of fun and with practice you will get better at photography.